Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Holy Defiance, Holy Hope
Susan Russell posted this picture at her FaceBook site last night. She has other GC memorabilia on her Blog.
That's the scene from the IntegrityUSA Eucharist held in Denver in 2000. You can read one account of that convention here.
You may not know this, but that picture represents a 'first'.
Can you guess what it is?
Take a close look at all the people standing around the altar.
On the left in front of the altar is Bishop Steve Charleston who was the preacher that night. He totally rocked the house.
"No more victims!" he said, "No more. No more."
That's Michael Hopkins, then President of IntegrityUSA, presiding. Susan Russell, soon to be IntegrityUSA President is standing behind him. Standing behind Bishop Charleston is me, standing next to Tracey Lind and Jeannette DeFriest.
In between Tracey and Jeannette is +Gene Robinson. To his left is Joseph Lane and Jason Samuels. Behind Jeannette is Cynthia Black.
That woman to the left of the Unknown (to me) Man in Black is Bonnie Perry. And, that looks like Mac Thigpen way over there on the right.
There are obviously others you may recognize but I don't.
Starting to figure out the Very Big Radical Thing that happened that night?
Yup. Other than Bishop Steve, everyone else standing 'round that altar is an LGBT person.
Now, you may say, "Yeah, so what?"
Well, it was a Very Big Radical Thing in 2000. Indeed, it was the Very First Time LGBT clergy vested and 'came out' during an IntegrityUSA Eucharist.
I remember posing for a picture on the steps of the Cathedral and everyone was absolutely giddy with our 'group coming out' being recorded for posterity.
Sounds silly now, I know. I know. It incredible to remember that this picture was taken only 9 years ago.
We had been so very, very weary of being ignored. Intimidated. Threatened. Frightened. Or, seeing our sisters and brothers being treated that way.
Many of our LGBT sisters and brothers preferred to stay in the pew, traveling 'incognito', because to do otherwise would have endangered their ability to do their ministry back in their home diocese.
Others of our LGBT brothers and sisters whose vocations to ordination had been denied because of their sexual orientation were also sitting in the pew and, for the first time, had some hope - a vision of the possibility and health and wholeness which comes when the truth is told and the secret no longer has power over your life.
It was an act of Holy Defiance.
The Outcast gathered in the Sanctuary.
The Unclean who had been washed in the Blood of the Lamb.
Those who hunger and thirst for justice being fed Holy Food and given Holy Drink so that they might tend to the hunger and thirst of others.
To you, it may look like a group of clergy con-celebrating at the altar with a bishop.
But to me . . . to me . . . well, to me it's not too big a thing to say that it is a wee glimmer, a bright and shiny ray, of the in-breaking of the Realm of God.
Goodness knows, we need to see images like this. B033 continues to threaten and intimidate and frighten. Vocations continue to be denied based on sexual orientation.
We need to recapture that pioneering spirit of Holy Defiance from Denver and bring it with us to Anaheim.
The Spirit of Holy Defiance unleashes Holy Hope.
If you recall, Gene Robinson was elected bishop of NH three years later.
I continue to hear the prophetic words of Bishop Steve Charleston, calling us on, "No more victims. No more. No more."
No more victims of injustice. All the Sacraments for all the Baptized.
Justice begins, as it always has, with the holiest acts of Holy Defiance:
Love Incarnate, Love Divine.