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Walking with Integrity

"Walking With Integrity" is the official blog of Integrity USA. We regularly offer news and insights into issues related to our mission and organization.

  • 40th Anniversary of Rev. Ellen Barrett's Ordination

    January 10, 2017 - 11:02 am

    40th Anniversary of Rev. Ellen Barrett's Ordination

    Rev. Ellen Barrett with Rt. Rev. Paul Moore, Jr.
    Forty years ago today the foundations of The Episcopal Church (and the Anglican Communion for that matter) shook a bit as two things took place: Another woman was ordained. She was ordained by the Rt. Rev. Paul Moore, Jr., Bishop of New York. That woman was openly lesbian. She was among the first 50 women ordained in The Episcopal Church, but she was the FIRST lesbian to be ordained priest in the Anglican Communion.

    Some reading this will have no clue about whom I write. Others will know and remember very well who that woman is. Her name is Ellen Barrett. Today is the 40th anniversary of her ordination. Congratulations first to Ellen and then to The Episcopal Church on such a milestone. Ellen now lives in England and continues her ministry as Sister Helena.

    This posting was intended to be a surprise for Ellen and I hope everyone who had a clue also kept their mouths shut! So: Surprise Ellen! Congratulations on the 40th anniversary of your ordination. You have achieved a milestone many never reach.

    I invite those reading (who are old enough!) to look back 40 years. Ordained women were a novelty in The Episcopal Church. (Some groups had other descriptive terms that will not be repeated here. Suffice to say they came from groups and organizations that could not fathom women in any leadership positions, much less as clergy.) Lesbian and gay priests (LGBTQ wasn’t on anyone’s radar back then) were a novelty as well and anathema to some. The discussions about the place of lesbians and gays in The Episcopal Church in both lay and ordained leadership were pretty much still in the embryonic stage. So yes, foundations shook a bit 40 years ago.

    The Reverend Doctor Ellen Barrett is one of the pioneers of our faith. She is one of our icons in the struggle for equality. She is one of our elder statespersons who led the way so that those who followed would have an easier path to take. Sadly, many today really do not know who broke down barriers to LGBTQ people’s inclusion in the church and society. Many simply take for granted the things they enjoy as openly LGBTQ. History apparently is not a popular subject, especially church history.


    In one of the epistles attributed to St. Paul is the declaration that a price was paid for us, meaning of course, the redeeming actions of Jesus Christ on our behalf. Well my kindred in Christ, I think we forget that a price was paid for us to be openly LGBTQ followers of Jesus Christ. The price was ostracism, exclusion, loss of jobs, being the object of meanness and nastiness rarely known among church folk and often the demonization of us just because of who we are. Ellen Barrett paid such a price. She paid it so she could be ordained and she paid it so that those of us today who wish to be open about our authentic selves AND serve the church might be able to do so.

    Our beloved founder, Dr. Louie Crew Clay included one of my favorite collects from the prayer book in his correspondence with me:

    "O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."

    What wonderful words to mark an event four decades ago as things were indeed being made new, being raised up, as the world watched.

    Again, congratulations Ellen Barrett!

    The black and white pictures were very secretly borrowed from Ellen’s personal materials and are from the ordination service.

    If anyone wishes to send a congratulatory note to Ellen, please send messages to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    Blessings on Ellen from Integrity USA.

    Bruce Garner, President
    Integrity USA



    Read more...
  • We Celebrate Louie Crew Clay's 80th Birthday with a Surprise

    December 9, 2016 - 11:29 am

    We Celebrate Louie Crew Clay's 80th Birthday with a Surprise

    On December 9, 1936, exactly 80 years ago today, in Anniston, Alabama, God dropped a blessing into the lives of Erman Louie Crew, Sr. and Lula Gaines Hagin Crew. That same blessing would impact this world and would shake many foundations and rattle many cages over the course of the next 80 years. The child born that day would help reshape The Episcopal Church and secular society in ways never imagined at the time. Today is the 80th birthday of Erman Louie Crew, Jr., better known to us as Louie Crew Clay.
    Happy Birthday, Louie!!
    Integrity USA has chosen to honor Louie’s milestone birthday by creating the Louie Crew Clay Fund for Lifelong Learning. Louie’s life has been devoted to teaching and learning. He has learned where the Holy Spirit has been leading him. In turn Louie has sought to teach others. His gentle spirit and cheerful demeanor has educated and inspired thousands about how it is possible for any LGBTQ person to be a true follower of Jesus Christ.
    If you would like to make a contribution to this fund in Louie’s honor, please go to this link.
    Early in 2017, the Board of Directors of Integrity USA will send your contributions and a resolution to the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church requesting that a special trust fund be created bearing the title of “The Louie Crew Clay Fund for Lifelong Learning.” That trust fund will become a source of income to Trust Fund (TF) 514.00 (Marie Louise Constable) aka “The Constable Fund” created in 1939 to be used for the purposes of The Episcopal Church, preferably for work of religious education not provided for within the budget of the church. After the creation of that trust fund, contributions may be made directly to it through the Church Center.

    Louie founded Integrity in 1974 and thus began a long journey toward bringing the full inclusion and equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons into the life of The Episcopal Church at all levels of ministry, both lay and ordained. The journey was never an easy one. It faced opposition from many who could not conceive of LGBT folks ever having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as their Savior.
    Even more inconceivable to some was the idea that LGBTQ folks would ever be ordained deacons, priests and bishops in the church. Still further beyond even the imagination of many was the possibility that same gender couples would be married by The Episcopal Church, in the church, using liturgies approved by the church.

    Yet, today, despite some pockets of resistance, these milestones in ministry have been achieved. What Louie began continues to gather into the church those who are among the outcast and marginalized of both society and church. It was through both learning and teaching that issues were peeled away to reveal the faces of the children of God. The human face is infinitely more difficult to dismiss than an issue.
    Louie’s ministry has been supported by his beloved husband Ernest. Without that support, without that partnership, the journey would have been too difficult to imagine. Integrity USA asks God’s blessing on Louie and Ernest as they celebrate the 80th anniversary of Louie’s arrival into this realm.

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  • Post-election Action

    November 21, 2016 - 5:56 pm

    Kindred in Christ,


    The next four years will be decided by how hard we prepare right now. Acts of homophobia, transphobia, racism, religious oppression, and misogyny have exploded: over 400 hate crimes were filed in the days after the election. Churches are experiencing acts of vandalism and graffiti.

    We are launching an emergency campaign to stop efforts to derail everything we've achieved. Monthly giving is the best way to support our fight. Please be the lamp of hope, the Light of Christ, and donate $1/day ($30 a month) to protect what we've gained and further protect those in harm’s way. Click here to donate online now. .

    On behalf of the Board of Directors of Integrity USA

    Bruce Garner, President
    Integrity USA

    Read more...
  • Smiling Faces

    November 14, 2016 - 12:09 pm

    There is a pop song from the early ‘70’s called “Smiling Faces.”  The lyrics include: Smiling faces….pretend to be your friend.  Smiling faces...don’t tell the truth!  (Google it for the full effect of the lyrics.)

    How much more apropos could those lyrics be after Tuesday’s elections?  I saw a lot of smiling faces….that weren’t telling the truth…..that I don’t trust…..that I can’t imagine being my/our friend.  I’m still reeling from the shock of how so many embraced misogyny, racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia….and pretty much any other way one could think of to denigrate the children of God.  And apparently being crude and vulgar is no longer inappropriate for elected officials either.  To top that off, there seems to be a new definition of what is acceptable to some Christians as well…..at least to those who cling to right end of the spectrum. So much hatred and hypocrisy hiding behind smiling faces.  

    Sadly, “smiling faces” are not limited to politicians.  I know a number of folks who sport clerical collars, purple shirts and miters who have plastic smiles pasted on their faces as they smugly hide behind "scripture, tradition and reason” to support their own prejudices, particularly against LGBTQ folks.  And as much as they might want us to think otherwise, a significant number still have "issues” with women clergy too.  We all know how much work remains for us in addressing the sin of  racism, in church and in society.  All of our "isms” bubbled up and boiled over on Tuesday and we all got soiled by them.

    There were some bright spots.  We have an openly LGBT state governor now…..one out of 50...guess that isn’t too bad??   In my home state of Georgia we actually have an openly gay man who was elected to our legislature.  (We had been able to elect lesbians for several years, but never a gay man.) The bright spots are difficult to see through the dense fog of prejudice and bigotry, but we should give thanks to God for them anyway.

    After Tuesday, can there possibly be anyone who doesn’t see how much work we have left to accomplish in our church and in our society?   Equality is not yet there for us and it is still a nationwide, churchwide issue.  How much larger a rock has to fall on us for us to grasp the fact that we still have work to do?   How many more hate crimes have to be committed because of sexual orientation, race, gender expression/identity before we wake up and smell the proverbial coffee? How many more LGBTQ teens and young people have to get kicked out of their homes by their "good Christian parents” (sarcasm intended!) because they have come out of the closet to them?  How many more Matthew Shepherds do we have to witness?  How many more Travon’s have to die?  How many more Charleston’s must we see?   How many more times must we witness another Pulse Nightclub?   How many more of our parishes must be the victims of vicious attacks and notes like the one left on a priest's car windshield?  Are we really that dense?  Are we that unaware?  Are we, God help us, that uncaring?  Are we still that afraid?

    It is indeed time, my kindred in Christ, to speak out, to step up, to be seen, to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to drown out the gospel of hate!  Yes it is time…..it is long past time for us to do all of these things.  Could there be any doubt now of the continued need for Integrity?  Could there be any doubt now of the continued need for GLAAD or HRC or Lambda Legal or any and every organization that is working toward securing an equal place for us in both the American Dream and the Household of God?

    It has been said that "all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.”  While that is indeed true, I would add that evil will also triumph if we stick our heads in the sand and/or hide in our closets.   Jesus told Lazarus to "come out” of the tomb and he told the community to "unbind him and let him go.”  It’s time we also heeded the call to "come out.”  But….our community needs to bind ourselves to each other and strive toward reaching the beloved community where all of God’s children are free to be who God created them to be.  We can achieve that in our church if we bind ourselves together in Integrity.  We can achieve that in society by witnessing to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and binding ourselves to those groups who will help insure that we are as equal in the site of all the citizens of this nation as we are in the eyes of the One who created us.

    I challenge each of you to insure that your membership is up to date.  I further challenge each of you to bring at least one new member into Integrity during the next few weeks.  I challenge each of you to donate your money as well as your time and talent to Integrity and secular organizations working for equality and justice.   This ain’t going away folks unless we make it go away.   
    I also challenge us to remember the One we follow.  We must not return the hatred and venom we receive with the same.  We must deflect nastiness with love, no matter how difficult that may be.  We must be examples of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  May we always remember to ask God, the living and loving God, to make us instruments of God’s own peace:
    Where there is hatred, let us sow love.



    Bruce Garner, President
    Integrity USA

    Read more...
  • Scripture, Tradition, and Reason

    November 7, 2016 - 10:16 am

    One of the hallmarks of Anglican theology is the concept of “scripture, tradition, and reason.”  Over the centuries, we have looked at various issues through this three part lens.  Such a view has given us different understanding of issues that have affected us in our common life as part of the Body of Christ.

    Scripture influenced the tradition of keeping other human beings in slavery until reason - usually through experience - began to turn our hearts and our minds away from that heinous and dehumanizing practice.  In retrospect, it seems almost impossible to think that God ever had any intentions of any part of humanity owning any other part.

    Scripture influenced the tradition of keeping women “in their place” of being subservient to men and without authority in faith communities as well as in secular society.  Again, reason through experience turned hearts and minds away from a system that rendered women as less than men, despite the fact that in creation God created both male and female in God’s image.  

    Scripture influenced by tradition was also the basis for denying lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people of faith a place at God’s table that was equal to all others.  Yet again, at least for a growing segment of Christ’s Body, reason influenced by experience taught us that there is no sound theological basis for creating outcasts of any of God’s children.

    It was the misuse of Scripture in this case, as before, that allowed some to perpetuate the concept that there have been different classes of sinful behavior that could be used to create divisions among God’s children.  Removing passages of Scripture from the context of the culture in which they were written and from the context of the entire narrative of which they are an integral part, continues to provide ways for us to divide ourselves from one another and from God through the mistaken notion that God created some of us more acceptable than others of us.  Do we truly believe that God created some of us “more equal” than others?

    I am always amazed at how those “learned in Scripture” can continue to perpetuate a system that discriminates in the name of God.  Duly ordained clergy have told me with certainty that they and their congregations welcome “all” fully, even LGBT folks.  Yet when they then tell me with their next breath that they will neither perform nor permit the marriage of a same gender couple AND base that decision on “Scripture, tradition, and reason,” I am forced to both scratch my head and shake my head in disbelief.  Yet…..such continues to happen….and it happens in too many dioceses of our church and even in congregations in dioceses where full inclusion is the norm.  Apparently the “glass wall” they place between the altar and the pastoral needs of their LGBT members is too clear for even them to see.

    My “broken record” continues to play:  Is there still a need for the ministry of Integrity?  Read the above again and I think your answer will be a resounding “Yes!!!”


    Bruce Garner, President
    Integrity USA

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Older posts from Walking with Integrity can be found at http://walkingwithintegrity.blogspot.com