Friday, May 4, 2018

On the Outside Looking In

Alleluia, Christ is Risen!
The Lord is Risen indeed, Alleluia! (Yet some remain outside looking in.)

Last weekend I attended a gathering of The Consultation, a group of organizations in The Episcopal Church whose ministries are focused on social justice issues and aspects related to that topic. We were gathered to discuss the upcoming General Convention of our church in July, in Austin, Texas. The website for The Consultation is:

Like Integrity, most of the work of these organizations at the church-wide level has been accomplished. The canonical changes are in place, the policies exist, and the General Convention has been clear that ALL are to be included in the life and work and ministries of our church, both lay folks and ordained folks. Yet all of us also recognize that at the local level, the grassroots of our church, reality and the position of The Episcopal Church are still at odds with each other in a number of dioceses and for many of our kindred. Far too many of our kindred still stand on the outside looking in.

Eight of our diocesan bishops still refuse to allow same-sex marriages to take place in their dioceses. The reality in those dioceses is that same-sex couples are not getting the level of pastoral care they should be getting. And, no, sending them to a neighboring diocese to be married is NOT pastoral care. It’s nothing more than seating them in the back of the bus, only the bus is not even in the same physical location as where they worship and serve in our church!

I’ve been told that (at least) one bishop of our church is rather proud of the fact that he has not changed his thinking on a particular subject for eighteen (18) years. I could not be proud of myself if I had said that. What it means to me is that for 18 years I would not have left room in my heart for the voice of God, for the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. That would say about me that I am not open to anything new and different in either my relationship with God or my relationship with any of God’s children. It would say that my faith is static, my faith is lifeless, my faith is dead, or at least frozen in time.

The redemptive work of helping others be fully a part of our church is not done. The restorative work of making “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You” true for everyone and not just a catch slogan on a sign is not done. Even though we may have convinced ourselves that most of that work has been accomplished at the church-wide level, until EVERYONE benefits from God’s grace at every level, NO ONE does. I see nothing in the Gospel of Jesus Christ that lets us leave anyone on the outside looking in.

If you still are not convinced of the need of our ministry, I invite you to go to two places. One is the website of All the Sacraments for All People (ASAP-TN). It tells the story of those disenfranchised in the Diocese of Tennessee. ( ). The other is the website of the Diocese of Dallas ( ). The bishop states his case for continuing to refuse to allow same sex marriages. I’m still reading it and to be frank about it, I have read nothing new, including the claim that we have not devoted enough study to the subject. I personally think some 30 years of my life is more than enough study, but hey, that’s just me!.

So, as I have urged before: write, call, email, text those who will be making decisions. Let your Deputies and your Bishop(s) know your opinion. If you have a personal story of the impact of this or other proposed legislation, share that with them. Put a face on what some might be able to more easily dismiss as an issue. A face is more difficult to dismiss.

As Integrity moves into a new dynamic of working to insure that all God’s children receive the respect for their dignity required by our Baptismal Covenant, we need leaders who will continue to move us forward. If you feel called to leadership on the board of directors or as a Provincial Coordinator, please put your name forward to the nominating committee at this email address:

Yes, Christ is risen. The Lord is risen, indeed, alleluia! Risen for all...regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, gender expression/identity, or any other characteristic of the children of God. And let us be faithful to the work before us to insure that all may know the love of Jesus! Let us work to insure that no one stands on the outside looking in.

Bruce Garner, President Integrity USA ... The Episcopal Rainbow

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