I’m not in Anaheim covering the Episcopal Church’s General Convention, but folks who are there are writing about how Integrity, the gay Episcopal caucus, is all over the place, including the press room. And small wonder: Their lobbying helped pull off a great victory on Tuesday — the lifting of the church’s ban on gay bishops. Next, they’re gunning for an official liturgical rite to bless same-sex marriages.
This is no great surprise, considering that conservatives have fled the denomination and last month created a new province: the Anglican Church in North America. Some conservatives and their bishops remain within the Episcopal Church (the dioceses of Central Florida and South Carolina, for instance), but they have been unable to mount much of a fight at this year’s General Convention.
So I was intrigued to get in the mail a small booklet — aka graphic novel — by Integrity called “The Ripple” that’s a fable about a man — a white male, of course — who is transformed from conservative theology to inclusive thought through a spiritual experience in the church basement. The first drawing shows him ascending the steps of “St. Aelred’s Church” in Fairfax, Va. No such church exists, but the 12th-century saint is Integrity’s patron saint who supposedly was gay but celibate.
The largest now-former Episcopal Church in Fairfax is Truro, one of 11 churches in northern Virginia that left the denomination 2 1/2 years ago to join up with a new Anglican province. Truro is not the only former Episcopal church within Fairfax city limits but it’s by far the most prominent and was a co-leader in the exodus of the 11 churches.
“St. Aelred’s” is headed by a black female priest who sermonizes on “blessing same-gender relationships and consecrating gay and lesbian bishops,” which is Integrity’s program for this convention. Anyway, the graphic novel here is quite a satire, but then again, the Truro folks are long since out the door so they probably could care less.
— Julia Duin, religion editor