newsletter of Integrity/Dignity of Madison
proudly gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender
"for the gift of identity always to be myself because I am the image of God"
invites I/D renewal
by Al Joranlien & Ken Scott
Since its formation at St. Francis House in the 1970s, the pilgrim Integrity/Dignity community has been blessed to make ourselves at home in many places among many groups. Nevertheless, we’ve also called St. Francis House home for most of this time — the place to which we invited individual clergy members to meet us, at which we’ve stored our worship materials, our return address.
Last fall, however, the I/D Board began to discuss whether at age 28 it was time for I/D to move from its birthplace. As supportive and available as St. Francis House remains, that campus mission is undergoing its own changes, including some ambitious remodeling. Parking, especially on football Saturdays, can be difficult. Most importantly, though, a change of place lets us re-evaluate the habits with which we’ve become comfortable. The Board decided to accept the invitation extended by St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church as a way to refresh the way I/D lives out its mission.
On a chilly night last December, I/D celebrated liturgy at St. Francis House and gathered up our boxed-up hymnals, liturgy books, and materials that we use to celebrate communion and transported them to our new home. It's a relatively short drive from St. Francis House to St. Dunstan's, but long enough to think back on the years we called St. Francis House our home and to recall friends and events that have come and gone over the years.
The very picturesque St. Dunstan’s rests upon on a high spot along the west end of University Avenue. Its interesting architecture draws you in, and, once inside the sanctuary, the wormwood cathedral ceilings and the large fireplace in the rear give a warm feeling as you gaze up at the altar with the huge crucifix adorning the wall behind it. After only three meetings there,
already you can sense that the folks who attend I/D liturgies regularly are starting to get attached to the place.
It was an evening filled with the same feelings one experiences when moving to a new house or apartment. Always, there is a certain amount of sadness almost like losing a friend or a family member, but then too there's the excitement of anticipating what it's going to be like residing in this new home.
Many Dignity communities have experienced such emotions in much more dramatic ways, as Roman Catholic bishops elsewhere around the country barred Dignity groups from meeting on diocesan property during the late 1980s and early ’90s. Madison’s entire Roman Catholic community graphically re-learned its lesson March 14 when the 150-year-old St. Raphael’s Cathedral burned down in an arson.
“Our faith is not based on buildings,” Monsignor Paul Swain, rector of the cathedral, told The Capital Times that morning, “it’s based on Christ.”
Moves voluntary or otherwise remind us that, though we use the same word to describe our buildings, the Church is indeed the People of God—a “pilgrim people” whom you can’t exclude by locking a door.
The St. Dunstan's church has already proved to be a warm and welcoming home for I/D. In November, well before the move, members of the congregation expressly invited us to attend a Sunday liturgy with them, where The Rev. Maurine Lewis and many others took time to welcome us.
Among the good people of the Madison area, we know we’ll never be homeless.
Is 2005 YOUR turn to pitch in?
I/D seeks conveners, treasurer for coming year
Clearly. We’re all too busy.
Yet for 28 years, a gradually changing, dedicated core group has rotated into leadership of Integrity/Dignity for a time, then stepped aside as a respite, allowing others to steer for a while.
Mark Koch and Bob Manion have now each ably served two years in a row as co-conveners. Doug Bauer, after three years as treasurer, has announced that he will leave the position when terms end this summer.
Striving to live up to the formality of our bylaws, the I/D Board is asking for nominations and self-nominations of people interested in serving as treasurer or as one of the two co-conveners. Conveners call board meetings, arrange for people to lead programs, and do, well, anything else they want to! The treasurer collects donations and keeps our very modest checkbook.
These three positions are I/D’s official officers, elected or unanimously acclaimed each June, and they enjoy a lot of help from a circle of dedicated volunteers who coordinate worship services, membership, newsletter and other currently pressing areas. The officers and this wider circle of a dozen people who support the I/D mission constitute our board.
The Board, seeking new ideas and even broader talent, is asking those who have not served in an officer position to seriously consider taking a turn this year. Leading is a chance to help your community as well as to take this community where you’d like it to go. You’ll have the experience and help of a dedicated Board without the fear of never being allowed to step aside afterward. Please feel free to express your interest, or direct any questions, to Bob, Mark, Doug, or any of the people who participate regularly in Board meetings.
2003 Assembly Joint Resolution 66 would create Section 13 of article XIII of the Wisconsin Constitution to read:Only a marriage between one man and one woman
shall be valid and recognized as marriage in this state.
A legal status identical or substantially similar
to that of marriage for unmarried individuals
shall not be valid or recognized in this state.
This is the exact wording of the referendum question which Wisconsin’s legislature threatens to put to voters, probably on the November 2006 ballot. At I/D’s Feb. 26 program, Rich Fluechtling, representing the coalition Christians for Equality, and attorney Connie Anderson, of the political advocacy group Action Wisconsin, discussed the amendment and strategies to oppose it.
“Our goal is to work our way into communities,” Connie said, noting that newspaper stories alone will not sway the majority of public opinion against the amendment. “It’s going to be one of those word-of-mouth things,” she said. “Personal stories will have more weight than news writing. We need to find ways to publicize individual stories.”
Both presenters also encouraged listening closely to people who support the amendment, to understand their motives.
A statewide poll by Action Wisconsin showed that a narrow majority currently supports limiting marriage only to heterosexual couples, but when asked about eliminating existing benefits for same-sex couples or the possibility of civil unions, support for the anti- marriage amendment drops off quickly.
Many don’t understand that the amendment refers only to civil marriage status, with no effect on churches’ religious decisions about whom they will marry.
Second sentence goes too far!
The amendment’s first sentence is easily recognized as the banning of civil same-sex marriage in Wisconsin—un- necessarily of course as it isn’t legalized now.
However, should a majority of voters overlook that second sentence and give knee-jerk support to the amendment, some of the country’s most discriminatory language will not merely be written into law, but cemented into our very state constitution.
By banning “substantially similar” statuses to marriage, the amendment takes away the benefits, protections and rights which are already offered to families of same-gender and even unmarried heterosexual couples. This is already happening in the 11 states which passed similar amendments last year.
Amendment hurts real families
Connie encouraged families with GLBT members to participate openly, for example, in family church events, “getting people to recognize that they’d be hurting real Wisconsin families.”
As a lawyer, Connie has seen that contracts and other documentation cannot grant a same-sex couple all the rights a married couple automatically enjoys. “It just isn’t possible to do that legally,” she said.
According to Connie, I/D might be most helpful in opposing the amendment by finding places statewide for Action Wisconsin and Christians for Equality to speak. We can also help create clear messages within more liberal faith communities and encourage those people to talk with others they know. “It’s the ripple effect,” she said.
Christian Response to Anti-Gay Politics
“The way of Jesus is not efficient, but ultimately effective. For Jesus, there are no quick fixes. Hearts and minds seemingly take an infinite amount of time and unconditional love to discover and embrace God’s power that looks weak and foolish to the uninitiated. Conversion of one’s enemy does not happen by using the enemy’s tactics. Forcing, out- maneuvering, shaming, or shouting down an opponent not only diminishes a person, but guarantees the continuation of antagonism and future battles.
“Every human being hungers for recognition and thirsts for respect. Many are strangers to their own humanity. Desperate for a sense of control over their lives, they attempt to clothe their actions with religious language only to remain vulnerably naked. Although it is a sign of sickness, they must diparage others in order to value themselves. They are imprisoned in their own irrational fears.”
Excerpt from the Jan. 2005 issue of the monthly newsletter Passion, by David Schimmel, M.Div.; emphasis added; write email@example.com to subscribe.
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Help Keep ID Beautiful
by Al Joranlien
Spring is just around the corner, and instead of putting things into the ground, we at I/D have to begin thinking about picking things up off of the ground. You see, we're about to begin our fourth year of picking up litter along our adopted County Highway ID. When we adopted the highway, we entered into an agreement with the county to pick up the litter along the highway at least three times per season. So, we've picked out three dates for the group to meet at Highway ID this spring and summer to police up the ditches along the roadway.
We're going to make the task a bit more interesting by introducing a couple of activities for people to do in conjunction with or after we finish picking up.
Our first date to do pickup of litter is still pretty early in the season, April 16, so that will be followed by free lunch with warm comfort food at Ken & Brian’s house, 113 Nesheim, in Mount Horeb.
The second time we police up will be in early summer, June 25, and just a few weeks after our last liturgy for the season. So, that pickup will be followed by a picnic at nearby Brigham Park. Hamburgers, brats and hotdogs will be provided, and everyone is welcome to bring a side dish or dessert. Lunch will be followed by a horseshoe tournament, other games and socializing. The park also has some campsites and restroom facilities, so participants might consider camping out there that weekend and enjoying the weather and beautiful scenery that surrounds the park.
Fall will be just around the corner when we do our last trash pickup Sept. 17, so in order to make the most out of the remaining good weather, that pickup will be followed by a tour of nearby Little Norway and a picnic lunch on the grounds there.
Highway ID runs through Mount Horeb, and our pickup
area is just west of the city, between Highways E and JG.
We begin at 8:30 a.m., and gloves and tools needed to
clean up our adopted highway are all furnished. Pickup
dates and rain dates are as follows:
We hope you will consider participating in our efforts to beautify a tiny piece of God's creation!
July 7-10, 2005
Loews Hotel, Downtown Philadelphia
Join I/D in Philadelphia
LGBT Catholics and friends from across America will gather July 7-10 in the “City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection,” Philadelphia! It’s the biennial convention of DignityUSA, and a large contingent from the Madison area typically makes the trip.
The main keynote speaker will be Chrissy Gephardt, lesbian activist and daughter of Congressman Dick Gephardt. Opening night ceremonies will include a special concert by Jason and deMarco, openly gay Christian “Spirit Pop” duo and life partners, currently touring the country singing their latest CD Spirit Pop.
Our very special speaker and guest homilist for the Saturday evening liturgy will be Bishop V. Gene Robinson, first openly gay consecrated Episcopal bishop. Add to the above speakers and musicians over 20 workshops, a special DignityUSA Leadership Conference, our “fabulous-as-usual” dinner dance, and tons of sightseeing.
More information will be posted on the DignityUSA web site, www.dignityusa.org/convention05. You can register online. For further details, call or contact DignityUSA or talk to any regular participant in I/D events. Do treat yourself to this uplifting experience!
Spirituality & Sexuality:
A reflective weekend with
Our longing for love, the hunger for intimacy, a yearning to be fruitful—these movements of eros shape both spirituality and sexuality today. Our God is among us, within us. If we could embrace this gift, then we would know God even in the ambiguous delights of our sexuality. This reflective weekend explores a Christian sense of sexuality, rooted in the graciousness of God's creation and expressed in our lives of passion, pleasure and devotion. The goal is a deeper appreciation of sexuality's contributions to the journey of spiritual maturity.
Session topics include consulting the wisdom of the body, the maturing of eros, spirituality of pleasure, the body at prayer, and more.
The cost ranges from $127 (single commuter) to $362 (2 people staying at Benedict House) and includes lunches on Sat. and Sun., dinner Sat., coffee breaks and program. For overnight guests, breakfast and room are included.
Register before April 1 by calling Mark Ahrens at 608-831-9304.
IDENTITY is published quarterly or thereabouts by Integrity/Dignity of Madison, which meets selected Saturdays from September through June at 6205 University Avenue, at 6:00 p.m., unless otherwise advertised. St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church is wheelchair accessible. Our mailing address is P.O. Box 2287, Madison, Wisconsin, 53701-2287. Please send ads, articles, anniversary announcements, memorials, etc., to the editor, Ken Scott, at this address, or e-mail them to email@example.com. For more information about I/D–Madison, contact Jim or Bill at (608) 836-8886 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We keep names and personal information confidential.
I/D–MADISON is an ecumenical Christian faith community affiliated nationally with INTEGRITY, the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender group within the Episcopal church, and DIGNITY, an organization of transgender, bisexual, lesbian, and gay Roman Catholics and their friends. The Wisconsin Conference of Churches has recognized I/D as an AIDS Caring Community since Advent 1996—a community which, without judgment, hesitation or reservation, provides all of its services to persons who are either infected with HIV or are affected by it.
Learn more about these national organizations. Check out their web sites or talk to a member at the next I/D event.
Calendar of Integrity/Dignity Events
March 27 (Easter Sunday) — Celebrate with your usual faith
community or join an I/D participant at his/hers. April 9 (Sat., 6 p.m.)* — liturgy April 16 (Sat., 8:30 a.m.) — season’s first Hwy. ID trash
pickup followed by open house at Brian & Ken’s, 113
Nesheim, 1 block north of Hwy ID in Mt. Horeb. Call
224-1108 for more info. Rain date: 23rd, after Bd. mtg. April 23 (Sat., 10 a.m., St. Dunstan’s) — I/D Board meeting.
All who support the I/D mission are welcome. Call
835-0052 for more info. May 14 (Sat., 6 p.m.)* — Pentecost: I/D’s 28th anniversary
liturgy June 11 (Sat., 6 p.m.)* — liturgy, followed by election of
2005-06 officers *All events begin 6 p.m. the second and fourth Saturdays of the
month at St. Dunstan’s, 6205 University Ave., Madison, Wis.,
unless otherwise indicated. St. Dunstan’s is wheelchair
accessible. Seven-digit phone numbers are in area code 608.
Call 836-8886 or e-mail email@example.com for further
information on Integrity/Dignity events.
March 27 (Easter Sunday) — Celebrate with your usual faith community or join an I/D participant at his/hers.
April 9 (Sat., 6 p.m.)* — liturgy
April 16 (Sat., 8:30 a.m.) — season’s first Hwy. ID trash pickup followed by open house at Brian & Ken’s, 113 Nesheim, 1 block north of Hwy ID in Mt. Horeb. Call 224-1108 for more info. Rain date: 23rd, after Bd. mtg.
April 23 (Sat., 10 a.m., St. Dunstan’s) — I/D Board meeting. All who support the I/D mission are welcome. Call 835-0052 for more info.
May 14 (Sat., 6 p.m.)* — Pentecost: I/D’s 28th anniversary liturgy
June 11 (Sat., 6 p.m.)* — liturgy, followed by election of 2005-06 officers
*All events begin 6 p.m. the second and fourth Saturdays of the month at St. Dunstan’s, 6205 University Ave., Madison, Wis., unless otherwise indicated. St. Dunstan’s is wheelchair accessible. Seven-digit phone numbers are in area code 608. Call 836-8886 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for further information on Integrity/Dignity events.