From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[ENS] Crowded Integrity Eucharist 'moving, sincere'

From "Mika Larson" <>
Date Fri, 1 Aug 2003 07:56:16 -0400

'The spirit of the future of the church'

July 31, 2003

Crowded Integrity Eucharist 'moving, sincere'
'The spirit of the future of the church'

by Michelle Gabriel
Convention Daily 
[ENS] The babble of voices that have been debating sexuality issues was
drowned out Wednesday evening by a resounding, unified song. Integrity,
an association of gay and lesbian Episcopalians and their supporters,
held a Eucharist that drew more than 1,000 convention-goers and local

"I found it so moving and authentic and sincere," said 22-year-old Ryan
Kuratko, who will begin studies at Virginia Theological Seminary next
year. "[Integrity] is a really great group because it practices its own
theology in a really participatory and inclusive way."

The service was more than two hours long and began with a flourish -
children led the procession, swirling banners with bright birds
overhead. Music featured strongly in the service; many songs focused on
acceptance and unconditional love. 

The Rt. Rev. Gayle Harris, bishop suffragan of Massachusetts, preached
the sermon - throughout which the packed congregation murmured
enthusiastic "amens."

But the pomp and circumstance is far from extraordinary, said Louie
Crew, a deputy from Newark and the founder of Integrity. "It's just
another typical service in the gay Episcopal Church," Crew said. "Each
[service] gets grander than the last." 

Crew said the service was intended to reach beyond the gay and lesbian
contingent of the church. "This is really more about blessing the entire
church than about gays and lesbians," he said. "There's nothing worse
than not being able to bless."

The Rev. Gene Robinson, New Hampshire bishop-elect, sat with other gay
and lesbian Episcopalians at the altar during the service. His diocesan
representatives sat together in the pews, all wearing "Ask me about
Gene" buttons. 

After the service, many lingered for a reception - a "gala" reception,
the service bulletin promised - where the Rev. Malcolm Boyd was given
the Louie Crew Award for his work with gays and lesbians in the
Episcopal Church. 

The presence of NeXt Generation's gay and lesbian supporters also
encouraged the Rev. Michael Hopkins, the president of Integrity. "The
spirit of the future of the church is in this building," Hopkins said. 

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