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Other Ideas and Information

Getting the Word Out

Consider the following:

  • Brochures (obtainable from National) to be left at parishes
  • Business cards to be left at area bars and community centers.
  • A permanent telephone number with an answering machine.
  • A speakers' bureau to dialogue with local parishes.
  • Notices in local lesbian/gay press. Most will print all notices sent them. A generic press release is attached.
  • Ads in local lesbian/gay press. Your Region will pick up part of this cost.
  • Listing in "Gayellow Pages" and similar guide books. These are free.
  • Listing in local newspaper's section on community organizations.
  • Articles and notices in Diocesan publications.

Worship

Worship is central to the concept of Integrity as an organization and should be part of every Integrity meeting. Worship empowers us to do God's work in the community and the Church, to appreciate God's love and learn how to share it with others.

As worship is planned, consider the wide variety of personal preferences, and try to reach everyone at some time. Simplicity is best. Be festive for special occasions to the extent it fits your group and its capabilities. You might, for instance, plan a special service on or near Integrity's patronal festival, St. Aelred's Day, January 12.

Make the worship lively. Integrity strongly recommends use of inclusive language liturgies. Since yours will not be a Sunday morning service, there should be no objection from your bishop. A courtesy letter to him/her saying, "We're sure we have your permission to use inclusive language liturgies," should suffice. Inclusive language both makes women more welcome and it makes all of us conscious of the prejudice our society has imposed on us -- that one sex is inferior to another.

Fund Raising

Be creative with fund raisers. Plan a yard sale, bake sale or car wash. Unfortunately, the lack of money can be the barrier you encounter most often in carrying out your plans. Some chapters ask the membership for a regular pledge as a sign of their commitment. Most take a collection. Let your members know what the chapter's plans are and why their financial involvement is important. Keep them informed about how their money is being managed through frequent reports. Remember, in addition to local projects, National needs very large amounts of money each three years to pay for Integrity's presence at General Convention.

Your Region

Your provincial coordinator is your friend, your advisor, and your representative on the National Board of Directors. Use him/her frequently.

Membership and Dues

There are no categories of "local" and "national" members in chapters, because chapters of Integrity are formed by dues-paying members of Integrity who choose to associate with one another for greater effectiveness in their pursuit of Integrity's objectives. Individuals may join Integrity and choose not to affiliate with an active chapter locally, but no one may belong to a chapter of Integrity, without paying the established national dues.

Chapters receive 30% from each membership (new or renewing) when a member says they're affiliated with a particular active chapter. The local portion of dues are distributed quarterly by the national treasurer.

Chapters may, of course, include non-members in their fellowships and on their mailing lists. There should be continuing efforts to encourage such persons to become members. Chapters may wish to establish "scholarship funds" to assist those who are financially unable to afford national dues.

A list of your chapter membership as it appears on the national computer record will be sent to your chapter upon request. Please make an effort to review this list and promptly send corrections.

Dialog with the Episcopal Church

Meet with your bishop at least once a year in person and communicate regularly with her/him by phone and mail. Unless s/he is openly hostile, invite her/him to celebrate the Eucharist frequently.

Have a booth at your diocesan convention. This is the easiest way to reach virtually all of the clergy and opinion leaders in your diocese. You just need to have a display and be prepared to engage in dialogue. National will provide materials if you ask sufficiently in advance. Here is a built-in opportunity to offer the services of the chapter's membership in promoting dialogue on human sexuality within the Episcopal Church. Make other opportunities, but don't overlook this one.

Offer the services of your membership, hopefully with an organized speakers' bureau, in promoting dialogue on human sexuality within the Episcopal Church.

Newsletter

Newsletters are essential even if they are a single page. It is an excellent way of establishing and maintaining the network so important to a chapter's success.

One chapter recently revived its newsletter after a four-year hiatus. Membership tripled in six months! Newsletters also help maintain contact with members who no longer feel the need for frequent fellowship but who still support Integrity's purposes and goals.

Taxpayer ID Number and Tax Exemption

This is an issue which can easily become confused, but it is actually rather simple. Actually, it's three simple issues.

Integrity has a taxpayer ID number. It has the same number of digits as a social security number and is issued by the Social Security Department. We do not publish this number because it would allow anyone to open an account in our name without our knowledge. If your chapter in formation wants to open an account using the national ID number, simply contact the Treasurer and s/he will give it to you.

Thirdly are exemptions from sales taxes. Integrity chapters are entitled to such exemptions in most states. Integrity may already have this status with your state; check with the national office. Usually the federal exemption will suffice, but you must fill out the appropriate state forms.

Becoming a Certified Chapter

To become a certified chapter you must submit a "Petition for Certification as a Chapter of Integrity". Certifications of new chapters usually occur at the semi-annual Board meetings. Please check with your provincial coordinator so that your materials may be timely submitted. The bylaws will require careful examination and must be submitted to the Secretary not less than one month prior to the Board meeting incorporating the Chapter.

Tasks to be Shared

Membership Development

Ask someone to be in charge of membership development. A membership program includes gaining new members as well as maintaining current members. Keep in mind that there is nothing preventing you from soliciting non-gay members. Ask the supportive clergy in your area to join.

Worship

Appoint a worship coordinator or chaplain. It is no small task to arrange celebrants and preachers for your regular worship services. If there are a number of willing clergy volunteers, consider having two at a time -- a celebrant and a preacher. Don't ask the same person more than 25% of the time unless it is unavoidable. If you have a willing and able clergy member who would like to serve as Chaplain, you are quite fortunate. Please note, an Integrity chaplaincy is primarily pastoral and only secondarily liturgical. In other words, your chaplain will make a great back-up if the celebrant doesn't show up, but s/he should not be expected to act as the group's principal preacher or celebrant.

Program

Appoint a program coordinator. Ask those who attend what they want and then find ways of satisfying them. Bring in speakers from community organizations. It's amazing how many resources exist in any community, reading for the tapping. Check with mental health organizations for speakers on stress, relationships or counseling. Establish rap groups if someone is skilled in that area. Clergy can provide exciting programs on Biblical themes and current church issues. The National Integrity Office has some suggestions for film/video screenings of Integrity or Episcopal-related films. Your provincial coordinator would also be happy to visit you and discuss Integrity. And don't hesitate to invite other National Officers as well.

Mail

Someone should check the mail box at least every other week. Don't worry, there will be lots of mail.

Special Events/Socials

Appoint a social coordinator. Remember to have fun! Plan potluck suppers, one-day outings to amusement parks, joint picnics or worship services with other lesbian/gay organizations (e.g., MCC, Dignity, PFLAG, student groups, political coalitions). Remember, the two most unfriendly places for newcomers are Episcopal coffee hours and gay bars. Don't let your chapter emulate them. Make sure that you plan events that include everyone -- or are frequent enough that people don't feel excluded by being unable to partake in a certain event. Find a project or two where the membership is asked to reach out to others. This could mean getting involved in a soup kitchen, clothes closet or playing Santa Claus to the residents of a home for older adults.

Treasurer

Even before you have formal bylaws, you need to appoint a highly responsible person to be in charge of handling the chapter's money. Next to convener, this is the most important post and the failure to properly fill it has caused considerable problems.