Episcopal Bishop of Alaska endorses Prop 5, Anchorage Equal Rights Initiative
by Mel Green[caption id="attachment_7287" align="alignleft" width="292" caption="Rt. Rev. Mark Lattime, VIII Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Alaska"][/caption]
The Right Rev. Mark Lattime, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Alaska, is endorsing Proposition 5, the Anchorage Equal Rights Initiative, which will appear on the April 3 Anchorage municipal ballot.
With 50 Episcopal congregations from tiny subsistence villages to major metropolitan centers, the Diocese of Alaska encompasses the entire state of Alaska. Lattime was elected the eighth bishop of the diocese on April 10, 2010 at an electing conference at Meier Lake Conference Center in Wasilla. He succeeded Bishop Mark MacDonald, who had left the diocese in 2007 to become the first indigenous bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada. The Rt. Rev. Rustin Kimsey had served for three years as Alaska’s interim bishop. Prior to becoming Bishop, Lattime was rector of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Geneseo in the Diocese of Rochester (New York), beginning that service in 2000. Before that, he was college chaplain at Canterbury Fellowship and associate rector at the R.E. Lee. Memorial Church in Lexington, Diocese of Southwest Virginia.
His consecration and ordination were held September 4, 2010 at the First United Methodist Church in Anchorage, after having first been scheduled to be held at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. There was speculation at the time that the change of venue came because of disapproval from some Catholics over Lattime’s commitment to LGBT ministry. While at Rochester, Lattime had been a member of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester’s Committee for Gay and Lesbian Ministry — the only fact about him, other than that he is married with three children, to have been included in one Catholic news site’s item about his election to the office of bishop.
Bishop Lattime affirmed his commitment to LGBT equality in a letter yesterday to Rev. Michael Burke, rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and convenor of Christians for Equality, an interdenominational organization of faith leaders who support One Anchorage and advocate passage of Proposition 5. Christians for Equality is holding a service of prayer and action for equality tomorrow evening at 7:00 PM at St. Mary’s.
In his letter, Bishop Lattime wrote:[caption id="attachment_7289" align="alignright" width="221" caption="Letter to Rev. Michael Burke from Rt. Rev. Michael Lattime, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Alaska. Click through to read the entire letter."][/caption]
We who claim the life of Jesus, claim a life of striving for the new identity of a world restored by Grace through the resurrected life of Christ our Lord.
It is in the spirit of striving for this baptismal identity in Christ that I extend my endorsement and prayers to you, and those who stand with you, in your ministry of seeking support for the Anchorage Equal Rights Initiative. The Baptismal Covenant, as expressed in our Prayerbook, calls us to strive for justice and peace and to respect the dignity of every human being. Working and praying for the just and proper protection under the law of all human beings is certainly a faithful expression of the higher calling of the Baptismal Covenant.
The Episcopal Church, through the actions of General Convention, has a long history of standing with those who society has pushed to the margins and with those who are most vulnerable to discrimination. I give thanks for the Episcopal Church’s witness to non-discrimination and give thanks for the faithful response of those who are working for the inclusion of those for whom the protections of current non-discrimination laws do not apply — especially gays, lesbians and those of transgender identity.
The Episcopal Church is one of four mainline Christian denominations — the others being the United Church of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Presbyterian Church (USA) — which have opened opportunities for full membership, leadership, and service to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. The Episcopal Church’s 2009 General Convention affirmed that “gays and lesbians (that are) in lifelong committed relationships,” may be ordained, saying that “God has called and may call such individuals to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church.” Last June 2, Bishop Lattime ordained Sara Gavit to the Sacred Order of Deacons at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. Rev. Gavit is also a member of Christians for Equality; Bent Alaska published her statement in support of the equal rights initiative last December.[caption id="attachment_7288" align="alignright" width="620" caption="Bishop Lattime celebrates the ordination of Rev. Sara Gavit as deacon with Rev. Gavit and her family. St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Anchorage, AK, 2 Jun 2011."][/caption]
One Anchorage issued this press release announcing Bishop Lattime’s endorsement of One Anchorage earlier this morning.
Katie Marquette, (907) 378-4330
Bishop Mark Lattime, (907) 452-3040
Episcopal Bishop of Alaska Endorses One Anchorage Initiative
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Rt. Rev. Mark Lattime, VIII Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Alaska, officially endorsed the One Anchorage Initiative, Yes on Proposition 5, which would provide the same legal protections to gay and transgender Alaskans that are already extended to other residents living and working in Anchorage.
Bishop Lattime, who represents over 50 Episcopal congregations across the state, joins over 45 other Alaskan religious leaders who support Proposition 5 and believe all Alaskans deserve to be treated fairly and equally by Anchorage’s laws, whether they are gay or straight, black, white or Asian, Christian, Jewish or Muslim.
In a letter to Rev. Michael Burke of the local group Christians for Equality, Bishop Lattime said, “The Baptismal Covenant, as expressed in our Prayerbook, calls us to strive for justice and peace and to respect the dignity of every human being. Working and praying for the just and proper protection under the law of all human beings is certainly a faithful expression of the higher calling of the Baptismal Covenant.”
If passed on April 3rd, Proposition 5 would include sexual orientation and transgender identity in the current Anchorage Equal Rights Code in order to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, and financial transactions.
The Episcopal Church, which has a long history of standing with those who are most vulnerable to discrimination, first declared gay men and women were entitled to full civil rights in 1976.
Lattime’s letter continued saying, “I give thanks for the Episcopal Church’s witness to non-discrimination and give thanks for the faithful response of those who are working for the inclusion of those for whom the protections of current non-discrimination laws do not apply — especially gays, lesbians and those of transgender identity.
Bishop Lattime’s endorsement comes a day before Christians for Equality will hold their Prayer for Equality service; a program that will bring together multiple religious congregations to discuss their support for including gay and transgender friends, neighbors, family and community members in the legal protections provided to others in Anchorage. The event will be held Friday, March 2nd at 7:00 pm at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.