27 November 2010

Keeping Busy - A few things that I have been involved with recently.

Integrity Participation at the 234th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of New York

Integrity NYC Metro leadership attended the 234th Convention of the Diocese of New York, held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on November 13th, 2010. Paul Lane, the Diocesan Organizer for New York coordinated a table partnership between the Chapter and the LGBT Concerns Committee of the Diocese. Chap Day (Provincial Coordinator, Province II) and Esteban Giron (outgoing Acting Convener) helped staff the table. We had information about Believe Out Loud (brochures and buttons), as well as Integrity membership brochures. A good 50 of each were taken, if not more! We had very positive feedback. Additionally, Bishop Sisk announced a special convention for the election of a Bishop Co-Adjutor, to be held on October 29th, 2011. Bishop Sisk made it clear that although the diocese will be choosing a Bishop Co-Adjutor, to serve as the 16th Bishop of New York upon Bishop Sisk's retirement. Bishop Sisk made it clear that he is not going to be going anywhere in the near future. Bishop Roskam announced her retirement effective January 1st, 2012. Additionally,

The Rt. Rev. Mark Sisk

Trans Day of Remembrance Participation
On Friday, November 19th, Paul Lane, Chap Day, Mary O'Shaughnessy, Michale Mallon and Tina Cioffi (all Integrity NYC Metro board members) attended the Trans Day of Remembrance hosted at the New York LGBT Center. The event was co-sponsored by Gender Identity Project, Human Rights Campaign, and the Church of St. Luke in the Fields. The Rev. Mary Foulke (of St. Luke's) offered an invocation. Integrity NYC members were honored to attend and stand in solidarity with the Trans community.

Welcoming Congregation Workshop Participation

Chap Day, Rev. Susan Copley, Rev. Br. Tobias Haller, BSG
On Saturday, the 20th of November, the Committe on LGBT Concerns of the Diocese of New York sponsored a Welcoming Congregation workshop at St. Ann's Church Morrisania in the Bronx. Integrity NYC Metro Board Members Christian Paolino, Paul Lane, Br. Millard Cook, n/BSG, Mary O'Shaughnessy, Michael Cudney, and Chap Day attended. Paul and Michel, serving in their dual roles as members of the LGBT Concerns Committee helped organize the event. Mary and Chap served as speakers. The Rev. Susan Copley from Christ Church Tarrytown told her own story of moving to full inclusion. The Rev. Tobias Haller, BSG offered a moving reflection on LGBT inclusion that is reproduced on his blog In a Godward Direction.

06 November 2010

A Most Remarkable Man

Two weeks ago I had the privilege of spending an evening at the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew (UMC) on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The guest speaker that night was the Rev. John Makokha, a Senior Pastor of the Riruta United Methodist Church in the suburbs of Nairobi, Kenya. He is the African correspondent for Reconciling Ministries Network and is the Country Coordinator of Other Sheep Kenya, a faith-based LBGT organization.

John is in the back row wearing a rainbow stole.

Rev. Makokha was brought up as an evangelical Christian believing that homosexuality was a sin. He told us of how he came to believe that this teaching is wrong. As a youth, one of his good friends was expelled from school, rejected and thrown out by his family and finally committed suicide. All of this because he was gay. On his journey to becoming a minister, he also had many encounters with LGBT people. Each encounter leading him more and more to the belief that the traditional teachings that he had been brought up with were wrong.

John earned his B.Ed. Degree at the University of Nairobi and has served as graduate teacher in various high schools in Kenya. He was ordained a minister in the Triumphant Pentecostal Church and served as a pastor in a Free Methodist Church. After earning an M.A. degree in Missions at Nairobi Evangelical School of Theology, he started Riruta United Methodist Church, the only Reconciling Ministry (RMN) in Africa. Anne Baraza, his wife, also a graduate of Nairobi Evangelical School of Theology, is the Counselor for Other Sheep Kenya and the CEO of Riruta United Women Empowerment Programme.

As Coordinator for Other Sheep Kenya, John passionately organizes and leads educational awareness seminars on human sexuality and gender identity throughout Kenya. Other Sheep Kenya addresses religious homophobia, trans-phobia, social justice, and HIV/AIDS in Kenya through capacity building and advocacy programs for LGBT people and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). Other Sheep Kenya engages in (1) promoting the recognition and solidarity of LGBT people through recruitment into the organization, counseling/information sharing, and networking; (2) participation in LGBT activities in the country; (3) sharing information and experience between LGBT and PFLAG groups; (4) promoting the human rights of LGBT people through advocacy and campaigns; (5) training and mobilizing religious allies to win the war on homophobia and trans-phobia; (6) providing education, training and information on HIV/AIDS, care and treatment to the LGBT community; (7) promoting reproductive health education; and (8) mitigating against gender based sexual violence and substance and drug abuse within the LGBT community.

Because of his pro-LGBT stance, Rev. Makokha, along with his wife, Anne , have been evicted from their home and from the buildings that they had used as a church. They now have new places to live and worship, but are still in a very precarious situation. But still they persist and need help with some of the basics. They are trying to purchase a small property to house their church so that they no longer risk eviction due to their support of LGBT people. They would also like to buy a car to be used to rescue LGBT people who are under serious threat.

Please visit them.


Much of the information in this post was provided by John’s wife Anne.

03 November 2010

International Campaign launched against Anglican Covenant

I stand with the dedicated group of individuals who have started this movement.  Seriously, if I had wanted to be in a homophobic, misogynistic church with a top-down, dictatorial governing structure I could have remained a Roman Catholic.

LONDON - An international coalition of Anglicans has been created to campaign against the proposed Anglican Covenant. Campaigners believe the proposed Covenant constitutes unwarranted interference in the internal life of the member churches of the Anglican Communion, would narrow the acceptable range of belief and practice within Anglicanism, and would prevent further development of Anglican thought.

The Coalition's website noanglicancovenant.org will provide resources for Anglicans around the world to learn about the potential risks of the proposed Anglican Covenant.

"We believe that the majority of the clergy and laity in the Anglican Communion would not wish to endorse this document," according to the Coalition's Moderator, the Revd. Dr. Lesley Fellows, who is also the Coalition's Convenor for the Church of England. "Apart from church insiders, very few people are aware of the Covenant. We want to encourage a wider discussion and to highlight the problems the Covenant will cause."

The idea of an Anglican Covenant was first proposed in 2004 as a means to address divisions among the member churches of the Anglican Communion on matters ranging from human sexuality to the role of women. The current draft of the Covenant, which has been unilaterally designated as the "final" draft, has been referred to the member churches of the Communion.

The proposed Covenant establishes mechanisms which would have the effect of forcing member churches to conform to the demands and expectations of other churches or risk exclusion from the Communion.

Critics of the proposed Anglican Covenant, including members of the new Coalition, believe that it will fundamentally alter the nature of historic Anglicanism in several ways, including the narrowing of theological views deemed acceptable, the erosion of the freedom of the member churches to govern themselves, and the concentration of authority in the hands of a small number of bishops.

Two English groups, Inclusive Church and Modern Church, ran anti-Covenant advertisements in last week's Church Times and the Church of England Newspaper aiming to make more members of the Church of England aware of the dangers of the proposed Anglican Covenant.

"If the Anglican Communion has a problem, this is not the solution," according to former Bishop of Worcester Peter Selby. "Whether those who originated the Covenant intended it or not, it is already, and will become even more, a basis for a litigious Communion from which some will seek to exclude others."

The launch of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition website coincides with the commemoration of the sixteenth-century theologian Richard Hooker. "Hooker taught us that God's gifts of scripture, tradition, and reason will guide us to new insights in every age," according to the Canadian priest and canon law expert, the Revd. Canon Alan Perry.

"The proposed Anglican Covenant would freeze Anglican theology and Anglican polity at a particular moment. Anglican polity rejected control by foreign bishops nearly 500 years ago. The proposed Anglican Covenant reinstates it."

The No Anglican Covenant Coalition began in late October with a series of informal email conversations among several international Anglican bloggers concerned that the Covenant was being rushed through the approval process before most Anglicans had any opportunity to learn how the proposed new structures would affect them.


Revd. Dr Lesley Fellows (England) +44 1844 239268
Dr. Lionel Deimel (USA) +1-412-512-9087
Revd. Malcolm French (Canada) +1-306-550-2277
Revd. Lawrence Kimberley (New Zealand) +64 3 981 7384

19 June 2010

Been a little busy lately. Organizing this:

The Committee on LGBT Concerns of the Diocese of New York, along with Integrity NYC Metro and Oasis Newark invite everyone to join us in the 2010 LGBT Pride March on Sunday, June 27th 2010. This year we have a float with music. The float is very basic. Our people will add the color, so dress accordingly and don’t forget the sunscreen. Please bring your parish banner or a sign identifying your parish.

Our meeting place is on East 38th Street, between Madison and Park Avenues. Everyone should be there and ready to go at 12:30 p.m. The March NYC Pride will do their best to get us moving shortly thereafter. Due to security regulations, you may not join the March en route.

If you will be unable to attend your local Sunday service you are warmly invited to join with Integrity NYC Metro and Oasis Newark in worship at the Church of the Transfiguration, One East 29th Street for their 11:00 a.m. Eucharist. Meet in front of the church after the service and walk the 9 short blocks to the March staging area together. (about 10 minute walk).

After the March, please join with your fellow marchers at a Festive Choral Evensong at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields, Hudson Street south of Christopher, at 6:30 p.m. The Rt. Rev. Herbert A. Donovan will preside. Rev. Altagracia Perez will preach. Refreshments will follow on the grounds.

If you have any questions, or for more information, please contact Paul Lane at pride@lgbt.dioceseny.org

11 June 2010

Bishop Senyonjo's visit to St. Luke's

St. Luke in the Fields is my home parish.   Bp. Christopher Senyonjo visited us last week.  
Here is the article from "Walking With Integrity":

The story below was provided by Paul J. Lane, Diocesan Organizer for Integrity in the Diocese of New York. The photo shows Paul on the left, Bishop Christopher in the center, and Chap James Day [Integrity's Province 2 Coordinator] on the right.

The aroma of the incense hung heavily in the hot, humid air as the Ugandan prelate mounted the steps of the pulpit in the old village church, St. Luke in the Fields, in New York’s Greenwich Village last Sunday [June 6, 2010].

The Right Reverend Christopher Senyonjo, the retired Bishop of the Diocese of West Buganda, Uganda, took as his subject the second reading of the day: Galatians 1:11-24; Paul discussing his conversion from his former life as a persecutor of Christians. The congregation listened in rapt attention as the bishop spoke of his own "conversion" and how, by listening to the stories of LGBT people, he came to believe that LGBT Christians are full members of the body of Christ. He told of how he also has been persecuted and how, if a new bill proposed in the Ugandan Parliament becomes law, he himself may be jailed for his inclusive stance. He also spoke of how, in Uganda, openly LGBT persons are not able to receive any treatment for HIV/AIDS.

The Rev. Mary Foulke, Senior Associate for Pastoral Care and Outreach at St. Luke’s "was delighted to welcome Bp. Christopher to St. Luke’s and to make this connection with those around the world who embrace a critical Biblical theology in support of liberative practices of welcoming and standing up with those on the margins. Bp. Christopher is a wonderful example of many grassroots priests, bishops and lay leaders in the Southern Hemisphere that are doing great work and who don’t get the press or attention that others with more conservative American support seem to attract."

Paul J. Lane, the Chair of the parish’s LGBT Life @ St. Luke’s Committee and Diocesan Organizer for Integrity for the Diocese of New York says that "as a parish, this is only the beginning of our relationship with Bp. Christopher and Integrity Uganda. Our goal is to be able to raise $1000.00 for Bp. Christopher’s ministry and we began that journey today. The stories of our LGBT brothers and sisters around the world must be brought to the attention of those of us who live in more accepting societies." St. Luke’s history as been one of full inclusion as well as support of such organizations such as Integrity USA and Changing Attitude Nigeria, having in the past hosted Mr. Davis Mac-Iyalla, the exiled leader of CA Nigeria.

After the service, Bp. Christopher was an honored guest at the annual parish picnic, where he was able to speak directly to many parish members, including a group of seminarians from his own alma mater, Union Theological Seminary.
Integrity USA, a 35-year-old LGBT advocacy group within The Episcopal Church, is the sponsor of Bishop Christopher visit.
And here is the link:

05 June 2010

The "White Washing" of America

A friend alerted me to this article this morning through FaceBook, so I went to the source.   It seems that some of the "good people" of Prescott, AZ not only don't want to have to deal with non-lily-white people, they don't even want to see paintings of  brown skinned children.


Altered mural fuels racial debate in Prescott

A group of artists has been asked to lighten the faces of children depicted in a giant public mural at a Prescott school.
The project's leader says he was ordered to lighten the skin tone after complaints about the children's ethnicity. But the school's principal says the request was only to fix shading and had nothing to do with political pressure.

Altered mural fuels racial debate in Prescott


It seems that seeing a "person of color" in the heretofore "White" House is too much for many white folks.  If our presidency had looked more like the nation, we should have had 5 African-American presidents by now (12.5% of the population), 7 Latino presidents (15.4%) and 1 Asian (4.4%) .  And this is only as a percentage of  presidents, not of total presidential terms.  The hegemony of the white, protestant male is waning.  (If the Senate confirms Elena Kagen, there will be no protestants on the Supreme Court, only Roman Catholics and Jews.)

I fear that these "god-fearing", gun-toting, gay-hating white folks won't go down without a fight.  Egged on by the Becks, Limbaughs, Hannitys, O'Reilleys, Palins and Bachmans.  The extreme right-wing is taking over the Republican Party while its leaders are complicit or acquiesce out of fear of beint "tea-bagged".  While members of the Democratic Party are speaking out, they are not always doing it with adequate (IMHO) force, again, due to fear of losing seats: local, state or federal.  To quote Edmund Burke:  "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing."

Remember, Hitler came to power in Gemany without ever having won a parliamentary majority (44%) in March of 1933, the last "free" elections.  I'm just sayin'.

03 June 2010

Been a little busy lately - but it really explains the name Ueber-G

Springtime is a very busy time for me and I've been very amiss in posting.  Here is why and it really explains my "nom de blog", given to me by my friend Counterlight.

I chair the LGBT Life Committee at my home parish, The Church of St. Luke in the Fields in New York City.  While we provide our parish with LGBT events, both educational and social, throughout the year, our main focus is LGBT Pride Month in June.  This job entails organizing a benefit concert by one of our extremely talented choir members, Mr. Todd Frizell, entitled The GayAttitudes - Blessed are the Fabulous; arranging for an Adult Education evening with a relevant speaker, the Rev. Tobias Haller BSG, author of "Reasonable and Holy - Engaging Same Sexuality"; helping to organize a Picnic for over 250 people with CenterKids from the NYC LGBT Center;  finding a preacher and bishop for our annual Festive Choral Evensong on Gay Pride Day; and overseeing the design and production of T-Shirts which help pay for it all.  I must say that I am blessed with a wonderful group of volunteers who have, over the years, made this job a joy. 

This year we are also blessed by a visit from the Rt. Rev. Christopher Senyonjo, retired Bishop of West Buganda, Uganda and chaplain of Integrity Uganda.

More information about St. Luke's Pride Month Events can be found here:


If this were not enough, as a member of the LGBT Concerns Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, I am also organizing our over 200 parishes, along with Integriy NYC Metro and Oasis Newark, to cooperate and march together, with music and a float in the annual LGBT Pride March  (I am reminded of the old joke:  "I don't believe in 'organized religion', I'm an Episcopalian.)  I also have to make sure we raise the $6000.00 to make this happen.

More about the LGBT Concerns Committee of the Diocese of New York can be found here:


I have also recently joined the Steering Committee of Integrity NYC Metro and been named the official Diocesan Organizer for the Diocese of New York for Integrity,  a 35 year old LGBT advocacy group within the Episcopal Church.

This is all in addition to a regular 9-5 job to pay the bills.

I've finally taken a week off from the 9-5 in order to make sure that all is in order for Pride Week, including my mental health.