Human Sexuality

Integrity Pamphlet

Integrity pamphlet, c.1975. “Our ministry is less about who we are than Whose we are.”63 – Integrity founder, Louie Crew

Equal Access

Among the controversial issues facing Allin and the Church was the ordination of avowed or practicing homosexuals to the diaconate as well as the priesthood. The 1976 General Convention requested a study on the ordination of homosexual persons. The report stated that “there should be no barrier to the ordination of homosexual persons who are able and willing to conform their behavior to that which the Church affirms as wholesome.” This language implied that “wholesome” behavior was to be a non-practicing homosexual. The 1979 General Convention adopted a resolution based on the findings of the 1976 study, stating “we believe it is not appropriate for this Church to ordain a practicing homosexual, or any person who is engaged in heterosexual relations outside of marriage.”

Allin responded, “I am confident this concurrent action by the two Houses of this Convention will be supported by a great majority of the members of this Church. It provides guidance to bishops and other ministers, and it is a resource that will enable good pastoral leadership. It reminds us of the tradition which we have received and to which we are called to be loyal, while enabling us to meet the pastoral needs of the present.”62

The work of LGBT people for equal access was only beginning to be heard in the Church when this compromise was made. In 1974, Integrity, an organization of gay and lesbian Episcopalians, was founded by Louie Crew, and a ministry of advocacy began.  In 1991, twelve years after the 1979 resolution, another Southern Bishop, Bennett Sims, declared in an Open Letter to the Church that the discriminatory exclusion of the Church’s faithful gays and lesbians was a grave sin against God. Bishop Sims, one of the primary architects of the 1979 resolution opposing the ordination of homosexuals, had changed his mind because he had come to know gays and lesbians as persons and fellow Christians, not as issues.

Leading Through Turmoil
Human Sexuality