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Integrity gives thanks for the generous support of the...

Arcus Foundation

Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund

E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation

INTEGRITY

GAY EPISCOPAL FORM

 

Vol. 1                     No. 1                  Nov. 74

 

 

INTEGRITY: GAY EPISCOPAL FORUM.

10 issues/$5. This journal is published at 701 Orange Street, No. 6, Fort Valley, GA 31030.  INTEGRITY is independent of any other organization and is published by and for Gay Episcopalians and our friends.  Signed articles are the views of contributors and not necessarily those of the editors.

 

Unsolicited manuscripts are welcome if they contain stamped addressed envelopes. The journal is a non-profit organization.

 

 

Editor.............................................Louie Crew

Associate Editor......................................Dan Fee

Associate Editor..............................Thomas Williams

Consultant...................................Robert W. Cromey

Consultant...................................Norman Pittenger

                        ______________

 

Dear Reader:  Please help us grow.  Let us know your reactions to this our first issue.  Share with us your ideas.  Share us with those who need us.  Pray for us.

 

GAY ATHEISM

Boston.  FAG-RAG, the eminent Eastern Gay literary magazine, will produce a militantly atheistic Christmas 74 issue of Gay blasphemy.  Devil's Advocates may order scorching copies from Box 331, Kenmore Station, Boston 02215.

editorial      GAYS ARE JOINT HEIRS

              WITH CHRIST!

 

CHRIST HAS DIED.  CHRIST IS RISEN.  CHRIST WILL COME AGAIN.

 

The Christian Gospel is for all persons.  For too long has our beloved Church neglec­ted its historic mission to bring the Gospel to Gay people.  Instead, we have typical­ly been treated as the lowest of God's creation, too vile even to be mentionable.  Our Lord gave specific warnings to those who would thus neglect us: "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels....  Truly, I say to you, as you did [your ministry] not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me" (Matt. 25:41 and 45).

 

For too long the witness to Gay persons in the Episcopal Church has been only through the quiet, but efficacious winks from the Holy Spirit.  Always at the Communion we Gays have known our inclusion, with a special force to the first petitioning of "Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid."  While our Church has prescribed invisibility or ignominy, to our God we have always been open, accessible, just as Gay as we are.

 

Similarly, we who are Gay have always known that our sexuality is of one piece with our identity.  Christ said, "As a person thinks in her heart, so is she."  No amount of passing for straight has ever been able to obscure for us the nature of God's special gift of sexuality to us.  In our hearts we have always known that we are Gay, and we have had the added evidence of our dreams, our fantasies, and yes, even of our hormones.

 

Our Church has too often looked with shame upon the Lord's creation of beautiful sexuality in many varieties.  Even those straights who have accepted the holiness of their own sexuality have too often sought to make Gays reaffirm their faith that the world is made in the image of straights rather than in the image of God.  Too many such persons have had exclusive control of the education of all persons, particularly of those Gay young people who need so desperately to hear of Christ's affirmation of their lives.

 

The hour has come for us Gays to recognize that the only gift that our Church has to offer us is the all-precious Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For too long we have remained silent to the witness of the Lord in our Gay lives so that we might buy the lesser gift of the "respectability" that the Church has to offer. We must recognize that any "respectability" bought at the price of our whole personhood is not worth the price of a good visit to the Baths.

 

Integrity derives from integer, latin for "entire."  All Christian wholeness demands affirmation of God-ordained sexuality; and Gays and straights alike are charged with the responsibility of using their sexuality in healthy human sharing rather than with perversely trying to change or exchange the Gift of God.

 

This publication begins with the awesome challenge to help carry out the Great Commission to the most neglected and persecuted part of Christendom, the Gay Children of God, particularly to those within the Episcopal Church.  INTEGRITY is a forum and invites contributions from all persons who respect the Christian wholeness of all Gay people.

 

We lay claim to the Biblical promise, "For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship.  When we cry, 'Abba! Father!' it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, provided that we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him."  (Romans 8:15-17) God is indeed active ln history.  The Holy Spirit has come. Rejoice!

JOHN 15:13Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Integrity AT GAU

NYC.  Dan L. Fee, associate editor of INTEGRITY, and Louie Crew, editor, will both address a panel "Reflecting on Gay Male Lifestyles" at the Thanksgiving meeting of the Gay Academic Union.  All sessions of this second national meeting will be held at Loeb Student Center, NYU, Washington Square, 29-30 November.  Details are available from the Conference Committee, GAU, Box 1479, Hunter College, CUNY, NYC 10021.

 

Fee, a seminarian at Cambridge, MA, will speak on "The Identity Crisis for the American Male Homosexual."  Crew will describe the lifestyle of an integrated Gay Christian marriage behind the Cotton Curtain.  The general theme of the Confe­rence is "Toward Community."

                       GRAHAM RISKS HELL

 

Montreat, NC.  Evangelist Billy Graham in his regular syndicated column "My Answer" for 10th November fulminated against Gay persons.  Graham declared:  "It is not surprising that in an age of great sexual freedom, when the emphasis is more on performance than on expression of marital love, that all sorts of sexual perver­sion would flourish.  Homosexuality is being praised these days as a legitimate deviation, but God says it is a perversion. I blame part of this problem on the extensive availability of pornography -- a theory which some research back in 1971 confirmed.  If the old cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are any indication, this practice will bring the severe judgment of God upon America."  Graham as a Bible reader is undoubtedly aware of the judgment promised to those who take their brothers for fools, viz, they "shall be liable to the hell of fire" (Matt. 5:22).

EARLY REACTIONS

 

I do want you to know that I have read your letter with concern....  I hope we can find ways to strengthen the Church's ministry throughout the nation.  I shall carry the concern your have expressed with me as I enter the office of the Presiding Bishop.  [May, 1974, in response to a general letter on behalf of Gay Christians]

 

We were discussing the matter just this last week and agreed that the complexities of the Presiding Bishop's schedule should not cause delay or prevent development of communication with Episcopalians who are seeking to develop relationships within this Church....  [Oct., 1974]

 

     Rt. Rev. John M. Allin

     Presiding Bishop, Episcopal Church.

  _____

 

I am very pleased with your initiative in starting INTEGRITY and am gladly passing out your leaflets.

 

     John Preston, Chairperson

     Episcopal Gay Caucus

  _____

 

I just wanted to drop you a line to tell you how happy I am that you have started....  It is going to be so important to all of us.  If there is any way that I can personally be of service, please let me know.

 

     Reverend Troy Perry, Founder

     Metropolitan Community Churches

  _____

 

For over a year the House of Bishops has had a task force on homophiles and the ministry.  However, as we have con­sidered that somewhat restricted topic, we are aware of the necessity of broaden­ing the scope of the task force and seeking a relationship with organizations such as yours.

 

The members of our task force represent Christians of good will.  Our job, as we see it is to assist Bishops in understan­ding the gay community and in understan­ding what responses could be most helpful to that community.  We are aware of the abuse of personhood to which you refer....

 

     Rt. Rev. David E. Richards

     Coral Gables, FL

  _____

 

I extend DIGNITY's best wishes and prayers to you for success in your publication.

 

     Paul Diederich, National President

     DIGNITY

  _____

 

I appreciate your apprising me of the activities of the Gay Episcopal Forum.

 

I respect your right to hold your personal, religious and sexual preferences.  Also, I respect your First Amendment right to express those prefe­rences within the guidelines set forth by law and court decisions.

 

     Hon. Herman Talmadge

     U. S. Senate

  _____

 

Thank you for your communication regard­ing your ministry in the State of Georgia.

 

I subscribe to the precepts established in the Declaration of Independence regard­ing the inalienable rights of human beings, and in the freedoms secured for all Americans under the United States Constitution.  I appreciate receiving your views, and will keep them in mind when measures affecting your ministry are considered in the U.S. Senate.

 

     Hon. Sam Nunn

     U. S. Senate

  _____

 

We will be pleased to exchange publi­cations with you, although I must be honest and tell you that we do not agree with your position, and probably will publish articles in future issues of THE CHRISTIAN CHALLENGE which might not please you.

 

     Mrs. Dorothy A. Faber, Editor

     THE CHRISTIAN CHALLENGE

  _____

 

I believe that the administration of Fort Valley State College should also advise Dr. Crew that it is he and not Fort Valley State College that is enraptured about the movement that he so ardently espouses.

 

     Dr. Saunders E. Walker, Chairperson

     Division of Humanities

     Fort Valley State College

     Fort Valley, GA 31030

  _____

                       EFFICACIOUS FAST

 

Detroit.  Catholic journalist Brian McNaught was recently removed from his assignment with the RC newspaper here when his involvement in Gay liberation was revealed.  In reaction, McNaught began a fast on behalf of all Gay Christians and, soon after, he won support from Bishops Gumbleton and Imesch.  These two bishops have written to McNaught:  "The gift of sexuality deserves deeper understanding and appreciation than has often been given in our society and in our Church....  We will urge that special attention be given to the question of homosexuality....  We are aware of the pain, suffering and discrimination that is at times inflicted upon the homosexual.  While the Catholic Church, in view of its moral teaching, cannot endorse or condone overt homosexual acts, we have a serious obligation to root out structures and attitudes that discriminate against the homosexual as a person.  We will exert our leadership in behalf of this effort.  We hope for your continued cooperation with us in trying to achieve this goal."  Brian's fast was strongly supported by members of Dignity, the national Catholic organization of Gay persons.  DIGNlTY, the national publication of this organization, has heralded the Bishops' letter as a victory won at the commendable price of McNaught's willingness to be open about positive Gay sexuality.

MICHIGAN DALLIES GAYS

 

Port Huron.  The 141st Convention of the Diocese of Michigan meeting here on 25th October voted to postpone for a year any action on The Report and Recommendations of the Commission on Homosexuality.  The move to bring the Commission's Report to the floor of the Convention was made by dissidents reacting to the 29th May adoption of a four-part resolution by the Executive Council of the diocese.  Some argued that only the Convention itself should determine policy on "such delicate matters as homosexuality."

 

The postponement of Convention action ostensibly makes it possible for all churchpersons in the diocese to give an intensive year of study to the problems of Gay Christians, as did the Church and Society Committee before it submitted the report of the Commission for adoption in May.  Meanwhile, the affirmative resolution continues to have the approval of the Executive Council.  The resolution is reproduced here as it was reported in Michigan's THE RECORD.  Copies of the complete recommendations of the Commission are available from the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan, 4800 Woodward Avenue, Detroit 48201.

 

     1.   "The Church should take steps to create an atmosphere of openness and understanding about human sexuality and particularly about homosexuality.  Programs to assist in this process should be encouraged at all levels:  national, diocesan, convocational, and parochial.  Such programs should be at the disposal of institutions of learning and in particular our seminaries and church-related schools.

 

     2.   "All ministries, professions, and occupations should be open to otherwise qualified people whatever their sexual orientation.  The use that any person makes of sexuality should be open to a reasonable evaluation by individuals competent to judge the relevance of such use to the exercise of the ministry or other profession in question.  An oppressive or destructive use of sexuality within personal relationships, whatever the sexual preference or orientation, should give reason to doubt the candidate's fitness for office.

 

          "The Executive Council requests the Commission on Ministry to study and review the Commission Report on Homosexuality with the purpose of writing a policy which will clarify the Commission's position on the ordination of homosexual persons in the Church.

 

     3.   "All aspects of the Church's life -- education, liturgy, pastoral care, fellowship -- should be available to all persons regardless of their sexuality.  Gatherings for homosexuals on church property should be accepted to the extent that they serve the same purpose of other social gathering -- enabling people to meet in an atmosphere of love and acceptance.

 

     4.   "The Church's concern for individuals and a just social order should lead it to speak publicly for repeal of all laws which make criminal offenses of private, voluntary sex acts between mature persons.  The Church ought also to oppose police harassment of homosexuals and investigatory practices which sometimes verge upon entrapment.  Likewise the Church should speak publicly on behalf of homosexual persons in the area of civil rights legislation.  There should be no discrimination against any person in housing, employment, business services, or public accommodations on the grounds of sexual orientation."

THE NTH DEGREE                

Springfield, MO.  Baptist Bible College here has revoked the degree awarded ln 1957 to Jerry Sloan, head of the Univer­sal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Church in Des Moines.  The fundamentalist school requires pledges of all graduates that they Will return their diplomas when they no longer hold the tenets of the Church, but at the time Sloan was graduated no specific tenets were stated regarding homosexuality.  The Rev. W. E. Dowell, executive vice-president of BBC, made it quite clear that Sloan's degree was being revoked because of his work in the Gay community.  In his letter to Sloan, Dowell stated: "We deplore your stand and will be praying for God to change your thinking and lead you back to faith or destroy your influence from the earth."  Mr. Sloan says that he has no ­intention of returning his diploma and that otherwise he has the greatest respect for the College and for Mr. Dowell.

                  GAY EPISCOPALIANS ORGANIZE

 

GENERAL CONVENTION

Arizona.  Brother Ben Gardiner, OSM, is forming a Gay Caucus for the U.S, Episcopal General Convention in 1976.  Queries and support are welcomed at Box 1631, Coolidge, AZ 85228.

 

Minnesota

Minneapolis.  Gay Episcopalians are organizing a caucus for the Autumn 1975 meeting of the Diocese of Minne­sota.  Interested persons should con­tact Frank R. Eggers, Jr., 26 Arthur Avenue, Box 203, Minneapolis 55414.

 

GEORGIA

Atlanta.  The Executive Council of the Diocese of Atlanta has been petitioned by INTEGRITY to provide time for a description of the new ministry.  Similarly, the Department of Special Ministries in the Diocese has been requested to give direct attention to the problems of Gays in the Diocese, particularly by inviting input from openly Gay persons already serving in the Church.

 

C. OF E.

London.  The Church of England is sponsoring a comprehensive study of attitudes toward Gay persons.  John Yates, Bishop of Whitby, is chairperson of a 12-member group of the Board for Social Responsibility.  For 18 months this group will study the Gay Experience from social, moral, medical and pastoral perspectives.  The group's report is expected to be debated at the General Synod in 1976.

PUBLICATIONS CURRENT

LOVING WOMEN/LOVING MEN.  By Sally Gearhart and William Johnston. Glide publications, 330 Ellis Street, SF 94102.  $6.95.  The book reprints some tame Bible study from mid-sixties, but includes fresh strong essays by the upfront Christian authors, particularly strong in attacking sexism even among Gay Christians.  The bibliography alone is worth the price for those interested in reviewing much of the literature about religion and homosexuality.

 

COLLEGE ENGLISH, an official publication of National Council of Teachers of English, A Special Issue on The Homosexual Imagination, Vol. 36, no. 3 (Nov. 74), edited by Rictor Norton and Louie Crew and including work principally by Gay scholars about the Gay Experience in literature.  $2 to non-members from Interstate Printers and Publishers, 19-27 North Jackson Street, Danville, IL 61832.

LITURGY & SEXUALITY

by Br. Thomas Williams

 

Liturgy and sexuality are two words we do not often see together in the same sentence.  Stop for a minute and consider liturgy and sexuality in your own life.

 

As men and women we are quite sex­ual, even though some of us never give sex any serious thought, merely considering our sexual life as something apart from everything else we do.

 

Equally, as Catholic Christians we are definitely liturgical creatures, nourished by God through the greatest liturgical service of Holy Eucharist and through other ancient services of praise and worship.  This worship not only affects us intensely while we are in church, but also affects us as we "go forth into the world, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit."

 

But what relationship is there between our liturgical worship and our sexuality?  Through a careful look at the Holy Scriptures and the Anglican Prayer Book, we can easily find that if we completely separate our sexuality from our formal acts of worship, espe­cially from the Eucharist, we are not letting our loving Lord give us that wholeness of being that he so eagerly yearns for us to have.

 

Sex and ritual worship are nothing new, but, in fact, very ancient.  Be­fore God revealed himself as Yaweh to that nomadic Semitic tribe which we find in the Old Testament as Israel, The Chosen of God, temple prostitution was common in many pla­ces.  Both men and women offered their bodies to those who came to worship by means of sexual acts.  The Israelites did not look on such acts with the least approval.  Still, throughout the Old Testament, God revealed himself as the divine lover of his chosen spouse, Israel, a reality which the pagan rituals in­volving sex only hinted of.  This was made explicit in the prophetic marriage metaphor used by the prophet Hosea.  (See also Jer. 2 and 3; Ezekiel 16.)

 

The Song of Solomon was ori­ginally a poetic story of intense human love, and was given allegori­cal meaning by the Jewish tradition and later by the Christian Church, as referring to the love of God, the bridegroom, for his chosen people, the bride.  Jesus spoke of the messianic age as a time of wedding.  (Matt. 22:1-4; 25:1-13)

 

St. Paul expressed in clear terms the concept of marriage as a symbol of Christ's union with his Church.  What a shock for some of our brothers in Christ to discover that as part of the bride the Church, they too in a true sense as individuals are brides of the divine bridegroom, the omnipotent lover!

 

Of course it has always been easy for nuns or sisters to find this femi­nine spiritual relationship to Jesus Christ, but it equally holds true for men, and is in fact necessary for priests and brothers.  WE ARE BRIDES OF CHRIST, ALL OF US!

 

So what has this got to do with liturgy, especially the Eucharist?  In one word, EVERYTHING.  It is through the solemn offering of bread and wine that the sacrifice of the cross is offered to God the Father, bringing through Jesus his son by the power of the Holy Spirit the very presence of God incarnate to us, the bride.  We are fed with his very own resurrected and glorified Body and Blood, the su­preme sacramental communion between Jesus and his bride, viz., each of us as individuals.  Ours is a communion of which the beautiful love and sexual union of earthly lovers is only a foreshadowing.

 

Joyfully may we now realize that our sexuality is a gift of God, and that through finding the full purpose and glory of our sexuality we will be enabled to come to a deeper realization of the fullness of God's love for us.

 

As we come to God's altar to receive the most intimate gift of which we are able to partake in this life, our wondrous sexuality and our earthly lovers are not left behind to wait for us when we return, but are given to Christ to be consecrated in union with his infinite sacrifice.

 

No, don't take my word for it.  Look at the prayer of consecration known liturgically as the Canon of the Mass.  On page 81 of the Prayer Look we read, "And here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, Our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee."

 

Can we dare presume to offer ourselves to God and fearfully leave our sexuality aside?  If so, our prayer that "he may dwell in us and we in him" will not be answered because in not freely giving ourselves totally to him, we hinder the mighty act of mercy he desires to work in us.

 

And so my sisters and brothers in Jesus, Gay, straight, or a mixture of both, come to the Lord our Savior in the Eucharistic Feast.  Come as his bride to love him who first loved us.  Bring unto him your joys of loving and bring the ones you love.  Do not hesitate even to bring your inabilities to love.  For he who is uncreated love will forgive your sins and bind your wounds.

 

When we have given all to him, then to us he will give that peace which passes all understanding.  Love.  Love in Christ.  Love him and each other in the Liturgy.  This God commands.  AMEN, AMEN.

 

Proclaiming God's inclusive love in and through the Episcopal Church since 1975.


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