Thursday, November 28, 2019

Claiming the Blessing Celebrates Louie Crew Clay

It's hard to know where to even start to celebrate the life of the inimitable Louie Crew Clay. Teacher, preacher, poet, mentor, friend, husband, son and prophet, Louie was quite literally an icon of the integrity he named the LGBTQ advocacy group he founded in 1974. He died peacefully on Thanksgiving Eve with Ernest -- his husband of nearly 45 years -- at his side and with a great cloud of witnesses surrounding him with prayers, love and light.

This montage is but the tip of the iceberg of photos representing untold hours, months and years of his life at work in the fields of the Lord -- striving for love, justice and compassion for the human family in general and for God's LGBTQ beloved in particular.

There will be many more stories to tell, many more tears to be shed and much more to be learned from the legacy of this extraordinary leader as we celebrate his life and mourn his passing from this realm to the next.

In this moment, Claiming the Blessing (CTB) simply joins with all of those throughout the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion -- and indeed the wider human family -- in marking the loss of this giant of justice. We give thanks for his commitment to the mantra "Joy Anyway" which inspired and invigorated the struggle for the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the work and witness of the Episcopal Church and beyond. And we pray for the strength, courage and wisdom to continue the work yet to be done to make that vision a reality.

A founding member of Claiming the Blessing, Louie was a seminal force in pulling together both individuals and organizations from around the church to form our collaborative ministry committed to "promoting wholeness in human relationships, abolishing prejudice and oppression, and healing the rift between sexuality and spirituality in the Church."

While that work is far from done, it is inarguable that Louie's inspiration, leadership and mentorship was a primary force in moving the Episcopal Church closer to that goal. We simply would not be where we are today without his vision, his courage and his grace-filled tenacity.

In 2015, CTB convener Susan Russell collaborated with Integrity USA to produce this video tribute to Louie's work and witness. Edited by Vic Vinson, it debuted at the Integrity Eucharist in Salt Lake City where Louie received the House of Deputies medal from President Gay Clark Jennings. We commend it to you.

Rest in peace and power, dear one. There is so much more love in the world because of you. May we be given the grace to be wise stewards of your legacy and ... as you would want it ... find "Joy Anyway" as we move forward into God's future.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Bishop Tom Ely Recognized with Voices of Witness Award

As Tom Ely concludes his tenure as the 10th Bishop of Vermont, Claiming the Blessing gives thanks for his work, witness and leadership.

During the eighteen years of his episcopate, Bishop Ely has been a valiant champion of the Gospel values of love, justice and compassion in general and of LGBTQ inclusion in specific. He has stood with us – in good times and in bad – as we have worked together to live into the dream of a church where there will be no outcasts and where all who come seeking God’s love are fully included in the Beloved Community.

Tom Ely was a stalwart champion of civil unions and then marriage equality in the civic arena in Vermont. In 2003 he stood with Bishop Gene Robinson during his election and consent process, was a supporter of our Inclusive Communion witness at the 2008 Lambeth Conference and was a leader in the Chicago Consultation ... supporting the full inclusion of LGBTQ Christians in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion. He served as a member of the Blessings Project Task Force from 2009-2012, the Marriage Task Force from 2012-2018 and is currently serving as a member of the Communion Across Difference Task Force.

"When the story of the movement for the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the Episcopal Church is written, Bishop Tom Ely will inarguably be one of its heroes," said Susan Russell, convener of the Claiming the Blessing Steering Committee. "It is impossible to overstate the impact of the gifts he brought to this struggle as a keen strategic thinker, a doggedly committed ally and a deeply compassionate pastor."

With gratitude for his vision, compassion and persistence Claiming the Blessing recognizes his years of prophetic ministry with the inaugural "Voice of Witness" Award — given in recognition of decades of tireless work proclaiming the Good News of God’s inclusive love.

A guiding text for the work of Claiming the Blessing since its establishment in 2002 has been Genesis 12:2 ... "I will bless you so that you will be a blessing." Bishop Tom Ely has been a blessing not only to LGBTQ Episcopalians but to the whole church. We are closer to being a church where the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments is not just a goal to which we aspire but a reality we live because of his ministry -- and Claiming the Blessing is honored to celebrate Bishop Ely and his legacy today with this award.

To add your thanks, memories or photos to our tribute to Bishop Ely, join the Bishop Tom Ely: Voice of Witness Facebook group.