Dear St. Paul’s family,
Last week many of you participated in the annual philanthropic exercise ‘Dine Out for Life”, supporting the important ministry of our local LGBT Center. Did you know that the Episcopal Church has its own dedicated ministry to LGBTQ+ persons? It’s called IntegrityUSA.
IntegrityUSA and its local chapters have advocated for full inclusion of LGBTQ+ people within the Episcopal Church for over 40 years. St. Paul’s has been on the forefront of that effort with many members providing leadership. Our location in the heart of Banker’s Hill makes us a destination church in San Diego, providing a special draw for God’s LGBTQ+ children.
Integrity has morphed over the decades in response to changing needs. Thanks to the work of many in the past, today our Cathedral as a whole values inclusion for all.
Under the leadership of Wayne Blizzard and Alex Nelepovitz, we are relaunching Integrity at the Cathedral with this renewed mission: “To minister to the distinct needs of LGBTQ+ people by welcoming, nurturing and integrating them in the SPC community; celebrating and expressing their unique gifts to the Body of Christ; and acting as a witness to Christ’s healing power to those beyond our walls. We aim to accomplish this through fellowship, education, and active service in the life of the Cathedral and the community. We welcome all who are committed to accomplishing these goals in an attitude of love, service, and humility.”
People find their home at the Cathedral in many ways. We are one body with many members and a variety of gifts. Some LGBTQ+ newcomers benefit from the support of an LGBTQ+ group, in part because of their experience of religious exclusivism. We have frequent requests from newcomers for such a ministry. Integrity helps to welcome them into the Cathedral. Brunches, pot lucks, and other fellowship activities are important ways to build community, but they’re not the only activities that our renewed Integrity team envisions.
Religious abuse of LGBTQ+ persons is still prevalent, even in San Diego. Not everyone who comes to the Cathedral can imagine an inclusive religious faith. There is room at the cathedral for a ministry that provides LGBTQ+ people opportunities to heal from the wounds of exclusive religion and bigotry by reflecting on questions such as these: “How do we deal with the ‘clobber passages’ of Scripture?” “Where is there justification for a God who loves all?” “Is being gay a sin or not?” “How can God have made me a gender I wasn’t assigned?” While those in our pews may have resolved these questions for themselves, where does a new member go to join a conversation about such questions? Integrity may form small group studies to help explore and resolve these questions.
We need Integrity because we are a place that welcomes all. Welcoming all means more than just saying hello: it means creating safe space in our common life for different experiences of God. We are learning that all benefit when voices that have traditionally been stifled share their unique experiences of faith. The sum of the parts gives a clearer picture than any one part by itself. Integrity hopes to provide diverse opportunites for LGBTQ+ people to share their experience and spiritual reflections with the rest of the Cathedral.
If you would like to help Integrity find creative ways to fulfill its mission, please contact Wayne Blizzard at email@example.com. He and Alex will contact you to explore ways that you can get involved in this renewed effort. I am proud of the courageous people who lead the way for us to be a truly inclusive community.
Your sister in Christ,