GALAS seeks to be a visible and welcoming presence of the unconditional love of Jesus Christ for all people, especially the LGBT community of All Saints’.
History of GALAS
Shortly after beginning service as Rector of All Saints’ in 1998, Geoffrey Hoare invited all gay and lesbian parishioners to a lunch in Ellis Hall. After listening to and discussing the desires of those present to be included fully in the life of the whole church as well as the desire to help gay and lesbian newcomers to become a full part of the parish, the Gay People of All Saints’ (GPAS) came into being. A steering committee led the group with the understanding that it was not designed to become a ‘primary community’ within the parish. Instead it was to be a portal and safe place for gay and lesbian newcomers. The name of the group was soon changed to Gays and Lesbians of All Saints’ (GALAS).
Over time the group has fulfilled its mission by offering some regular gatherings, often with a speaker, mission and service projects including a Christmas Dinner with the men of Covenant Community* and collecting clothes for Threads.*
A recent revision of the group’s statement of purpose explicitly acknowledged the reality of transgendered and bisexual people among us and remained committed to being a gathering place for LGBT parishioners finding their way into the larger community; and a resource for the parish and the wider church as we move towards recognizing officially the full humanity of LGBT people in the life and ministry of The Episcopal Church.
Frequently Asked Questions
Click each question to read the answers.
The vestry (elected governing board) of All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Atlanta, Georgia, at a meeting on March 15, 2004, passed the following resolution:
Resolved: The 2003-04 vestry of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Atlanta affirms our belief that monogamous, committed homosexual relationships can be wholesome, moral, and good;
And further Resolved: That we find it pastorally and practically desirable that our gay and lesbian parishioners who are in partnerships and who wish to make such a commitment be able to do so in a liturgical celebration in the midst of this community of faith;
And further Resolved: That we continue to acknowledge and celebrate the commitment of man and woman in the traditional institution of marriage, pledging continued and loving support, recognition, and thanksgiving for all families of our parish.
The stated commitment of the vestry is to participate in the wider conversation by which the offering of same sex unions can, in some form, be ‘regularized’ in the life of the church. At this point we are in a diocese where some recognition of the commitments of gay and lesbian members by our parish may be offered as a pastoral response to members of the body of Christ. There is no authorization for blessing gay or lesbian unions or for offering marriage as an option. At this point the clergy may on an individual basis develop a ‘celebration of commitment’ of members of the parish known to them to be active and engaged in the life of this community of faith.
There is NO canon law in the Episcopal Church that prohibits the blessing of same gender relationships.
A number of dioceses have been blessing same gender relationships for over 25 years.
The church governing body – the General Convention – has not officially approved the blessing of same gender relationships, but did urge “generous pastoral response” in responding to the needs of LGBT couples.
The General Convention HAS recognized the existence of relationships other than that of heterosexual marriage – including same gender relationships AND acknowledged that they are part of our life together as a church.
The General Convention has authorized the study of liturgies for blessing same gender relationships.
No one shall be denied access to the ordination process based on race, gender, disability or sexual orientation.
Each diocese decides who will be ordained; the Bishop and the Standing Committee decide.
Many dioceses have been ordaining lesbians and gays for decades.
There is NO canon law in the Episcopal Church that prohibits the ordination of lesbians and gays.
There are presently at least 10 openly gay or lesbian priests serving churches in the Diocese of Atlanta, 3 in charge of congregations.
In the Episcopal Church in the USA there are dozens of openly lesbian and gay deacons and priests and two openly gay bishops including the Bishop of New Hampshire, The Rt. Rev’d Gene Robinson.
The Episcopal Church, through its General Convention, has
- Urged Congress to include sexual orientation as a category protected by federal hate crimes legislation.
- Supported hate crime legislation at the local, state and national levels.
- Created a formal process for congregations to identify themselves as “safe spaces” for lesbians and gays.
- Extended health coverage to domestic partners of church employees.
- Strongly encouraged parishes hosting Boy Scout troops to open dialogue with the Scouts regarding discrimination based on sexual orientation.
- Affirmed support of gay and lesbian persons and opposed any state or federal constitutional amendment that prohibits same-sex civil marriages or civil unions.
- Declared efforts to criminalize homosexual behavior to be incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
For More Information
Clergy Contact: The Rev’d Elizabeth Shows Caffey, 404.267.4278.
Integrity Atlanta Meetings
Integrity Atlanta meetings are held in the library of All Saints’. Meetings usually occur on the third Friday of January, April, July and October of each year. The meetings begin at 7 p.m. and begin with a short social time followed by a celebration of the Eucharist. After that, a potluck dinner is shared and there is either a program or a topic of discussion during the meal. All are welcome and the contribution to the potluck doesn’t have to be homemade!
A shared history: All Saints’ and Integrity Atlanta
The Atlanta Chapter of Integrity USA was certified as a chapter in 1979. (Integrity USA was founded in 1974 in the Diocese of Atlanta in Ft. Valley, Georgia.) The Atlanta chapter began meeting at All Saints’ during a period of transition between rectors. The chapter approached the vestry for permission to meet on the All Saints’ Campus. Approval was granted and so began the relationship between Integrity Atlanta and All Saints’ Church. The chapter met briefly at two other parishes, but returned to All Saints’ where it has met for most of its 30 years.
Integrity’s mission has always centered around being the witness of The Episcopal Church to the LGBT community and the witness of the LGBT community to the Episcopal Church. The current focus of Integrity USA and its chapters is “honoring the ministry of all the baptized.” Over the years, Integrity Atlanta has served as an entry or re-entry point for LGBT folks to a faith community. In years past, the overt and covert hostility to LGBT people by organized religion, including some Episcopal parishes, also meant that Integrity Atlanta provided safe space for LGBT folks to worship and share their stories. Despite the presence of a number of very welcoming parishes in the Diocese of Atlanta, Integrity’s role still includes this aspect of ministry. There are parishes in the diocese where LGBT people do not feel safe or comfortable being open about their sexual orientation (i.e., being “out").
Membership in Integrity is open to all regardless of sexual orientation. To be added to Integrity Atlanta’s email list, please send an email to Integrity Atlanta’s Yahoo Groups List. For further information about Integrity USA, please visit www.integrityusa.org. Several membership categories are shown on the website. New members are always welcome!