Monday, November 30, 2009

So how do you end up in Congress ...

... without mastering the concept that equal protection is more than "an interesting concept?"

Check out this excerpt from the interview with Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) in this week's New York Times Sunday Magazine:
Inhofe: Can you tell me one reason to close Gitmo?

NYT: Because it’s on foreign soil, where prisoners don’t have the same legal rights as prisoners tried here, and we want to apply the same laws to everybody.

Inhofe: You want to apply the same laws to terrorists that are captured as you do to criminals in America?

NYT: Yes.

Inhofe: Wow.

NYT: Because we have to take the high road as Americans.

Inhofe: I see. That’s an interesting concept.


Yeah ... "interesting concept" is one way to put it. Another way is "one of the core values of the American democracy ya'll keep talking about exporting to the rest of the world." Maybe they don't "hate us because we're free" after all Senator Inhofe. Think about it!

And -- oh yeah -- this would be one of those senators who are part of "The Family" Jeff Sharlet writes about ... the ones who are emeshed in the anti-homosexuality legislation in Uganda ... as reported this very night by Rachel Maddow:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

HoD President speaks out against Ugandan legislation

House of Deputies president condemns proposed Uganda anti-homosexuality legislation
Integrity USA, Canadian bishops also call for opposition

[Episcopal News Service] The pending Ugandan legislation that would imprison for life or execute people who violate that country's anti-homosexuality laws would be a "terrible violation of the human rights of an already persecuted minority," Episcopal Church House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson has said.

Anderson was responding to a Nov. 16 request that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Archbishop Henri Orombi of Uganda and she speak out against the legislation. Anderson is the first to issue a statement.

Homosexuality in Uganda currently carries a penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment. If passed, the bill would extend prison sentences for homosexuals up to and including life imprisonment and introduce the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality," which includes assault against people under the age of 18 and those with disabilities.

Opponents fear that people, including family members and clergy, who support and advise homosexual people could be prosecuted and punished under the proposed law, which also would give Ugandan courts jurisdiction over Ugandan citizens who violate the law "partly outside or partly in Uganda."

The proposed legislation is "an attempt to use the authority of the state to deprive individuals of their God-given dignity, and to isolate them from the care and concern of their fellow human beings," Anderson said in her Nov. 25 letter to the co-conveners of the Chicago Consultation, a group of lay and ordained Episcopalians

General Convention in 2006 condemned (via Resolution D005) the criminalization of homosexuality, Anderson noted.

The church's Executive Council, an elected group of 40 clergy, laity and bishops that carries out the programs and policies adopted by the General Convention according to Canon I.4 (1)(a), is expected to meet by teleconference Dec. 7 to consider a possible statement on the Ugandan legislation.

"I hope and believe that a vigorous statement will be forthcoming, and that I will be able to support this statement wholeheartedly," Anderson said.

Meanwhile, Anderson said she would encourage House of Deputies members and first alternates to contact their congresspersons through the church's Office of Government Relations to express their opposition to the bill.

In a related matter, Integrity USA, a group that advocates for the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the life of the Episcopal Church, on Nov. 30 called on leaders of the church to speak out against the Ugandan parliament's proposed bill. The group specifically urged Jefferts Schori to make a statement and to ask Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "to work through diplomatic channels with the government of Uganda to quash this bill."

The Rev. David Norgard, Integrity USA president, said in a news release that "it is our moral imperative to take a stand."

"Integrity applauds all those who have spoken out so far, including the Anglican Church of Canada, and those who intend to do so in the future," he said.

Read the rest here ... Sign the Anglican ipetition here ... Email President Anderson and thank her for speaking out here ... Support/Join Integrity here

FINALLY a definitive answer to the question "Are you saved?"

This from the Diocese of Los Angeles website ... it's the page that posts after you change information on your profile in the data base.
Yep. It's official. Susan Russell was saved. Been there, done that. Thanks for asking.

CTB Statement on Uganda

“Claiming the Blessing” urges TEC action on Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Claiming the Blessing joins religious and human rights leaders around the globe in condemning the “Anti-Homosexuality” bill that was introduced in the Ugandan parliament in October 2009.

One of the most homophobic pieces of legislation ever conceived, the bill in question would imprison anyone who knows of the existence of a gay or lesbian person and fails to give their names to the police within 24 hours, require a sentence of life imprisonment for anyone who “touches another person with the intention of committing the act of homosexuality,” and limit the distribution of HIV information through a provision criminalizing the “promotion of homosexuality." Beyond that, it creates a crime of “aggravated homosexuality,” punishing anyone who is HIV-positive with death for having consensual same-sex relations.

We call on the Episcopal Church to join those speaking out in opposition to this draconian and dehumanizing legislation – legislation already condemned by the resolution of General Convention (2006-D005) that declared “our opposition to the imposition of civil or criminal penalties, especially imprisonment and execution, upon gay and lesbian people and our opposition to laws anywhere in the world that specifically target and impose imprisonment for homosexual behavior, speech, or assembly of gay and lesbian people and their supporters.”
We applaud the strong statement from the Canadian Anglicans and urge our Executive Council to “go and do likewise” when they meet in special session regarding these matters on December 7. We do so remembering that we claim a baptismal covenant requiring us to “respect the dignity of every human being,” that 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1:10 called upon the Church to reject the irrational fear of homosexual persons and that Resolution D005 of our own 2006 General Convention declared “that efforts to criminalize homosexual behavior are incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Clearly, the proposed Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill fails to meet any of these standards.
We believe the “Year of the Lord’s Favor” our Presiding Bishop preached about at her investiture includes the liberation of those held captive by homophobia. Our Ugandan LGBT brothers and sisters need to hear the word of hope the Episcopal Church can give by joining those opposing this legislation. The time to stand up and be counted is now. We urge our elected and appointed leaders of the Episcopal Church to stand up and to speak out on behalf of the gospel.
Signed: Ms Peggy Adams, the Rev. Canon Dr. J. Edwin Bacon, the Rev. Dr. Cynthia Black, Mr. John Clinton Bradley, Dr. Louie Crew, the Reverend Michael Hopkins, Mr. Thomas Jackson, the Reverend Dr. Elizabeth Kaeton, the Reverend Joseph Lane, the Reverend Susan B.P. Norris, the Reverend Canon Susan Russell, the Reverend Jason Samuel, Ms Katie Sherrod, Mr. John Simonelli, Canon James B. White, Mr. Warren Wong

Claiming the Blessing [CTB] is an unincorporated coalition of Episcopal organizations and individuals focused on promoting wholeness in human relationships, abolishing prejudice and oppression, and healing the rift between sexuality and spirituality in the Church. Represented organizations include: All Saints Church, Pasadena; The Episcopal Women’s Caucus; Integrity USA; The Oasis (Newark): Oasis, California; and Oasis, Missouri;

For more information on Claiming the Blessing, visit our website:

For more information or comment on this statement, contact CTB Convener, Susan Russell at


James Carroll: A Roman Catholic reflects on his church

Does God Hate the Kennedys?
by James Carroll

After denying communion to Patrick Kennedy, the Catholic Church is holding American politics hostage. James Carroll on the Church’s rightward turn: How reactionary has the Catholic hierarchy become? Let me count the ways:

And then he does. In this feature from "The Daily Beast" -- which includes this important observation:

"For the first time in its history, the American Catholic hierarchy is solidly right wing. There is not one liberal voice among its members. The bishops are at home with the heirs of a know-nothing fundamentalism that once, by every measure of theology and social policy, embodied the Church’s opposite. This realignment is the consequence, within Catholicism, of the conservative appointments made to the episcopate over 27 years by Pope John Paul II, but it also reflects the broader, post-Ronald Reagan phenomenon of the arrival of the Religious Right as an establishment force in American politics."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Advent Eve: "More hope than the world thinks is reasonable"

The candles are ready but I'm wondering if I am.


For another Advent. Another New Church Year.

But ready or not, here it is: another New Year's Eve. Already.

Not the kind with champagne and silly hats and trying-to-stay-up-til-midnight-to-ring-in-the-New Year. There are no crowds in Times Square waiting for the crystal ball to drop. There are no floats lining up on Orange Grove getting ready to parade down Colorado tomorrow.

Nope. This is the kind of new year that sneaks up on you as the last of the pumpkin pie and stuffing is consumed and the turkey carcass that was the succulent centerpiece a few days ago inches closer to the soup pot. It's the kind of new year that starts not with revelry but with reverie. And it's the kind of new year that offers as its opening act the call to wait. To watch. To prepare. To make a way where there is no way. To hope.

“Advent is the season when Christians are called to live with more hope than the world thinks is reasonable.” That's what Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told us last year when she was with us at our Diocesan Convention during Advent.

A year ago. When everyone knew that "nothing would happen" at the upcoming General Convention because the bishops had "drunk the Lambeth Koolaid" and they weren't going to let the church move forward on bishops or blessings. And we who were working for the fuller inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments were wasting our time.

And here we are -- on Advent Eve -- with the announcement today by the Bishop Shaw that "in the Diocese of Massachusetts the clergy of this diocese may, at their discretion, solemnize marriages for all eligible couples, beginning Advent I. Solemnization, in accordance with Massachusetts law, includes hearing the declaration of consent, pronouncing the marriage and signing the marriage certificate."

And here we are -- on Advent Eve -- about to elect two new bishops suffragan for the Diocese of Los Angeles from a slate of six candidates ... a slate that includes a couple of exceedingly well qualified partnered "lesbigay" (to use a Louie Crewism!) clergy.

More hope than the world thinks is reasonable, indeed.

So maybe I am ready for it. For another Advent. For another New Year. Maybe we can actually make a dent in that awful legislation in Uganda. And get past the health care impasse here at home. Heck, maybe we can even work on climate change and building bridges rather than walls between our faith communities. And liberate some captives and proclaim good news to the poor.

Because this is the kind of new year we celebrate not with more champagne than is sensible but with more hope than is reasonable.

So Happy New Year to all ... and to all a goodnight!

Advent news just in from Massachusetts:

On Advent I -- the "advent" of marriage equality in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts!

[Thanks to Louie Crew for the "forward" -- and Bishop Shaw for his prophetic leadership!]

Subject: Statement from Bishop Shaw
Date: Saturday, November 28, 2009, 3:33 PM

Advent I -- November 29, 2009

Christian marriage is a sacramental rite that has evolved in the church, along with confirmation, ordination, penance, and the anointing of the sick, and while it is not necessary for all, it must be open to all as a means of grace and sustenance to our Christian hope.

I believe this because the truth of it is in our midst, revealed again and again by the many marriages—of women and men, and of persons of the same gender—that are characterized, just as our church expects, by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, and the holy love which enables spouses to see in one another the image of God.

In May of 2004 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court opened civil marriage in our state to same-gender couples. That ruling set up a contradiction between what civil law would allow and what our church’s canons and formulary state, which is that marriage is between a man and a woman. And so, for more than five years now, while faithfully waiting for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church to act in response, we in the Diocese of Massachusetts have been living at some cost with an imperfect accommodation: Our clergy have not been allowed to solemnize same-gender marriages, but they have been permitted to bless them after the fact.

In July of this year, the 76th General Convention adopted resolution C056, “Liturgies for Blessings.” It allows that “bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church.”

Your bishops understand this to mean for us here in the Diocese of Massachusetts that the clergy of this diocese may, at their discretion, solemnize marriages for all eligible couples, beginning Advent I. Solemnization, in accordance with Massachusetts law, includes hearing the declaration of consent, pronouncing the marriage and signing the marriage certificate. This provision for generous pastoral response is an allowance and not a requirement; any member of the clergy may decline to solemnize any marriage.

While gender-specific language remains unchanged in the canons and The Book of Common Prayer, our provision of generous pastoral response means that same-gender couples can be married in our diocese. We request that our clergy follow as they ordinarily would the other canonical requirements for marriage and remarriage. And, because The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage in The Book of Common Prayer may not be used for marriages of same-gender couples, we ask that our priests seek out liturgical resources being developed and collected around the church. We also commend to you the October 2008 resource created by our New England dioceses, “Pastoral Resources for Province I Episcopal Clergy Ministering to Same-Gender Couples,” available at

We have not arrived at this place in our common life easily or quickly. We have not done it alone. This decision comes after a long process of listening, prayer and discernment leading up to and continuing after General Convention’s action this past summer. Our Diocesan Convention recently adopted a resolution of its own expressing its collective hope for the very determination that your bishops have made. Even so, we know that not all are of one mind and that some in good faith will disagree with this decision. Our Anglican tradition makes space for this disagreement and calls us to respect and engage one another in our differences. It is through that tension that we find God’s ultimate will.

We also know that by calling us to minister in the context of this particular place and time God is again blessing our diocese with a great challenge by which we might enter more fully into that ethic of love which Jesus speaks to us through the New Testament. It is an immeasurable love given for all. We are being asked to live it, all of us, children of God, each with equal claim upon the love, acceptance and pastoral care of this church, so that the newness and fullness of life promised through word and sacrament might be for all people and for the completion of God’s purpose for the world.

/s/ M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE

Friday, November 27, 2009

Another turkey blog

We had another go-round with the turkey-and-trimmings today with my son, two nieces and grandniece in residence. Yes -- this is indeed a glimpse into that scary gay-lifestyle that's such a worry to so many. Take a look -- if you dare ...

Gobble, Gobble!

And the quote of the day award goes to:

Bishop Pierre Whalon for this observation: "If the Tudor monarchs are poor examples of holiness, the popes of that era were scarcely more edifying."

Don't miss Bishop Whalon's MOST excellent reflections, "On the document Anglicanorum coetibus, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s recent speech in Rome, and errors of the media" on his blogsite "BishopBlogging"

Sad news from Nicaragua

Louie Crew received the sad news of the passing on Thanksgiving Day of Grant Gallup ... presbyter in the church of God and the first Integrity chaplain. Here is Louie's moving tribute to a true Giant of Justice.

A friend just called to say that Grant Gallup+ died last night. He was a charter member of Integrity's first chapter, in Chicago, and served as chaplain to that chapter. For several years in the 70s and 80s he edited Integrity Forum. For many years he was vicar of St. Andrew's on the near Westside of Chicago, and since about 1988 he has been a missioner in Managua, Nicaragua, where he founded Casa Maria.

Grant wrote frequently for The Witness and other progressive journals.

In 1976 he was president of the Episcopal liturgists association. His liturgical reflections Homily Grits (2000-2007) remains very popular.

He was known affectionately by his close friends as Sister Mary Rattle Beads, and rattle them he did. He was one of the first out priests in the USA, speaking on the Studs Terkel radio program.

I remember asking Grant how those at St. Andrew's were dealing with his openness. "The same way I deal with theirs." When someone's son was arrested for using crack, Grant was there to help the family cope. When someone needed groceries to make it to the end of the month, Grant was there for them. His larder was never empty. On some days half the block seemed to show up in his dining room for a meal. He had the gift of endless, joyful hospitality. He kept polished the silverware

Few people have influenced me as much as Grant. I loved him dearly. He taught me much about justice and about courage. He was a strong friend when I had few. He constantly pointed me to gospel imperatives. He eschewed pettiness.

For example; When we lived in Fort Valley, Georgia, Ernest was a hairdresser, and in our tiny apartment did the hair of some of the poorest women in Peach County. One of them called me down from my study to tell me that Dr. XXXXX, senior warden at my parish, was about to become a father again by his mistress. A couple of years before, Dr. XXXXX had collected vestry signatures for a petition asking me to "find some other place of worship more in sympathy with your concerns about gay people."

I called Mary Rattlebeads. "Shall I send Dr. XXXXX a Father's Day card?" I asked.

"You will do no such thing! A new life is coming into the world. If you say anything at all, you might call the mother and offer to sponsor the child at baptism, but only if you are prepared to meet the obligations of doing so. This is no time for pettiness!"

In the winter of 1978 when I was visiting him in Chicago, Grant was summoned to a shelter to comfort a wino whose Native American lover had committed suicide by drowning himself in the Chicago River. I went with him. The deacon who ran the shelter had a huge sign in gold gothic script: "Love your neighbor today: leave him alone".

After brief introductions, in a tiny office made into a parlor, Grant and I sat in silence with the grief stricken man for at least ten minutes. The man broke the silence: "It's a tough world for a girl these days."

"We two girls say Amen to that!" Grant said.

That passed the man's test. Then he trusted us and poured out his heart.

Pray for those of us who now pour out our hearts.

Louie, Quean Lutibelle

May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Slideshow

Giving Thanks!

Almighty and gracious God, We give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


O God, when I have food, help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work, help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home, help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain, help me to remember those who suffer,
And remembering, help me to destroy my complacency;
bestir my compassion, and be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed, those who cry out for what we take for granted.
~ Samuel F. Pugh (1904-2007)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A glimpse of "Thanksgiving past" ...

... as we gear up for "last minute prep" to make "Thanksgiving Now" happen!

Thought I'd take a break from blogging-as-usual and take a moment to (dare I say it?) "Focus on the Family" ... that would be MY family ... or at least this part of it: this photo of "the kids" I found earlier this week of a Thanksgiving Past ... (I'm guessing 1989.)

From left: son Jamie (the now Blackhawk crew chief enroute from Fort Campbell as we speak); son Brian (just got his G.E.D. and working in Kentucky where he'll spend Thanksgiving with his dad); niece Jennifer (coming down to join us for turkey tomorrow); and niece Christine (brand new mom-of-the-first-of-the-next-generation.)

How quickly they grow!

Whatever your family looks like, may this Thanksgiving be a time of blessing, joy and abundant love as we give thanks for all God's many gifts ... and pray that we might always remain both mindful and responsive to the needs of others!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

NPR Connects the dots between American Evangelicalistas & Ugandan Homophobia Bill

Author Jeff Sharlet was the guest on NPR's "Fresh Air" today.

The 'breaking news' in the NPR broadcast was the direct link Sharlet was able to make -- by "following the money" -- between "The Family" (a fellowship of powerful Evangelical Christian politicians) and the leadership in Uganda sponsoring the proposed draconian anti-homosexuality law.

Both Ugandan Legislator Bahati (who proposed the new law) and Buturo (the Ugandan Ethics and Morality Minister) are part of "The Family" and they (and President Museveni) receive money from this Washington group.

Listen to the whole thing at here: and resign yourselves to not having heard the last of THIS one.
La lucha continua!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tell The Episcopal Church to pull its head out of the sand and SPEAK UP for LGBT Ugandans!

Thoughts from a Ugandan about the efficacy of the wider Anglican Communion speaking up to oppose the pending anti-homosexuality bill in the Uganda legislature. [From our Changing Attitude colleagues]

“Funny, I am a Ugandan, desperately worried because of this Bill in parliament. If it passes, which most likely it will, I and my partner will face life imprisonment, or death, once caught.
“Is it surprising that I don’t mind anyone, even a 'foreigner' speaking out for me? Especially when I cannot speak out myself in my country about this bill? I used to like political correctness until I realised that life does not follow its rules. My country mates plan to kill me, and you fear to say no, because you don’t think you as a foreigner should comment?

"It happened in Nazi Germany, for Jews, and homosexuals; it happened in Rwanda as recently as 20 years ago.

"When, I pray, do you as a 'foreigner' plan to challenge my murderers that they have gone beyond the pale of humanity? When I am dead? Do you really think that will help?"

“I believe it is actually an opportunity for the Archbishop of Canterbury to take back the moral high ground from the Church of Uganda leaders. They have made it abundantly clear that they support the Bill. They support it in its terribleness. And now they have started back peddling. They are in a dilemma. It is almost impossible for them to recant, but the Bill is so terrible that they must recant!"

“Let the Archbishop just be gracious and negotiate with them. I am sure they don’t have a clue on how to retake their international standing. Besides now not having an 'official' stance on the bill, they are stopping the comments. On the day of the debate, the representative of the Church of Uganda who was supposed to support it did not appear. Yes, the pressure is working. Instead, his place was taken by someone else who was sadly funny. Except, the blood they are baying for is mine. They are not in danger!"

“Uganda is contemplating gay genocide. And yet, the people who are behind it are also adamant that they love gay people. They are just fearful of the spread of the gay disease. Not AIDS but homosexuality. They fear for themselves, they fear for their children, and their fear has translated into a fight for life, the lives of people like me. And we are losing.”

So, if "the pressure is working," we keep it up.

Email the Presiding Bishop. Connect with your Executive Council reps. Call your bishop. Get your RECTOR (or Vicar!) to call your bishop, TOO!
May those with ears to hear listen -- and may those with power to act and influence be mobilized to "proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" to our Ugandan brothers and sisters held captive by homophobia!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Suffragan Q&A Link

This morning's webcast of the Q&A Forum with the candidates for the upcoming bishop suffragan election here in Los Angeles is now archived online here.

Please do keep all our candidates ... along with the delegates to the December 4-5 Diocesan Convention and the whole Diocese of Los Angeles ... in your prayers as we prepare to elect two new bishops suffragan.

Cartoon du jour

Think you already know enough about being a Christian not to want to be one?

So here's my (kindergarten level graphics!) stab at an ad for TEC ... focusing on the good news we have to offer and focused toward those who have had every reason to be too disgusted by what they know about Christianity to want to bother with it.

Pilot for a TEC Episode of Mad Men?

No ... not the usual livid-over-imagined-apostasy "mad men" but the advertising kind from the hit show "Mad Men" (which if you don't watch I heartily recommend.)

In a laudable effort to shift into proactive gear and start getting the word out the country-at-large that the Episcopal Church is a very cool place to hang out if you like your welcome radical, your theology incarnational and your opportunties to put faith into action abundant, 815 has launched an ad campaign ... debuting in USA Today this week.

It's got all the great bullet points I pointed out last week from our TEC website but it wasn't exactly ... well, ZIPPY:

So here's the interesting "plot twist:" Inspired by the laudable effort but UN-inspired by the result, a Georgia parish blog has taken up the challenge and posted "Ad-o-Rama" a competition for alternative ad submissions ... which you should check out here ... but here's a sample:

Now THAT'S a great way to start off a morning!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sr. Joan Chittister on health care reform

"It's getting harder to tell what's sicker: the people in this country we fail to take care of medically or the health care system itself."

Read it all here ... in the National Catholic Reporter.

L.A. Bishops Suffragan Q&A Webcast TOMORROW

From the Diocese of Los Angeles website:

The Search and Nominating Committee of the Diocese of Los Angeles invites you to a Nov. 21 live forum/webcast at Campbell Hall, North Hollywood, 9:30-11:30 a.m. (Pacific Time) with the nominees for the Dec. 4 - 5 election of two bishops suffragan in the Diocese.

To log onto the webcast, click here ... to send questions for consideration for the candidate forum click here.

Almighty God, giver of every good gift: Look graciously on your Church, and so guide the minds of those who shall choose new bishops for this Diocese, that we may receive faithful pastors, who will care for your people and equip us for our ministries; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

And another thing ...

In 2006 The Episcopal Church adopted Resolution D005 -- "Oppose Criminalization of Homosexuality." What's the point of passing resolutions we're not willing to work to make realities? And how do you "oppose the criminalization of homosexuality" and NOT speak up against the legslation pending in Uganda?

What is this ... the ecclesial version of Professor Harold Hill's "think system" from "The Music Man?"

We don't actually DO anything ... we just "think" justice into rolling down like waters?



Resolved, That the 75th General Convention adopt the following statement:

The 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church declares that efforts to criminalize homosexual behavior are incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, incompatible with resolutions at successive Lambeth conferences including the 1998 Lambeth Resolution I.10, and incompatible with the Primates’ statement from Dromantine which declares that the, “victimization or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship.”

In affirming these consistent statements we declare our opposition to the imposition of civil or criminal penalties, especially imprisonment and execution, upon gay and lesbian people and our opposition to laws anywhere in the world that specifically target and impose imprisonment for homosexual behavior, speech, or assembly of gay and lesbian people and their supporters; and be it further

Resolved, That the 75th General Convention commend the government of Brazil for it courageous efforts to extend the protections of the U.N.’s Declaration on Human Rights to include gay and lesbian people and that the Secretary of Convention convey this resolution to the Brazilian Ambassador to the United States and the Episcopal Primate of Brazil. We commend to their attention Lambeth 1998 I.1, which affirms and adopts the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights; and be it further

Resolved, That the 75th General Convention direct the Executive Council to monitor the progress of efforts to criminalize or decriminalize homosexuality and efforts such as Brazil’s to extend the protections of basic human rights; and be it further

Resolved, That the Secretary of the 75th General Convention convey this resolution to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, all Primates in the Anglican Communion, the President of the United States, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Secretary General of the United Nations, Anglican Observer of the United Nations, heads of state of all nations represented by Bishops and Deputies, all U.S. Senators and Representatives and the Governors of all states or territories within the pastoral jurisdiction of The Episcopal Church.


Turning up the heat on Uganda

Episcopal Life Online files this story about the ongoing controversy over the draconian anti-gay legislation pending in Uganda, which begins:

[Episcopal News Service] A proposed bill currently before the Ugandan Parliament that, if passed, would extend prison sentences for homosexuals and introduce the death penalty in certain cases has generated outrage from a number of religious groups while some Anglican leaders are being more cautious with their responses.
"The Episcopal Church, like the Anglican Communion as a whole, is very clear in its support for the human rights of all people, including gay and lesbian persons," said Alexander Baumgarten, director of the Episcopal Church's Office of Government Relations. "For us in the Episcopal Church, that means we oppose all abuses of human rights, whether in our own midst or in other parts of the world, and we seek to make that opposition known through our ministry of advocacy."

from our UCC/Disciples of Christ colleagues:
Global Ministries Responds to Uganda's Bill on Sexual Discrimination

Dear President Museveni, Prime Minister Nsibambi, and Speaker Kiwanuka,

On behalf of Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada, we write to share our concern about the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, which was tabled on October 14, 2009.

Global Ministries has, for many years, been in solidarity with Uganda on HIV/AIDS campaigns. We, along with the global community, have celebrated you as a model for Africa in the fight against HIV & AIDS. You have effectively addressed the pandemic with strong government leadership, broad-based partnerships and effective public education campaigns, all contributing to a decline in the number of people living with HIV and AIDS. You have also helped other African nations to respond to the crisis and reduce the number of new HIV/AIDS infections. Given your years of leadership to Africa in the fight against HIV, we want to share our concern about the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009.

It is our humble opinion that the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 violates the rights of God's children in Uganda. It punishes the free association and expression that is necessary for a flourishing civil society, and creates a climate of fear and hostility which undermines the citizenship and solidarity of all Ugandans. We agree with Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG) that this bill will "set a dangerous precedent and send a signal that any Ugandan's privacy is unguaranteed—all of our civil society could be put under attack. If this bill is passed into law, it will clearly endanger the work of all human rights defenders and members of civil society in Uganda."

Because the bill also prohibits any organizing around sexual orientation, it will make it difficult, if not impossible, to do effective HIV prevention activities in Uganda, which rely on an ability to talk frankly about sexuality and provide condoms and other safer-sex material. "The proposed bill also support stigma and discrimination against HIV-positive people, and would undermine years of effort to tackle the epidemic, " according to Solome Nakaweesi-Kimbugwe, a human rights activist, and Frank Mugisha, co-chair of SMUG. Further, we believe this bill would criminalize the legitimate work of national and international activists and organizations working for the defense and promotion of human rights in Uganda. It would also put major barriers in the path of effective HIV/AIDS prevention efforts. Discrimination aimed at people who are most affected by HIV drives people underground which research consistently shows facilitates the spread of HIV

We request that you consider the concerns raised in this letter, which are also the concerns of many throughout world who are committed to creating a community of peace with justice for all of God's children.

Rev. David Vargas - Co-executive of Global Ministries
Rev. Cally Rogers-Witte - Co-executive of Global Ministries


And this from the Chicago Consultation:


Group Sends Letters to Presiding Bishop, House of Deputies President,
Archbishop of Canterbury, and Archbishop of Uganda

CHICAGO, IL, November 20, 2009—The Chicago Consultation today asked the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury; the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church; President of the House of Deputies Dr. Bonnie Anderson; and the Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi, Primate of the Anglican Church of Uganda, to speak out against draconian anti-gay legislation introduced in the Ugandan Parliament last month.

“The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and Jesus teaches us to care for the vulnerable and the marginalized. The proposed Ugandan legislation is as far from those commandments as it could be,” said the Rev. Lowell Grisham, co-convener of the Chicago Consultation. “The Anglican Communion has committed itself to the pastoral care of gay and lesbian people. At a time like this, we implore its leaders to speak out.”

Uganda’s so-called “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” proposes the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” and life imprisonment for touching another individual with homosexual intent. Belonging to a gay organization, advocating gay rights and providing condoms or safe-sex advice to gays and lesbians could result in a seven-year prison sentence. Failing to report violations of the law within 24 hours would be punishable by a three-year prison term. In contravention of international law, the new legislation would also apply to Ugandans living in other countries.

In 1998, the Lambeth Conference, a worldwide gathering of Anglican bishops passed Resolution 1.10, committing themselves to the pastoral care of gays and lesbians. The General Convention of the Episcopal Church passed legislation (D005) in 2006 opposing the criminalization of homosexuality.

Seventeen human rights organizations including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have pointed out that the bill would criminalize their work and significantly diminish the effectiveness of HIV/AIDS prevention efforts. Even Exodus International, which promotes controversial therapies to change a person’s sexual identity, opposes this bill because it is so harsh.

“Across North America, Europe and Africa, people of goodwill oppose this draconian legislation,” Grisham said. “But within the Anglican Communion, only the Church of Canada has found its voice. We are eager to hear our leaders speak out on behalf of frightened, isolated and persecuted gays and lesbians in Uganda, and on behalf of all Anglicans who believe in the dignity of every human being.” Grisham said.

Spokesmen for the Church of Uganda initially supported the bill, but advocated that the death penalty provision and extradition provisions be removed. As the international backlash against the bill has intensified, the Church has retreated from its original position and now says it has no position on the bill.

American evangelist Rick Warren, who has close ties to Archbishop Orombi and the Ugandan church, has refused to condemn the bill, saying he has no position on it.


But wait -- there's more! Episcopal Cafe has this "breaking news:"

A special session of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church has been called to discuss the church's position on the "Anti-Homosexuality Bill" currently before the Ugandan Parliament. The meeting will be conducted via conference call on the afternoon of December 7, according to numerous sources.
. .
Special sessions of Executive Council can be called by the Presiding Bishop or, as in this instance, by a petition signed by at least nine members of the council.
Council members have been discussing the Ugandan issue informally among themselves for more than a month. Some members of the council were eager for the church to join 17 human rights organizations and the Anglican Church of Canada in condemning the bill, while others argued that such action would do more harm than good.


Meanwhile, here's the VERY folksy, personal note I got from the Presiding Bishop's office in response to my email urging TEC to speak up:
To: Susan Russell
Subject: From the Office of Bishop Jefferts Schori
Dear Canon Russell,

Thank you for your recent email to Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. This is to confirm that it has been received by our office.

Once again, thank you for writing.

Miguel Angel Escobar
Office of the Presiding Bishop


I keep remembering the text Bishop Katharine picked for her investiture:

Luke 4:14-21
Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

Maybe it's just me, but I'm having a hard time reconciling those words with the actions (or lack thereof) coming from 815 on this to-me-oughta-be-a-no-brainer-of-course-we're-against-this-and-we're-called-to-use-our-moral-authority-to-speak-out-for-those-who-can't-speak-for-themselves issue.

Stay tuned. And if you HAVEN'T taken the few minutes it'll take you to add your voice to those urging action from our leadership, there's no time like the present. Click here to email Bishop Katharine's office and let her know that we expect more than this from those we've elected to lead TEC!

AND be sure to quote from Resolution D005 of the 2006 General Convention: "Oppose Criminalization of Homosexuality"

Resolved, That the 75th General Convention adopt the following statement:

The 75th General Convention of The Episcopal Church declares that efforts to criminalize homosexual behavior are incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, incompatible with resolutions at successive Lambeth conferences including the 1998 Lambeth Resolution I.10, and incompatible with the Primates’ statement from Dromantine which declares that the, “victimization or diminishment of human beings whose affections happen to be ordered towards people of the same sex is anathema to us. We assure homosexual people that they are children of God, loved and valued by him, and deserving of the best we can give of pastoral care and friendship.”

In affirming these consistent statements we declare our opposition to the imposition of civil or criminal penalties, especially imprisonment and execution, upon gay and lesbian people and our opposition to laws anywhere in the world that specifically target and impose imprisonment for homosexual behavior, speech, or assembly of gay and lesbian people and their supporters; and be it further

Resolved, That the 75th General Convention commend the government of Brazil for it courageous efforts to extend the protections of the U.N.’s Declaration on Human Rights to include gay and lesbian people and that the Secretary of Convention convey this resolution to the Brazilian Ambassador to the United States and the Episcopal Primate of Brazil. We commend to their attention Lambeth 1998 I.1, which affirms and adopts the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights; and be it further

Resolved, That the 75th General Convention direct the Executive Council to monitor the progress of efforts to criminalize or decriminalize homosexuality and efforts such as Brazil’s to extend the protections of basic human rights; and be it further

Resolved, That the Secretary of the 75th General Convention convey this resolution to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, all Primates in the Anglican Communion, the President of the United States, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Secretary General of the United Nations, Anglican Observer of the United Nations, heads of state of all nations represented by Bishops and Deputies, all U.S. Senators and Representatives and the Governors of all states or territories within the pastoral jurisdiction of The Episcopal Church.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

From this week's "New Yorker"

Sad news

From Matt Haines, Integrity's Province 8 Provincial Coordinator:

Dear Friends,

I am very sad to announce that our brother Bruce Mason of Portland died suddenly Monday morning. He leaves behind his beloved life-partner Robert Byrd, and a host of family and friends.

Bruce was a kind, faithful and loving servant of Christ. For decades he has served in a large variety of ministries at SS Peter and Paul's Episcopal Church in Portland. He worked with that parish's feeding program and was an active member of the Companions of St. Columba. He was well known for his leadership in the Diocese of Oregon as well.

Bruce volunteered locally and nationally for Integrity. As an Integrity Vice-President, Bruce worked tirelessly for the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians. He was a true mentor to those who followed in his footsteps.

Bruce's funeral is scheduled for Saturday, November 28th, at 10:00 at SS Peter and Paul Episcopal Church 8147 SE Pine St. Portland OR 97215

Please keep Robert in your prayers as well as the countless people who mourn the loss of such a great friend. We will all miss him greatly

Matt Haines
Integrity USA, Inc.
Province VIII Coordinator

Bruce was a member of the Integrity Board when I joined it during the 2000-2003 triennium and is pictured here (back row, second-from-left) in this photo we had with former Presiding Bishop Ed Browning when we met in Oregon in 2003.

May he rest in peace and rise in glory!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Groundbreaking Study on how U.S. conservatives have exported homophobia to Africa

This is SOOOOO not "breaking news" to anyone who has been part of working for justice for LGBT folk in the Anglican Communion over this last decade-plus but it IS confirmation of what we've been saying all along!

Read. Mark. Learn. Inwardly digest. And then ACT!

A groundbreaking investigation by Political Research Associates (PRA) discovered that sexual minorities in Africa have become collateral damage to our domestic conflicts and culture wars. U.S. conservative evangelicals and those opposing gay pastors and bishops within mainline Protestant denominations woo Africans in their American fight.

Read the "Executive Summary" here.
The full report is here.
Find out more about the anti-gay bill pending in Uganda here.
Check out where RICK WARREN fits into the picture here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Day of Prayer for Uganda

If you're not in the loop on this one, here's the summary from Father Jake:

The Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill is a nasty piece of work which would make the death penalty the sentence for some homosexual acts.

Anglicans have been urged to condemn this bill, but so far there has been silence from Canterbury and York. The Anglican Church of Uganda backpedaled just a little from their normal strident homphobic stance, suggesting that the death penalty may be a bit much (you think?). But not a word from Henry Orombi, which I suppose isn't a big surprise, considering his past performance when confronted with the suffering and torture of gay and lesbian Ugandans.

Do read the rest of Jake's post here ... which includes details on today's World Day of Prayer for Uganda and this prayer:

Look with pity, O heavenly Father, upon the people in every land who live with injustice, terror, disease and death as their constant companions. Have mercy upon us. Help us to eliminate our cruelty to these our neighbors. Strengthen those who spend their lives establishing equal protection of the law and equal opportunities for all. And grant that every one of us may enjoy a fair portion of the riches of this world, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
The Anglican Church of Canada has issued a strong statement condemning the legislation (and so has Integrity) but so far nothing from Canterbury. Or New York.

So here's what ... let's all take a minute out of our busy day to drop a note to +Katharine asking for a word of hope from TEC to the LGBT Anglicans in Uganda. Join me in and add your voice to those working to turn those resolutions we pass into realities ... to speak out for the last, the least and the lost ... to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor to those held captive by fear, intolerance and homophobia.

Click here. Now. Do it. Speak up. If we don't, who will?

UPDATE: Here's mine:

Dear Bishop Katharine,

I write to join my voice with those asking you to speak out on our behalf and in opposition to the pending draconian anti-gay legislation in Uganda. As you know, the Anglican Church of Canada has spoken out and we who pray for the healing of homophobia throughout the whole human family urge our Episcopal Church to go and do likewise.
At your investiture you called us to join with you in proclaiming the Year of the Lord's Favor in releasing the captive and speaking out for the least, the last and the lost. I urge you to claim for us your authority to proclaim that good news to those LGBT people yearning to hear it in Uganda.
Thank you and my God continue to bless your work and your witness on behalf of God's inclusive love.


(The Reverend Canon) Susan Russell
All Saints Church
132 North Euclid Avenue
Pasadena CA 91101

News from "O Little Diocese of Bethlehem"

Yes, it's "good tidings of great joy" ... but not the baby-in-the-manger kind -- it's the blessing-same-sex-unions kind.

This just in on Episcopal Cafe:

The Rt. Rev. Paul Marshall has released the following guidelines for clergy and congregations wishing to move ahead with pastoral provision for same sex couples. The same guidelines apply for all couples coming for blessing (counseling, baptism, etc) - same sex or opposite sex. Those married or in civil unions from other states may use Blessing of a Civil Marriage. Pennsylvania couples are to use the rites prepared by the Diocese of Washington (DC).

November 16, 2009
To: Clergy of the Diocese of Bethlehem
From: Bishop Paul
Re: Pastoral Provision for Same-Sex Couples

In accordance with General Convention 2009 observation that that “the discernment of The Episcopal Church is that there are no theological barriers to blessing … same-sex relationships that are based on love, fidelity and lifelong commitment …” I offer the following interim measures, which you may bring to your parish or not, at your discretion.

As you know from our discussion at our Retreat, the General Convention, in addition to the words just quoted, empowered bishops to make “Generous Provision” regarding pastoral and liturgical ministry to same-sex couples. What follows are the pastoral provisions I feel able to make at this time, and I hope they may be seen as generous.

Read the details here ... and give thanks for Bishop Marshall and for ALL those working to make the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments not just a resolution but a reality!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

"... fill her with grace and power, and make her a priest in your church."

On Sunday, November 15, 2009 @ 4:06 p.m.PST (I know that because I "tweeted it" in real time!) I heard these words ... coming through the speaker on my computer here in the office ... as I listened to the audio stream of the in-progress ordination of Susan Slaughter as a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

Over my many years in the church I've sat through MANY ordinations ... two of my own and dozens of others ... some as congregant, some as litanist, some as MC, a couple as preacher. I was even a thurifer once. But this one is going on the list ... this virtual opportunity to have my life "closely linked" with those celebrating today with Susan -- with her family, congregation and diocese -- at the new beginnings her ordination exemplify.

Wow. Just "Wow!"

If you have to ask what the big deal is, I probably don't have time between now and having to scoot downstairs for baptismal preparation class at 5:30 followed by new member welcome rehearsal at 6:30 followed by new member class at 7 to explain it. (We're finishing up our Fall New Member class series and sixty-something new members will join All Saints Church next Sunday at the 11: 15 service. Drop by if you're in the neighborhood!:)

Anyway, back to the ordination thing.

I guess it's like trying to explain to someone who wasn't alive then -- or old enough to pay attention -- what it meant when the Berlin Wall came down twenty years ago this week. The rector used that event as a sermon illustration this morning -- about the power of compassion combined with perseverance to bring peaceful change against all odds and predictions. (It was a particularly great Ed Bacon Sermon ... it should be up on the website shortly -- check it out.)

And for who have been at work in the fields of the Lord for lo these MANY years it's as big a miracle. As huge a milestone. As large a cause for celebration. And a moment to rejoice and be glad in.

As I'm typing this the closing hymn ... "Lift High the Cross" ... is coming through the speakers on my desktop at All Saints Church in Pasadena from the service concluding at St. Luke's in the Meadow.

Let us go forth into the world, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit.
Thanks be to God!

Thanks be to God, indeed. Allelluia, Alleluia!

So much for the "what about the children" argument

from London's Sunday Times:

Lesbians parents better at raising children
by Maurice Chittenden

Lesbians make better parents than conventional couples, according to a director of the government’s parenting academy.

Stephen Scott, director of research at the National Academy for Parenting Practitioners, told a meeting last week that the latest research showed that children of such couples did better in life.

His arguments are supported by experts who have found, over years of research, that children brought up by female couples are more aspirational and more confident in championing social justice. Such strong endorsement from the government’s main agency for parenting will give a boost to gay parents.

Read the rest here. And if you don't believe "the experts" maybe Mary Cheney will work for you (from the conclusion of the Times feature):

Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of Dick Cheney, the former American vice-president, who is expecting her second baby later this month, said in a recent interview: “Every piece of remotely responsible research that has been done in the last 20 years has shown there is no difference between children raised by same-sex parents and children raised by opposite-sex parents. What matters is being raised in a stable, loving environment.”

Another inch of the planet growing greener in Fort Worth

It's a big church day for me, as we participate in the "Charter for Compassion" movement at All Saints Church this morning. But first I wanted to share the joy of a VERY special day for our friends in the Diocese of Fort Worth:

From the Diocese of Fort Worth website:

Today's historic ordination of Susan Slaughter to the priesthood is a day long-awaited in our diocese.

Please join us. And if you can't be at St. Luke's in the Meadow, you can share our joy at your own computer. We are streaming the ordination live over the Internet through our diocesan website. Click on the button on the upper right side of the website home page.

The ordination begins at 5:00 p.m. Central Time. Shield the joyous!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Theology Quiz: Short Essay Question

Noted theologian and biblical scholar Carrie Prejean recently made the following exegetical statement:
I don't think there's anything wrong with getting breast implants as a Christian. I think it's a personal decision. I don't see anywhere in the Bible where it says you shouldn't get breast implants.
In 500 words or less, defend or challenge that statement using source, form and redaction criticism as appropriate. Do not neglect to consider the sitz im leben of cited texts supporting your position and to footnote outside sources. Spelling counts.

Finally, do not hesitate to bring into your argument the rank hypocrisy of a woman arguing the Biblical efficacy of boob jobs "because they're not mentioned in the Bible" while making a career of yammering about the Bible condemning "gay marriage" when Jesus said zero, squat, zilch, nada about homosexuality in general or same-sex marriage in particular ... and the handful of texts historically used to condemn homosexuality* have nothing to do with committed, life-long unions but with ritual purity, gang rape and cultic prostitution.
[*For remedial reading on the aforementioned "clobber passages" read Mel White's "What the Bible Says & Doesn't Say About Homosexuality."]
Read. Set. Write!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Point/Counterpoint re: St. Luke's in-the-Mountains, La Crescenta

Parishioner Patrick McDonald sent over these two "Letters to the Editor" recently published in the Crescenta Valley Weekly in response to the paper's feature on the return of St. Luke's to the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.


The people, and Fr. Bryan Jones of the St. Luke’s Episcopal Church cannot conceive the damage that has occurred to this unique, wonderful community. The gloom that has passed over the righteous, dedicated followers of the Scriptures is immeasurable. It has been a retracted struggle of obedience to the Christian faith, not adherence to an ecclestical (sic) tradition of a denomination maintaining ownership of the church property.

In Leviticus 18, 20 and Romans 1, one will read of God’s condemnation of the homosexual ‘life style.’ The congregants of the Anglican diocese chose to obey the Holy Bible in 2006. Their holy determination might have been recognized by the other members of the original church. As is so common in many churches, they chose to unwisely follow the misguided leaders of the diocese. Thus, it remains to be seen if the present church at Foothill and Rosemont make the sacrosanct decision to adhere to the clear teaching of the Christian faith.

Kenneth Grissom
La Crescenta


I feel I must respond to Kenneth Grissom’s letter in the October 22nd edition of the Crescenta Valley Weekly (“Chastises Those Who ‘Follow Misguided Leaders’”). He says a gloom has passed over his righteous community. I returned to St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church on Sunday, October 18 after a 6 year absence. What I experienced was far from gloomy but rather a joyful and spiritual celebration of God’s all-inclusive love.

Mr. Grissom seems to suggest that anyone who doesn’t believe in strict adherence to the laws set down in Leviticus is not a true Christian and is “following false leaders”. Leviticus does in fact condemn homosexuality as it does unruly children who curse or disobey their parents and people who cheat on their spouses. Leviticus goes on the demand that all of these people be put to death. Oh yes, and Leviticus also says it’s alright to own slaves as long as they’re not from your own country.

Mr. Grissom has a right to believe anything he chooses but I would suggest that too much time spent on the condemnations of Leviticus and too little celebrating the teachings of Jesus (who never mentioned homosexuality) would make anyone gloomy.

Patrick McDonald
La Crescenta

NPR: Gay Rights In America: Past, Present And Future

Our friend, Bishop Gene Robinson, had a great time on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" today on a show entitled:

Gay Rights In America: Past, Present And Future

November 12, 2009
Salt Lake City has unanimously passed an ordinance prohibiting discrimination against gays and lesbians in employment and housing. And a measure legalizing same-sex marriage is moving forward in Washington, D.C. Eugene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, weighs in on the state of gay rights in America.

You can listen to it here ... (and yes, they got his name wrong. It's "Gene" ... not "Eugene.")


Here's online the letter I just signed to support ENDA ... the Employment Non-Discrimination Act wending its way through Congress:


Dear Member of Congress,

As clergy and faith leaders from a broad diversity of religious traditions, we call on you to support H.R. 3017 and S. 1584, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), to ensure the fair treatment of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Americans in the workplace.

We believe it is immoral to deprive anyone of the means to feed, clothe, and care for themselves and their families. When LGBT people are denied the right to work simply for living honestly, their basic humanity is fundamentally denied. As pastors, imams, rabbis, ministers, pandits, clerks, and local faith community leaders, we know firsthand the devastating effects the loss of a job can have on individuals, families, and communities. Though we are all pained by the economic hardships befalling our nation, loss of a job because of discrimination against one’s identity incurs an even more devastating sense of personal loss and humiliation. This prejudice is not benign – it hurts real families in our congregations.

We affirm the sacred dignity and worth of all human beings – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and straight, men and women – for all are created equal, a reflection of the divine (Genesis 1:27; Mosnad Ahmad, #22978). Our faiths unite us in a moral obligation to treat others with the respect we desire for ourselves and to pursue justice by preventing further harm from coming to those most marginalized by our society (UdanaVarga 5:18; Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva, 113.8; Isaiah 10:1-2; Matthew 25:40). As heirs to these prophetic traditions, and indeed the narrative of this nation, our advocacy is grounded in the belief that advancing equality also means ensuring economic opportunity for our LGBT brothers and sisters. Swift enactment of an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act is needed.

ENDA is a common-sense, measured approach to removing discriminatory barriers to employment for LGBT people while respecting the sacred texts and teachings of America’s diverse faith traditions. This bill broadly exempts from its scope all religious organizations protected by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act thereby honoring the free exercise of religion and conscience we each hold dear as religious leaders in our respective houses of worship, seminaries, religious federations, organizations and other faith-based institutions.

Extending the full, long overdue rights and responsibilities of citizenship to the LGBT community is a pressing moral, social and economic priority. We urge Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 3017, S. 1584) to uphold the American promise of justice and equality for all.
Add Your Support

As a faith leader, I affirm the right of all people to earn a living and be treated fairly in the workplace.


If you agree, go (here) and do likewise. Because it's crazy that in two-thousand -almost-ten people can still be FIRED FROM THEIR JOBS just because they are (or appear to be) gay or lesbian, bisexual or transgender. And we've waited FAR too long for a president who would sign the bill that we're working to pass.

I was doing some photo archiving for a diocesan convention project and came across this picture from a Pride Parade Past ...

See there in the background? The sign on the truck with the balloons? That's right -- ENDA. That was 1999, folks. Ten years ago. And we're still at it. Time to move forward on this one the way this congress finally did on hate crimes.

They can do it. You can help. Sign on to the letter of support. And stay tuned for what else we can do to move this one from the "things left undone" column to the "DONE!" column!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Marriage Equality Vote Coming in New York State

[Albany NY] Flanked by four members of the State Senate Democratic majority and the leader of New York's LGBT lobby, Governor David A. Paterson announced an agreement by which the Senate leadership has, for the first time, agreed to debate and vote on a marriage equality bill before the end of 2009.

"This is the first time that the Senate leadership has indicated that it will support a vote on marriage equality," the governor said. "This is a stunning and very happy development in this process. I will continue to place marriage equality on any special sessions that I call on Monday and Tuesday because I feel that the bill should be debated immediately. However, I have profound respect for the leadership of the Senate and the process that they took to bring us to this vote."

Read the rest here ... and keep the good people of New York in your prayers as they work to extend the "liberty and justice for all" our veterans have fought for down through the years to gay and lesbian families through long overdue
marriage equality legislation!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A "making lemonade out of lemons" story in the Wall Street Journal

Church Schism Paves Way for Female Priests
by STEPHANIE SIMON [source link]

[Note quote from fabulous colleague Katie Sherrod at the end of the piece.]
FORT WORTH, Texas -- For three decades, a succession of conservative bishops here barred women from being ordained as priests in the Episcopal Church.

But the conservatives went their own way last fall, forming the Anglican Church in North America. And so on Sunday, exactly one year after that schism, Susan Slaughter will become the first woman in the Episcopal Church's Forth Worth diocese to don a red stole for ordination to the priesthood.

"God works in mysterious ways," Ms. Slaughter said, "and this is one of those."

The national Episcopal Church has been ordaining women priests since 1977, but a handful of holdout bishops around the country, including here in Fort Worth, refused. Bishop Jack Iker viewed women's ordination as a departure from traditional church practices and a break from the Biblical model of male priesthood.

Bishop Iker and the traditional faction of the diocese that he leads have taken little note of Ms. Slaughter's pending ordination. "What they're doing, they're doing," Dean Ryan Reed said. "We're heading down two different paths."

Those aligned with the national church, meanwhile, are rejoicing. "It's like Juneteenth," said Father Vernon Gotcher, referring to a holiday marking the day the last slaves in America were liberated. "You discover that you are free. The new has arrived."

The ceremony at St. Luke's in the Meadow -- where Ms. Slaughter will become rector after her ordination -- is expected to be packed. It will be streamed live online for those who can't find seats.

Ms. Slaughter said she's overwhelmed. "The joy others are feeling humbles me," she said.

A former speech pathologist and counselor, Ms. Slaughter said she felt a call to the priesthood decades ago but did her best to ignore it. "It scared me to death," she said. Other women who felt the same call had left the diocese over the decades to be ordained elsewhere. In fact, Bishop Iker encouraged them to do so, giving them good references to pave their way.

But Ms. Slaughter's family was in Fort Worth; her career was here; her church was here. She stayed.

Bishop Iker did ordain her as a deacon in 2002. In that role, she helped prepare the altar for communion and read aloud the Scripture during Mass. She ministered to the poor, the sick and the lonely. It was fulfilling, but it did not still her tug toward the priesthood.

After the Fort Worth diocese fractured a year ago, Ms. Slaughter—who had been taking seminary courses on her own for a decade—met with a bishop from the national church, Edwin Gulik Jr. He will preside over the ordination.

"It will be a great moment," Bishop Gulik said.

Ms. Slaughter says she doesn't consider her ordination a political statement but she recognizes that many in the audience will find the moment deeply meaningful.

Katie Sherrod is one of them. The wife of a retired Episcopal priest, Ms. Sherrod still recalls with absolute clarity the moment she first heard a woman consecrate the Eucharist, years ago, in a different diocese.

"My whole life, I'd heard it said in a man's voice," Ms. Sherrod said. So when a woman priest held up the host, or communion wafer, and declared 'This is my body," Ms. Sherrod said joy and relief washed over her. "It was the first time I got it. It spoke to me. I was part of the body of Christ too," Ms. Sherrod said. "It changed everything."

Monday, November 09, 2009

All Saints Church Celebrates ALL Veterans on Veterans Day

from the All Saints Church News Blog

[Pasadena CA] On Sunday, November 8th, All Saints Church observed the upcoming Veterans Day holiday with opportunities for parish members to celebrate all veterans.

At one set of tables on the quad lawn, parishioners signed Christmas cards to send to troops in Afghanistan. "The emotional health of our young men and women is extremely important as they work in surroundings that are challenging both physically and emotionally," said Susan Johnson, who helped coordinate the card signing effort. "These cards help us assure them that we care!"

At another set of tables, parishioners lined up to sign letters to their congressional representatives urging support for HR1283 to repeal the "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy.

"'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' is one of the most discriminatory practices of our times," said the Reverend Ed Bacon, All Saints' rector. "It empowers the U.S. military to fire thousands of dedicated, highly trained service members on the basis of their sexual orientation. President Obama has promised to overturn this policy, and we need to be sure that our representatives in Congress are co-sponsors of this important legislation."

The letter being sent by All Saints Church members to their representatives read:

As a person of faith, I am appalled at the injustice of the United States’ military policy: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, and I urge you to co-sponsor H.R. 1283 immediately. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell must be repealed and eliminated in this session of Congress, it has destroyed the hopes and careers of too many dedicated service personnel and it must end.

President Obama has promised to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, based on its blatant discriminatory practices. Every study commissioned by the US military has concluded that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell weakens morale, and even national security itself, by requiring that dedicated, well trained and educated service personnel are required to violate codes of honor by not admitting to their full identities.

Thousands of Americans have been denied their admirable life goals and sincerely respectable desires: to serve the United States military, as they have been called and trained to do. Dismissing service members based on their sexual orientation is an injustice which can no longer be tolerated.

I urge you to join your colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives today, and add your voice to those who are calling for justice in the U.S. military. Co-sponsor H.R.1283.

"Core values for All Saints Church are making God's love tangible and putting our faith into action," said the Reverend Susan Russell, an All Saints Senior Associate and the mother of a son on active duty with the U.S. Army. "What we saw on Sunday were both of those values in action, as parish members reached out in love to those serving our country and spoke out in advocacy for those wishing to serve but kept from doing so because of their sexual orientation."

"I'm very proud to serve a parish that celebrates ALL veterans in such an outward and visible way on Veterans Day."


The Episcopal Church Welcomes You

So I'm having a crabby day.

My cell phone died. My office computer has a black-screen-of-death with words like "corrupt system disk" on it and I'm reduced to trying to get SOMETHING done on someone else's computer while I wait for the IT-angels to come fix mine. Grrr!

So -- doing research for a Veteran's Day piece, I went to the website -- and while I was being crabby about having to wait for the spalsh page to download before I got to what I went there for, I read what was ON the slash page:

As Episcopalians, we are followers of Jesus Christ, our Lord, and believe in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The Episcopal Church has members in the United States, as well as in Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Haiti, Honduras, Micronesia, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, Venezuela, and the Virgin Islands.

We strive to love our neighbors as ourselves and respect the dignity of every person.

The Episcopal Church is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and traces its heritage to the beginnings of Christianity.

Our liturgy retains ancient structure and traditions, and is celebrated in many languages.

We welcome men and women, married or celibate, to be ordained as bishops, priests, and deacons.

We believe in amendment of life, the forgiveness of sin, and life everlasting.

Lay people exercise a vital role in the governance and ministry of our Church.

Holy Communion may be received by all baptized Christians, not only members of the Episcopal Church.

We uphold the Bible and worship with the Book of Common Prayer.

We affirm that committed relationships are lifelong and monogamous. Episcopalians also recognize that there is grace after divorce and do not deny the sacraments to those who have been divorced.

We affirm that issues such as birth control are matters of personal informed conscience.

We celebrate our unity in Christ while honoring our differences, always putting the work of love before uniformity of opinion.

All are welcome to find a spiritual home in the Episcopal Church.


Wow. I'm less crabby now. Going across the quad to celebrate Noon:10 Eucharist and then back to hope for progress in the technology front ... but deeply grateful to be able to say, "Yep, I AM an Episcopalian!"