Monday, January 18, 2010

All Saints Pasadena Celebrates and Lives Out Social Justice

My late departure from Southern California had another silver lining... a chance to worship at All Saints Pasadena.

For the liturgically aware you will be as surprised as I was to see RED. It was in honor of MLK Jr. and the choir and rector made it a fittin' feast day for the civil rights activist and martyr. The first reading was from Martin Luther King's speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.

Thje Reverend Ed Bacon's homily pulled together the words of King and the Gospel reading about the wedding feast at Canaan to, as usual, challenge us to see the deeper message of God's inclusive love. He gave Pat Robertson no quarter in his declaration that Haitian Disaster was retribution for some sin of breaking from colonialism or Rush Limbaugh's claims that the President was using this horrific event for political advantage.

Susan McCann and Gretchen Renfro also attended the service and wandered the wonderful displays of various ministries of a church that lives out its baptismal covenant with gusto.

Louise Books was a gracious host. If only I had realized that I DID need that ride to the airport!

Almost Home...

Almost home. Thanks to fact that my desire to be a geek outweighs my ability to be a geek I hope to make it back to Rochester about 12 hourse later than planned.

It seems that I don't understand time-zone support. The plane did indeed leave Burbank at 3:30 PM Eastern Time. And I made it to the airport in plenty of time to depart ... if that were 3:30 PM Pacific Time. Alas, for those of you who understand time zones that was an hour after the flight left. Kyle would be mystified by now, but if you are with me, it was a matter of having this wonderful thing called "time zone" support on my electronic calendar and not quite having mastered it.

But all is well. While I ended up stand-by on the red-eye, I made it on AND into the exit aisle with lots of leg room. I was in the middle seat, but the aisle seat TV was not functioning. The guy sitting there wanted to watch TV so badly that he moved to the only other empty seat on the plane. That left me with, what my remaining seat-mate called a "double wide."

I don't sleep well when traveling so I watched TV all the way. Here I am in JFK where JetBlue has a fabulous new terminal with free wi-fi and a place to sit and charge and browse and order food. In front of me is monitor with a credit card swipe at its side. I can choose from the menu and have it delivered to my seat. So fish are fed, crops harvested and planted and the mob dealt with... and if I really wanted caffiene it would magically appear.

Life doesn't get any better than this ... if only I were not so bleary eyed....

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Integrity Board Gathered in Pasadena

The first experience was landing at an airport that was a pleasant step back in time. Burbank's Bob Hope Airport is, to say the least, quaint. The modern necessities of security device seem anachronistic and take up more than their fair share of space here.

After about 30 minute shuttle ride I arrived in Pasadena. Thursday we met from 4-6 PM and on Friday and Saturday from 9-5.

Around this was some time for more informal discussions among the newly formed board about out roles and reponsibilities took place. For me this was especially useful and Getchen Renfro, Susan McCann, Chair and Vice-Chair of the Stakeholders Council and I sat down to examine our own roles and the relationships we can build.

Above Rear: David Cupps, Treasurer; Neil Houghton VP for Local Affairs; Louise Brooks, Media Coordinator; Gretchen Renfro, Chair of Stakeholders Council
Front: David Norgard, President; Albert Ogle, VP for National Affairs
Our Agenda included:

  • Worship
  • A conversation with Tom Kam from Arcus Foundation (one of our grant sources)
  • The Adoption of our Strategic Plan through 2012
  • Adoption of Believe Out Loud Episcopal Congregations program
  • Development Plan through 2012
  • Adoption of Guidelines for Gift Acknowledgment and Donor Recognition
  • Adoption of Gift Acceptance Policy
  • Adoption of Budget 2010 Budget
  • Media Training and discussion
  • The 100,000 Blessings campaign
  • Working as a remotely situated team/working amidst change
  • Scheduling our future teleconferences and next in-person meeting

Friday, January 15, 2010

Believe Out Loud in the Episcopal Church

Integrity's Board of Directors has endorsed the Believe out Loud Program. Developed by Bob Chase, responsible for the "God is still speaking..." campaign of the United Church of Christ, this is a trans-denominational "branding" of congregations that our welcoming and affirming of LGBT Christians.

The program includes a detailed set of self reflective steps to assure that congregations are really are inclusive of queer people. We know that many congregations are already "there" and others that may think they are have never been challenged to examine what the means. We believe that the materials in the programs will be a great resource to all congregations who wish to be introspective regarding their commitment as inclusive.

It is our hope that Believe Out Loud Episcopal Congregations will also become Proud Parish Partners and financially support the mission of Integrity.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti and Integrity

The devastation is Haiti is heartbreaking. It seem to dwarf any other concern right now. I have made a contribution through Rainbow World Fund. This organization is reputable and is a chance for the LGBT community to contribute to global relief efforts through an LGBT identified source. It is a way for us to show that we care, we see beyond ourselves and can put our struggles for equality in perspective.

I will also contribute via ER&D with the same intent to stamp my money as from a source that cares when others suffer.

We need to celebrate that beyond LGBT Christians, we are most importantly just Christians. We know that Jesus taught us to minister to sick, feed the hungry and clothe the naked. Many of Integrity's local organizations are involved in other other ministries. I know this is the case in Seattle where they supply meals 2 out of 5 days at Lamber House, a drop-in place for LGBT youth. I know that in Maine the members of Integrity are the mainstay of a non-food pantry which supplies the homeless with basic needs.

There must be more and these need to be lauded and lifted up. This is one area that our PCs, Coordinators and local leaders can bring forth through effective network communications.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Portland and the FEAST of St. Aelred

The Feast of Integrity's Patron Saint, Aelred, Abbot of Riveaulx, was celebrated in grand style at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Portland, Oregon. Thanks to the planning of our Integrity Chapter under the leadership of Andy McQuery it was a wonderful evening.

Member of the Portland Gay Men's Chorus supplied an introit and post communion anthem.

The Rev. Dennis j. Parker presided and The Rev. Robert Bryant preached. Robert's homily gave the most complete and understandable oral history of Aelred's ministry and theology I have heard. Marcos Domingues was liturgical assistant and...

... turned this feat day into a real feast! There was wonderful attendance (not an empty pew) and more tables and chairs had to be found to seat all at the banquet.

Matt and Andy introduced as a "visiting dignitary" and many people expressed gratitude for my presence representing the Board of Directors of Integrity.

Andy McQuery also sang "Little Lamb, Who Made Thee?" with great skill and charm.

It was a great night.

Thanks to my hosts!

So many thanks...

First, to the Cathedral Church of St. Mark in Seattle. Their facilities were used for our meetings. This spectacular reredos of glass and steel is worth the visit. The church was intended to be a gothic building atop a hill with a spectacular view of the city.

The view is there but the building was halted when the crossing was constructed. A tudor style beamed ceiling instead of gothic vaults, and enormous clear glass windows establish a unique sense of spiritual space. Truly worth a visit.

Tom and Ram in Seattle supplied us with a guest suite in their condo complex, treated us to a lovely Indian Meal at Chutney Grille, where Ram works and were the perfect hosts: There when needed, gave us space when needed.

Matt took me to his favorite sites in Seattle. It was pilgrimage to two Top Pot Coffee and Doughnut shops. The face time with this gifted and enthusiastic young man was extremely valuable and real pleasure.

My first visit to Seattle was in 1980. I was going to see The Wagner Ring Cycle in the only plce in North America where it was performed in a single week. A friend of a friend said I should stay with a gay friend of his from the military. At the time he was a secretary to a city council member and lived over Pike Place Market. He could not have been a more gracious host taking me to Mount Rainier and many other Seattle highlights. His name was Cal Anderson. Later he was elected to the Washington State Assembly and then became a Washington State Senator. he was the first openly gay member in each body.

We kept in touch and I visited several times. A busy man who clearly did much for his community always had time for friends. In 1995 he died of complication of AIDS. This was my first chance to visit the city park named for him and all my hosts seemed to understand what a profound experience this was for me.

Here's Matt at Cal Anderson Park:

An aerial view of the park which covers a reservoir and uses the aeration system to create a playful and reflective space in the city.

After a rainy drive from Seattle, Matt gave up his bed to put me up in Salem for a night. Along the way the skies cleared long enough for clear views of Mt. Rainier and Mt. Hood.

I have been truly blessed to be a part of this great community we call Integrity where people work for justice and not only for ourselves but for all and I felt that radical hospitality.

New friends all around and new hope for our future. I am refreshed and ready to take into our Board meeting a message of hope and suggestions for how we can meet the needs and channel the energies of our wonderful membership!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Seattle and Integrity Puget Sound

Integrity Puget Sound met on Saturday, January 9 to discuss their mission, re-evaluate goals and start setting priorities in a post General Convention 2009 Episcopal Church.

The session was established by the chapter and skillfully facilitated Matt Haines, Province 8 Coordinator. As Vice President for local affairs, I was able to build a vist with Matt, this session, an upcoming St. Aelred’s Eucharist in Portland and our Board meeting in Pasadena into one trip.

After introductions by David Swim and Tom Weaver, Chaplain Andrew lead us into lectio divina around the Readings for Epiphany 1, the Baptism of Christ.

I did a brief introduction to public narrative and we broke into small groups to tell our stories of “me,” “us” and “now.”

The framework, provided by Matt, lead the chapter from a review of what is happening now, through a introspective look at goals and then into the beginnings of prioritizing how mission is put into action.

This chapter clearly know something about that as they can celebrate their active involvement in Lambert House, a drop in center for LGBT Youth. They fund and the meals offered during the week for 2 of the 5 days. Many spoke of this with a sense of joy in what they are doing and how it involves them in the community.

The identified specific areas of need and started the process of concrete ways in which the might be implemented. As this process continues and they develop more specifics they will share through Matt and the various structures of leadership their discernment.

Often I am asked, “What can Integrity do for us?” I left this meeting with a great sense that this group knows that they ARE Integrity and will contribute much to the enhancement of what we can do for each other.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

National Lampoon Vacation Continues

Kyle spent 5 days at his mother's house with his foot elevated. A twisted ankle aggravated arthritis he did not know he had (Like a 90 year old, said the doctor) which turned into cellulitis. "This antibiotic and rest will either cure you immediately or you will go into the hospital for IV treatment."

While he was at his parents I was tending the dog at Susan and Paul's. He has taken this seriously and luckily the inflamation is gone.

Yesterday we went to meet a friend at Starbucks. Kyle was limping along a saw a lab mix tied to a sign post. He looked very cute and Kyle bemoaned the fact that he couldn't make it over to pet him... I obliged. He promptly snapped at my nose and took a bite. I know... I know....

So a few hours later and 10 stitches at the Northside ER my formerly perfect nose now look like Roman Polanski in Chinatown. It's actually more superficial but right now the effect is quite unpleasant.

I need a non-stupid story. The winner will receive a 75% off find from my Target New Year's Eve shopping spree.

It's an auspicious start to 2010. In like a lion?

Happy New Year to ya'll from Georgia.