Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Wellspring - December 2010


Short Survey Seeks Your Input... Please Participate!

The OASIS and Integrity NYC-Metro want your opinion!  Please take a few minutes to complete this survey so that we can better serve you!

In This Edition:

  • Bishop Beckwith, Bishop Christopher Senyonjo Discuss LGBT Crisis in Uganda
  • Integrity NYC-Metro is Born, Partnering with The OASIS
  • The OASIS & Integrity at Diocesan Convention
  • World AIDS Day Observances

Bishop Beckwith, Bishop Christopher Senyonjo Discuss LGBT Crisis in Uganda

On Saturday, December 18th, the Right Rev. Mark Beckwith, Bishop of Newark, and a small group met with the Right Rev. Christopher Senyonjo, the retired Bishop of Western Buganda in the Anglican province of Uganda, about the implications of a proposed new law commonly known as "The Bahati Bill" or the "Kill the Gays Bill" on the lives of LGBT people in his country. 
The bill, which may come up for a vote after the Ugandan elections in February, would impose sentences of life imprisonment and, in some cases, the death penalty for people in the East African country who engage in consensual sex with someone of the same sex.

Bishop Christopher, 78, is soft-spoken and engaging, and hardly comes across as a threat. He's also married to a woman and has children and grandchildren.  However, because he counsels LGBT people and is unwilling to tell them they are sinful and must change, he has been singled out as one of the "top 100 homos" by a vigilante newspaper ironically known as The Rolling Stone (no relation to the music magazine in the USA) and has been a regular target of harassment and threats.
Bishop Christopher has spent the last few months touring the United States in an effort to raise awareness of the dire situation for LGBT Ugandans and raise funds for the St. Paul's Center for Reconciliation and Equality, a facility he opened to minister to a host of marginalized and disadvantaged communities.  IntegrityUSA, the national organization by and for LGBT Episcopalians and their allies, has sponsored Bishop Christopher's tour, and he has been accompanied by The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle, Integrity's Vice-President for International Affairs.

The author of the Ugandan bill, David Bahati, recently visited the Washington DC area and was interviewed by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, calling his handiwork "a beautiful piece of legislation" that will protect children and families.  He asserted that US $15 million has been invested in Uganda for the purpose of "recruiting children" into same-sex activity but would produce no evidence to back his claims.

While he was in New York, Bishop Christopher met with members of the United Nations about a resolution on extra-judicial killings, from which LGBT people as a group were recently removed as a protected class.  Happily, a new vote this week reversed that decision.
The day after meeting with us, Bishop Christopher preached at the Episcopal Church of St. Luke in the Fields in New York and hosted a question-and-answer period about his work.

The meeting in Newark was the subject of an article in the Star-Ledger on Sunday, December 19th.

Anyone who would like to contribute to Bishop Christopher's ongoing work in Uganda may do so c/o the Episcopal Church of St. Luke in the Fields, 487 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014. Please put "Bishop Christopher" in the memo.

(From left) Mr. Michael Petti (Warden, Christ Church: Belleville); Mr. Christian Paolino (Diocesan Coordinator for Newark, IntegrityUSA, and commissioner of The OASIS ), The Rev. Canon Dr. Sandye Wilson (Rector, St. Andrew & Holy Communion, South Orange); Mr. Michael Francaviglia (Secretary to Convention & Diocesan Council); Bill Lorentz, Esq. (St. George's, Maplewood); The Right Rev. Christopher Senyonjo (Bishop of Western Buganda - Retired, and Chair of the St. Paul's Center for Reconciliation & Equality); Matthew Piermatti, Esq. (St. Paul's: Montvale, Civil Union Task Force member); The Right Rev. Mark Beckwith (Bishop of Newark); The Rev. Karen Rezach (Priest Associate, Christ Church: Short Hills and commissioner of The OASIS)

Integrity NYC-Metro is Born, Partnering with The OASIS

Once known -- as was The OASIS -- as a shelter for LGBT Episcopalians in a largely hostile environment, Integrity, the national LGBT organization of the Episcopal Church, is also adapting to the changes in the church and the country.  Executive Director
Max Niedzwiecki, Ph.D., installed in October, outlined an exciting new vision for the organization.
Locally, a once-dormant Integrity chapter has spread its wings.  Based in New York City but now known as Integrity NYC-Metro, the group is intentionally reaching out to congregations and groups in northern New Jersey, downstate New York and Long Island and working to boost local ministries to the LGBT community.  The Chapter Convener, Mary O'Shaughnessy, has already made it a point to learn about our diocese and how Integrity and The OASIS can work together, and in fact the two organizations partnered on an Episcopal presence at Hudson Pride in Jersey City this August and have a number of events already planned for 2011. 

Please visit for details. If you are interested in participating in outreach to the diocese and church-seeking LGBT people, please contact the chapter at  There is also a mailing list and a Facebook group if you would like to be kept informed.


The OASIS & Integrity at Convention 

137th Annual Convention of the Diocese of Newark will be held on Friday, January 28 and Saturday, January 29, 2011 at the Hilton Hotel, Parsippany.  OASIS and Integrity-NYC Metro will be sponsoring an information table and a reception on Friday night.  Please watch for updates as Convention approaches and stop by to say hello and find out what we're up to!

World AIDS Day Observances

Ministering to those affected by HIV/AIDS remains a focus for the Episcopal Church.  Out Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev.
Katharine Jefferts Schori, offered this statement on World AIDS Day, December 1st.  Locally, there were three Episcopal observances of World AIDS Day in the area.

  • At St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Clifton, The Rev. Peter DeFranco led a prayer service beneath a panel of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.  Mr. Gary Paul Wright, a stalwart of the HIV/AIDS response in New Jersey and founder/chairman of the African American Office of Gay Concerns, gave the keynote address.  Members of The OASIS and an HIV/AIDS support group known as Positive Connection were in attendance.
  • At the Church of the Annunciation in Oradell, the Rev. Dr. J. Barrington Bates and the Rev. Dr. Allison Moore (Rector at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Fort Lee) officiated at an interfaith worship service followed by a buffet dinner and musical program in community with Friends for Life, an HIV/AIDS support organization that moved to Annunciation after eighteen years in residency at Good Shepherd.
  • Finally, the Episcopal Church of St. Luke in the Fields in Greenwich Village was the setting for the annual World AIDS Day Eucharist sponsored by Episcopal Response to AIDS, an organization that writes grants to parish-based and diocesan HIV/AIDS-related ministries in the area.  The Rev. Hugh M. Grant celebrated the Eucharist and the Rev. Mary Foulke, both resident at St. Luke's, offered the Sermon.  At the reception afterwards, ERA announced its 2011 grant recipients.
The Rev. Peter DeFranco at the World AIDS Day Observance at  St. Peter's Episcopal Church: Clifton

AIDS Walk New York: Never Too Soon

Episcopal Response to AIDS
is a direct recipient of funds raised at AIDS Walk New York and stages one of the largest teams in the event, preceded by a Eucharist in Central Park.   As New Jersey programs receive ERA grants, Diocese of Newark congregations and individuals are encouraged to join the ERA Team for the march on May 15, 2011.  You may still march as a parish and wear your own shirts, but in fellowship with other Episcopalians and while raising money for our church's programs.  If there is interest in traveling to the walk from New Jersey as a group, please contact The OASIS.

Keep in touch!
If you are not on the OASIS email list and would like to be, please click here to sign up, and/or join our Facebook page.

Thank you and have a blessed Christmas!