INTEGRATOR, the newsletter of Integrity/Toronto
copyright 2005 Integrity/Toronto.
The hard-copy version of this newsletter carries the ISSN 0843-574X
Integrity/Toronto Box 873 Stn F Toronto ON Canada M4Y 2N9
THREE DECADES AND STILL GOING
Integrity in Canada celebrates our thirtieth anniversary, by Chris Ambidge
RUNNING THE RACE WITH PATIENCE
the Sermon from the Thirtieth Anniversary service, by the Primate, the Most Rev Andrew Hutchison
LIVING OUT THE BAPTISMAL COVENANT
part of a sermon preached at Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal, by the Rev Joyce Sanchez
NO MORE SITTING AT THE BACK
on the death of Rosa Parks
a reflection on waiting or acting, by the Rev Susan Russell, prompted by the death of Rosa Parks
FROM THE BISHOP OF TORONTO
Thirtieth Anniversary congratulations from the Rt Rev Colin Johnson
by Chris Ambidge
Thirty one years ago, the Integrity movement started as a newsletter. Louie Crew first sent it to people who might be interested in helping homosexuals in the church. The seed fell in good soil, and Integrity grew.
The next year, 1975, the first chapter of Integrity, in Chicago, hosted the founding convention. Norman Pittenger was imported from the UK as the keynote speaker, and people interested in equality for gays and lesbians in the church came from all over North America. Six of those people, unbeknownst to each other, arrived from Toronto. In St James' Cathedral parish hall, Chicago, they got together and Integrity/Toronto was born.
In these more enlightened times, it's easy to underestimate the courage of these people. None of them knew that they were going to have a job to go back to. They might have been cast out of their church.
Five of those founders - John, Bruce, Brian and Peter from Toronto, and Louie himself from Newark - were at the celebration held at the Church of the Redeemer in Toronto on 17 October to mark the thirtieth anniversary of Integrity in Canada. The Primate, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, presided and preached. [The Primate's sermon is next.] Louie read the epistle. John led the prayers of the people. And Bruce, who was crucifer at the very first Integrity service in Toronto, repeated that role in 2005. They joined a great cloud of witnesses (to quote the lesson from Hebrews): the 95 people present in person in the nave plus many more present in spirit (with letters from London England to London Ontario, Victoria to New Hampshire, Goderich to Scarborough), as well as those who have gone before.
The last three decades have seen tremendous strides for lesbian / gay / bi / trans people in the life of the church. We are out of Egyptian slavery, each having crossed the Red Sea by coming out. Many blessings have fallen from heaven like manna: progress both in the church, synods and parishes; and in civil society. We know(in our better moments) that being out and claiming our place at the table is better than making bricks for our oppressors. Support has gushed forth like water from the rock in the form of our straight friends joining our cause. They are our reality check: sometimes we might think we're just being selfish in challenging church tradition; they are voices in the church saying no, this inclusion is the way the church should move. We're not in the promised land yet. There is more work for Integrity to do, more wilderness to be gone through. The anniversary Eucharist was to give thanks for the past, and to gain strength and grace for the ongoing work.
After the liturgy (and a class photo) came the reception. There were flowers from Integrity/ Vancouver. Redeemer, our host parish, officially presented Integrity with the Bible from which Louie had read during the liturgy. It is a large-print Bible which is very suitable and helpful, since a number of our members are somewhat vision-impaired. As Andrew, our Rector, said, what better inauguration than to have it read from by the founder? Louie then proposed the toast (nicking my glass of pink champagne in the process), and cut the birthday cake. All ate and were satisfied, and lo, there were baskets of food left afterwards.
People came from Huron, Niagara, Algoma, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal dioceses (that I know of -- oh yes, and Newark). It's times like this when I realise that the Integrity movement is a lot bigger than sometimes I think it is. The test of Gamaliel -- if it is of God, it will prosper --seems to be abundantly proven (not that I doubt it, but it's nice to have that reinforced).
|A sermon by the Most Reverend Andrew S Hutchison,
Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada
On the 30th anniversary of Integrity in Canada - 17 October 2005
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfection of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross." [Hebrews 12:1-2]
Today you celebrate the founding of Integrity in Canada 30 years ago. That corresponds almost precisely with the beginning of the conversation about homosexuality in the official bodies of the Anglican Church of Canada, and indeed in the Anglican Communion. In 1979 came the House of Bishops Guidelines - at the time seen as progressive and pastoral in a conservative Church and a less tolerant society. It was 15 years later that I became fully involved in the conversation, thanks to some wise advice from my predecessor, Archbishop Michael Peers. After a difficult discussion in the House of Bishops, he advised us that when we returned to our diocese we should get in touch with the gay community in our constituency. (Not a very profound insight, but one that had not occurred to all of us) That way our reflections would be with those directly involved, and not simply about them. That resonated deeply with a concern of my own. I believe that at the core of much of the conflict in the world, and in the Church is the fact that too many people feel left out of important conversations. Decisions are made that affect my life, and I am not even consulted. So I was grateful for the Primate's advice, and I acted on it.
The conversation through the past 30 years has been very difficult and costly - locally, nationally and internationally. Nobody has borne as much of the cost of that conversation as have lesbian and gay Anglicans. So on this 30th anniversary of Integrity's founding I acknowledge a debt of gratitude to you for your courage, integrity and perseverance in stepping up to enable this conversation to take place, in spite of the cost to you and to those who have gone before you. That you are still here after all the insults and discouragement you have suffered is a tribute to your faith.
As I became involved with the gay community of Greater Montreal I discovered that within a year 17 gay men had been murdered in that city. I lobbied the Human Rights Commission for special hearings into the treatment of gay and lesbian citizens. As it turned out the hearings took place just after one of my most competent priests - Fr. Warren Eling - was murdered in his bed. All the academic and faith communities were invited to appear before the Commission, but I am sorry to report that I was the only one outside the gay community to present. Many of the Commission's recommendations were adopted, and Quebec is now, at least officially, the most gay positive jurisdiction in the country. I treasure a framed testimonial from the 'Table de Concertation des Les-Gaies de Grand Montreal' which hangs on the wall of my office in recognition of the small part I was able to play.
At the last General Synod I was elected as Primate. (Given a fairly wide understanding of my own views, that should be an encouraging sign in itself.) The first item in the job description of the Primate states, "The Primate is to have a pastoral relationship with the whole Church." The whole Church prays for the Primate each time it gathers for Eucharist - not because I am personally in need of prayer, however true that might be - but because the Primate is a symbol, and an instrument of the unity of the Church across the land. That gives me accountability to a remarkable variety of opinions, theological convictions and cultures across Canada. My commitment is to hear and as far as possible honour and respect as many of the diverse voices in the Church as possible, in the hope that they will hear, honour and respect one another.
I believe that that commitment contributes to a new tone in the conversations in the House of Bishops, in the Council of General Synod, and across the Church. From everything I have heard in the councils of the Church and in diocesan gatherings across Canada, I am convinced that we will not come to a common mind on the question of same-sex blessings or same-sex marriage. But then there are many other issues on which we have considerable disagreement. Classical Anglicanism, however, has always been able to embrace differences in the name of our common mission to give witness to the love of God in Jesus Christ in every culture and context. Cultures do not move at the same pace or even necessarily in the same direction. What is of immediate pastoral concern in one context is not even on the agenda in another.
In recent years, Integrity has made an important contribution to a difficult process of discernment in the life of our Church. I refer to your very presence at Synods across the country, the publication of Integrator to strengthen the confidence and voices of your members, and the dialogues led by Chris Ambidge and Paul Feheley, my Principal Secretary. (You may be aware that he and I are not fully on the same page on this issue, he being a founding member of Fidelity.) You demonstrate that conversation, leading to greater understanding and mutual respect is possible. In 2007 our national body, the General Synod, will address the issue again, this time in the light of the St. Michael Report and new developments in the Communion, and in Canadian civil law. I hope that the tone of that discussion, and the response to its outcome - whatever that may be - will reflect the benefit of a much wider and more inclusive conversation having taken place across the country.
There are those in our Church who cannot move beyond a conviction that the clear conclusion of Scripture is that homosexuality in any context or manifestation is sin. And among those who hold that view there are some who have opted out of the conversation and out of the Anglican Church of Canada. That would seem to be an irreparable breach of communion, at least in the short term. While I recognise that their convictions are firmly held, my prayer is that they would not indefinitely see that as cause for permanent separation.
If conversations at home are difficult, they are more so internationally. Cultural differences are heightened; the numerical balance of the Communion has shifted to Africa, and the conversation is coloured by strong reaction to the colonial period, and a dash of garden-variety anti-Americanism. Clearly, a few African leaders, and a few others from the global south, are uncompromising in their views. The presentations at the Anglican Consultative Council, however, were generally well received, and have improved the level of understanding, if not agreement, with decisions in the Episcopal Church of the United States and in The Anglican Church of Canada. Since that meeting in Nottingham, the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion joined us at a meeting of our House of Bishops, and in November the Chairman of ACC will be with us at the Council of General Synod. Both have offered encouraging and appreciative comments on Canada's response to the communiqué from the Primates' meeting.
This prolonged and difficult journey is of course of paramount importance to gay and lesbian Anglicans. What is less clear to me is why conservative voices allow this issue to assume such proportions in relation to the global challenges of extreme poverty, malaria, tuberculosis, AIDS, global warming, child soldiers, corrupt leadership, the inaccessibility of fresh water and so much more. These are issues that claim the lives of millions and millions each year. We have the capacity to address all of these, and to transform life on planet earth. And our baptismal covenant requires that we do. All that is lacking is the political and moral will. And therein lies the mission of the people of God. Allowing our differences to detract us from forwarding the God's kingdom of justice and peace on these other global issues is, to say the least, reprehensible.
You have much to celebrate on this 30th anniversary - not least the cloud of witnesses who have gone before you at enormous personal cost. We honour them here tonight. And yet you have much to hope for as together we run with patience the race that is set before us all. Let us look to Jesus who shares in our suffering even as he gives us hope in the joy of new life beyond the cross.
|by the Rev Joyce Sanchez
Part of a sermon preached at Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal, October 23, 2005
One of the Pharisees asks Jesus, "Teacher, which commandment is the greatest?" Jesus responds, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."[Matthew 22:35-40]
For Jesus, all of the law is dependent on love. The love of God is a call to action that requires the engagement of all of our being - heart, soul, and mind. The love of neighbour requires first that we love ourselves. When we live in the assurance that we are beloved creatures of God. When we live with integrity, honouring our authentic selves, we are be better equipped to love our neighbour.
We see this reflected in the Baptismal Covenant:
Take note how the covenant moves from proclaiming the Good News by word and example to seeking and serving Christ in all persons, and finally striving for justice and peace while respecting the dignity of ever human being. Central to this covenant is love. Every time we repeat these words we commit ourselves anew to God, ourselves, and the world. This is who we claim to be. This is our Christian identity.
The Christian life is punctuated by events or situations in which the call to love challenges us. If we choose to accept the challenge with integrity and courage, we need to be prepared to face possible criticism and resistance. It is never the easy way to go.
I recently faced a crisis of conscience where I was forced to confront what the call to love means at this time in my ministry.
Last summer a young man from the Cathedral community came to me and asked me if I would preside at his wedding. He and his fiancé were planning to be married in the summer of 2005. I have known this young man for at least ten years. I have been his priest for over seven years. I met his fiancé shortly after they began dating. Rarely do I get the opportunity to preside at the celebration of the marriage of a member of this community. Here was my dream couple. Except for one thing. They are gay.
It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I have been an advocate for gay and lesbian rights in this diocese. But here I was presented with a situation which affected me at every level of my being - personally, morally, theologically, and politically. If it had been only a matter of personal choice I would have gladly presided at this wedding. I found myself in an impossible bind. To say no was, in my heart, to deny my commitment to the Baptismal Covenant. As a priest I had taken vows to be a faithful pastor to all I serve. I had also vowed to "respect and be guided by the pastoral direction and leadership of my bishop." It seemed like there was no way to resolve the tension between my commitment to my God, my community, my bishop, and myself.
The couple was married this past summer - but not by me. While I know that I made the only decision I could under the circumstances, I was very unhappy. I felt that I had betrayed my God, this couple, and myself. I know that I am called to love my neighbour as myself, but at this point I can honestly say that I did not love me. It occurred to me that if I was going to continue to serve God and God's people, I had to find a way to restore my sense of personal integrity.
The past two days diocesan synod met to deal with the affairs of the diocese. Members Forum is a period when members of Synod, clergy or lay delegates are given an opportunity to express a concern or offer a suggestion to synod. I wish to share with you the statement I made to synod during Member's Forum:
Bishop Barry, Members of Synod:
In seven years of service in ordained ministry I have had the privilege to walk with many couples as they prepared for married life. I have presided at their weddings and in many cases I have maintained relationships with these couples. I have found this experience to be both challenging and rewarding.
However, as the years passed and I became sensitized to the struggles of gay and lesbian Anglicans, what once was a source of great joy for me has now become a crisis of conscience. My license to marry has come to symbolize, to me, the systemic discrimination against gay and lesbian people in our church. I have struggled with how to retain a sense of personal and pastoral integrity: how can I be faithful to the Good News in Christ as I understand it? How can I live out my baptismal covenant with sincerity? How can I remain true to my ordination vows?
After much soul searching I could come to only one conclusion. I feel compelled to return my license to preside at weddings today. I chose to do so in this forum because I wanted my decision to be recorded as a public act of protest. I live in hope that one day full membership will be extended to all members of our diocese.
I don't know what impact, if any, my decision to return my license will have. At the very least I hope that I gave people some food for thought. I will continue as a priest of this Cathedral and I will do so with a renewed sense of commitment. I am not asking you to agree with me. But I am asking you to try and understand that I needed to take this action to continue in my ministry. I needed to return to a place where I could serve my God and our community with an open heart and a clear conscience.
On a sweltering July afternoon two lovely young people got married. The Gospel reading for their ceremony was the same one we heard today:
"Teacher, which commandment is the greatest? ... You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
ROSA PARKS, mother of the civil rights movement in the United States, died this month full of years.
Most of us knew that she was asked to sit at the back of the bus, and refused. Not as many know (certainly I didn't) that two years AFTER the bus event, she was asked to sit at the back of the church (up in a balcony), or wear a uniform "like a servant". She refused again.
By profession, Parks was a seamstress. She had done work on the wedding dress of the daughter of clients of hers, and the daughter wanted her as a guest of the wedding. Then the officials at St John's church told the bride that if Rosa Parks was to attend, it could only be in a servant's uniform, or up and out of the way.
It is to our collective shame that it was an Episcopal church that wanted to relegate her to the nether regions. None of our hands are clean.
Fortunately, God isn't finished with any of us yet.
Here follows a reflection by Susan Russell, president of Integrity USA. While it is aimed at an American audience, Canadian hands are not clean, and her words resonate for Anglicans north of the Great Lakes too.
by the Rev Susan Russell
Rosa Parks died today. The woman who arguably changed a nation by the simple act of taking a seat on a bus is now seated at the Heavenly Banquet. The seamstress who insisted that she was entitled to "full and equal claim" on the civil rights promised her as a citizen of these United States has gone to greater glory. May she go from strength to strength in a life of perfect service -- and may her example be for us the icon of activism to which we are called in our own generation.
Lord knows we have not yet finished with the sin of racism in this country but where on earth would we be, I wonder, if Rosa Parks had waited for "consensus" before took that seat to which she entitled as a citizen of these United States -- before she challenged the unjust laws inscribed by those with the power to exclude -- before she put her life on the line by insisting that the "liberty and justice for all" we affirm when we pledge allegiance to the flag are empty words unless and until the "all" truly means "ALL."
Where would we be indeed.
"Consensus" is great in theory and dangerous in fact -- dangerous when it is used by those with the power to do so to preserve at all costs the status quo that gives them the power they wield to their advantage.
If Rosa Parks had waited for consensus, then African Americans would still be riding in the back of the bus.
If the Supreme Court had waited for consensus, then Brown v. Board of Education would still be awaiting a decision and segregation would still part of the fabric of this nation.
If the Philadelphia Eleven had waited for consensus, then General Convention 2006 would still be debating the ontological viability of the ordination of women, and the Episcopal Church would have been cheated of decades of mission and ministry offered by women in Holy Orders over these now 30+ years.
And if the Holy Spirit and the Diocese of New Hampshire had waited for consensus before raising up V. Gene Robinson as a bishop in the church of God, then the Episcopal Church would have failed to live up to its promise of "full and equal claim" for gay and lesbian Christians resolved nearly 30 years previously at the 1976 General Convention.
It is long past time for ECUSA to turn that resolution into a reality. The consecration of Bishop Robinson was a step toward realizing that goal. So was the affirmation that the blessing of same-sex unions falls within the bounds of our common faith and practice. I believe it grieves the heart of God that thirty-plus years into this struggle in the Episcopal Church we are not yet "in consensus" about whether all of the baptized are entitled to be fully included in the Body of Christ. Likewise I believe it grieves the heart of God that as Rosa Parks is gathered into the loving embrace of the One who created us all in God's image, racism and bigotry are still alive and well in these United States.
"Consensus" will not eradicate racism, or overcome bigotry, or bring about the coming of the Kingdom. Rather, we follow the one who proclaimed not consensus in the institution but freedom to the prisoner, liberation to the captive: the one who spoke truth to power in his own day and empowered Rosa Parks to do the same in hers.
May we -- following her example -- be given grace to follow Our Lord with the same strength, courage, dignity and tenacity as we continue to strive for the vision of a world healed of all that wounds it; for the dream of a human race transformed into a human family.
September 22, 2005
PO Box 873 Station F
Toronto M4Y 2X3
I am truly sorry that I am unable to be with you on Monday October 17, for the 30th anniversary of Integrity/Toronto's founding. I hope it is a marvelous celebration. You will be in my prayers that day.
I am grateful to Integrity/Toronto for two particularly significant accomplishments over the past thirty years. The first is that you are to be congratulated for calling the Church to increased levels of inclusiveness -- that same inclusiveness that Christ commands of us. Time and again you have prodded the Church to actively practice what we often preach. Whether or not we have heeded your call, it is a message we have needed to hear and I thank you for your prophetic voice.
Secondly, I am grateful that you have been actively involved in bridge-building with your Christian brothers and sisters who may not always agree with you. Your openness to sharing and learning with them, to influence with words of love and not hate, and your generosity of spirit in gathering around the Lord's Table in liturgical solidarity, is a hallmark of Integrity/Toronto. Thank you for that witness.
May God continue to bless each and every one of you.
The Rt Rev Colin R Johnson
Bishop of Toronto