Friday, July 10, 2015

What’s Next Integrity-- Are We Done? Are You Kidding?

What’s Next Integrity-- Are We Done?  Are You Kidding?

By:  Matt Haines, President

“When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.”  Jesus of Nazareth  (LK 12:48)

We celebrate great gains these past several weeks!  We had many great successes at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City.  The Sacrament of Marriage is now a reality for same-sex couples in our Church and will be available in most of our dioceses!  Our Church has condemned the evil torture of so called “Reparative (Conversion) Therapy”.  Transgender Episcopalians have asserted that their names are sacred and are to be recognized as holy within liturgy and church records; the Church concurred overwhelmingly.  The Episcopal Church has also voted to show solidarity with LGBTQ people in Africa and will lobby on their behalf.  Some might wonder—is Integrity is now finished with its mission.  Are we done?  Are you kidding me? 

·         Transgender people are being slaughtered on our streets weekly; suicide kills even more.

·         Gender-queer and Trans Christians often find our churches less than welcoming.  We must change this together.

·         Over 40% of all homeless youth are LGBTQ; most of them rejected by “Christian Homes”.

·         Over 70% of lesbians and gays tell the people they love about their orientation; bisexuals 28%.  This must improve if we are ever going to live in Integrity.  As a church and a movement we can no longer ignore the “B” in LGBTQ.  

·         All Dioceses must be held to the Gospel of Inclusion proclaimed by this Church.  We can no longer allow LGBTQ people, or children raised by LGBTQ couples, to be excluded from Holy Baptism!  Access to Holy Eucharist, Confirmation, Unction, Penance, must be available to all the baptized.  All who feel called to vocations in Holy Orders and/or Marriage must be taken seriously and be given the opportunity to live those vocations out.

·         We must still lead the Anglican Communion and offer special help to LGBTQ people in the many provinces where our people face prison or execution!

·         Racism and sexism still plague our nation, church, and our movement.  Together we need to engage in understanding how male privilege and institutional racism work against true equality.

We are now ready to begin to work even harder, with God’s help and yours!  The Supreme Court has recognized our right to marry and the Episcopal Church recognizes our marriages as sacramental.  Rights are nothing if not exercised and sacraments are meant to empower us to serve this broken world in Christ’s name. 

Are we in the Promised Land after 40 years in the desert?  Maybe—some of us are.  If you find yourself there, rejoice and start building up Zion for those still on the way.  If you are still in the desert, look for one another and keep an eye out for Jesus.  Jesus knows the way!  We have been given so much, thus we are required to give even more back in return.  Please join in our efforts to live into this gospel call.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Integrity Supports Rebuild the Churches Fund

Standing in solidarity with the victims of the outbreak of the burning of Black Churches, Integrity USA has pledged 25% of the offering from the General Convention Integrity Eucharist to the "Rebuild The Churches Fund," announced treasurer Elisabeth Jacobs.

Held on June 29, 2015 at the Salt Palace Salt Lake City, Utah the triennial celebration of God's inclusive love for absolutely everybody inspired a tremendous outpouring of generosity from those in attendance.

Our bookkeeper will be sending $1,038.66 to the fund this week. Integrity encourages its members and friends to "go and do likewise" by donating to this important work here. As Lester MacKenzie -- chaplain to the House of Deputies -- reminded us over and over "we are all together ... yo, yo, yo!"

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Election Results for 2015-2018 Board of Directors and Provincial Coordinators

The election for the next Board of Directors and set of Provincial Coordinators has been completed. The following positions have been filled and the terms will run from October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2018.

President: Election deferred.
Vice-President of National Affairs: Rev. Gwen Fry
Vice-President of Local Affairs: S Wayne Mathis
Treasurer: DeAnna Bosch
Secretary/Director of Communications: Mel Soriano
Chairperson of the Stakeholders' Council: Rev. Carolyn Woodall

Province 1 Coordinator: No candidate
Province 2 Coordinator: Tod Roulette
Province 3 Coordinator: April I Fredericks
Province 4 Coordinator: Kay Smith Riggle
Province 5 Coordinator: David Fleer
Province 6 Coordinator: No candidate
Province 7 Coordinator: Doug Davis
Province 8 Coordinator: Vivian Varela

The position of the President has not yet been filled. We ask for your prayers as we continue to seek candidates for this central role.

Integrity's Board of Directors offers its congratulations to the new board and provincial coordinators. We thank all who ran or considered running for their willingness to serve and hope that they shall be interested in contributing in other ways. The current board and provincial coordinators look forward to working and assisting in the transition during the next three months.

Mel Soriano
Secretary, Board of Directors, Integrity 

Integrity Celebrates Marriage Equality in The Episcopal Church

Press Release: Salt Lake City, UT - July 2, 2015

Integrity USA celebrated the passing of two significant pieces of legislation at the General Convention of The Episcopal Church on June 30, 2015. The House of Deputies voted to concur with the House of Bishops to pass Resolution A054 (87% yes, 11% no, 2% divided), a measure to offer gender neutral marriage rites and urge bishops to provide ways for couples to get married when in dioceses or churches with marriage equality restrictions. Later, the House voted to concur to pass Resolution A036 (82% yes, 13% no, 5% divided), a measure to alter the church canon.

Both these measures passed within days of the Supreme Court decision to recognize marriage equality throughout the USA.

Integrity President Matt Haines said, "I am overjoyed that our relationships and marriages as same-sex couples are finally recognized by both church and state.  The Episcopal Church spoke to this justice overwhelmingly, beyond our expectations, affirming the equality of our love.  Integrity has joined with allies for 40 years, proclaiming the blessing and holiness of our lives, which we offer to the church. We celebrate God's grace!"

Haines, recognizing that there are still faithful Episcopalians who live and engage in ministry in dioceses where their bishops will not permit full marriage equality, said that the Board of Directors will continue to work on making the rites available to everyone. Rev. Jon M. Richardson, Integrity Vice-President of National Affairs, pointed out, "While we are overjoyed at the strides we've made toward having all of our marriages recognized and blessed in the Episcopal Church, we are also acutely aware of the reality that this does not mean that the work of striving for equality is now finished in the Episcopal Church or in our society at large. LGBTQ people remain particularly vulnerable to discrimination in employment and in housing in many places in the country. LGBTQ teens remain significantly more likely than their heterosexual peers to be homeless, to commit suicide, or to endure the humiliations associated with bullying. Transgender people continue to face threats to their very survival each time they go out in public. The church continues to have a responsibility to speak to these injustices and to be agents of change, not just within our own halls, but in the hearts and minds of all people whom we encounter. We have taken great strides, but there remain many miles to go."

"In this spirit," Haines added, "we must continue to seek out those on the margins and join them as they too seek the love and support of the Episcopal Church.  We are obligated to work hard until all in this church and the world it serves are open to the grace and beauty of God's creation of humanity.  We are all one body in Christ Jesus, we must never forget our interdependence."