Thursday, July 29, 2010

Anne Rice is OUT ... of Christianity that is.

From Joe.My.God comes a quote from Anne Rice's Facebook page. She's done with Christainity. Ms. Rice who very publicly returned to Christianity in 2005 has done a one-eighty. This is bound to be great fodder for discussion. I wonder how her son, Christopher feels about this?

"For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being 'Christian' or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to 'belong' to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten ...years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.

"In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of ...Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen."

- Famed novelist Anne Rice, from her Facebook page.

BOL Provincial Workshops

Another Believe Out Loud Workshop Well Received

The third in a series of Provincial Workshops about Believe Out Loud was just completed in Danbury, CT. This event targeted toward Episcopalians in Provinces 1 and 2, was held at St. James Church in Danbury, CT. The rector and local Integrity/Danbury members were wonderful hosts. Chap Day, Province 1 Coordinator and John-Albert Moseley, Province 2 coordinator facilitated this session we me. Many, many positive comments were received and participants left energized and ready to return to their home parishes to Believe Out Loud.

Of all the major protestant denominations, the Episcopal Church is the only one without a welcoming congregation designation that is consistent across the church. We have chosen to adopt the Believe Out Loud branding. This creation of Intersection is intended to be a universally recognized symbol of welcome to LGBT people. It goes beyond just saying "We welcome all." It includes a very intentional model of how to discern what that welcome looks like. Integrity has worked to modify the process so that it more clearly reflects the polity of the Episcopal Church. Our designation then becomes "Believe Out Loud Episcopal Congregation (BOLEC)."

The program focuses on understanding the steps to become a BOLEC as well as learning tools to spread the good news that your church lives out out Baptismal Covenenant, "to respect the dignity of every human being."

We share our stories and learn how to tell them effectively to others. Using parts of Marshall Ganz model of public narrative, we look for challenges, choices and outcomes in the stories of what brought us to discovering our mission in the Church. We learn about graceful engagement and how to frame our stories in ways that they will be heard by others.

If you wish to join us, please go to for additional scheduled events. We will be in Martinsburg, WV this weekend and then in Atlanta, Austin and central Ohio. Another event is in the works for Denver in September.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

38 Years of LGBT Supportive Leadership

38 Years of LGBT Supportive Leadership in The Episcopal Diocese of Rochester:

"History" was the theme of Pride in Rochester this year. That played well with the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester. We have 38 years of history of supporting the LGBT community in Rochester. Our placards celebrate our leadership starting in 1972 with Cannon Walt Szymanski and Bishop Robert Spears. This leadership has been unbroken through Bishop Burrill, Bishop McKelvey and now Bishop Singh.

This year we set a new mark in that history with an African-American lesbian priest celebrating our annual street Eucharist. The Rev. Deborah Brown also preached on the Gospel text about the "good" Samaritan. Although never labeled as "good" she pointed out, the entire phrase is now capitalized. We are all good, created in God's image, and need to claim our goodness, she posited.

This was the first of three Pride Parades in which our Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Prince Singh, was able to join our contingent. During the first year of his episcopacy, he was at Lambeth and last year at General Convention. He was greeted by cheers and thanks by thousands of parade participants and onlookers.

His wife, Roja, and son, Eklan, joined us as well.

Tomorrow Prince and his family leave for a month long visit to his homeland in southern India. As we marched along he shared that word of his support for an inclusive church had spread to his home parish and he was dis-invited to preach there.

"It all good," he said, "I will be preaching at several Cathedrals."

And so it goes. We will continue to witness to God's Love that is more inclusive and amazing that we deserve or can imagine. We will continue to believe... OUT LOUD!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Time Away

The Believe Out Loud workshops are really keeping me going. In a church where there is so much politics (which to be sure has been our friend) and so much jockeying for power and control these experience are so thoroughly refreshing. For the most part people can lay aside the silly stuff and really celebrates what brings us together and Episcopalians who love this church and are celebrating its move into a future which is long overdue.

Allowing that the word's of Our Lord may have been edited for publication, I can only see him saying, "It's about damn time."

It seems that we are beginning to move beyond a time of much that has slowed our movement and frankly kept some of us a afraid of stepping on a mine. I could hardly be considered the paragon of political correctness. We certainly come to group with diverse tastes in liturgy, with varying sensitivities to and viewpoints on completely inclusive language and broadly different musical tastes. But when we mix it up and are authentic with one another, the nit-picking is recognized as nothing more than that. We focus on what the core of our mission is and how we can accomplish it together. Effective synergy requires an assumption of good intent. It requires an open-mindedness toward one another and only when that can be achieved can we be ready to gracefully engage those with which we disagree.

I think if we examine ourselves we will find that at as movement our lack of ability to work together has caused many lost opportunities.

This Workshop Series has thus far represented diversity within the Episcopal Church. Registration in Portland was about 50% female. In San Diego about 35% female. We have had a good mix of gay and non-gay. More people of color and a broader range of ages has been a problem... but it is a problem for the whole church, not just for our group of LGBT and supporters but for the larger church.

These workshops have been a model of how we can work together. Sounds simple... and it really is.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Picking Your Battles

One of the primary tools of the Believe Out Loud workshops that Integrity will be presented around the country this summer is "Graceful Engagement." It is the idea that when you talk with someone with whom you may disagree, you do it from a frame of the positive commonalities, the grace-filled intersections.

Recently a blogger for whom I have the greatest respect, Joe Jervis of Joe.My.God. posted a Facebook comment:

...had a very satifying encounter with a subway preacher during which someone may have been told to shove a certain book into the diseased orifice of his mother.
I responded:

How was that satisfying? What was gained?

Of course the responders took me to task. Of all the responses my "favorite" was:

Better to be heard. . . than be like millions of germans(sic) that kept thier(sic) mouths shut and allowed the holicaust(sic).

We are so quick, on both side of any issue to invoke Nazi era images to support our liberal or tea-party agendas. In my mind that diminishes something so horrifying that it pushes the limits of the first amendment.

Of course I support Joe's right to speak up... I was just suggesting that he might choose to do that when it really might make a difference, which he does on a regular basis. This was one of those moments when someone was so fanatic about their point of view, one might argue mentally ill, that their screaming "sodomite" probably was best left to stand on its own.

Was this an opportunity for engagement of any sort, graceful or not, that would have made a difference? In preparing for our workshops we have been struggling with metaphors that are not militaristic to say... "You have to pick your battles."