Saturday, July 28, 2018

General Convention 2018 - Further Retrospective

The final gavels sounded the end of General Convention 2018 a mere thirteen days ago and I have seen a few post mortem comments on what we accomplished. The overall feeling seems positive as important decisions were reached that are for the good of all... even when some of “all” may not realize that yet.

I urge you to access the activities of General Convention by going to Click on “virtual binder” you can view the resolutions on which actions were taken. A number of resolutions that were passed reflect on how well we are fulfilling our Baptismal Covenant vows to respect the dignity of every human being and to seek and serve Christ in all persons.

Look at the resolutions related to how women have been treated both in our church and in our society.

Guys, and I used that term deliberately, our treatment of women, cis and trans, has been reprehensible for far too long. Women still do not earn the same as men earn for doing the exact same job, although progress has been made, just not enough. How we have ever justified that form of discrimination escapes me.

We have given all sorts of sexual harassment a “wink and a nod” but done nothing to end it. Would any of us have stood silently while our mothers, sisters and other female relatives were treated so poorly? I hope not, but I cannot confirm that just based on history. Yes, many of us were subjected to a role model that condoned, supported or ignored inappropriate behavior and actions taken against women. That is hardly an acceptable excuse.

There is a pop song from a few decades ago by Deborah Cox, entitled “Absolutely Not” that contains the following lyrics:

“If I go to work in a mini skirt am I giving you the right to flirt?
I won’t compromise my point of view. Absolutely not, absolutely not.”

Too many of us grew up when the mistaken attitude of men was that how a woman dressed gave men the right to flirt or behave even more inappropriately. Our work now is to change that mindset and work to reverse the damage done by it. The church is pointing the way. May we have the good sense and courage to follow. We have work to do.

We continued to address our perpetual failings around the issue of racism. We have resolved to work toward repentance, reconciliation and healing as we seek out the Beloved Community. We seem to make “baby steps” but so much remains to be done.

Fellow white folks, it’s time that we threw our hearts, minds, and souls into owning and seeking to rectify what we created. It is a situation, a problem, we created and we have a responsibility to work toward resolving it. I am fully aware that many of us white people do not want to hear these things, but the time is now to insure that all hear what must be said. Owning a problem helps lead to resolving it. The Beloved Community involves us all and our mission is to get there.

Systemic racism takes hard work to eradicate. Are we up to that task?

The Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Testament both give us guidelines about how we are to treat the alien residing among us. Scripture contains no references as to whether such resident aliens are documented or not, legally admitted or not. We are to treat them with dignity and respect and see to their needs as we see to our own.

We found our voice on serious immigration issues that need to be addressed. Seeing the faces and waved hands of those held in jail, separated from their own children, provided a graphic image of how un-Christ-like so many of our immigration policies are. Can we really claim to be a “Christian nation?” I don’t know how... with any sense of morality.

Through painful compromise, we said that all should mean all when it come to marriage in our church. As we move closer to Advent I, we will be able to see if all really is all in the eight dioceses that have not allowed same sex marriages.

I fear that those eight bishops have forgotten that they are to be the chief pastor over their flocks more than anything else. The service for the ordination of a bishop contains the following phrase in the Examination on page 517 of the BCP: “...and to be in all things a faithful pastor and wholesome example to the entire flock of Christ.” On the following page, the fourth question posed to the bishop-elect, begins with “As chief priest and pastor, will you encourage and support all baptized people in their gifts and ministries?”

Some bishops see their primary role as that of teacher, yet I cannot find that as ranking above the role of pastor in the ordination service. Perhaps they need to be taught about their role as pastor. Other bishops whose first careers were as lawyers, might need to be reminded that they are now pastors, not lawyers. I have to wonder what fear drives the thinking of some. We need now to support the work of people at the local level to change hearts and minds through personal testimony and interaction.

Please continue to pray daily for our church and all of her members as we seek to help personify respecting the dignity of all and seeking and serving Christ in all.

Please offer special prayers for healing for our Presiding Bishop as he approaches surgery and recovery from prostate cancer.

Bruce Garner, President
Integrity USA: The Episcopal Rainbow

P.S. - The Reverend Barbara Brown Taylor has written some profound words about where we find ourselves these days. There's a meme posted on Facebook. It's worth your time to read it.

Friday, July 20, 2018

General Convention 2018

The 79th General Convention is over. The exhibit hall has been struck and the contents hauled out. The House of Deputies adjourned sine die (ahead of schedule even!). I’m sure that hall was soon emptied of the tables and chairs where we spent so many hours deliberating issues pertinent to or church.

A couple of things will always stand out for me. One is regarding the final version of Resolution B012 and the other was the resolution that brought the Diocese of Cuba back into The Episcopal Church. Both were sources of great emotion for me.

I was lucky enough to testify at the hearing held on Resolution B012 and several other resolutions related to us queer folk finally having access to marriage rites in every diocese. Unless you have felt the pain of being excluded because of who you are, it is difficult for you to understand how important these resolutions were.

Luck continued as I was also able to testify on the floor of the House of Deputies when the compromise version of B012 came to the floor. I shared the pain and the damage that continually hearing messages from the church that I was somehow flawed, inherently more sinful than other sinners, and somehow less in the eyes of God than others. Such messages wound our souls. I noted that hearing these messages convention after convention wearied me more than you could know. I reminded people who talked about who might leave about the hundreds of thousands of people we lost already who were LGBTQ+ and who walked out or never darkened our doors.

I reminded the Deputies that someday it might be one of their own children or grandchildren who asked why they could not be married in their own parish. And finally, I noted that in a good compromise, no one is happy. This was a good compromise.

The resolution passed in a vote by orders with 96 clergy and 97 lay votes in favor; 10 clergy and 8 lay votes against; and 4 clergy and 5 lay votes “divided.” That represents a “super” majority. I teared up a bit. (Now as you might know the Bishop of Dallas has already started trying to create roadblocks to those same sex couples who want to marry in that diocese. Others will follow.)

Regardless of what we have accomplished, without constant vigilance, we can even lose that. The work continues!

The vote to re-admit the Diocese of Cuba passed with overwhelming majorities. I suspect there was a little bit of shame in what was our correction of a probably illegal ejection of them by the House of Bishops in 1966. The emotional reunion was almost overwhelming. The Bishop and the Deputies were escorted into the House to great cheers and applause. Shortly after a table was marked as the Diocese of Cuba and the Deputies were seated. There is more to be done, but they are back in our church.

You can continue to access the activities of General Convention by going to . There you will find all you ever wanted to know and maybe more than you wanted to know! If you click on “virtual binder” you can view everything we saw and upon which we took action as Deputies. Over 500 resolutions were processed. Thank God for the Consent Calendar!

Please continue to pray daily for our church and all of her members as we seek to insure that our all really does mean all. Please pray for those who live in dioceses where all of us are still not equal.

Pray also for this organization that we all love deeply, as we try to live into the reality of the need to embrace the entire rainbow of God’s creation in a way that all can see. We're trying to make changes that will help build the organization, and recognize that we may need to cast a wider net among our backers if we are to cast a wider net among those who don't know yet what we can do for the church.

Give thanks for the hard and diligent work of those who volunteered to staff our booth at the Convention, those who volunteered at our Eucharist, and those who helped make what we did a reality.

Bruce Garner, President
The Episcopal Rainbow: Integrity USA

P. S. - The United States Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that gays and lesbians are not a protected class. They upheld the firing of a man here in suburban Atlanta because he was gay. WE still do not exist as fully human even in some secular circles. Read more about it at "Atlanta appeals court again rules gays, lesbians not a protected class"

Friday, July 13, 2018

General Convention 2018 - The Episcopal Rainbow Rises!

The 79th General Convention is drawing to a close today.  By and large it has been a good convention. Legislation favorable to us in areas of importance to LGBTQ+ folks is making its way through the process. Yes we have once again endured the demeaning language some continue to use.  I have heard language that I have heard in one form or another since my first General Convention in 1991. But the arc of history is still bending toward justice. There are still some who just cannot grasp the concept of the inclusivity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We must continue to pray for them.

The Integrity General Convention Eucharist was a success. I hope you watched it from wherever you are through our live streaming of the service. Great local volunteers working with the board resulted in a great service with great music and great preaching.

One of the highlights of the service was the presentation of the Louie Crew Clay award, named in honor of our beloved founder. The award was given to The Reverend Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies, and The Most Reverend Michael Bruce Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.

Integrity began as a truly grass roots organization some 43 years ago with a mission: seeking the full inclusion of LGBTQ persons in the life and ministry of The Episcopal Church. In 1975 there were essentially no queer clergy in our church. That would have been the name used as well... so I have reclaimed it from our detractors to celebrate who we are as LGBTQ folks.

Work began on that mission at the local level and then moved to the level of the General Convention where we sought to insure equality and inclusion through canon law and resolutions and any way we could achieve it “officially” at the church wide level.

I would say that you probably know the success of that work, but it is obvious - even at the 79th General Convention - that work remains when queerfolk in 8 dioceses still could not get married in their own parish churches. Three of those are in my own Province IV.

Like other organizations in our church, the Board of Integrity has struggled with the question of what needed to be next. While we must never stop being vigilant about maintaining justice and equality, there is still much more to do.

We came to the conclusion that we needed to return to our roots, literally, to go back to being a grassroots organization focused on helping folks at the diocesan and parish levels to be fully included in our church. While we will always be watching what happens at the church-wide level, energy and time needs to go local.

We are also aware that we are just part of the wonderful and colorful rainbow of God’s created humanity. That rainbow involves infinite colors.

We reached a conclusion as well that the name Integrity did not have a readily discernible connection with The Episcopal Church. So after many discussions and a conversation with our founder:
Beginning with the close of the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church Integrity USA will begin doing business as The Episcopal Rainbow
So bring your particular color and flavor and join us in our work. Regardless of how “good” some of us have it, we have kindred who still live in a form of hell right in this country.

And regardless of what we have accomplished, without constant vigilance, we can even lose that. The work continues!

Continue to follow the activities of General Convention by going to  There you will find all you ever wanted to know and maybe more than you wanted to know!

Please continue to pray daily for the General Convention of our church and all who make
decisions that will be made, especially those with a direct affect on us as queerfolk. Pray that all return to their homes safely. And pray as we, Integrity, return to our homes, to our grassroots, to our Episcopal Rainbow.

Bruce Garner
President, The Episcopal Rainbow

Friday, July 6, 2018

General Convention 2018 - Off And Running

The 79th General Convention is underway. The gavels have sounded in both houses and we enjoyed a vibrant and holy opening Eucharist yesterday. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry inspired us... as always... with a stirring sermon. The theme became: “Keep your eye on the prize.”

Our prize as LGBTQ+ children of God, members of The Episcopal Church, is full equality with all other members of our church... oddly still illusive in some ways... the most obvious in marriage equality.

Hearings on resolutions related to marriage equality were, as in conventions past, a challenge as we endured, yet again, the many ways and words of people who want to keep us in our place, our less than equal place, our place outside looking in. Even after more than two decades of these discussions, hearing language that continues to categorize you as less than, not equal to, somehow flawed, unworthy of all the sacraments... that language still hurts. It still bruises the soul.  It damages the psyche. The salve, the salvation if you will, is that we know in our heart of hearts that such language does not come from God. It still comes from ignorance and the fear bred from ignorance.

As we listen to the debate, the hearing, the discussion, pray that we will be surrounded by a shield, a holy shield, to deflect the language... however disguised... of discrimination and sometimes veiled hatred, deflect that away from us. We have heard enough of it for several lifetimes. Pray that the still small voice of God will find its way to our ears to say: “Keep your eye on the prize my beloved child, keep your eye on the prize. I love you how I created you. And someday all will finally learn to accept and appreciate my handiwork.”

Continue to  follow the activities of General Convention by going to  There you will find all you ever wanted to know and maybe more than you wanted to know! And visit the Integrity site at And join us on Sunday July 8 at 8pm CDT, watching the Integrity Eucharist at

Please continue to pray daily for the General Convention of our church and all who make
decisions that will be made, especially those with a direct affect on us as queerfolk.

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