Category Archives: Episcopal

It Gets Better: ‘If You’re Gay Old People, You Can Get Away With A Lot’

It Gets Better: Harry And Wayne

I just realized that I haven’t written a single post about the It Gets Better Project. Isn’t that ridiculous? Especially now that the It Gets Better book is available, there’s just no excuse for it.

This is one of the first IGB videos I saw when the project started last October, and it’s still one of my favorites. Harry and Wayne put together a great piece on the common hardships so many LGBT people face and gave some practical tips for surviving such a difficult time.

I’ve always had an affinity for older people. Maybe that’s one reason I like this couple so much.

Aren’t they the best?

In 2009: Episcopal Church Doors Open Wide for All People

Let’s end this year in review on a positive note. We had some advances and defeats within different Christian denominations in 2009, but none compare to the Episcopal Church’s July 2009 decision to bless lesbian/gay marriages (under whatever name) and consider ordination regardless of orientation. It’s a huge victory for the Church Universal, and they’ve already followed through on the ordination bit, electing Mary Glasspool as their first lesbian bishop (pending consent from the Anglican Communion).

episcopal-shieldLast week after I posted some news coming from the Episcopal Church General Convention, I found out that there would be a whole lot more to come. For the sake of I decided to hold off until it was over rather than posting it piecemeal. Well, it’s over now and the news is just about 100% positive. Here are a few snippets from An Inch at a Time, the blog of Rev. Susan Russell:

We saw those goals realized in the adoption of the following resolutions:

D025 — Ordination
It can – and has – been said that D025 does not “repeal” B033 – and that is, of course, true. There will still be bishops with jurisdiction and standing committees who will choose to “exercise restraint” when consenting the election of a bishop whose “manner of life” would cause concern to the wider Anglican Communion. (And we all know that is code for “partnered gay or lesbian bishop.”) Nevertheless, the inclusive and expansive language of D025 states “this is where we are in 2009” – and frees bishops and standing committees to focus on the theological orientation rather than the sexual orientation of qualified candidates to the episcopate if they choose to.

Furthermore, by stating unequivocally that “God has called and may call any individual in the church to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church, in accordance with the discernment process set forth in the Constitution and Canons of the church” – D025 actually states for the first time as an official resolution of the Episcopal Church that the extra-canonical requirement of celibacy of gay and lesbian candidates for ordination is not the mind of this church.

C056 — Blessings
What the Episcopal Church adopted in Resolution C056 is a broad local option for the blessings of the marriages, unions and partnerships of same sex couples and a call to the church to work together toward common liturgical expressions of those blessings.

The Rev. Sam Candler (Atlanta), chair of the committee that presented the resolution, called it “an elegant blend of theological care, ecclesiastical breadth and pastoral generosity.”

In other historic action, the General Convention adopted resolutions supporting the enactment of anti-discrimination [ENDA] and hate crimes legislation protecting transgender people at local, state and federal levels. Both houses also adopted resolutions adding “gender identity and expression” to its nondiscrimination policy for hiring lay employees and calling for the revision of church paper and electronic forms to allow a wider range of gender identifications.

It’s almost impossible to overstate the importance of these decisions. The House of Deputies and House of Bishops gave the Episcopal Church access to powerful new tools that will allow the Church to reach so many people who have been outcast for so long.

And it’s already yielding results. In a later post, Rev. Russell talks about the highlights of her experience at the convention.

The woman who stopped me in the worship hall to thank Integrity for our work and then to share that she had attended the Integrity Eucharist with her 14 year old son — and that afterwards in their hotel room he had come out to her.

“I’ve known he was gay since he was about 4,” she said, her eyes welling up. “And have been waiting for him to figure it out. The fact that he came to himself in the context of a celebration of the Eucharist — that he’s never going to have to wonder if his church or his family will love and accept him as he is — I just can’t thank you enough.”

“He’s a really great kid,” she said, wiping her eyes. “And he’s going to be FABULOUS gay man! “

This is how coming out should be. No anger, no estrangement, no hatred. No fear. Only joy, love, and acceptance. What a gift.

I join this mother in thanking Rev. Russell and IntegrityUSA for their tireless efforts for the Church Universal and the LGBT community.

Episcopal Church Makes History with First Openly Lesbian Bishop

Bishop-elect Mary Glasspool
Bishop-elect Mary Glasspool
The Episcopal Church continued their bold year of inclusion tonight by electing a partnered openly lesbian priest to the office of Bishop. Mary Glasspool (now bishop-elect) was elected in the Los Angeles diocese on the seventh ballot with 62.5% of clergy and 52.9% of lay delegates voting for her election. Bishop-elect Glasspool’s election still needs to be consented to by the Standing Committees and the Bishops before her election is final.

Bishop-elect Glasspool is the second openly LGBT person to be elected to this position. In 2003 the New Hampshire diocese election of Bishop Gene Robinson.

IntegrityUSA, the LGBT activism group working within the Episcopal Church, released this statement a few moments ago.

“Integrity salutes the election of the Reverend Canon Mary Douglas Glasspool as a bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles, and as the second openly gay partnered bishop in the Episcopal Church.” said Integrity President David Norgard. “Bishop-elect Glasspool brings to the diocese her experience of building strong congregations by providing pastoral care, vocational guidance, and support to clergy and their families. She brings to the House of Bishops her commitment to social justice. And she will bring to the Anglican Communion an incarnational witness to the Episcopal Church’s commitment to fully include all of the baptized into the Body of Christ. ”

“It takes both a courageous candidate and a courageous community to fully embrace inclusion and to be prepared for the public attention this historic opportunity offers the Episcopal Church and the United States of America at this time,” said Norgard. “Today’s election means the Episcopal Church has taken another step toward the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments becoming a reality in the Episcopal Church–not just a resolution of General Convention.

“As Episcopalians, we are proud of the historic links between the founders of our church and the uniquely American democratic process that influences our church polity. We are very different from the Church of England and the Church of Rome, and we rejoice that lay members are valued for their significant role in the choosing of our leadership, and empowered to stand as radical witnesses that can heal past discrimination and prejudice.

“Integrity now calls upon Standing Committees and Bishops with jurisdiction to claim that proud history and consent to today’s election. For now, we pause to rejoice in this election. This is a big day for California, for their bishop-elect and, for the whole Church.”

Congratulations to Bishop-elect Glasspool, to the Los Angeles diocese, to the Episcopal Church, and to the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Bold steps toward justice are always controversial and usually difficult. You are leading the rest of us in such a brave and truly Godly way. We, the Church Universal, and we, the LGBT community, are forever in your debt.

Episcopal Southern Ohio Diocese to Bless Same-Sex Unions

We got some good news from last week’s Episcopal Convention of the Diocese of Southern Ohio. In his address to the convention, Bishop Tom Breidenthal announced that the Diocese will begin blessing same-sex unions in 2010. From his address (pdf):

Bishop Tom Breidenthal
Bishop Tom Breidenthal
As you all know, in the forums that preceded my election as your diocesan bishop, I was very clear that I thought the church should bless the godly, faithful and lifelong union of two persons of the same sex. Moreover, my views on this matter have been expressed in two published books. So my own views will not be a surprise to anyone.

At the same time, as I also stated in the forums, I do not wish to act in isolation from the Episcopal Church. So since I became a bishop I have upheld the policy I inherited, which did not permit the blessing of same-sex unions under any circumstances. It is my view that the recent General Convention resolutions D025 and C056 have altered the terrain, by reasserting the possibility of godly unions between persons of the same sex, and by inviting bishops who have jurisdiction in states that have offered some form of civil union to gay and lesbian couples to exercise “pastoral generosity” in offering the church’s public ministrations to such couples.

In so doing, the Episcopal Church has effectively acknowledged that the godly union of two persons of the same sex – by which I mean the union of two persons who have vowed lifelong fidelity to one another, and accept accountability to the faith community as a faithful household – can be blessed by the church. I am convinced that in fairness to our fellow Episcopalians who have entered into such unions or who desire to do so, we must move deliberately toward the implementation of a policy that will permit and govern the blessings of such unions in Southern Ohio.

On this basis, I am lifting the prohibition on the blessing of same-sex unions in this diocese, effective Easter 2010.

Bishop Breidenthal goes on to lay out a few “ground rules” for beginning these blessings, including that at least one of the persons entering into the union be Episcopalian, the bishop’s direct oversight in each union, and conversation within the local congregation.

I like these ground rules, though I expect them to relax and disappear in coming years. The diocese needs to show that this is a spiritual expression, not a political statement and I think Bishop Breidenthal is wise to direct the conversation in such a deliberate manner.

On a personal note, it’s fantastic to get good news from my own neck of the woods. The Southern Ohio Diocese includes Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton, and extends to 40 of Ohio’s 88 counties.

Thank you Bishop Breidenthal for taking this important step!

(tip of the hat to IntegrityUSA.)

The Catholic Church Seeks Allies in its Political War Against Gays

Immediately after the Episcopal Church’s acceptance of LGBT priests in July 2009, some of the more conservative churches began talking about breaking away from the Anglican Communion. That possibility increased two weeks ago when the Vatican announced that it had “worked out a way” for those Anglican churches to join the Catholic Church.

This is important because Anglicans permit their priests to marry, which the Vatican has said it would allow to continue. National Catholic Reporter’s John Allen has pointed out that Eastern Rite Catholic churches in eastern Europe have allowed married priests for quite a long time, so the move isn’t entirely without precedent.

It is, however, unusual and would certainly be more complex than it would seem at first blush.

For one thing, the Eastern Rite rules are a bit more complicated than “priests can marry.” In fact, that statement is technically false. Men who are already married may become priests. They must be married before their ordination and may not remarry if their wives pass away. (Must married priests be celibate? I’d think not, but I can’t find the answer.) In addition, Eastern Rite priests who are married may not be elected bishop.

Would rules comparable to these apply to the Anglicans? We don’t know.

Regardless, the purpose is clear. The Vatican’s overture to the disgruntled Anglicans is a direct result of their need to form a stronger confederation of ultra-conservative congregations to push an ultra-conservative public policy agenda in the halls of government.

Jon Stewart hosted a segment on The Daily Show about this issue last week. It goes off on a tangent pretty quickly, but I never turn down a chance to post Jon Stewart’s work.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
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UPDATE! A few hours after I published this article, the NC Register announced that the Great Britain province of the “Traditional Anglican Communion” has accepted the Vatican’s proposal. The unanimous vote was apparently taken on October 29th.

Bishop Gene Robinson Interviewed at Democracy Now!

Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson appeared on Democracy Now yesterday. It’s a fabulous interview (as most with Bishop Robinson are) that Democracy Now has made available in video. (Begins around 49:00)

In case the video doesn’t work, here are a few clips from the rush transcript. On the impact of his 2003 appointment on the Episcopal Church:

I think in the last six years the Episcopal Church has questioned whether or not its actions might have been precipitous, and it listened very intently to the feedback from around the Communion. But then, last month, at its general convention in Anaheim, the Episcopal Church, after considering that for six years, said, “No, you know, our canons have served us well, the rules by which we govern the Church. They served us well in the election in New Hampshire, and we’re going to abide by those. And we are not going to discriminate against anyone because of their sexual orientation.” I think it was a way of saying the Episcopal Church means to be a church in which all of God’s children are included, and I’m very proud of that.

On the impact of his appointment and the Episcopal Church’s recent pro-LGBT action on the Church Universal:

The fact of the matter is, we all know that we have faithful Christian gay and lesbian people in all of our denominations, no matter where they stand on this issue. The question is, are we going to affirm them the way that I believe God affirms them, affirms us? And I believe the Episcopal Church has stated quite clearly, yes, we are. And I think other denominations are looking to see, you know, are we going to come apart over this issue? No, we’re not going to come apart. Are we going to be stronger because of it? Yes, we are. And I believe you’ll see other denominations, just as we saw the Lutherans do a few weeks after our convention, following suit.

On his youth and coming out:

I grew up in a time when “gay” was not a word that you used to describe homosexual people. You only spoke about them in quiet whispers, if at all. There were no positive gay models. This is before Ellen, before Will & Grace. And it was almost like committing suicide to understand yourself to be a homosexual person. It’s hard to remember how the world has changed so much in these last twenty years. […]

I felt that coming out was a call from God. I think God wants our insides and our outsides to agree. That’s what integrity is about. And so, although I thought it was the end of my life as an ordained person in the Church, I felt called by God to do this. And little did I know that, twenty years later, I would be a bishop of the Church and telling my story as a witness to what God can do in one’s life.

On his un-televised invocation at President Obama’s inauguration celebration:

What I can tell you is that I got apologies from the highest-level executives at HBO. I got apologies from the highest levels of the inauguration committee. I think it just happened. And that was no time to pick a fight with anyone. I was honored to be there. I was honored that the new president invited me. And I said what I had to say. Lots of people saw it on YouTube, even if they didn’t see it on HBO. I prayed the prayer to God and for God, not for HBO. And I think this new president deserves all of our support, as well as our appropriate critique. And so, I remain a fan of his and a supporter of this administration.

Episcopal Church Doors Open Wide for All People

episcopal-shieldLast week after I posted some news coming from the Episcopal Church General Convention, I found out that there would be a whole lot more to come. For the sake of I decided to hold off until it was over rather than posting it piecemeal. Well, it’s over now and the news is just about 100% positive. Here are a few snippets from An Inch at a Time, the blog of Rev. Susan Russell:

We saw those goals realized in the adoption of the following resolutions:

D025 — Ordination
It can – and has – been said that D025 does not “repeal” B033 – and that is, of course, true. There will still be bishops with jurisdiction and standing committees who will choose to “exercise restraint” when consenting the election of a bishop whose “manner of life” would cause concern to the wider Anglican Communion. (And we all know that is code for “partnered gay or lesbian bishop.”) Nevertheless, the inclusive and expansive language of D025 states “this is where we are in 2009” – and frees bishops and standing committees to focus on the theological orientation rather than the sexual orientation of qualified candidates to the episcopate if they choose to.

Furthermore, by stating unequivocally that “God has called and may call any individual in the church to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church, in accordance with the discernment process set forth in the Constitution and Canons of the church” – D025 actually states for the first time as an official resolution of the Episcopal Church that the extra-canonical requirement of celibacy of gay and lesbian candidates for ordination is not the mind of this church.

C056 — Blessings
What the Episcopal Church adopted in Resolution C056 is a broad local option for the blessings of the marriages, unions and partnerships of same sex couples and a call to the church to work together toward common liturgical expressions of those blessings.

The Rev. Sam Candler (Atlanta), chair of the committee that presented the resolution, called it “an elegant blend of theological care, ecclesiastical breadth and pastoral generosity.”

In other historic action, the General Convention adopted resolutions supporting the enactment of anti-discrimination [ENDA] and hate crimes legislation protecting transgender people at local, state and federal levels. Both houses also adopted resolutions adding “gender identity and expression” to its nondiscrimination policy for hiring lay employees and calling for the revision of church paper and electronic forms to allow a wider range of gender identifications.

It’s almost impossible to overstate the importance of these decisions. The House of Deputies and House of Bishops gave the Episcopal Church access to powerful new tools that will allow the Church to reach so many people who have been outcast for so long.

And it’s already yielding results. In a later post, Rev. Russell talks about the highlights of her experience at the convention.

The woman who stopped me in the worship hall to thank Integrity for our work and then to share that she had attended the Integrity Eucharist with her 14 year old son — and that afterwards in their hotel room he had come out to her.

“I’ve known he was gay since he was about 4,” she said, her eyes welling up. “And have been waiting for him to figure it out. The fact that he came to himself in the context of a celebration of the Eucharist — that he’s never going to have to wonder if his church or his family will love and accept him as he is — I just can’t thank you enough.”

“He’s a really great kid,” she said, wiping her eyes. “And he’s going to be FABULOUS gay man! “

This is how coming out should be. No anger, no estrangement, no hatred. No fear. Only joy, love, and acceptance. What a gift.

I join this mother in thanking Rev. Russell and IntegrityUSA for their tireless efforts for the Church Universal and the LGBT community.

Episcopal Church Overwhelmingly Approves Pro-LGBT Measure

episcopal-shieldAt the General Convention of the Episcopal Church yesterday, the House of Deputies overwhelmingly approved a resolution overriding a three-year hold on election of LGBT bishops. The 2006 resolution was a response to the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson, who I’ve talked about before.

Instead of trying failing to explain what this is all about, how about if offer words from two sources that are intimately familiar with the particulars? First up is a press release from IntegrityUSA, the LGBT advocacy group for the Episcopal Church.

In a special session today, the House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church approved a resolution, 151 to 66, which effectively overrides the three-year ban on gay bishops within the church. The gently-worded resolution, DO25, affirms Episcopal membership in the Anglican Communion while declaring that all orders of ministry, including the episcopate, are open to the LGBT baptized of the church. The resolution now goes to the House of Bishops where it is not expected to receive an overly warm reception.

“We were reminded today of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s recent words to us that ‘there is no unity without truth.’ Today the clergy and laity of The Episcopal Church voted for both truth and unity by a wide margin,” said The Rev. Susan Russell, President of IntegrityUSA.

DO25 is the first resolution the House of Deputies has considered regarding the consecration of LGBT bishops within the Episcopal Church since the last general convention in 2006. At that gathering in Columbus, OH, in the waning hours of the 10-day event, then-Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold pressured both governing bodies of the church to pass resolution BO33 which placed a moratorium on the consecration of additional gay bishops and on same-gender blessings. The action was in response to the election in 2003 of The Right Rev. Gene Robinson, Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church.

Anglican bishops, primarily in Africa and South America, were outraged over Bishop Robinson’s consecration and threatened the Episcopal Church’s continued membership in the Anglican Communion. BO33 was an attempt to mollify that outrage, but caused problems at home with the LGBT faithful and their supporters. At this year’s convention, numerous resolutions have been proposed to rectify or revoke BO33 and LGBT issues have garnered more attention than any other matter before the legislative body.

“We call on our bishops to affirm that we are a church ready to move forward in mission and ministry by joining the deputies and concurring with this vote,” Russell said.

Next and finally, Rev. Richard Helmer gives a bit of commentary on what this means to the Episcopal Church (excerpted from Episcopal Café)

D025 re-anchors our orders at every level in the centrality of our baptism in Christ Jesus; our reliance on the Spirit in the midst of community to draw out the best gifts of all our members, gay or straight, celibate or living in covenanted relationship. Without rancor, it also affirms our love for the Anglican Communion – a reflection of our heart for Anglican ministry around the world and our commitment to upholding it in every way we can. But this support and participation is no longer offered by our trying to be something we’re not. Rather D025 offers commitment of our authentic selves, with all our differences, as a Church – as a diverse Body of Christians on mission both locally and globally.

While D025 still faces an uncertain future in the House of Bishops, I believe that the House of Deputies has taken a major step forward for the life of The Episcopal Church and honest relationship in the Anglican Communion. In doing so, we have sent a clear message about both our identity and calling – one that will not be easily dismissed or undermined.

As I was departing the House, which adjourned about fifteen minutes late this evening, I happened by God’s grace upon The Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson at the back of the hall. He had stepped into the guest section shortly after the House of Bishops had adjourned. Smiling, we embraced, and I said, “I think this house is on solid ground again.”

He agreed.


Update 7/14/2009: IntegrityUSA reported last night that the House of Bishops has approved an amended version of D025.

By a nearly 2-1 margin, the bishops of the Episcopal Church passed an amended version of resolution D025, which effectively ends the “BO33 Era” and returns the church to relying on its canons and discernment processes for the election of bishops. “While concurrence on the amended resolution by the House of Deputies is necessary before it is officially adopted by the church as a whole,” said Integrity President Susan Russell, “there is no question that today’s vote in the House of Bishops was an historic move forward and a great day for all who support the full inclusion of all the baptized in the Body of Christ.”

“It was a tremendous privilege to be a witness to the courage and candor of the bishops who spoke truth to each other and to us–and who called the Episcopal Church to speak our truth to our Anglican Communion brothers and sisters and to the world.

“The truth is we are a church committed to mission–we are a church committed to the full inclusion of all the baptized in that mission–and we are a church committed to creating as broad a place to stand as possible for ALL who wish to be part of this great adventure of being disciples of Jesus.

“In this carefully constructed and prayerfully considered resolution, our Presiding Bishop got what she both asked for and voted for: a positive statement about where we are as a church in 2009–a church striving to actually become the church former Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning called us to be nearly 20 years ago now…a church where there are no outcasts.”

“The debate on the floor of the House of Bishops made it VERY clear that our bishops knew exactly what they were doing when they passed this by a nearly 2-1 margin. The resolution passed today by the House of Bishops was another step in the Episcopal Church’s ‘coming out’ process–and it sends a strong ‘come and see’ message to anyone looking for a faith community where God’s inclusive love is not just proclaimed but practiced.”


Thanks and congratulations to the people of the Episcopal Church. Your leadership in the area of LGBT acceptance is so important to those of us working in other denominations.

Bishop Gene Robinson: Why Religion Matters in the Quest for Gay Civil Rights

A warning before we start: These videos are long, 48 minutes each. It’s worth your time to bookmark this post and watch both of them in their entirety when you have time.

Many gay bloggers, most vocally and consistently Jeremy Hooper at Good-As-You, have been frustrated by the Religious Right’s seeming inability to understand the difference between religious marriage, (solemnized by the Church), and civil marriage (sanctioned by the State).

So I was excited this afternoon to find a video of Bishop V. Gene Robinson’s March 30, 2009 at Emory University on the topic “Why Religion Matters in the Quest for Gay Civil Rights”. I get excited every time I find something from Bishop Robinson, but this one addresses the separation of religious and civil marriage.

Emory University has provided a variety of resources including a written transcript of the speech as prepared. You can download and read it here (pdf), but the written transcript does not include the part that I find so exciting.

Again, these are long. Pop some corn or something before you get started.

Near the beginning of Part Two, Bishop Robinson makes a suggestion for the Church. It’s a suggestion that is so simple, so elegant, so obvious, that I don’t know why I haven’t heard of this before.

I think we need to make a distinction between civil rights and religious rites.

I’ve actually suggested to my clergy that they find someone in their congregation who is a Justice of the Peace or wants to become one. And so when a nice heterosexual couple comes and says they want to be married, the priest says, “Well, let me tell you how we do weddings here at St. Swithins by the Gas Pump. You know Joe Blow, he’s our Senior Warden and he’s a Justice of the Peace. He’ll be doing what the State does, which is affect the marriage, and he’ll sign the marriage license. And then, rather seamlessly, I’ll take over and do what the Church does, and offer the Church’s blessings and prayers for the marriage.”

Think of the ripple effect of that. Think of all the people who come to weddings who are not even associated with that church. Think of the educational value of separating Church and State; knowing where one ends and the next begins.

I’m interested in opinions on this. Members of the clergy and members of the churches, is there any reason not to follow Bishop Robinson’s suggestion? Is there a negative effect that I’m overlooking?

Gay Bishop Comes to The Daily Show

Bishop Gene Robinson was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Tuesday night after the inauguration. Though it’s only a three minute interview via satellite, he was a marvelous guest, made a few salient points (even talking ever so briefly about Rick Warren), and got in one fabulous joke that got me out of my chair.