Gay church advocacy group Integrity formally dissolves

584

Integrity USA, the nonprofit organization that has advocated for full LGBTQ+ inclusion within The Episcopal Church since 1974, is now officially defunct, having effectively ceased its ministry over the last four years amid controversy over its mission and management.

In late March, Integrity USA (also known as Integrity Inc.) withdrew from The Consultation, a consortium of progressive Episcopal organizations that it had been a member of since 1985. Integrity USA “is now in the post-dissolution winding-up phase,” the organization’s last president, Ronnie Ward, wrote to Consultation convener Laura Russell.

Integrity USA’s status as a nonprofit corporation in Illinois was voluntarily dissolved in January. While some local chapters continue to maintain a presence, the national network has been dormant since 2018, when General Convention approved a resolution granting full churchwide access to same-sex marriage rites.

In a press release announcing Integrity’s withdrawal from The Consultation, Ward said that “some members of Integrity have formed a new organization, Integrity Americas, with the intention to focus on the full inclusion of LGBTQI+ persons in the Episcopal Church, particularly those in Province IX.”

A new nonprofit organization called Integrity Americas Inc., listing Ward as its president, has been registered with the Internal Revenue Service. It hosted a Eucharist at Holyrood Church/Iglesia Santa Cruz in New York City on Feb. 2 but has no other apparent online presence.

The work of LGBTQ+ advocacy in the church has largely been taken up by the newly formed LGBTQ Caucus in the House of Deputies, which is currently identifying priorities and developing potential resolutions for the upcoming General Convention in July. TransEpiscopal, which focuses specifically on transgender issues, also continues to have a presence.

“We sincerely regret losing one of our charter members,” Russell wrote in the press release, adding that the new organization would be able to apply for membership at The Consultation’s fall meeting.

Consultation coordinator and former Integrity President Kim Byham wrote, “Over the years Integrity played a role in all the key changes in Episcopal Canons respecting full LGBTQ+ participation in the church as well as innumerable legislative resolutions.”

Founded in 1974 by Louie Crew to help gay Episcopalians gain acceptance within the church, Integrity grew to have 58 local chapters and about 2,000 active members by 2011, the last year for which it released a complete annual report. With its official mission of full inclusion of all LGBTQ people in the sacramental life of The Episcopal Church, Integrity was an active presence at General Conventions from 1977 to 2018, helping draft resolutions and gathering support. Crew died in November 2019.

Ward, who had no previous involvement with Integrity, was elected president unopposed in 2020 after the resignation of the Rev. Gwen Fry, whose term was marked by criticism over financial transparency and management and the resignations of almost all board members.