Friday, March 25, 2022

Integrity USA Post Mortem

Well, it's official. In a press release received earlier today, Consultation Convener Laura Russell announced the official dissolution of Integrity USA and its withdrawal from the progressive Episcopal consortium:
The Consultation, a consortium of progressive organizations in the Episcopal Church, has received word that Integrity, Inc. has withdrawn its membership in The Consultation. Integrity has been a charter member of the Consultation since 1985.

On March 21, Ronnie Ward, president of both Integrity, Inc. and Integrity Americas, Inc., notified Consultation convener Laura Russell, “Since Integrity, Inc. is now in the post-dissolution winding-up phase, the organization is withdrawing as a constituent member of The Consultation and will not be sending a representation.” The dissolution of Integrity, Inc.’s corporate status began in January and the withdrawal is part of that process.

Russell responded, “We sincerely regret losing one of our charter members.”
The Decline & Fall of Integrity USA has been an ongoing process for over a decade. In the years since Louie made that first fateful 1974 phone call to Grace Cathedral, the organization founded in response to his call to "restore Integrity" to TEC regarding God's LGBTQ beloved served brilliantly at times -- and blunderingly at others.

Like the old wineskin of parable fame, its organizational structure had outlived its efficacy as a container for the new wine of LGBTQ activism necessary to meet the challenges we face as we continue the work of dismantling all that stands in the way of making full inclusion not just a resolution but a reality.

One contextual reminder is that Integrity was for most of its existence not the "only game in town" in the Episcopal Church working for LGBTQ inclusion. The Oasis Ministries, Beyond Inclusion, Claiming the Blessing, the Chicago Consultation & various diocesan and parish based advocacy organizations worked long and hard -- and if we're honest, sometimes at cross-purposes and competitively -- to bring us to where we are today: far from where we started and not yet done.

So moving ahead, there will -- I believe -- similarly be room for multiple ways to work together. The end of one nonprofit is neither the end of the world nor the end of the movement.

Yet today's news is a moment to pause and mark the end of a chapter in that work that continues. For many it is a moment marked with both grief and relief as we hold in tension both the good works and failings of the past -- and recommit ourselves to the work that is more important than any individual or organization. 

It is also a good chance to share this 2 minute history of "how we got from there to here" ... beginning in 1974. No history that short can be comprehensive -- but it does provide an overview of both the legislative and programmatic history which I hope will be useful to consider as we think about next steps and therefores as we move together into God's future.

R.I.P., Integrity USA. La lucha continua!

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