Central PA's LGBT News Source
Central Voice: Tell us about yourself.
Michael Taylor: I grew up in the Harrisburg area and recently left State government after a career in information technology. I started going to the Episcopal Church a few years ago, after reading that the Anglican Communion in England had sanctioned the Episcopal Church in America because it approved the marriage of same sex individuals within the church. The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in America stood his ground and refused to reverse the decision because it was the right thing to do. He was demonstrating the very meaning of the word ‘integrity’, which means being true to who you say you are and willing to act on it.
CV: Tell us about Integrity Central PA.
MT: Integrity of Central PA is a new chapter of Integrity USA. The local chapter is now in formation and already has more than a dozen members. Integrity is a nonprofit organization of LGBT Episcopalians and our straight friends.
Since its founding in 1974, Integrity USA has been working for the full inclusion of LGBT persons in the Episcopal Church through its various activities in congregational life, education, and advocacy. Our local chapter will continue this work. Integrity envisions a church where people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions are welcomed and affirmed.
CV: Why do you belong to Integrity Central PA?
MT: A group of us wanted to do what we could to build LGBT community within the Episcopal Church in central Pennsylvania. So we decided to start a chapter of Integrity in this area (there had been one in State College a number of years ago). Bishop Audrey Scanlan, of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, fully supported us in this effort.
Some people think that now that marriage equality has been upheld in the courts, there is less need for organizations like Integrity. I believe that now is not the time to become complacent and stop working for equality. The gains that have been made in recent years can just as quickly be undone. For example, President Trump has already tried to reverse the policies for transgendered individuals in the military. On the state level, there still is no statewide prohibition of discrimination against persons in the LGBT community.
CV: How do you get out the word?
MT: One of the programs that Integrity is promoting, which I feel very strongly about, is called “Believe Out Loud”. The program works with local Episcopal congregations to be placed on a national registry of Welcoming and Affirming Episcopal churches.
The parish is asked to develop a Welcome Statement explicitly addressed to everyone regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. This process must involve discussion and input from the entire congregation. It is then published in some public manner, usually on the parish website. The parish may also decide to display the Rainbow Flag if they choose.
I am pleased to say that two area parishes have recently been added to the registry, Saint Luke’s, Mechanicsburg, and Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, Harrisburg.