South Florida SUN-SENTINEL
August 5, 2005
Lake Worth / Greenacres / Ocean Ridge / Wellington/ Boynton Beach Section BB page 3
In Profile – St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church – compiled by Minerva Romo
INTEGRITY FELLOWSHIP TAKES INCLUSIVE APPROACH
Name: St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 100 N. Palmway, Lake Worth
Services: 7:30 and 10 a.m. Sunday; 10 a.m. Wednesday; 6 p.m. Saturday.
Canon Richard T. Nolan spoke about the church’s Integrity Fellowship.
Q. Describe the Integrity Fellowship Program.
A. Integrity meets the second Saturday of the month after the regular 6 p.m. service at St. Andrew’s.
Attendance is always way up on that night. There are anywhere from 40 to 70 people – it’s unpredictable. We are finding that the age of attendees varies.
Our oldest member is Herb Steer, who is 88 and who was once a valet to King George VI of England.
The Rev. William Hamilton, the rector of St. Andrew’s, took a terrible risk in allowing us to form because the Episcopal Churches in Palm Beach County had been virtually silent on gay issues. Father Hamilton said we could have this ministry, which did result in five families leaving.
Q. How long has it been in existence?
A. Locally, since October of 2001, and nationally for about 30 years. It’s an official organization of the Episcopal Church. We like to say that so that people don’t think it’s a renegade group. It came about when Vance Oden, at St. Andrew’s and Herb Steer and two others went down to the Integrity chapter that meets at All Saints Church in Fort Lauderdale, where my partner Bob and I had been traveling for many years.
They said they wanted to start a chapter in Palm Beach County, and I told them that if they did, they would have themselves a chaplain.
Q. Are there plans of starting more chapters?
A. I don’t think so. We have people who come as far south as Boca Raton and as far north as Tequesta. I’m not sure that there is a need for another chapter. We all hope that there is no need for another Integrity.
Its real purpose is to promote inclusiveness for members of the Episcopal Church regardless of sexual orientation. If that were a reality, we would not need Integrity.
The day when we close down will be a great day. I have to add that our members do not focus solely on gay issues. About a quarter of our members are straight. We recently had a speaker who is a female assistant minister and is married to a black man. She spoke about multiculturalism.
Q. You are having a program on Saturday called “Gay Life Transfigured.” What is that about?
A. That will be the topic of my sermon for the 6 p.m. service. It’s not an Integrity program. It coincides with the Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ, and as I was thinking about that, it occurred to me that an awful lot of gay life is tortured and sometimes very silly, and sometimes very wonderful. My partner and I celebrate our 50th anniversary soon. This sermon will discuss what patterns a Christian gay life would be like. It will discuss what kind of impact Christianity would have on gay living.
Q. What makes St. Andrew’s unique?
A. I want to stress two things. One is that the Saturday worship program is a traditional Episcopal service. There is nothing gay about it, yet if a gay related topic comes up, it’s OK. In many churches, if a clergyman brings up a gay topic, people might walk out.
The other is that with the monthly Integrity gathering on Saturday, we are not separatists, but promote inclusiveness. For some people, it’s the only churchgoing that they have, because they don’t feel welcome going to other Christian churches in Palm Beach County. If you walked in, you will find conventional citizens living conventional lives. That’s what I’m convinced is out there.
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church 561-582-6609
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