So I'm playing "catch up" with this past whirlwind week that included the extraordinary opportunity to represent Integrity USA in two historic venues -- in the pulpit at Christ Church, Philadelphia and in the halls of Congress on Capitol Hill.
In Philadelphia (as noted earlier on this blog) I had the honor of being the preacher at the interfaith service concluding the Equality Forum 2009 -- a national gathering of LGBT activists that included San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom as a keynote speaker.
There was a deep sense of being part of history in that place -- not only of the history that seeps out of the pours of Christ Church where the first General Convention met in 1789 and where Bishop William White is buried -- not only the history of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell we all learned about in grade school -- but the history we are living in 2009 as we see "liberty and justice for all" come closer to really meaning "all" with this week's gains on marriage equality.
After the truly awesome experience of preaching from the pulpit where generations of Episcopal preachers have stood (a sermon entitled "Patience isn't all it's cracked up to be" and posted on the Christ Church website) I took a late train to Washington DC in order to be part of the "Clergy Call for Justice" sponsored by the HRC (Human Rights Campaign).
Hundreds of clergy from every state and many denominations and faiths stood together on the Washington Mall and called for Congress to pass the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill and to end employment discrimination by supporting a fully inclusive ENDA bill. What an honor to stand with Rabbis Steven Jacobs and Denise Eger, with Tony and Peggy Campolo, with Pastor Erin Swenson ... well, it was not just a "great cloud of witnesses," it was a FABULOUS Cloud of Witnesses! (Read an AP report on the gathering here.)
After the press conference (pictured above) we split up into state delegations and called on our senate and house representatives for one-on-one lobbying conversations about moving this legislation forward. (Here's a photo of just some of the Episcopal clergy who participated:)
It was -- to say the least -- a full week! But it was one full not only with events, meetings and travel but with the abundant blessing of taking our gospel message of God's inclusive love to both allies and decision makers as we continue to call both our church and our nation to live up to their high calling to embrace all members -- to empower all citizens -- equally.
Here's a "slide show" of the week -- I hope it captures just a little of the energy and hope and enthusiasm of those committed to this work we have both the privilege and opportunity to do together in these historic times!