As lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersexed persons of faith, together with our families and friends, we form a small faith community with regional and national connections in the struggle for justice in church and society. Dignity-Integrity/Rochester (D-I/R) was chartered in 1975 as the first combined chapter of the national organizations of Dignity/USA (Roman Catholic) and Integrity, Inc. (Episcopal).
Many of us call D-I home, feeling unwelcome, unsafe or unaffirmed in our home churches. All of us belong as a prophetic challenge to those in authority and as a ministry to those who have felt wounded or abandoned by organized religion. Our fellowship is a vital witness to all that our lives and loves are whole and holy.
On Easter Sunday evening, March 30, 1975, the newly-formed local chapters of Dignity (Catholic) and Integrity (Episcopal) met together at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in downtown Rochester to celebrate in a joint worship service.
Thus began a celebration that continues to this day, 40 years later. In a spirit of true ecumenism, Dignity-Integrity/Rochester, or “D-I”, still meets and worships every Sunday evening at 5:00 PM at the same church, now the Church of St. Luke and St. Simon Cyrene.
Over the years, several hundred people have passed through those church doors. Some came seeking to be healed and others for reconciliation with their Church. Some came seeking answers and others to have their beliefs validated. Still others came hoping to be prophetic witness to their Church as LGBT Christians or to be instruments of change within their faith traditions. Some were simply looking for a safe and comfortable place to worship. Whatever the reason, Dignity-Integrity has been there and is still here.
Like all organizations, D-I has faced challenges and change. The most notable was the infamous Ratzinger letter from Rome in October, 1986, which eventually precipitated the removal of local Catholic priests from presiding at liturgy. Numerous Episcopalian priests, both men and women, helped fill that void, as well as many courageous lay and religious Catholic presiders who now lead the community in Liturgy of the Word.
Many people have come and gone at Dignity-Integrity/Rochester. The ties remain strong, however, and those people are fondly remembered and appreciated. To that end, D-I is planning a huge 40th Anniversary Reunion Picnic on Saturday, August 15th. A more formal liturgy and banquet will also be held in early October. Details will be shared in D-I’s monthly column in the groups section of the Empty Closet and on this website. Be sure to mark your calendars! - Pat Cloonan