The week has been an interesting, exciting and overwhelming one as I attended part of the 77th General Convention of The Episcopal Church in Indianapolis as a member of TransEpiscopal:
TransEpiscopal is a group of transgender Episcopalians and our significant others, families, friends and allies dedicated to enriching our spiritual lives and to making the Episcopal Church a welcoming and empowering place that all of us truly can call our spiritual home. We are an informal group meeting mostly through the Internet and though many of us are affiliated with the Episcopal Church we have no official relationship to the Episcopal Church.
Watching the Church legislative process in action was fascinating, educational and uplifting, especially in witnessing the support, good will and fellowship from allied bishops and deputies.
On the flip side, some of the less-supportive testimony and arguments were disheartening to hear, especially those delivered by bishops and deputies from the more conservative dioceses as they explained why the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies should not approve resolutions that would guarantee trans people a place in the church or allow the trial use of new liturgy for same-sex blessings.
However, the “no votes” were 25% or less of the total and the resolutions passed by wide margins.
In doing so, The Episcopal Church has officially adopted language in its non-discrimination canons guaranteeing trans people access to ordination and all levels of laity participation, joining the United Church of Christ which enacted similar protections in 2003. In addition, The Episcopal Church approved the trial use of liturgy for same-sex blessings and issued a Church-wide response to bullying that includes gender identity and expression.
In addition to the legislative process, other memorable moments for me were the IntegrityUSA Eucharist that was held at the end of the day that the non-discrimination resolutions passed and during which founder Louie Crew was recognized, trans people played an integral part and Bishop Gene Robinson preached an amazing sermon, and the TransEpiscopal Eucharist that was held the subsequent evening, during which a young trans person was baptized into The Episcopal Church.
These moments are all captured in narratives and photographs at the following sites:
Web site for The General Convention of the Episcopal Church
The TransEpiscopal blog and my posts:
“A Church Where All Can Actually Mean All”
Web site of IntegrityUSA, staunch supporters and allies of TransEpiscopal, and IntegrityUSA’s web site for the General Convention where you can see IntegriTV videos of interviews and happenings throughout the convention. There you can also see a two-part video of the Integrity Eucharist that includes two ordained trans participants, Rev. Carolyn Woodall and Rev. Cameron Partridge, as well as Bishop Gene Robinson delivering his moving sermon.
IntegrityUSA – Working for the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments:
Integrity is a nonprofit organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender [LGBT] Episcopalians and our straight friends. Since our founding by Dr. Louie Crew in rural Georgia in 1974, Integrity has been the leading grassroots voice for the full inclusion of LGBT persons in the Episcopal Church and our equal access to its rites. However, advocacy is only one facet of our ministry. At the national level and in local chapters and diocesan networks throughout the country, the primary activities are: worship, fellowship, education, communication, outreach, and service to the church.
The Chicago Consultation, supporting and allied with TransEpiscopal:
The Chicago Consultation, a group of Episcopal and Anglican bishops, clergy and lay people, supports the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion. We believe that our baptismal covenant requires this.
The Consultation, of which TransEpiscopal is a member:
The Consultation is a coalition of thirteen independent organizations in the Episcopal Church committed to peace with justice.
The Integrity documentary “Voices of Witness: Out of the Box” that features trans people who have been ordained in the Episcopal Church, as well as Bishop Gene Robinson and others who provide witness to trans people of faith. This video, produced by Integrity’s Communication Director Louise Brooks, was offered to The Episcopal Church, especially to deputies and bishops ahead of the General Convention as an educational tool for the trans-related resolutions that were to be legislated at the convention.
I don’t usually talk about religion on this blog, but I have been so overwhelmed by what transpired at General Convention that I was moved to write about it. I have been blessed to find The Episcopal Church and make it my spiritual home, and I am proud of what the Church and its members have done to recognize and value trans people and other people who are marginalized, discriminated against or outright rejected by other denominations.