Is the Episcopal Church really LGBT-friendly?

The Rev. Winnie Varghese (Photo by Colin Stewart)

How LGBT-friendly is the Episcopal Church?  That question was briefly raised during the Intimate Conviction conference in Jamaica in October 2017.

The Rev. Winnie Varghese (Photo by Colin Stewart)
The Rev. Winnie Varghese (Photo by Colin Stewart)

In many ways, the Episcopal Church in the United States has been at the front lines of the battle for acceptance of LGBT people within the international 80+-million-member Anglican Communion of churches descended from the Church of England.

The installation of an openly gay Episcopal bishop in 2003 created a deep rift in the Communion. The approval of same-sex marriages in 2015 led to exclusion of the Episcopal Church from some Anglican Communion functions.

But the Episcopal Church is not unified in its acceptance of LGBT Christians, including openly LGBT clergy, says the Rev. Winnie Varghese, director of justice and reconciliation at Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York:

“We’re still struggling in the Episcopal Church. We’re creating ghettos — where it is safe, where it is not.”

— the Rev. Winnie Varghese

One of a series of glimpses of the Intimate Conviction conference, October 2017, Jamaica.

A video of the morning of Day 1 of the conference is available. Varghese’s remarks start at approximately 2:05:30. Also available: the schedule of speakers at the conference and videos of the afternoon of Day 1 and all of Day 2 of the conference.

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About 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, and editor / publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at

View all posts by Colin Stewart →

2 Comments on “Is the Episcopal Church really LGBT-friendly?”

  1. As a a life-long gay Episcopalian I think that the comments of Winnie Varghese need to be put into context. Yes, there are issues, but we have come so far in the 40 years that I have been in the trenches on this. The US Episcopal Church functions within the larger society where sadly yes, LGBT rights are ghettoized, but it has been a leader in pushing our right forward and out into the open. Of course we still have members who lack acceptance of LGBT people; we are not a single focus denomination like the MCC. Sad that you choose to focus on one sound bite to address what has been happening. It would be helpful if you would publish the full texts of the talks that were given and not the snippets that we have given.

    1. Dear Eric,

      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, I lacked both time and talent to publish full transcripts. I’ll at least try to track down links to videos of the panels and speeches.

      I’ve added these to the article:

      • A link to the video of the morning of Day 1 of the conference, with a note about where to find Winnie Varghese’s full remarks.
      • A link to the full schedule of speakers at the conference.
      • Links to the videos of the afternoon of Day 1 and all of Day 2 of the conference.

      Colin Stewart, editor/publisher of this blog.

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