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Frequently Asked Questions

Where does the Episcopal Church stand on gay and lesbian issues?

The Episcopal Church is still wrestling with the full inclusion of gay and lesbian folk and their equal access to the sacraments--though we are further ahead than most denominations.  Many dioceses and congregations are actively supportive, a few are actively hostile, and most are somewhere in between. 

In 1976 the General Convention of the Episcopal Church passed the following resolutions...

Resolved, that it is the sense of this General Convention that homosexual persons are children of God and have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church.

Resolved, that this General Convention expresses its conviction that homosexual persons are entitled to equal protection of the laws with all other citizens, and calls upon our society to see that such protection is provided in actuality.

In 1994 the General Convention of passed the following resolution...

No person shall be denied rights, status, or an equal place in the life, worship, and governance of this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, disabilities or age, except as otherwise specified by Canon.

In 1997 the General Convention Church passed the following resolution...

That this 72nd General Convention apologizes on behalf of the Episcopal Church to its members who are gay or lesbian and to lesbians and gay men outside the Church for years of rejection and maltreatment by the Church; . . . That this Church repents of its sins committed against lesbian and gay people—physical, psychological and spiritual—through covert and overt action and inaction. We seek amendment of our life together and we ask for God’s help in sharing the Good News with all people.

Where does the Episcopal Church stand on the ordination of non-celibate gay and lesbian people?

Closeted gay and lesbian people have been ordained throughout Christian history.  The same has been true in the Episcopal Church.

In 1977, Bishop Paul Moore of New York ordained Ellen Barrett as the first openly lesbian priest in the Episcopal Church.  Since then, numerous openly gay and lesbian clergy have been ordained or come out of the closet.

In 1993, Bishop Otis Charles of Utah retired and came out.

In 1994 the General Convention passed the following resolution...

No one shall be denied access to the selection process for ordination in this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities or age, except as otherwise specified by these Canons. No right to ordination is hereby established.

In 1996, several conservative bishops filed heresy charges against retired Bishop Walter Righter because he had ordain an openly gay man to the deaconate.  The ecclesiastical court dismissed the charges--ruling that the Episcopal Church had no clear doctrine on the issue.

In 2003, Gene Robinson of New Hampshire was consecrated as the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church.

Where does the Episcopal Church stand on same-sex marriages?

In 2009, the General Convention passed the following resolution...

Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 76th General Convention acknowledge the changing circumstances in the United States and in other nations, as legislation authorizing or forbidding marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian persons is passed in various civil jurisdictions that call forth a renewed pastoral response from this Church, and for an open process for the consideration of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships; and be it further

Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, collect and develop theological and liturgical resources, and report to the 77th General Convention; and be it further

Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, devise an open process for the conduct of its work inviting participation from provinces, dioceses, congregations, and individuals who are engaged in such theological work, and inviting theological reflection from throughout the Anglican Communion; and be it further

Resolved, That bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church; and be it further

Resolved, That this Convention honor the theological diversity of this Church in regard to matters of human sexuality; and be it further

Resolved, That the members of this Church be encouraged to engage in this effort.

As a result, an increasing number of bishops have promulgated official, written policies that permit the blessing of same-sex relationships.  In a few dioceses, bishops allow their clergy to act as agents of the state and marry same-gender couples.  Click here for more information.

Can straight people join Integrity?

Absolutely!  Integrity welcomes the membership and support of heterosexual folk.

Why does Integrity include bisexual and transgender people in its mission?

Both bisexual and transgender folk are widely misunderstood and discriminated against by both the straight and gay communities.

In 1948, Alfred Kinsey published a 7-point sexual orientation scale.  Although most people are exclusively heterosexual (0) or homosexual (6) in their orientation and behavior, many fall somewhere in-between (1-5).  Contrary to popular belief, most bisexual people do not have concurrent relationship with both men and women.

"Transgender" is a broad term for those who do not conform to societal gender norms.  It includes those who enjoy wearing clothing associated with the opposite gender (transvestites or cross-dressers) and those who feel that their internal gender identity does not match their physical gender (transsexuals).  Many transvestites are heterosexual.  Not all transsexuals have had, or are in the process of k8having, a "sex-change operation."

Doesn't the Bible condemn homosexuality?

A number of passages in the Bible are used to condemn homosexuality.  Click here for a good analysis of those passages.

For Episcopalians, the four gospels are the most important part of the Bible.  It is significant that Jesus never addressed homosexuality.  However, Jesus spent a great of time ministering to those considered outcasts by the society and religious leaders of his day.

Episcopalians have historically looked to three sources of spiritual authority--scripture, tradition, and reason.  Using scientific knowledge and personal experience, we employ our God-given intellect to interpret the Bible.  In the past, the Bible has been used to justify slavery and the domination of women.  Even so, the Holy Spirit is leading the church into a greater understanding of the truth about homosexuality.

How many members does Integrity have?

There are about 2000 members of Integrity USA.  This number goes up and down as new members join and current members fail to renew.

How many chapters does Integrity have?

There are about 60 in the United States.  This number goes up and down as chapters form and dissolve.  Click here for a current list.

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

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