Canon Ogle on the move; ‘lot of work to do’ on LGBTI rights

The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle
The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle

The St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports local LGBTI rights groups in many countries with anti-gay laws, is preparing to open a new office on the East Coast of the United States.

The move will occur as the foundation’s president and founder, the Rev. Canon Albert Ogle, leaves California after 32 years of ministry there.

Ogle is relocating to a parish near the power centers of New York City and Washington, D.C.  He will become the 31st vicar for the Episcopal congregation of St. Peter’s, Lithgow, about 85 miles north of New York City. That half-time position will allow him to return to a parish ministry of preaching and pastoral care while continuing his work as an international human rights advocate.

Ogle said, “There is something profoundly grounding when you share in the liturgical seasons with a congregation and I have missed that since leaving St. George’s [in Laguna Hills, Calif.] eight years ago.”

The work of the foundation will continue on both coasts, he said:

“I leave the St. Paul’s Foundation’s local Chapter [in San Diego, Calif.] in the capable hands of Lindy Miles, Susan Guinn, David Reicks and Gary Voice,  who all serve on our Board, and Jim and Mary Keely as coordinators with the cathedral community.

“This is not an end, merely a deepening of our spiritual roots so the work of the people of God can be more effective. The effects of rabid religious fundamentalism are not going to disappear anytime soon. We have a lot of work to do.”

Sanctuary and stained glass windows at St. Peter's, Lithgow.
Sanctuary and stained glass windows at St. Peter’s, Lithgow.

Ogle was ordained in the Anglican Church of Ireland in 1977 and, after a short time in London, moved to California in 1982. He was named an Honorary Canon in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles in 2002 and, a decade later, a Canon of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in San Diego.

Ogle also worked in many non-profit organizations on issues such as homelessness, LGBT rights, family poverty  and AIDS.  In the early 1980s, he worked in the economically disadvantaged communities of Watts, South Central Los Angeles and Northwest Pasadena, as well as with street children in Hollywood.

As one of three openly gay clergy at that time in the Episcopal Church, he worked at the Los Angeles LGBT Center as youth director and acting executive director, established the first state-sponsored youth home for LGBT youth, and negotiated the first HIV testing program in the state that offered both health and mental health services.

The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle poses in Uganda with the executive committee of the Good Samaritan Consortium, which works with the St. Paul's Foundation to remove obstacles to health care for LGBTI people there.
The Rev. Canon Albert Ogle poses in Uganda with the executive committee of the Good Samaritan Consortium, which works with the St. Paul’s Foundation to remove obstacles to health care for LGBTI people there.

Ogle designed the first comprehensive HIV plan for Los Angeles in 1986 and a statewide plan that helped to double the state’s budget for HIV prevention and care in 1987. This model was used in All Saint’s Pasadena to create the AIDS Service Center, for which he became the first executive director.

From 1992 to 1997, on a half-time basis, he assisted the Anglican Church of Uganda with disease prevention strategies and funding and introduced morphine to Uganda for the first time as a legal drug in 1996 as a result of a grant from the Elizabeth Taylor Foundation.

In 2008, he received an M. Phil. degree in International Peace Studies at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, with a thesis titled “Returning to Places of Wounded Memory: The Role of World Heritage in Reconciliation.” He then returned to California to work on the Proposition 8 (marriage equality) campaign through the work of the California Council of Churches and Equality California. At the same time, he served as a consultant for UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites program. His interest in the historic sites of St. Paul as the basis for international reconciliation led to the establishment of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation in 2010, based at the cathedral in San Diego.

In its first four years, the Foundation sought to build dialogue between the LGBT community and religious leaders who were often leading political campaigns in many of the approximately 80 countries where LGBT people were criminalized. Ogle said he was moved by the motivation of Ugandan Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, who called St. Paul “his mentor” because of Paul’s inclusive and universal values of reconciliation. The Foundation provided support and technical assistance to the bishop for three years.

St. Peter's, Lithgow, N.Y.
St. Peter’s, Lithgow, N.Y.

The Foundation was the first organization to encourage the World Bank to begin to look at international LGBT issues as a poverty issue. Based on  his work in Cameroon, Jamaica and Uganda, the U.S. State Department appointed him to serve on an Advisory Body looking at religion and LGBT issues. He has received many recognitions from state and local bodies and received Equality California’s Pride in Action Award in 2012 and KPBS’s Local Hero Award this year.

Ogle will preach his final sermon at St. Paul’s Cathedral in San Diego on Sunday, Nov. 16. A more informal celebration of his ministry will be held at Heat Bar and Grill in North Park, San Diego, from 6 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 7. Ugandan ally Maxensia Nakibuuka will be present at the celebration before returning to Uganda the next day. Gifts can be made to support the Foundation’s work in Cameroon, Jamaica and Uganda.

For more information, read the press release announcing Ogle’s move.


Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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