A Terrorist is a Terrorist – No Matter WHO It Is!

We are all reeling from yet another atrocity – the massacre at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland, Texas. The fact that someone chose to mow down people worshipping on a Sunday is an anathema of all this country professes to be. Unfortunately, we live in a world that is sadly marked by increasing violence and terrorism. It seems like very few days go by, if any at all, without some horrible act of terror or random violence. It has become such a ‘normal’ occurrence that some in the country hardly react any longer. There is surely something wrong in our society when the solution to a problem or reaction to anger is to not only kill the offender, but also massacre innocence people in the process.

But equally disturbing to me is that whenever there is a terror attack, the natural impulse is to blame a Muslim or ISIS. Are we so influenced by the national attitude that we can’t wait to immediately attach the nomer ‘Islam’ or ‘ISIS’ to the word ‘terrorist’? Perhaps it is easier to accept that a foreign element is responsible for our mounting atrocities than to accept the perpetrator may be the person next door, but clearly that is not so.

It is human nature to seek scapegoats for the causes of evil – it is far easier to look upon the things that come from without than the things from within. That chosen scapegoat suffices only until another deadly attack happens; then we repeat the blaming (mental health, access to guns, foreign agents).

If you look at the last six massacres, each one was perpetrated by a home-grown, All-American citizen – not some foreign boogey man. They may have had mental health issues, but they grew up and lived as a citizen of the United States. We are reluctant to admit that ‘we’ have spawned this monster.

We do not call their actions ‘terrorism’ . . . but terrorism is terrorism. . . – no matter who the person is. Whether they have a mental problem or are seeking revenge for a perceived slight, when one kills and maims dozens of innocent people, they are still ‘terrorists’. And until we accept that their actions are not solely, ‘mental health issues’, or ‘gun control issues’, but ‘acts of terror’, it will be nearly impossible to address these actions.

Living among us as law-abiding and patriotic Americans are thousands of Muslims. In a knee-jerk reaction, to continually label them as a group as being the cause each time we have an incidence of terror in our midst, is unfair, unjust, and weakens our ability to address the real causes behind the terrorist’s act.

We, as Christians, need to begin to address the causes of terrorism. We need to provide services for those who feel they have been a victim of injustice. And we need to be a strident, but loving voice against those who spout hatred against those who are not ‘like us’, whether ethnic, racial, gender, or religious. If we begin to ‘love one another as we love ourselves’, maybe we can begin to change the world.

We can pray this will be so – and put our prayers into action.

written for The Crossroads, Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Worthington & Parts Adjacent, OH; 12 November 2017

The Complicated Relationship Between The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion Strikes Again

You have all probably heard from multiple sources that when the Primates met at Canterbury last week they ‘suspended’ the Episcopal Church from fully participating in activities of the Anglican Communion for the next three years.

There is certainly more to this than the various headlines have presented, and more background is needed to fully understand what happened and what that means for the future of both The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.

First of all, the Anglican Communion is NOT the governing body of all the Anglican (and Episcopal) churches in the world. When you research the word ‘communion’ you will find that the Anglican Communion is:

    A group of Christian Churches derived from or related to the Church of England, including the Episcopal Church in the US and other national, provincial, and independent churches. The Anglican Communion has no official legal existence nor any governing structure which might exercise authority over the member churches.

The loose relationship in no way resembles the Roman Catholic church and its council of cardinals. We are bound by friendship and belief in following the teaching of Jesus. Therein lies the rub.

There are 44 different regional and national member churches in more than 160 countries within the Anglican Communion. Each of the regional and national churches have a primate (or in our case, Presiding Bishop) who represents their group within the Anglican Communion, there are 41 primates and Anglican Communion officials who attended the latest primates’ meeting. A complete list of all members can be found at Provinces of the Anglican Communion.

Archbishop Justin Welby called this unscheduled meeting of the primates (usually they meet every ten years) to try and defuse the animosity that exists between certain members of the Anglican Communion and The Episcopal Church. There have been rumblings of ‘schism’ ever since the 1970’s when The Episcopal Church issued a statement that gay men and lesbians “have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church.” This was exacerbated by the consecration of Gene Robinson as the bishop of New Hampshire in 2003. The final straw for some members of the Anglican Communion was the development of an official rite for same-gender marriage developed in 2009 and approved in 2015.

Many of the African primates of the Anglican Communion have an interpretation of biblical scripture which suggests to them that The Episcopal Church is non-biblical and non-Christian. Benjamin Nzimbi, the former primate of the Anglican Church in Kenya, once said, “Our understanding of the Bible is different from them. We are two different churches.”

One must note that, Africa, as a whole, is oppressive to LGBT persons; in approximately 70 countries, persons can be imprisoned or even executed for being homosexual. In several cases, the Anglican Church has taken a position of support for these draconian laws and associated punishments.

Last week the majority of the Anglican Communion voted to ‘suspend’ The Episcopal Church from any activities that ‘represent us (The Anglican Communion) on ecumenical and interfaith bodies; in addition, The Episcopal Church cannot not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee, and that while The Episcopal Church can participate in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, cannot take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity’ for three years.

The total text of the communiqué can be found at: Statement from the Primates 2016.

Our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, told the Episcopal News Service that the Primates statement about TEC was “not the outcome we expected.”

    Bishop Curry added: “While we are disappointed, it’s important to remember that the Anglican Communion is really not a matter of structure and organization. The Anglican Communion is a network of relationships that have been built on mission partnerships; relationships that are grounded in a common faith; relationships in companion diocese relationships; relationships with parish to parish across the world; relationships that are profoundly committed to serving and following the way of Jesus of Nazareth by helping the poorest of the poor, and helping this world to be a place where no child goes to bed hungry ever. “That’s what the Anglican Communion is, and that Communion continues and moves forward.”

    He said: “This has been a disappointing time for many, and there will be heartache and pain for many, but it’s important to remember that we are still part of the Anglican Communion. We are the Episcopal Church, and we are part of the Jesus Movement, and that Movement goes on, and our work goes on.”

The President of the House of Deputies, Rev Gay Clark Jennings, emphasized that The Episcopal Church will not step back from its firm belief in the sanctity of all people, and striving ‘to make safe the road from Jericho to Jerusalem that is walked by everyone who strives for just and fair societies and full inclusion in the Body of Christ.’

The Episcopal Church will continue to work around the world to spread the good news of the Gospel, to

    feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, and heal the sick (Matthew 25:35-36)

as we are directed by Jesus.

Although we may be suspended from decision-making in the Anglican Communion, The Episcopal Church will continue as it has in the past. It is anyone’s guess what will happen at the end of the three years.

It is our work now, while we hurt and are sad for the Anglican Communion and this misguided spirit that mocks the teaching of Jesus, to pray for the world, and all those that are persecuted as we move forward, following our belief in the sanctity and belovedness of all people of God.

Written for Saint John’s Episcopal Church Crossroads, Worthington, OH; 19 January 2016

NOTE: number of attendees at the meeting modified on 22 January 2016)

Being Gay Is A Gift From God

Keep, O Lord, your Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness and minister your justice with compassion. Amen.

Good morning!

I am here this morning to assert that those of us in the LGBTQ community are a lucky and blessed people, and we have more work to do!

Oh yes, I know we still hear that gay folks choose to be ‘that way’. We still hear people talk about the struggles and pain of growing up in a hostile world, a world still trying to deny us equal rights in the workplace, in the voting booth and in our churches. In fact, just this past week a major religious denomination met here in Columbus and spent the entire two days of their conference berating marriage equality, the worthiness of gay people as human beings, and using the Bible to justify their divisive and hateful stance.

We know that in more than half the states it is still legal to be fired for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Transgender persons, especially, have more limited options for employment and meaningful work. Transgender people, gay people of color, are subject to violence at alarming rates and teen suicide rates are alarming.

Whether it is immigration inequality, hate crimes, the rights of children of same-sex couples, or youth who are at a higher risk of suicide, we face struggles for total inclusion. There are still countless states, even today, where one can be fired solely on the basis of being LGBTQ. While coming out of the closet can be a source of pride for many, for others, openly stating that they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender can have profoundly damaging personal and professional ramifications, causing some individuals to lose their families and their jobs.

Yes, we have many things to work on for ourselves. And I think that some in our LGBTQ community still argue ‘you must be kind to be kind to us because we have been oppressed, and because we can’t help being the way we are…’ Well, you know what? That’s not good enough. That line of reasoning is outdated and simplistic and worst of all, condescending. . . and it just isn’t true!

I’m here to let you in on a secret: For me, being a lesbian is a wonderful thing, and I wouldn’t change it if I could. I have always felt like being gay was a blessing. God made me this way and I am SO grateful! When discussions about gay rights in government and churches focus on the argument that we have no choice, they completely disregard the fact that we are whole, beautiful, blessed people. Those arguments serve to keep us in a state of victimhood, to make us feel like equal rights and opportunities would be benevolent gifts from people who were born somehow better than we, rather than what we merit as citizens and children of God.

When we say that being gay is a gift from God, at least I feel that way, we reject this fallacy. We take our place as equal members of a wonderful family of human beings and say we will not accept prejudice, or pity or demeaning comparisons.

Loving your neighbor as yourself requires you to love yourself first.

I am not a gay deacon in the Episcopal Church, but a deacon who happens to be gay. The fact that I am gay does not, and should not, and will not define my diaconate OR my being. Being gay is who I am as a person and how I witness and experience the world around me. My experience helps to inform how I understand the people in my congregations as well as the unique lives of the people in the LGBTQ community. I strive to bring this sensitivity to congregants of all sexual orientations and gender identities; indeed to all people in their diversity and uniqueness, whatever that may be.

You may hear complaints that we celebrate ‘Gay Pride’ – after all, they say, no one celebrates ‘Straight Pride’. Maybe they should!

For ‘pride’ is loving oneself, fully and completely. It is being unapologetic about any aspect our lives as God created us. It’s affirming that we are beloved children of God . . . each and every one of us in in the image of the Creator.

Gay pride or black pride or Latino pride or Islamic pride is about demanding that we be treated with the same dignity and respect as everyone else. Whether done subtly or with flamboyance and pizazz, pride is about us asserting our humanity in a society that so often treats others as people of lesser value, people who are wounded or are somehow rejects.

Pride is about saying ‘we want a world where there are no rejects’.

Many years ago I was asked to provide a testimony at a Methodist Church that was working toward becoming open and affirming. I related how the church had been so supportive of me as my lesbian partner of 27 years was dying of cancer. Nothing special. . . just thanks to a congregation that was struggling to become totally inclusive. I didn’t think anyone really paid much attention to me. But after the service, a young man came up to me, with tears in his eyes, thanking me for saying how much God and the church had loved and supported me. It seems that he had been rejected by family and friends and was going to go home and kill himself that very day! Because of my testimony, he now had a glimmer of hope that God created him as a gay man and there were those who accepted him as he was.

Our gay pride witnesses to others and changes lives.

The first officially recognized LGBT Pride Parade occurred in New York City in 1970 as a partial response to the Stonewall riots that occurred a year earlier; it was then known as “The Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day Parade.” Now some 45 years later, when cities across the nation and the world are filled to the brim on Pride Day with the entire spectrum of queer life, as well as their family, friends, and supporters. They (and we!) march on the streets and declare our unapologetic presence and our joy in our humanity as God created us.

So, let us spend this time with immense pride and thanksgiving for how far we have come. An increasing number of states, as well Washington, D.C., legally recognize gay marriage. “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” has been overturned, and a sitting United States president has openly denounced the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act.” The speed with which change is occurring, to me, is breathtaking. I NEVER thought I would see this in my lifetime!

Of course, there is more work to be done. Religious leaders and faith communities have a unique platform to bring healing to all. The first step is to fight bigotry and discrimination with love and understanding. We have the ability to fight for our cause while still embodying the same values we are fighting for. The means for action may be different for each of us. For some of us, lobbying in our state capitals for our LGBTQ equality is the way we can influence; for others, it may be working for the political candidate of your choice; for some, it may simply be being loud and making noise for issues that are important to us – this our responsibility. We can’t overlook, standing for ourselves, the truth is that sometimes just standing as your true self (lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender), in our communities, is the most influential way to affect change.

We have the power to de-stigmatize the words “gay” and “transgender” just by our ability to speak them with ease. In a political environment where our society is bombarded with messages that God, religion, and the Bible denounce homosexuality, those of us who are spiritual people must teach that God is love, and that the world we believe in celebrates life and love. There is not an age too young or too old to know that our faith teaches that every person is made in the image of God, and is born with the same rights and deserve the same respect as everyone else.

And is it time to share our blessing! It is time to take our leadership, our indomitable spirits, and our insistence for inclusion of ALL in our society to helping other marginalized and persecuted people. It is impossible to stand here today in total joy and pride for what we have accomplished as LGBTQ people without remembering the tremendous hate, violence, and cruelty STILL visited upon our black brothers and sisters in every aspect of their lives. What happened this past week in Charleston, what has happened into so many cities to young black men, reveals, once again, an evil and meanness rampant in our society that belittles us all.

What we are doing to immigrants on our southern border is inhumane and evil. And we as gay people, are not fully free and fully included until all people are free and included. We MUST take our strength and our joy and our blessing and our sure knowledge of the love of God for all of us to not only work for own total inclusion, but for the well-being and safety and inclusion of ALL marginalized groups on this planet.

So this Gay Pride Day, as we see thousands of smiling people, cheering for us and with us, let us remember it is because we are standing up for justice, and love and pride for everyone. That is what we see during the Gay Pride parades held all over the world. We are gays, lesbians, transgenders and our allies marching hand-in-hand, marching in the Columbus Gay Pride Parade, under the banner of

‘Pride – Be The Change’!pride 2015

Our family and friends join us with their love and pride of their LGBTQ kin. The religions represented here today stand up and say not only that they tolerate LGBTQ people, they love and respect them… they not only welcome the gay community, but that they are part of the gay community.

We will march today as family. Not as a biological family, though some such families are present here today; but as the human family united by love.

By marching in Pride, we are standing up to say that it’s not about loving the sinner while hating the sin—it’s about rejecting the idea that love is ever a sin! Even in a town that seems as open and accepting as Columbus, marching in a Pride Parade as a community of faith is a radical and important action. Even if just one person sees us, just one person who didn’t know there is a place that will love them, it will be worthwhile. We might be able to reach that one youth who has lost all hope and sees suicide as the only way out of the pain.

And I assert, that marching together in this Pride Parade today, means that we will not accept hatred or exclusion for any other human being, be they black, Latino, disabled, or of any religion. For us in the faith community, it means that we will not accept the bogus idea that any religion has the right to hurt and marginalize others. Marching today means that we are one with each other and with all humanity.

And so we march in pride, to celebrate who we are: clapping and shouting for joy, singing praises to God and saying to each other and to the world that who we are —who God made us to be —is beautiful, wonderful and holy and blessed.


Delivered at Integrity Pride Service, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 20 June 2015


Southernism: Queer as a Three Dollar Bill (or LGBT in the Southland)

insightful, even if you don’t live in the South


southern easter brunch

In Southernisms, we look at common southern phrases, practices, foods, music, or culture, usually after allowing readers to comment using a hashtag.  This began as #youmightbegltbinthesouthif but I expanded it to help reference some of the ways LGBT life is changing in the south.  I hope to next talk about the “new south” and the fusion of traditional southern culture with new trends.  Post a description of something you think of as a fun, thought-provoking, or quirky example of the newsouth with #newsouth, and share it here on this blog post or on our facebook page.

This Easter Saturday, for the second year in a row, my wife Katharine and I were blessed to go to the home of two of our friends in the Triangle area of North Carolina for an old fashioned southern brunch with a twist.  As with any southern brunch, there is rich food.  There are…

View original post 4,433 more words

Religious Freedom Restoration?? Really!!

Ohio tried a bill like Indiana’s just before the Supreme Court decision on the Windsor case so they withdrew it. I expect to see it rear its ugly head in the near future.

We have always had the right to refuse to marry a couple; but to refuse to serve food, or provide gasoline or withhold medical care is not religious freedom – it is, pure and simple, discrimination. . . would someone withhold services because a woman in shorts came into a Muslim-owned business? or an Pentecostal with long hair and bonnet in a drugstore requesting necessary drugs? There’s a long list that these laws would allow – and could even affect those not targeted. LGBTs are not the only ones who could suffer under these laws.

Notice Ohio’s position on these draconian discrimination laws:

31 states have heightened religious freedom protections
By Juliet Eilperin March 1, 2014 

The recent flurry of state bills giving religious exemptions from certain laws — including the Arizona law that Gov. Jan Brewer (R) just vetoed — raises a question: How many states already provide heightened protection for the exercise of religion?

The answer? Thirty-one, 18 of which passed state laws based on the 1993 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The protections in an additional 13 states came through court rulings. Here’s a map of which states have added protections and which do not:


“These state RFRAs were enacted in response to Supreme Court decisions that had nothing to do with gay rights or same-sex marriage,” explained University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock in an e-mail. “And the state court decisions interpreting their state constitutions arose in all sorts of contexts, mostly far removed from gay rights or same-sex marriage. There were cases about Amish buggies, hunting moose for native Alaskan funeral rituals, an attempt to take a church building by eminent domain, landmark laws that prohibited churches from modifying their buildings – all sorts of diverse conflicts between religious practice and pervasive regulation.”

A new political fight has emerged in part because some of these more recent proposals are shifting the definition of when citizens can opt out on religious grounds. The federal law says that the government may not pass a law that “substantially burdens a person’s exercise of religion.” But now some businesses — including the ones who are challenging the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate in the Supreme Court — are arguing that they don’t have to meet this substantial-burden test.

Kansas, for example, already has the Kansas Preservation of Religious Freedom Act. But its state House passed a bill that would have allowed any individual to refuse to recognize same-sex couples or provide them with services on religious grounds, without having to show that such compliance would substantially burden their ability to exercise their faith.

This week the Kansas state Senate declined to take up the House bill. Laycock, who described that proposal as extreme, wrote that both advocates and opponents of these laws are poisoning Americans’ views of what religious freedom means.

“The conflicts over gay rights and contraception are polarizing the country and endangering religious liberty more generally,” he wrote. “Neither side in these fights seems to have any respect for the liberty of the other.”

Gov. Pence: Religious law ‘not about discrimination’(1:07) (” title=”Governor Pence on RFRA)

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence vigorously defended the state’s new religious objections law. Businesses and organizations including the NCAA pressed concerns that it could open the door to legalizing discrimination against gay people. (AP)

Juliet Eilperin is The Washington Post’s White House bureau chief, covering domestic and foreign policy as well as the culture of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She is the author of two books—one on sharks, and another on Congress, not to be confused with each other—and has worked for the Post since 1998.”

6th Circuit Court Breaks From Unanimous Appellate Rulings, Upholds Discrimination

NOTE: my wife/spouse (of almost 17 year) and I chose to go to Greenwich Village, NYC in December 2013 to be legally married. We had intended to wait until marriage was legal in Ohio, but because of my position as a clergy and activist in Ohio and the United States Congress for the marginalized, disenfranchised and needy, we felt the time was right to make a statement by going out-of-state to receive the right of marriage equality that the State Of Ohio denied us.

After the fall of all the previously contested DOMA laws, we were fairly confident that the 6th Circuit Court would follow suit. . . alas, we were wrong. It is unconscionable to think that professed ‘progressive’ states would uphold the draconian restriction against marriage equality.

Many thanks to Adam Polaski for publishing this synopsis of the court rulings.

Although disheartened (and more than a little ashamed of our circuit court for being so out of step with the rest of the nation), we are not defeated. Our campaign to ensure ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness‘ for these four states is not over. . . to paraphrase a line from Martin Luther King, Jr. “until all are free, none are free“. We stand with John Paul Jones – We Have Just Begun to Fight!
By Adam Polaski,
Nov 06, 2014 at 04:30 pm

Today, November 6, the United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit issued the first ruling in favor of upholding laws that discriminate against same-sex couples from a federal appellate court in the past several years. In doing so, the Court upheld marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee and led to the continued discrimination of thousands of same-sex couples in these four states.

The plaintiffs and legal team in the case may now seek certiorari from the United States Supreme Court, or they could seek an en banc review before the full 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. On Monday, October 6, just one month ago, the Supreme Court indicated that it saw nothing wrong with the freedom to marry for same-sex couples by effectively allowing anti-marriage laws to be struck down in eleven states.

Learn more about the six cases from the four states here, at, and read the full ruling HERE..

Freedom to Marry Founder and President Evan Wolfson said today:

    Today’s ruling is completely out of step with the Supreme Court’s clear signal last month, out of step with the constitutional command as recognized by nearly every state and federal court in the past year, and out of step with the majority of the American people. This anomalous ruling won’t stand the test of time or appeal. But with discrimination still burdening too many families, and now with this split in the circuits, Freedom to Marry calls on the Supreme Court to swiftly take these cases, affirm the freedom to marry, and bring national resolution once and for all. American couples and their families should no longer be forced to fight court by court, state by state, day by day for the freedom and dignity that our Constitution promises.

6th Circuit Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey dissented from the ruling. She wrote:

    These plaintiffs are not political zealots trying to push reform on their fellow citizens; they are committed same-sex couples, many of them heading up de facto families, who want to achieve equal status — de jure status, if you will — with their married neighbors, friends, and coworkers, to be accepted as contributing members of their social and religious communities, and to be welcomed as fully legitimate parents at their children’s schools. They seek to do this by virtue of exercising a civil right that most of us take for granted – the right to marry.

    For although my colleagues in the majority pay lip service to marriage as an institution conceived for the purpose of providing a stable family unit “within which children may flourish,” they ignore the destabilizing effect of its absence in the homes of tens of thousands of same-sex parents throughout the four states of the Sixth Circuit.

    Instead of recognizing the plaintiffs as persons, suffering actual harm as a result of being denied the right to marry where they reside or the right to have their valid marriages recognized there, my colleagues view the plaintiffs as social activists who have somehow stumbled into federal court.

The 6th Circuit is the first federal appellate court this year to rule against the freedom to marry. Previous victories emerged this summer and fall in the 4th Circuit, 7th Circuit, and 10th Circuit. Those rulings added to nearly 40 additional wins in state and federal court.

In just the past month, same-sex couples have effectively won the freedom to marry in 16 different states: On Monday, October 6, the U.S. Supreme Court denied review in five marriage cases, clearing the way for the freedom to marry not only in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin – but also paving the path toward marriage in Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming, the other states in the 10th and 4th Circuits. Just one day later, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals also affirmed the freedom to marry in a case from Idaho and a case from Nevada, setting the stage for marriage in those two states, as well as Alaska, Arizona and Montana. So far, just four of these states – Montana, Wyoming, Kansas, and South Carolina – have not yet implemented the appellate orders.

With these victories, just 15 states will soon remain without the freedom to marry – and today’s out-of-step ruling from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ensures that in four of these states, same-sex couples will for now continue to be denied the freedom to marry and real American families will continue to be hurt. As the prospective appeal in this ruling works its way to the 6th Circuit and, likely, the U.S. Supreme Court, it is more important than ever for the nation’s highest court to recognize that it is time to take up a case and rule for the freedom to marry nationwide. It is simply untenable for 15 states to deny same-sex couples the same fundamental freedoms that are available or soon will be available in 35 other states.

It is simply time for the freedom to marry nationwide.

Meet the real families – plaintiff couples and their childrenimpacted by today’s ruling. And Read the full ruling here.

Transgender priest preaches at Washington’s National Cathedral

(Reuters) – An Episcopal chaplain on Sunday became the first openly transgender priest to preach at the historic National Cathedral in Washington D.C.

The Reverend Dr. Cameron Partridge, one of seven openly transgender clergy in the Episcopal Church, spoke from the Canterbury Pulpit in honor of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community’s Pride Month, the Cathedral said.

Partridge told congregants in his guest appearance he was proud to be a part of a church that was pushing for acceptance of all people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity.

“As we behold one another in these days of celebration may we honor the way we sustain each other,” he said.

Partridge, who began transitioning to male from female over a decade ago, is the Episcopal Chaplain at Boston University and a lecturer and counselor at Harvard Divinity School.

Reverend Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, presided over the service on Sunday, which included readings and prayers by gay, lesbian and transgender church members.

The Episcopal Church, an independent U.S.-based institution affiliated with global Anglicanism, voted in 2012 to allow the ordination of transgender people and also approved same-sex marriage blessings.

Last week, a gathering of U.S. Presbyterian Church leaders followed suit, voting to allow their clergy to perform same-sex weddings.

The Episcopal Church approved its first openly gay bishop in 2003, when Reverend Robinson ascended to lead the diocese of New Hampshire.

The move was met with controversy. Hundreds of parishes opposed his consecration, saying the church was becoming too liberal.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in New York; Editing by Rosalind Russell)