Homosexually Oriented Churches
Homosexually Oriented Churches
Homosexually Oriented Churches
c/oDiocese of Connecticut, Most Rev. Dr. Lorraine Bouffard, Bishop, 30 Woodland St., Unit 10, Hartford, CT 06105
Early in the twenty-first century, Rev. Lorraine Bouffard, who had been ordained in 1994 by Abp. Mark Shirilau for the Ecumenical Catholic Church, was consecrated as a bishop by Bp. Richard Cardarelli of the American Apostolic Catholic Church. Bouffard subsequently led in the founding of the American Ecumenical Catholic Church based in the Mission of the Sacred Hearted, in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. The new jurisdiction is similar to the Roman Catholic Church (in which Bouffard was raised), and follows it theologically and in its sacramental emphasis. It is, however, administratively independent and has developed a special concern for those that older church bodies have not welcomed or sacramentally affirmed due to gender issues, divorce/remarriage, sexual orientation, or physical, psychological, or mental challenges. The church is friendly to gays and welcomes women to all levels of the priesthood.
The small jurisdiction has two dioceses, the one in Connecticut headed by Bishop Bouffard and one in Dennis, Massachusetts, headed by Bp. John French. It has affiliated with the National Council of Community Churches, through which it claims membership in the World Council of Churches. The church supports a television broadcast ministry, “Voices in the Wilderness.”
Not reported. In 2008, the church oversaw two parishes and several chaplaincy ministries.
American Ecumenical Catholic Church. http://americanecumenicalchurch.com/index.html.
Ancient British Church in North America (The Autocephalous Glastonbury Rite in Diaspora)
9–47 Marion St., Toronto, ON, Canada M6R 1E6
The Ancient British Church in North America is a small Western Rite Orthodox body founded by Bp. Jonathan V. Zotique (Mar Zotikos), its presiding bishop. Mar Zotikos was a Franciscan monk who received consecration through Old Catholic sources. The church’s ministry, which is built around a small group of independent Franciscans, both priests and lay brothers, is directed to the sexual minorities of Toronto (homosexuals, transsexuals, transvestites, prostitutes) and others (e.g., drug addicts) who feel rejected by the Eastern Orthodox communions and the Roman Catholic Church. As independent Franciscans, the group sees itself as being “for, of, and by gay Christians holding hope that in good faith we can touch the charity of the Church of Christ as a whole.”
The clergy of the church are self-employed, and ministers are worker-clerics. Both men and women are accepted for ordination to the priesthood. The church is headed by its presiding bishop and a governing synod. Those affiliated with the church in the ordered life are organized as the Celtic-Catholic Culdee Community of Orthodox Monks, Hermits, Missionaries, and Evangelists of the Old Church of the Blessed Virgin, St. Mary of Glastonbury (Our Lady of Avalon), in Diaspora. Future plans call for the establishment of a rural retreat center (Avalon Abbey) for meditation and contemplation retreats.
3377 Bethel Rd. SE, Port Orchard, WA 98366
The Apostolic Catholic and Spiritual Church traces its beginning to the Old Catholic Church of India founded in southern India in 1890 by Bp. Matthew A. Grimes. The church subsequently transferred its operations to the United States and adopted its present name. It is currently headed by the fifth apostolic archbishop, W. E. Haley, who traces his succession directly to Bishop Grimms.
The church adopted an Old Catholic perspective, by which it means that it is in substantial theological agreement with the Roman Catholic Church while being administratively independent of it. The Roman Church considers Old Catholic orders valid but irregular. Unlike many Old Catholic bodies, the Apostolic Catholic and Spiritual Church is essentially accepting of the developments in doctrine and practice promulgated by Vatican II.
The Apostolic Catholic and Spiritual Church has one important difference with the Roman Church. It has adopted a pastoral view regarding a set of contemporary ethical issues and rejects what it sees as the legalistic approach to issues such as abortion, sexual orientation, divorce and remarriage, birth control, and various complex medical issues. It encourages members to reach decisions on these questions by searching their own conscience in the light of their understanding of the central Gospel principles of truth, justice, compassion, and love. In addition, the Church allows priests to marry, and welcomes women, lesbians, and gays into the ordained ministry.
In line with many Old Catholic churches, the Church asks its priests to support themselves through outside employment, rather than drawing salaries as parish priests.
Not reported. Parishes are located in Washington, California, Nevada, and New Mexico.
Apostolic Catholic and Spiritual Church. acschurch.org.
Box 94, Uniontown, OH 44685-0094
International headquarters: 11 Ellswood Ct., Lovelace Rd., Surbiton, Surrey, London KT6 6NQ, United Kingdom.
The Brotherhood of Mithras was founded in 1980 in Surrey, suburban London, by a group of men who wished to reconstruct and revive the ancient religion of Mithras. It is their belief that Mithras was a real person who lived some 3,500 years ago in Persia, and that the gods decided to make him a god like unto themselves. What is commonly known is that the religion of Mithras spread through the Roman Empire and competed for many centuries with Christianity. Statues of Mithras have been found in Roman ruins, many of which included Mithraic worship centers. The god is often depicted nude and entwined with a snake or in the act of plunging a knife into a bull (a statue of the latter type, called a tauroctonous, graces the inter sanctum of Mithraic temples).
According to the ancient story, Mithras was set a task by the gods to prove his worthiness. He was sent a messenger in the form of a raven who told him to slay a bull. After meditating on the instructions, he herded a bull into a cave and there slew it with his knife. With this act Mithras became an object of worship for his bravery, virility, and manliness.
The brotherhood has attempted to reconstruct the worship of Mithras in the context of phallic worship and the contemporary revival of sex magick. Worship takes place in the nude in a temple that, like the original story’s cave, is void of any natural source of light. It is believed that during the sex act men create more energy than women, so an all-male circle creates more energy than a mixed group would. The energy thus raised is used for various worthy ends.
The brotherhood is open to all men over the age of 21. Initiation is an arduous ordeal that involves corporal punishment, humiliation, and subjugation. Personal limits are respected, but it is expected that they will be extended in order to reach a new level of experience.
Not reported. There are centers in England and the United States.
Speidel, M. P. Mithras-Orion: Greek Hero and Roman Army God. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 1984.
c/o Office of the Presiding Bishop, 1201 W Esplanade Ave., Ste. 1709, Kenner, LA 70065
The Catholic Church of the Americas was founded in 1996 by a group of clergy, many with Roman Catholic backgrounds. Its purpose was to establish a community of faith that was open to all people without regard to race, color, gender, sexual orientation or preference, nationality, or socioeconomic status. This goal sets them apart from the Roman Catholic Church, which condemns homosexuality and does not admit women to the ministry. Founders included Fr. Benjamin Evans, Deacon Daniel Little, Bp. Denis Martel, Bp. John Reeves, and Fr. Jerry Wood. Bishop Martel was named the first presiding bishop.
The church continues the sacramental worship of the western Catholic tradition. It affirms the centrality of the seven sacraments (as redefined in the post–Vatican II context). It affirms the need of apostolic succession. and its bishops were consecrated in several lineages available in independent Catholic circles, though it emphasizes its lineage from Bp. Carlos Duarte Costa (1888–1961) and the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church. It dissents from Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, but holds to the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The church differs from the Roman Catholic Church in that it has opened the sacrament of marriage to all adults, and thus is willing to oversee same-gender unions. In addition, it sanctions the remarriage of individuals who had a previous marriage otherwise legally dissolved. Divorce also is not seen as preventing one from receiving the sacraments. As with the reception of the Eucharist, the church does not view gender, sexuality, and present marital status as barriers to receiving any of the sacraments, including ordination. The church sanctions the ordination to the priesthood of women, married persons, and members of sexual minorities, if they are otherwise qualified. In its sacramental liturgy, the church seeks to use inclusive language.
The church is headed by its Synod of Bishops and the National Synod of clergy and laity. It is the desire of the church, however, that decisions be made by consensus rather than by any part of the church, including the bishops, acting unilaterally.
Not reported. In 2008 there were three centers for worship, one in Louisiana and two in Massachusetts.
Catholic Church of the Americas. www.thecca.org.
The Hermitage, RR1, Box 149, Pitman, PA 17964
The Christianbrunn (Christianspring) Brotherhood is a gay spiritual community that asserts as its purpose the worship of life. It is an all-male ordered community that existed in the eighteenth century in the Moravian Church. Most especially, they look to Christian Renatus Graf von Zinzendorf (1827–1752), the homosexual son of Count Nicolas Ludwig von Zinzendorf, the Moravian leader whose efforts led to the community’s revival. As early as 1728, a group of 26 unmarried men moved into a common household. During the last eight years of his life, Christian Renatus had been in charge of the single brothers’choirs of the Moravian Brethren.
In 1749 in the American colonies the Moravians established Christianspring, a community west of Nazareth, Pennsylvania. It was occupied entirely by unmarried men for the next 50 years. However, by the end of the eighteenth century it was caught up in the larger changes in the church, and early in the nineteenth century it merged into the community at Nazareth.
The attempt to reestablish Christianbrunn as an openly gay community began in 1987 with the founding of an ordered community. Brother Johannes Renatus Zinzendorf was the chief councilman.
The brotherhood believes that life is all there is—there is nothing else before, beyond, or after this life, and all morality, aesthetics, and ethics derive from that fact. Stewardship is critical—the earth is finite, so members of the brotherhood assume the role of caretakers for wise management of its limited resources to meet basic needs of food, shelter, education, and freedom for all. As gay men, they look upon semen as the essence of life and the erect phallus as the giver of semen.
The brotherhood called themselves spiritual atheists because they embrace the mystery of life without a belief in a higher power. Good works, which enhance and respect all life forms, is the spiritual value that raises consciousness into a godlike form and can make the doers stewards and the guiding force on the planet. They can also reveal ways in which individuals are all parts of one great wholeness rather than isolated entities.
These attributes are incorporated into the Hermitage, a working farm and retreat center where people come for limited periods to contemplate the meaning of their existence. Summer residences are free in exchange for a limited amount of daily work, which is part of the stewardship. The brotherhood describes the Hermitage as one of the few places for such contemplation, free of theological and ideological conformity and allowing freedom of inquiry into one’s nature and the meaning of life itself.
As a working farm, the Hermitage stresses self-reliance, and is sustained by crafts, livestock, and the raising of crops, in addition to donations.
In 2002 the community had 100 associates and two full-time residence members.
The Flaming Faggot.
Hamilton, J. Taylor, and Kenneth G. Hamilton. History of the Moravian Church. Bethlehem, PA: Interprovincial Board of Christian Education, Moravian Church in America, 1967.
PO Box 1620, Stanwood, WA 98292
The Church of Universal Love (Washington) was founded in the mid-1980s by Rev. Barbara Allen as a New Age fellowship. Although open to all, it has a special mission within the homosexual community of the Pacific Northwest. The church considers itself omnidenominational. It has no creed and draws inspiration from all the master teachers, especially Jesus and Buddha. It sponsors workshops on metaphysics, parapsychology, world religions, and holistic healing techniques, as well as retreats on a variety of subjects. On most Sundays the church sponsors a circle of love meeting that includes guided meditation, group sharing at an intensive level, Sufi dancing, and a potluck supper.
The church welcomes people from different spiritual paths and believes that each individual must develop his or her own individual way. The church attempts to help individuals in their spiritual searches and avoids proselytization to a particular view. Interaction between members is based upon the Golden Rule, nonjudgmental attitudes, and unconditional love.
Current address not obtained for this edition.
The Church of Zeus and Ganymede (CZG) takes its name from the ancient Greek tale of Ganymede, a prince of the house of Troy who was so loved by Zeus that the mighty deity changed himself into a great eagle, took the youth away, and made him immortal. Ganymede became his cup bearer. While believing that there is only one religion, and striving to come into greater harmony with the Almighty (Zeus, Yahweh, God, Allah, or any of the other names used by various groups over the centuries) and to achieve a greater knowledge of creation, the church particularly celebrates loving relationships on the model of Zeus and Ganymede—that is to say, it sanctions and promotes man-boy sexual relationships.
The CZG describes itself as more a disorganization than an organization, in that it has no hierarchy, no property, no bank accounts, and no schedule of meetings (because many of the activities it promotes are illegal in the countries of North America and Europe). Thus the church is somewhat diffuse and ephemeral. It exists to provide spiritual support for its members. Its basic principle and rule is love, which is defined as a deep caring for the happiness and well-being of someone else. The CZG asserts that loving relationships (sexual or otherwise) between males, regardless of their ages, are a gift from the Almighty.
Considering the social disapproval of the primary idea behind the church, the CZG articulated a “Boylove Code of Ethics”that draws upon the nature of the practice in ancient Greece. Noting the sexual aspect of most man-boy love relationships, it calls for participants to deal with the issue of sex “in a mature and responsible way.”However, the code does not address the dominant cultural view that boylove relationships are by their very nature manipulative and exploitative of the younger party, who because of his age cannot deal with the relationship in a mature manner.
Though the church has an Internet presence, it is unlikely that it will develop a more visible and formal structure given the nature of its beliefs and practices.
Current address not obtained for this edition.
Community of the Love of Christ (Evangelical Catholic) is one of the oldest church organizations that developed a specific ministry to the homosexual community and openly identified with its concerns. The organization was founded in 1959 as the Primitive Catholic Church (Evangelical Catholic) by Mikhail (Michael) Francis Itkin (1936–1989). Itkin began his work as a minister in the gay community in 1955 when he was licensed by George A. Hyde (b. 1923), later the presiding bishop of the Orthodox Catholic Church in America. Hyde had founded the Eucharistic Catholic Church in the 1940s as a church for homosexuals. Itkin was ordained in 1957 and continued to work with Hyde and the Eucharistic Catholic Church for two more years, then left in 1959 at the same time that Hyde was moving his work into the American Holy Orthodox Catholic Apostolic Eastern Church. Itkin accused Hyde of backing away from an openly gay ministry and “moving back into the closet.”
Itkin gathered those members who agreed with him and for more than a year led them as an episcopal administrator until he was consecrated by Abp. Christopher Maria Stanley in November 1960. Stanley had orders to consecrate Itkin from Hugh George de Willmott Newman of the Catholicate of the West, which carried a variety of lines of episcopal succession. Among those lines was the SyroChaldean succession of the Church of the East brought to the west by Ulric Vernon Herford (Mar Jacobus), founder of the Evangelical Catholic Communion.
The new church first chose the name Primitive Catholic Church (Evangelical Catholic), but after Itkin’s consecration the name was changed to Gnostic Catholic Church (Evangelical Catholic). The new name led to confusion, as some thought the church emulated the gnostic heretics. Then the members called themselves “Free Catholics,”but learned of a British fascist group using that designation. Again the church adopted a new name—Western Orthodox Catholic (Anglican Orthodox). During this period, the church members became aware of Ulrich Vernon Herford (1866–1938) and the Evangelical Catholic Communion. They began to see Herford’s lineage as the primary line of the historical episcopate received from Stanley. Itkin began to correspond with some European bishops who were attempting to carry on Herford’s work, and from them he received permission to reformulate the Evangelical Catholic Communion in the United States. In 1978 Mar Anthony (W. Martin Andrew), the British successor to Herford, recognized Itkin’s work in the United States as “the sole jurisdiction actually carrying on the work of Mar Jacobus and the original Evangelical Catholic Communion.”
A short time after the development of the Evangelical Catholic Communion, Itkin and Stanley broke communion due in large part to the strong social activism advocated by Itkin. Among Itkin’s first actions as a bishop was the consecration of a woman to the priesthood. Stanley, although open to female deacons, was opposed to their admission to the priesthood. In 1963 the communion underwent an internal reorganization, transforming itself into a religious order that originally called itself the Brotherhood of the Love of Christ: Evangelical Catholic Communion. That name was changed in 1970 to the Community of the Love of Christ (Evangelical Catholic), its present name, to eliminate the sexist connotations of the word brotherhood.
During the 1960s the church attracted a number of able leaders such as John Perry-Hooker, a psychologist working with a youth ministry in Boston. The church became deeply involved in civil rights and antiwar crusades. Itkin, heralding what would be termed “liberation theology” in the 1970s, articulated a revolutionary Christian theology that emphasized pacifism, freedom from oppression, and civil rights for minorities. He advocated gay liberation and the role of Christianity as a means for creating a universal androgynous community. The work suffered a severe setback in 1968 when more conservative elements in the church, including those who rejected female priests, split the communion and took most of the property with them. They reorganized as the Evangelical Catholic Communion. Itkin and his followers continued their efforts as the Community of the Love of Christ.
In the late 1980s it became known that Itkin was suffering from AIDS. He passed away in 1991 and was succeeded by Bp. Marcia Herndon (d. 1997), whom he had consecrated in 1985.
The community adopted a distinct position within the Syro-Chaldean tradition, as it also considers itself a part of the Mennonite-Radical Reformation heritage. From the Church of the East, it draws an apostolic liturgical heritage. It accepts only the first three Ecumenical Councils, which includes an acceptance of the Nicene Creed. However, because of its Radical Reformation heritage, it takes a “low church” approach to the sacraments. Only three, not seven, are acknowledged. The church also accepts, for historical purposes only, the December 1903 Pastoral Letter to the Syro-Chaldean Christians in India authored by Herford.
Following its own statement of faith that acknowledges Christ as sovereign and liberator, the community is fully committed to a liberation theological praxis that includes a struggle against sexism, heterosexism, racism, classism, imperialism, and violence. It strongly supports and works for Christian gay/lesbian liberation, feminism, racial integration, civil rights, economic mutuality, democracy, universal citizenship, and nonviolence. The community does not consider itself a gay or homosexual church, but rather “a Christian covenant-community for all people, preaching the inclusive love of God to everyone.”“Everyone” includes, specifically, gay and lesbian individuals.
For a period beginning in 1971, Itkin held joint membership in the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC). He saw MCC as committed to his own belief of “unity in diversity,”but concluded by 1984 that such was not the case. He withdrew his affiliation with MCC as a member, though he retained status as a “friend.”
In The Old Catholic Sourcebook by Karl Pruter and J. Gordon Melton, Bishop Itkin was confused with another bishop who had also taken the ecclesiastical title Mar Mikhail and who resides in the San Francisco Bay area. The other Mar Mikhail is the leader of the Holy Apostolic–Catholic Church of the East (Syro-Chaldean).
Faith and Practice of the Brotherhood of the Love of Christ. New York: Pax Christi Press, 1966.
Itkin, Michael Francis. The Hymn of Jesus. New York: Pax Christi Press, n.d.
Itkin, Michael Francis Augustine. The Spiritual Heritage of Port-Royal. New York: Pax Christi Press, 1966.
Itkin, Mikhail. The Radical Jesus and Gay Consciousness. Hollywood, CA: Communiversity West, 1972.
20 Lincoln, Irvine, CA 92604-1947
The Ecumenical Catholic Church (ECC) was founded by Mark Steven Shirilau. Shirilau was born in 1955 as Mark Steven Shirey. In 1984 he “married” Jeffery Michael Lau, and both assumed the last name Shirilau. The church is a liturgical body that draws upon Catholic, Episcopal, and Lutheran traditions, but is distinguished by its direct and open ministry to the gay and lesbian community as well as to women, the divorced, and others disenfranchised by the mainline church. Shirilau was raised a Lutheran but joined the Episcopal Church. He was consecrated to the episcopacy by Bp. Donald Lawrence Jolly of the Independent Catholic Church International on Pentecost in 1991. Shirilau is one of the more educated Independent Catholic leaders, having graduated from both the Episcopal Theological School at Claremont (Bloy House) and the School of Theology at Claremont and having earned his Ph.D. from the University of California at Irvine.
The Ecumenical Catholic Church was designed to operate within the space between the very Protestant Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (with whom it maintains cordial relations) and Roman Catholic, Episcopal, and Lutheran churches that had not updated their social ethics stances regarding the gay and lesbian community.
The ECC expanded in 1995 when the four regional deans—Richard John Cardarelli of Hartford, Connecticut; Michael Robert Frost of Plattsburgh, New York; Denis Armand Martel of New Orleans, Louisiana; and Robert Wayne Martin of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma—were consecrated bishops (though several later left the church). In 2008 the church had bishops in New York, Iowa, North Carolina, and Oklahoma.
In 2002 the church reported 1,000 members in 12 churches in the United States and Australia.
Holy Apostles Seminary, Irvine, California (correspondence seminary).
Ecumenical Catholic Church. www.ecchurch.org.
Shirilau, Mark. Apostolic Succession in the Ecumenical Catholic Church. Irving, CA: Healing Spirit Press, 1998.
———. Formative Documents of the Ecumenical Catholic Church: From the Marriage of Mark and Jeffrey Shirilau to the Monsignor Appointment of Robert Hall. Irving, CA: Healing Spirit Press, 2001.
———. History and Overview of the Ecumenical Catholic Church: The First Ten Years: 1985–95. Ville Grand, CA: Healing Spirit Press, 1995.
Current address not obtained for this edition.
The very first ministry to the homosexual community was begun in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1946 by the Rev. George A. Hyde (b. 1923). Eleven years later, Hyde was consecrated by Abp. Cyril John Clement Sherwood (1895–1969) and began to move his ministry into Sherwood’s American Holy Orthodox Catholic Apostolic Eastern Church. As he worked under Sherwood, he moved to Washington, D.C., a prelude to his forming the Orthodox Catholic Church of America in 1960. He backed away from an identification of his new church with the homosexual community, but continued an interest in ministering to gay people.
One ministry authorized by Hyde was a new Eucharistic Catholic parish in New York City’s Greenwich Village, begun in 1970 by Fr. Robert Mary Clement (b. 1925). Clement stayed with Hyde for several years, seeing ordination in an apostolic liturgical church outside of independent Old Catholic circles. Unable to locate a bishop who would accept his gay congregation, he turned finally in 1974 to Abp. Richard A. Marchenna (1911–1982), then head of the Old Roman Catholic Church (Marchenna), who consecrated him. Clement reorganized his work as a separate episcopal jurisdiction independent of the Orthodox Catholic Church of America.
There is one congregation of several hundred members.
PO Box 34635, Washington, DC 20043
The Gay Atheist League of America (GALAH) was formed in 1978 as the Gay Atheist League of America by Daniel Curzon and Tom Rolfsen, both former members of the Roman Catholic Church. Both had come to feel that there is a direct relationship between the doctrines of religion and social discrimination against homosexuals. The formation of GALAH was occasioned by an exchange of letters between Rolfsen and John Raphael Quinn (b. 1929), the Catholic archbishop in San Francisco. Rolfsen concluded that the church had developed a tradition of persecuting homosexuals. Curzon had come to feel that all religions were oppressive, especially Catholicism, born-again Protestantism, and Orthodox Judaism. The new organization rejected the attempts of gay religious organizations to seek accommodation with the church.
GALAH teaches that each person must discover the moral basis of life, without reference to what it considers self-appointed religious experts. They also support separation of church and state and oppose attempts by religionists to impress their antigay moral codes on legislation. They also believe that churches should be taxed, that is, treated as businesses. GALAH has assumed an activist role, demonstrating in opposition to antigay legislation.
Not reported. There are monthly meetings in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.
Gay and Lesbian Atheists and Humanists. www.galah.org/
Curzon, David. Something You Do in the Dark. New York: Putnam, 1971.
c/o Bishop Timothy Cravens, 721 Melon Terr., Unit A, Philadelphia, PA 19103
The Independent Catholic Christian Church is a small autonomous Catholic jurisdiction led by its presiding bishop, Most Rev. Timothy Cravens. In 2004, not long after the church’s founding, Cravens accepted the Episcopal oversight of the Augustinians of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, a previously existing religious community. The latter was founded in 1993 by Joseph Augustine Menna and a small group of friends, as an Augustinian Association of the Christian Faithful to pray, minister, and build spiritual friendship together. The new associations sought to live the Rule of Augustine in a more inclusive manner. They were unsuccessful in obtaining a home within the Roman Catholic Church and thus, after some years of seeking, found their way to Bishop Cravens. The parishes led by the Augustinian Association currently constitute the majority of work in the Independent Catholic Christian Church.
The Church is a traditional sacramental Catholic jurisdiction that affirms the authority of the Bible, the sufficiency of the Nicene Creed as a statement of Christian faith, and salvation through Jesus Christ. It administers the seven sacraments—baptism, the Eucharist, confirmation, marriage, anointing of the sick, reconciliation, and ordination. It leadership is vested in a threefold ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons who exist in a lineage of apostolic succession. The church differs from Roman Catholicism primarily in its inclusivist policy of ordaining men and women—as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people—to all levels of the priesthood. It also sanctions the marriage of same-sex couples as sacramentally valid.
Both its Catholic affirmations and its inclusivist policies dictate the church’s ecumenical relations. It has found communion with three churches: the Free Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Rumney Marsh, and the United American Catholic Church.
Nor reported. The Augustinian Association oversees Parishes in Media, Pennsylvania, and Durham, North Carolina.
Independent Catholic Christian Church. www.forministry.com/USPAINDPTICCCI/.
2215-R Market St., PMB 456, San Francisco, CA 94114
The Gay Buddhist Fellowship, like similar groups in other cities, exists to support Buddhist practice in the San Francisco gay community. Membership includes practitioners who identify with all of the various Buddhist traditions, and a broad program is conducted to accommodate a spectrum of needs and desires. Offered on a regular basis are dharma talks, classes, time for sitting meditation, retreats, and a variety of workshops and classes on topics of interest to the gay community, from personal relationships to HIV to social action.
The fellowship was founded in 1990. It is a single center operating out of rented facilities in San Francisco and has analogous structures such as the Lesbian Buddhist Group and the Gay Zen Group, both of which are semiautonomous groups sponsored by the International Buddhist Meditation Center in Los Angeles. Buddhism has expressed no particular animus toward homosexuality like that found in many Christian and Jewish circles, and thus the actual number of explicitly gay and/or lesbian Buddhits groups is relatively small.
Gay Buddhist Fellowship Newsletter.
Gay Buddhist Fellowship. www.gaybuddhist.org/index.html.
Morreale, Don. The Complete Guide to Buddhist America. Boston: Shambhala, 1998.
2483 Gerrard St. E, Scarborough, ON, Canada M1N 1W7
The Hermetic Order of the Silver Sword, founded in 1982 in Toronto by Ian Young and James Perry, is a ceremonial magical order whose rituals are based on those of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The Silver Sword attempts to unify elements of Cabbalistic, Rosicrucian, and pagan traditions into a workable magical system, a modern science of mental power and self-knowledge. The order sees magic as utilizing ceremonial acts and images deeply rooted in the human consciousness. Ritual actions and the manipulation of symbols produce changes in the magician that affect the world.
The order promotes communication among groups attempting to revive and explore Western spiritual and magical traditions and sees itself as working toward the healing of the Earth through enlightenment and friendship. Membership is by invitation.
PO Box 31486, San Francisco, CA 94131-0486
The Inclusive Celtic Church is an independent, sacramental, and inclusive Christian church that has adopted a British Celtic heritage largely defined by a liturgy derived from the Book of Common Prayer, the Iona Abbey Worship Book, and the Celtic primer by Brendan O’Malley. The church draws inspiration from the pre-Roman Christianity of the Celtic peoples but tries to operate out of a contemporary world-view. The church operates as an inclusive community, a keynote being the welcoming of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons into the life and leadership of the church. Priests stand ready to bless unions for gay and lesbian couples.
The church originated with the establishment of the Church of St. Savior in San Francisco in 2002. Following the election of a bishop, the congregation assumed the name New Church–Inclusive Anglican Reform. Over the next three years, members discovered an affinity for contemporary Celtic Christian spirituality. At the same time, the church developed beyond San Francisco. In 2007 the church, now grown into a new denomination, adopted a new name—Inclusive Celtic Episcopal Church. It later dropped the word Episcopal.
Church members have committed themselves to be present where those of other churches will not or have forgotten to go, especially where they can show their support of the LGBT community, victims of crime, indigenous peoples, and the homeless. The membership of the cathedral congregation goes out of its way to welcome the homeless to their services and to offer hospitality. They especially attempt to create safe spaces for those who visit their community.
The church is led by its bishop, Rt. Rev. Rusty Clyma. It has developed a policy of not entering into intercommunion agreements, as these tend to limit inclusivism. Thus, the church posits that all communities and individuals of faith who live out the All Inclusive Love of God are in communion with them.
Inclusive Celtic Church. inclusivecelticchurch.com/default.aspx.
O’Malley, Brendon. Celtic Blessings and Prayers: Making All Things Sacred. New London, CT: Twenty-Third Publications, 1999.
c/o Priory of St. Martin de Porres, 166 Jay St., Albany, NY 12210-1806
The National Catholic Church of America traces its history to 1994 and the founding of the Order of Saint John the Divine, an order religious community that accepted both men and women into a life of prayer and apostolic service in the world. The order was founded by then Fr. Richard G. Roy, and was distinctive in its admitting otherwise qualified candidates to membership and to Holy Orders without reference to their gender, marital status, sexual orientation, race, or any physical disabilities. Roy believed that an inclusive spirituality would be the keynote of the Catholic Christian community in the third millennium.
In 1997 Roy, who had served as abbot of the Order of Saint John the Divine, was consecrated as a bishop. He received several of the lines of apostolic succession available in the independent Catholic world, but primarily acknowledges that from former Brazilian Roman Catholic bishop Carlos Duarte Costa, and the independent Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church. Several months later, on New Year’s Day 1998, he led in the founding of the National Catholic Church of America. Previously, he had been active in the ministry to people with AIDS. In 2008 Roy was residing in Albany, New York, with Br. Stephen K. Peterson, OSJD, his life partner since 1975.
The church follows the faith and practice of the Western Catholic tradition but draws a line between the essential teachings of the faith (as summarized by the seven Ecumenical Councils and the Nicene Creed) and various matters of church discipline and its historic development and application. The church affirms the equal role of women in the life of the church and will ordain otherwise qualified females to the priesthood. It also celebrates “the love which can exist between persons of the same gender and advocate[s] justice and equality before the law for those who are gay or lesbian.”
In 2008 the church listed three parishes, two in New York and one in Colorado.
National Catholic Church of America. members.aol.com/NatCathCh/.
Box 1528, San Francisco, CA 94101
The Rev. Ray Broshears (d. 1982), founder of the Orthodox Episcopal Church of God, was one of the most controversial of all gay ministers of the 1970s. Headquartered in that section of San Francisco popularly called the Tenderloin, the residence of the largest gay community in the United States, Broshears became a national figure through his radical activism on behalf of civil rights for gay people. He opened and operated the Helping Hands Gay Community Service Center for political action on behalf of pro-gay politicians and to facilitate legal counseling and assistance, drug rehabilitation, and gay-oriented activities. He ran for Congress, unsuccessfully, on several occasions. Possibly his most controversial activity was starting the Lavender Panthers, a group he formed to prevent youth gangs from invading the Tenderloin and beating up gay people. The members were trained in judo and karate.
Broshears was reared in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church but became a Pentecostal at an early age. He attended school at the White Wing College (of the Church of God of Prophecy) at Cleveland, Tennessee. He left the Pentecostal movement and in 1966 founded the Orthodox Episcopal Church of God. It was not until 1969 that he and the church began to be involved in the gay community.
The Orthodox Episcopal Church, now apparently defunct, was eclectic, combining elements of traditional Catholicism with liberation theology and psychic/New Age thinking. Its program was mainly expressed in social activism. Congregations were centered in the gay communities of California (Los Angeles and San Jose) and El Paso, Texas. Broshears edited several Gay Alliance periodicals, including Gay Pride Quarterly and the Gay Crusader.
The Light of Understanding.
Current address not obtained for this edition.
Pride Church International emerged in 2001 from the remnants of the American Orthodox Catholic and Apostolic Church, Holy Synod of the Americas, formerly the Diocese of Florida of the American Catholic Church. After becoming independent, the Synod had adopted an Eastern Orthodox theology and liturgy, but retained the American Catholic Church’s inclusive stance toward women and gays and lesbians, who were welcomed into all areas of church life and leadership. However, on December 31, 2000, Met. Abp. Vladimir Sergius II (b. 1946), the Synod’s primate, resigned and dissolved the corporation, and in 2001 he reorganized his own ministry as the Pride Church International, with a primary relationship to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered (GLBT) community. Bp. John Columba continued the former Holy Synod as the Orthodox Christian Fellowship of Mercy.
The church is Orthodox in faith and practice. It uses the Divine Liturgy of Bishop Serapion, a mid-fourth-century Egyptian liturgy, as the standard liturgy of the new church, though the primate made some alterations to adapt it to Orthodox demands. It added “holy union”of gay and lesbian couples to its list of seven sacraments beside marriage of heterosexual couples. A list of GLBT “saints” was added to the church calendar for annual commemoration. As the only national Eastern Orthodox church openly identified with the GBLT community, the church has grown rapidly as GBLT people with Orthodox backgrounds discover its existence. The church actively recruits Orthodox clergy. In 2002 there were four bishops assisting the primate.
Holy Wisdom Seminary.
Pride Church International has cordial relations with the Russian Orthodox Church in America (not to be confused with either of the large Russian Orthodox jurisdictions, the Orthodox Church in America or the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia).
Pride Church International. http://pridechurch.faithweb.com
c/o St. Sebastian Catholic Church, PO Box 2, Worthington, OH 43085
The Reformed Catholic Church was founded in 2000 by Robert J. Allman. In 1995, Allman had led in the founding of the American Catholic Church, which continues through several splinters groups. Like the American Catholic Church, the Reformed Catholic Church was established as a church that continues the beliefs and practices (especially the liturgical tradition) of Roman Catholicism but has opened its doors to those who have had difficulties in participating fully in the Roman Catholic Church. Most importantly, the Reformed Catholic Church is welcoming to women, the divorced, and those who self-identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Women and gay people are accepted into the ordained ministry as every level.
In 2005 Archbishop Allman resigned as the presiding bishop of the Reformed Catholic Church and leadership fell to Philip Zimmerman, whom Allman had consecrated to the episcopacy a year earlier. Under Zimmerman’s leadership, the church has prospered. In 2006 Zimmerman consecrated four additional bishops: Patrick Batuyong, David Frazee, Joshua Alekzandor, and G. Peter Posthumus. Most Rev. Mother Raelynn Scoot, the first female bishop, was consecrated in 2007. The church is currently divided into seven dioceses that cover the United States (including Hawaii and Alaska). In addition, there are several ordered communities representative of the Jesuit, Franciscan, Benedictine, and Dominican traditions. The church has appointed nuncios to Ireland, Australia, Africa, and South and Central America.
The church has developed a radio program, Reformed Catholic Church Radio, which is delivered by podcast.
Not reported. In 2008, there were 39 parishes, missions, and monastic centers in the United States and two in Ontario, Canada.
The Pax Press Newspaper.
Reformed Catholic Church. www.reformedcatholicchurch.org/.
1757 North D St., San Bernardino, CA 92405-4015
The Sarum Episcopal Church was founded in 1989 in Riverside, California, by two priests ordained as independent Old Catholics. The church exists to provide a sacramental ministry to gay men and lesbians. The first parish, St. Aelred’s, originated in a private home but soon moved to its present facilities in San Bernardino, California. There the church operates a coffee house (no alcoholic beverages served) and houses a number of services for the gay community in the area, and has a special ministry for people with AIDS.
The church took its name from Sarum, the old name of Salisbury, a city in England that was an important center of English Catholicism before the Reformation of the sixteenth century. The liturgy used throughout England, the “Sarum Rite,”took its name from this city.
The church is headed collectively by its priests because the jurisdiction has not yet designated a bishop. The church annually hosts a conference of independent Catholic bishops, priests, and laity for a day of discussions and worship.
In 2008 there was a single independent parish of about 100 members.
St.Aelred’s Chapel of the Sarum Episcopal Church (Old Catholic). www.geocities.com/staelreds/page1html.
Breton, J. E. Paul. Papers Presented at the First Annual Gathering of Independent Catholic Christians, September 15, 1990. San Bernadino, CA: Sarum Episcopal Church, 1991.
Daily and Sunday Eucharist from the Book of Common Prayer of the Sarum Episcopal Church. San Bernadino, CA: Sarum Episcopal Church, 1990.
PO Box 1164, Stn. H, Montreal, QC, Canada H3G 2N1
Priapus was a Greek god of Dionysus and Aphrodite, guardian deity of gardens, vineyards, and herbs. He personified male procreative power. Worship of Priapus spread to Greece in the fourth century b.c.e., during the time of Alexander. Groups devoted to his worship, and similar groups in other cultures also involved in erotic worship practices—often in the nudeand including ritual intercourse—survived throughout Europe, never having been completely suppressed.
Priapus worship reemerged in North America in the 1970s due to the efforts of a Reverend Jackson who had been ordained during a visit to Italy and subsequently, in 1973, incorporated the church in California. The year before, a dentist in Calgary, Alberta, had incorporated the church in Canada. He remains as a high priest.
The affairs of the Temple of Priapus (also known as the Church of St. Priapus) are administered by a governing council that meets every four years. In 1984 D. Francis Cassidy was elected the new pontifex, a position he has held since. Membership in the temple consists primarily of gay and bisexual men, though some temples have heterosexual gatherings. A greater variation of members can be found in temples in Europe, some of which (such as those in Switzerland) include families. There are four levels of membership in the temple.
Members acknowledge the power and beauty of the phallus and see it as their path to truth and wisdom; a source of joy and pleasure whose power can destroy evil. Sex is a vital part of the services, which may also involve sex magick and other forms of magick (candle, ceremonial, and so on). Semen is regarded with reverence and is considered a sacrament of the Most Holy Seed. High priests are ordained following the rites of Mary Magdalen in the west and similar rites in the east.
The church has formed an alliance with the American Gnostic Church.
Not reported. In 1997 there were six temples in Canada and 11 in the United States.
Temple of Priapus. www.templepriapus.org.
c/o Bp. John Reeves, 1603 Old Creal Springs Rd., Marion, IL 62959
The United Independent Catholic Church is a small Old Catholic jurisdiction founded in 2002 by Bp. John Reeves, formerly of the Catholic Church of the Americas, and bishop of the Diocese of St. Petersburg (Florida), and other bishops, all with an independent Catholic background. The church follows the Old Catholics in belief and practice. It does not recognize the administrative authority of the pope but recognizes the authority of the Bible, and administers the seven traditional sacraments.
The church differs primarily in its emphasis on the belief that God created all humans equal and that believers are called upon to love all without judgment. From this idea it has structured itself to welcome women to all levels of church leadership and has created a community that accepts all who believe in Jesus’call to love one another without regard to race, sexual orientation, economic status, or nationality.
The church is headed by its three bishops who head the three dioceses—the Diocese of St. Peter, the Diocese of St. Raphael, and the Diocese of St. Nicholas.
Not reported. In 2008 the church had fewer than 10 small communities that gathered weekly for worship.
United Independent Catholic Church. uicchurch.homestead.com/index.html.
Current address not obtained for this edition.
The United Order of the Family of Christ was founded in 1966 by David-Edward Desmond of Denver, Colorado, as a Mormon-inspired communal group whose membership was entirely gay men. All of the members had been raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known for its strong stand against homosexual practice. The Order accepted the basic beliefs and practices of the Latter-day Saints, but rejects its leadership and their stance on self-affirming the gay life.
The Order was organized as a commune in which all the members’assets were held in common in a savings and checking account. At the time of its founding, membership consisted of young men between the ages of 18 and 30. Officers, called keys, led the group. One of their number is designated the first key, a position initially held by Desmond. The keys obtain guidance by holding council with the Heavenly Father and attempt to direct the group, thought of as a family, in such a way that it will bring union and peace among the members and with the Father.
Desmond has had a prophetic role within the group. It is believed that he has a special communion with God the Father, and members report seeing a golden halo around his head as he teaches.
Shields, Steven L. Divergent Paths of the Restoration. Los Angeles: Restoration Press, 1990.
8704 Santa Monica Blvd., 2nd Fl., Los Angeles, CA 90069
MCC of Toronto, 115 Simpson Ave., Toronto, ON M4K 1A1, Canada.
The largest of the several churches serving the homosexual community is the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, founded in 1968 in Los Angeles by Pentecostal minister Troy Perry. In his popular autobiography The Lord Is My Shepherd and He Knows I’m Gay (1978) Perry recounts the story of his early religious and sexual awakenings. After discovering that he was homosexual, he repressed his desires and became a relatively happy married father and the pastor of a Church of God of Prophecy congregation in Santa Ana, California. Certain events, however, led to the revelation of his homosexual life, and he left the ministry. He then began the Metropolitan Community Church with a few friends and an ad placed in The Advocate, a popular gay periodical.
Perry carried his Pentecostalism into the Metropolitan Community Church. But as the church grew, primarily by the addition of other ministers who acknowledged their homosexual orientations and subsequently joined the church, a wide variety of worship and belief emerged. The church developed a theology of love in which the central affirmation is God’s acceptance of all people, including homosexuals. The church’s theology treats the Apostle Paul’s statements about homosexuality in the Bible as cultural accretions much as his statements against women speaking in church. In line with this theology, Perry has blessed the union of gay couples living in “married”relationships.
Growth has continued in spite of continued resistance to gay concerns in the general population, the burning of several congregational buildings (four in 1973 alone), and the deaths of several members. It is headed by a seven-person Board of Elders elected by the General Conference, which meets annually. In 1973 the first woman, Freda Smith, was elected to the board. In 1984 a majority of the board members were women.
In 1985, as the AIDS crisis was beginning, the Metropolitan Community Churches began a programmed response that included a major education program, and attempted to focus the attention of the larger religious community on the problem of AIDS. In 1987 they began a new newsletter, Alert, aimed at keeping the church informed of the ongoing crises and providing resources for those affected.
The church is organized into 17 regions/districts, 8 of which are located outside the United States and oversee churches in Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain, Denmark, Canada, Mexico, and the Philippines.
In 2008 there were 185 congregations in the United States, 6 in Canada, and and additional number scattered around the world.
Samaritan College, Los Angeles, California.
Journey. • Alert.
Metropolitan Community Churches. www.mccchurch.org/.
Burns, Stephanie. The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC): History and Governance. Washington, DC: Wesley Theological Seminary, 2000.
Enroth, Ronald M., and Gerald E. Jamison. The Gay Church. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1974.
Perry, Troy D. The Lord Is My Shepherd and He Knows I’m Gay. New York: Bantam Books, 1978.
Perry, Troy, and Thomas L. P. Swicegood. Don’t Be Afraid Anymore: The Story of Reverend Troy Perry and the Metropolitan Community Churches. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992.