Thirty five years ago at its General Convention meeting in Minneapolis, the Episcopal Church passed this landmark resolution:
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That it is the sense of this General Convention that homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church.Some of us have been arguing that everything we've done since then to move our church forward on LGBT inclusion has been turning that full and equal claim from a resolution to a reality. And it's been tempting sometimes to ask "what part of 'full and equal' don't you get?" as we've moved forward ... a step at a time; a resolution at a time; an inch at a time.
But move ahead we have. And we are now on the verge of truly making that 1976 resolution a reality. We are less than a year now from the next meeting of our General Convention ... this one in 2012 in Indianapolis. On the agenda for that meeting will be finishing the work of authorizing liturgical resources for the blessing of same-gender relationships, continuing to work for marriage equality and moving further forward on transgender equity.
All of those are important and (IMHO) obtainable goals. And the fact that we can say that 35 years after it took a resolution of convention to say that homosexual persons were children of God ... well, let's just leave it at there's been a lot of hard work and water under the bridge to justice for all.
Arguably the leader in that work in the Episcopal Church has been Integrity ... the organization founded in 1974 by Louie Crew as a newsletter-that-grew-into-a-movement ... and that I was honored to serve as president from 2003-2009. I'm also honored to still serve ... as a member-at-large and as a member of the "Stakeholders' Council" ... and today I want to celebrate the "new and improved" leadership team ready to keep bending that arc of history toward justice.
● President Caro Hall is a long-time friend, gifted preacher, pastor and academic with an extraordinary portfolio of leadership on both sides of the Anglican pond. Her knowledge and experience give Integrity exactly what it needs to continue to build on the success of the past and grow into the next phase of its organizational life.And so as we gear up for the next Convention Countdown I'm going to be "counting down" with gratitude that we've got the right people in the right place at the right time. I'm going to be giving thanks for the gifts they bring -- for the diversity they represent -- and for their willingness to step up and take the baton as we keep moving toward the finish line marked "the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments."
● Vice President for National Affairs Jon Richardson is young, smart, energetic and creative and was a huge asset to both our Columbus and Anaheim General Convention teams as well as part of our Lambeth 2008 witness. It is such a delight to see him stepping up into leadership at the national board level and I am confident we'll be in good hands as we head toward Indianapolis.
● Vice President for Local Affairs Susan McCann is a valiant straight ally who has tremendous gifts for building bridges across difference and forming coalitions for justice at the local and regional level. She brings precisely the gifts needed at this point to continue strengthening our local and grassroots networks & alliances --including but not limited to the inter-denominational "Believe Out Loud" program.
● Communication Director Louise Brooks brings years of experience as a communication and media professional to the work of "messaging" Integrity -- both internally and externally. Upcoming workshops on "multi-platform communication" and an ambitious joint education project with TransEpiscopal are but two of the projects under her direction.
● And Treasurer Elisabeth Jacobs -- the most recent addition to the current Board -- brings not only her years of experience as an active Episcopalian but her gifts as a financial professional to the work of Integrity's money manager.
And if you want to mark your own calendars for the countdown there are currently 354 days until General Convention 2012. Tick. Tock!