Integrity' Holds First National Meeting

Diocesan Press Service. August 15, 1975 [75280]

Worley and Margaret Rodehaver

CHICAGO -- Lack of self-acceptance is the most difficult of all problems homosexuals face, according to three speakers who addressed the first national meeting of Integrity August 8-10.

Integrity, organized in 1974, lists chapters in seven major U.S. cities, and is an organization for Episcopal homosexuals and others interested in understanding the homosexual lifestyle(s).

Registered for the three-day convention were approximately 150 persons from across the country, clergy and laity, male and female, both homosexual and heterosexual.

Keynote speaker, the Rev. Dr. W. Norman Pittenger, Anglican theologian from Cambridge University, England while stating flatly that lack of self-acceptance is the homosexual's most difficult problem, based much of his address on God's love for all of humankind and humankind's need to love God and one another.

The Rev. Robert Herrick, preacher during a special Integrity Mass on the second morning of the convention at the Cathedral Church of St. James, proclaimed the Chicago meeting as a "great moment " for the Episcopal homosexual, a moment of birth and a moment of death . .. a moment when self-affectation must die.

Dr. Louie Crew, founder of Integrity went about commenting on the subject of self-acceptance from a second point of view.

Speaking during a " Founder's Banquet " the second evening of the convention, he said, "I assess our most urgent need as Gay (homosexual) people to be the need to love one another. Unquestionably we will require the Grace of God, but until we shed our own homophobia learned in the 'parlors of Pharaoh' and welcome instead rich Gay catholicity, Gay diversity, I see Gay people 'trapped in Egypt' forever."

Those individuals gathered in Chicago were more interested in learning to relate to one another in an open Christian atmosphere than in denouncing those whom they indicated have forced them for so long to meet in less than Christian surroundings. Dr. Pittenger addressed an open meeting the second day of the convention, a four-hour session attended by more than 200 persons.

He stressed that any discussion of homosexuality, or for that matter, heterosexuality, must be based on an open understanding of human sexuality.

Urging homosexuals to "love one another" he warned against shallow relationships, relationships in which one person uses another.

While he did not condemn sexual acts engaged in just for the sake of sex, he suggested deeper, more loving relationships for Christian homosexuals.

"I protest against the idiom of marriage for homosexuals," he said, "because it carries with it a great amount of luggage (historically) which does not apply to the homosexual condition." He supports "unions" between Gays, unions based on love and understanding.

Dr. Pittenger said his view of love is not one of "sweetness," a view pretty much dead in the circles in which he moves in England.

"Love is a deep concern... goodness of act... it is not sentimentality," he suggested. Love is genuine, shared concern, the "getting into somebody's life and being vulnerable."

Dr. Pittenger said his first guideline for a personalized relationship is one in which one person does not destroy the self-esteem of another.

Dr. Pittenger and Dr. Crew both received Integrity's first annual award for "outstanding contributions to Christian understanding of human sexuality."

The Rt. Rev. Quintin E. Primo, suffragan bishop of Chicago, was primary celebrant during the concelebrated Eucharist on Saturday morning. Some 15 clergy attending the convention concelebrated with the bishop.

A number of workshops were conducted during the three days covering such topics as "Problems in Counseling for Gays," "Gay Community-Cultural Involvement and Responsibility," and "Concepts in Moral Theology."

During a business meeting which wrapped up the convention, the group decided to hold a convention next year, but did not decide on its location. The Education Committee suggested ways of informing both Gays and heterosexuals about the Christian Gay community.

Members of Dignity, the Roman Catholic homosexual organization, and other denominational groups were thanked for their assistance and participation.

Integrity plans to have either transcripts or tapes of Dr. Pittenger's talk available to the general public in the near future.

Dr. Pittenger was preacher for the regular 11 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral Church of St. James on Sunday, August 10, and was also celebrant for a 9:30 a.m. Eucharist. He spoke Sunday evening to the congregation of the Metropolitan Community Church of Chicago, a primarily homosexual denomination.

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