LGBT advocates celebrate feast of St. Aelred

Bishop Ian T. Douglas commissions the new board of Integrity Connecticut/Rebecca Newman - Creedible.comHARTFORD – St. Aelred of Rievaulx knew a thing or two about relationships. Intimate affection and holy love, he wrote, are the keys to sacred friendship.

“A man who can shed tears with you in your worries, be happy with you when things go well, search out with you the answers to your problems, whom with the ties of charity you can lead into the depths of your heart; . . . where the sweetness of the spirit flows between you, where you so join yourself and cleave to him that soul mingles with soul and two become one,” he once wrote.

His words have lead many scholars to believe the monk, who was born in 1110, was gay, which is why Integrity USA adopted him as their patron saint in the 1980s.

On Saturday, Connecticut’s Integrity chapter acknowledged him at Trinity Episcopal Church as the organization commissioned a new board. Dr. Louie Crew, founder of Integrity, served as the guest preacher.

Integrity is an organization that promotes inclusive love to the Episcopal Church and the LGBT community.

“Aelred promoted special friendship because through them we can experience and manifest God’s love,” Crew said.

Crew and his husband, Ernest Clay, of New Jersey, will celebrate their 37th anniversary in February and Crew said that with Aelred’s words ringing in his ears, he’s come to view his husband as his closest friend.

Larry Besel, who was commissioned as the new conveyor of Integrity Connecticut, said having Crew in Hartford was a “part of history” and is optimistic as Integrity enters a new year.

“This year we’re looking at what we can do to help the church understand the importance of treating us just as they treat everybody else,” he said, adding that he’s pleased at how far the church has come in recent years.

Bishop Ian T. Douglas, bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, who presided over the celebration, said the witness of Integrity is important and meaningful.

“I believe in self-organizing units that help the church live more faithfully to God’s mission, and Integrity is a great example of that and I want to support that,” he said.

Integrity, which has two chapters in Connecticut (one in Hartford, one now in Danbury), is currently planning events for 2011. For information, visit www.integrityconnecticut.com.

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