Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Comment on Integrity Leadership Transition

This morning the Reverend Gwen Fry announced her resignation as President of Integrity in a letter posted here ... and the Board has given notice of a process to elect her successor. Asked for comment by the ENS reporter covering the story (which you can read here) I wrote the following:

Gwen has been a long time leader in the movement for the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the work and witness of the Episcopal Church and her resignation today as Integrity President comes after a long period of discernment factoring her own health and the health of the organization – an organization that has been struggling to find its voice in a new paradigm of advocacy for LGTBQ Episcopalians.

Integrity has a forty-plus year history as a leading voice for full inclusion – beginning as a mimeographed newsletter started by Dr. Louie Crew Clay in 1974 and evolving into an organization with bylaws, chapters and a volunteer board.

During the height of what I’ve come to think of as The Inclusion Wars (2003-2009) Integrity had an Executive Director, support staff and a full time advocacy and legislative agenda. That was then. This is now.

As the times have changed, so has the role of Integrity. We are now a church where the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in all orders and aspects of ministry is not theoretical but canonical. And we are also a church where the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in all orders and aspects of ministry still varies widely depending on your zip code.

There is still much work for an organization like Integrity to do to support LGBTQ Episcopalians and continue to advocate for church-wide inclusion, but the institutional structure that served its work in the past is not designed to meet the challenges of either the present or the future. And so it’s time for new vision and new leadership.

My hope is that this will be a time for those with a commitment to the vision Integrity has led since 1974 – the vision Presiding Bishop Ed Browning of blessed memory shared of a church with no outcasts -- will come up around the current Board leadership as they work to reconfigure the organization to meet the needs and challenges of 2019 and beyond.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

There is much work left to be done. That fact is undeniable. What is also unfortunately undeniable is that what is left of the present board has not earned the trust or confidence of the majority of the membership.

I'm sure they're lovely people. I'm sure they have every good intention. However, only one person was elected and she is the one who knew for six months that the President was out on LOA, the rest of the board resigned and she never said a word to the membership. She nominated the three present board members - they were not elected - and they are unknown to the membership. None of them have any experience with non-profits or activism or justice organizations or even religious organizations.

The Chair of the Stakeholder's Council was not elected, in accordance with the bylaws, but was appointed by the President who has now left. The Chair of the Stakeholder's Council has absolutely no authority to call for an election. None. Because his tenure is illicit and counterfeit.

It seems to me that the organization needs to pause for a time certain and every effort needs to be made to engage the membership in the decision-making process. I don't know how we can consider Integrity a justice organization while the administration is ham-fisted in its style.

I fear the Integrity brand has been so tarnished that nothing will be able to prosper from it. It simply breaks my heart.