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Models for lesbigay organizing in the Episcopal Church

Official sponsorship can be a good thing.  It gives entree to parishes
and people that otherwise would not occur; it usually provides
financial support; in Newark for a long time our Oasis missioner was a
member of the core staff of the diocesan office.  Currently the
missioner devotes half of her time to the Oasis and half to other
ministries of inclusion.   I believe that we now have 53 (of 118)
sponsoring congregations, which provide additional funding, but more
importantly engage more and more people in the ministry.

On the other hand, those who pay the piper call the tune and determine
how prophetic or non-prophetic the tune will be.  While one of the
strengths of the Oasis has been the imprimatur it receives by being
official, one of the strengths of Integrity has been its independence,
its ability to speak the truth without restriction.  It should
surprise no one that some of our strongest chapters are in places
traditionally hostile, e.g. Birmingham, AL, Memphis, TN.... (much as
the Women's Caucus is strongest in Fort Worth, the diocese most
hostile to women as priests).

The Oasis model works best in dioceses where the bishop and the core
leadership of the diocese are already well along the way toward
affirmation, and thus less tempted to use their power to control the
witness, more likely to use their power to embolden the witness (as
+Jack Spong did the Oasis).

The Integrity model has always had significant clergy leadership, and
always strong lay leadership.  Lay people are less vulnerable to
restrictions.   If not structured very carefully to enable (not just
include) lay leadership, the Oasis model can become a program by which
clergy seek lbgt clients, not co-disciples.

Affiliation as "Integrity *****" would connect you to a global movement, 
to which you would add strength and from which you could draw strength.  
These are not small matters as our Communion threatens to divide precisely 
over the Church's response to lbgts.  You might want to look at the model 
of Integrity Canada: its leaders were present at the first convention
of Integrity, but soon realized they needed to be allied but separate, 
the better to bare witness in the Anglican Province of Canada.

I rejoice in your ministry, and wish you all the best as you try to
discern the best course of action.  Be flexible.  One of the great
advantages our apostolate has is that we can be innovative, and if
something doesn't work, learn from it and change it, without having to
worry about the effects on tons of stained glass and organ pipes.


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