Controversy about the Episcopal Washington National Cathedral’s stained glass windows caused a stir last year when the previous cathedral dean called for removal of windows marking the lives of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. But a small Episcopal congregation in North Dakota is making news this week with their own new LGBT window dedicated to the gay community.
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Fargo dedicated a new window on Sunday featuring a rainbow and words from the denomination’s 1979 revision of the Book of Common Prayer: “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being?”
Dubbed “Integrity Window” the installation also commemorates English writer St. Aelred of Rievaulx. Aelred authored the treatise “On Spiritual Friendship” and is claimed by some in the gay community for his own deep friendships with men. The window also features a quote from Galatians, a pride flag, the logo of Integrity USA (the unofficial LGBT caucus within the Episcopal Church) and a depiction of the parish’s rainbow-flag flying float from a local parade.
“Loving God, loving your neighbor as yourself, that’s really the basis for all Christian ministry as I see it and I think that’s the basis for how we see GLBTQ inclusion,” Parish Priest-in-Charge Jamie Parsley told local news station KVLY. The window is dedicated “in memory of those who died trying to be their authentic selves.”
According to statistics provided by the Episcopal Church, St. Stephen’s is a relatively small congregation of fewer than 60 people on Sunday. It is one of two congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of North Dakota which is affiliated with Integrity USA. In contrast, the diocese is regarded as relatively traditionalist and is one of a handful in the denomination that does not permit parishes to bless same-sex unions or solemnize same-sex marriages.
According to the church’s web site, St. Stephen’s operates under an accommodation known as Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight and is under the authority of another bishop, Carol Gallagher (Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Montana), so that it can celebrate same-sex marriage rites.
A short news segment about the window installation can be viewed here.
UPDATE [4/4/2017]: a 2015 news story about the congregation’s disagreement with the Episcopal Diocese of North Dakota’s bishop can be viewed here.