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Board Elections ✠ Faith Leaders Coalition ✠ Rainbow Rosary Guild
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October, 2016 Newsletter.

Larry E. Lutz, President, Dignity/Houston, Inc.From your President

We’ve had some fantastic changes since our last newsletter. A new, dynamic Board was elected and has quickly taken shape. Elsewhere in this newsletter, you’ll find out about the new Board and its Officers. One of the first tasks for the Board will be to have a Strategic Plan and Annual Budget in place when our new Fiscal Year begins on January 1, 2017. Of course, a Strategic Plan has to be based on a vision and a vision has to be based on a mission statement — all of which your Board will need to get in place by the end of this Fiscal Year.

Other changes are happening in the world of religion. The Faith Leaders Coalition, which began as a means of counteracting the religious forces that brought HERO down through progressive faith churches and faith leaders, has taken off. Be sure to see the Faith Leaders Coalition article later in this newsletter.

I’m also trying out a new format for this newsletter. What you see with blue, gold or lavender borders (the official Dignity colors) will become monthly newsletter departments. The rest of the articles, without borders, are important, but non-recurring articles. As always, we invite your input. Let me know what you think at President@dignityhouston.org

Table of Contents

God is our final word

Kathleen Fallon, Member

Perhaps my greatest hope for the Catholic Church was in the Synod 2015 and at best the collective news is mostly disheartening. A church that continues to focus on anything but the radical message of God's love for all of us remains an unlit pathway for hordes of us. Sadly, the Catholic Church is responsible for so much of the homophobia in the world today, promoted in its catechism, CDF [Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith] documents, and inside communications against God's minority sons and daughters, and nothing has been accomplished to change that.  Catholic teaching on homosexuality is wholly problematic for lgbt people, their families, friends and for the universal Church. Its teachings seep out of the confines of the pulpits and pews to feed and sustain a culture of prejudice harmful to countless innocents. 

Many of us generational cradle Catholics who were born, raised, grown, wed, then seeded and delivered our own offspring to the Church for Baptism are unknowingly part of the problem. We recite the prayers of the Catholic faithful in unison time after time, year after year and we love the comfort and ritual practice of our beloved faith traditions. So beautiful and rich are they...  precious to so many. Why mess with a good thing? We're content. Outside the walls are the outsiders, the strangers, the others, the Gentiles. The insiders keep a safe degree of separation from the outsiders by faithful practice and adherence to the rules. This duality of us and them creates a comfort zone for the insiders to feel like the favored flock. Although innocently, we obediently follow our leaders and give our church institutions power over us to be part of the flock. In the process of being herded, we have become less than we are called to be. 

There is no reason to think that the ruling religious of our time are much different than the religious leaders two thousand years ago. They are still bickering to keep their old testament clerical management styles of the holy sect while the eternal life giving message of Christ becomes more elusive and exclusive. Many of our Catholic Cardinals and Bishops remind me of the Pharisees of Jesus' time who refused to listen to Jesus because of their hard-heartedness and for want of absolute control over the message to the people. Jesus was a threat to the ruling powers. He became a target of their jealousy and meanness when he challenged their authority by showing love and compassion over abiding by their sanctity rules.

Jesus was despised and rejected as a trouble maker, a threat to the status quo. The Pharisees, the ruling religious, were directly responsible for the death of Christ while their followers went along. Let's learn from our history so next time when He comes again, we will not make the same mistake. We are all the body of Christ not to be torn and broken apart by the the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, or by any other religious organization. 

Most of the faithful are not used to questioning the Church or sitting still in the Spirit. We are busy raising hectic families, working, rushing our children to CCE [Continuing Christian Education] to mechanically learn the fundamentals of our Catholic faith. We are fast food fed on religious bread. Although religious practice could be a blessing place to develop our lives in Christ, at some point, it became a rigid book of rules. We need continue to challenge the rule-makers of the church like Jesus did. The Church does not have the final word. Only God does.

Let's imagine what Jesus would do if he met a same-sex couple who is denied full communion in the Catholic Church? First, he would greet them warmly, have conversation and enjoy their company. Then he would probably grab a bite to eat with them, drink a little wine. Then he would invite them to church the next day where they would share communion together. If a bishop objected, Jesus would challenge him with a message of love beyond his comprehension.

Faith Leaders Coalition

In the bitter aftermath of the HERO referendum in which leaders of certain Christian churches led a vitriolic attack on HERO and the LGBTQ+ community, using easily disproven lies and hypocritical distortions of the Bible, a small candle burned brightly, sometimes too small to be seen, but it nonetheless persisted. That candle was nurtured by the leadership of churches that truly believe in in a loving and welcoming God, churches big and small throughout the Houston area, and it blossomed forth into the Faith Leaders Coalition of Greater Houston. Be sure to check out their Web site for their Mission and Core Values.

Their official launch into the foray of Houston politics will be on October 24th, the first day of early voting as a timely reminder that voting is essential to maintaining social justice.

Larry E. Lutz, President of Dignity/Houston, Inc. has been elected Secretary of the Faith Leaders Coalition.

The Coalition welcomes new members. Members must be faith leaders (defined as someone who is a part of a faith community and exercises leadership in that community, something that would fit all present and former Board Members and others) and be willing to pay annual dues of $25. The Coalition is also interested in finding supporting sponsor organizations and individuals willing to donate to the founding of the organization. Contact Faith Leaders Coalition for more information.

LGBTQ+ Saint of the Month

Each month, we’ll feature an LGBTQ+ Saint in this section. (If you want to know more about LGBTQ+ saints, be sure to check out Larry’s blog article, Why we need LGBTQ+ saints, on our Web site.)

Matthew Shepard (feast day October 12th) is not a canonized saint, but he’s a martyr who should be, like so many others who’ve died because they were born gay and dared to love. Many of us remember vividly the horrible torture he suffered October 12, 1998 at 21 years old outside Laramie, Wyoming, all simply because he was gay. Brutally beaten, he was left entangled in a barbed wire fence to die at night in the lonely desert of Wyoming, much as Jesus was left to die on the cross. His assailants (two men to beat up one) claimed innocence by virtue of temporary insanity — they were driven temporarily insane by “gay panic” engendered by being the presence of a gay man.

You can find out more about Matthew on the Matthew Shepard: Modern gay martyr and hate-crime victim page on JesusInLove.org When it comes to town, be sure to see the Emmy award winning play, Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine. (You can stream it from Netflix and Amazon Video — what better way to celebrate Coming Out Month?) Also, don’t forget to check out the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

You can find all of the LQBTQ+ Saints for the month and all months listed on Our Calendar. If your click the name of the saint in the calendar, in most cases, you will find a URL leading to a description of the Saint's life.

If you know of a saint, canonized or otherwise, that you’d like us to feature in the newsletter, please send us an email at info@dignityhouston.org

Our Calendar

You can always find important dates on the Our Calendar page on our Web site. Here are the events in the coming months:

  • October 10 — George Wetzel’s birthday
  • October 11 — National Coming Out Day
  • October 12 — Matthew Shepherd Day, moern-day gay martyr and hate-crime victim
  • October 20 — Spirit Day — Stand up to bullying of LGBTQ Youth
  • October 24 – November 4 — Early voting
  • October 27 – Allen Schindler Day, gay martyr in the military
  • October 29 — St. Anna/Euphemianos of Canstantinople, transvestite desert father who was a woman
  • November 1 — All Saints Day
  • November 3 — St. Malachy of Armagh, same-sex soulmate to St. Bernard of Clairvaux 
  • November 9 — St. Matrona/Babylas of Perge, transvestite desert father who was a woman
  • November 14 — Roy Brooks Delphin’s birthday
  • November 14 – 20 — Transgender Awareness Week
  • November 20 — Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (last Sunday in Ordinary Time)
  • November 20 — Transgender Day of Remembrance
  • November 27 — Harvey Milk Day, gay rights pioneer and martyr
  • November 29 — Blessed Bernardo de Hoyos, mystical same-sex marriage with Jesus
  • November 29 — Phil Helfrich’s birthday

Know of other days we should add to our calendar? Please send them to us at Webmaster.

Strategic Plan and Annual Budget

A Strategic Plan sets forth what an organization plans to do in the coming Fiscal Year. It is always based on the organization’s Vision which sets forth the direction the organization is going in the long-term, say five or ten years down the way. The Vision is in turn grounded in the organization’s Mission Statement. Your Board is setting forth on the challenge to put all this in place by the start of our next Fiscal Year on January 1, 2017. It will also produce an Annual Budget, something that DignityHouston had up until the last decade. The Annual Budget is really a simple quantification of the Strategic Plan in terms of dollars and hours of time.

Our Strategic Plan will commit us to continue doing many of the things that we currently do, such as our Saturday Liturgy and our Holiday Lunches. More importantly, it will set forth new activities, activities that will increase membership, put DignityHouston in the forefront of faith leaders in the LGBTQ+ community, increase the spiritual and educational services that we provide to our members, and as much more as we can squeeze in with the limited resources that we have. In having a Strategic Plan, DignityHouston will join organizations like AIDS Foundation of Houston, Keshet HoustonLHI, the GLBT Political Caucus, and a host of other credible, small nonprofits.

We invite you to participate in this critical and important endeavor by contacting your Board Members or writing us at info@dignityhouston.org to let us know what you’d like to see DignityHouston do in the coming year.

Election of Officers

As you know, you, the Membership, elect your Trustees at the Annual Meeting. At the first Board Meeting following the Annual Meeting, our Bylaws require that the Board elect the Officers of Dignity/Houston, Inc., and your Board did that at its meeting on October 8, 2016. Your new Board is:

  • Larry E. Lutz, President
  • Kenneth Hollas, Vice-President
  • Roy Brooks Delphin, Secretary
  • William Brent Clarkson, Treasurer
  • Kelly Martino, At-Large Trustee

Be sure to head on over to the Our Board of Trustees page on our Web site to see more information on the newly elected Trustees. More importantly, if you scroll down on that page, you’ll find the Job Descriptions for each Officer and the At-Large Trustee. Yes, we do have specific job responsibilities as Trustees. The Board adopted these Job Descriptions in May, 2015, and they remain in effect until amended or rescinded by this or any future Board.

In the coming months, the Board will, no doubt, refine these Job Descriptions, but we expect that they will remain basically the same as we go through this year.

You, the Membership, actually own Dignity/Houston, Inc. We the Trustees are merely the, well, Trustees that you hired to take care of your organization. It really helps to know who, among those you hired, is responsible for what!

Board Happenings

Your Board considered several items at its Board Meeting in October. All of the items involving resolutions passed. The items which were considered are:

  • Election of Officers — The Board elected its Officers. See the article Election of Officers for more information.
  • Regular Meetings of the Board of Trustees — Our Bylaws require the Board to establish a date and time for its regular monthly meeting at its first meeting following the Annual Meeting. This Board established its regular monthly meeting to on the second Saturday of every month between 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm. Remember that you can always find notices of regular and special meetings on the Our Board Meetings and Annual Meeting page on our Web site.
  • Assignment of Duties — The Board established which Board member would be responsible for specific duties in the day-to-day operation of DignityHouston like picking up, sorting and distributing mail (Roy), making deposits (Brent), keeping a schedule of those setting up for Liturgy, hosting, and presiding (Kelly), as well as a myriad of other things necessary to keeping your organization running.
  • Creation of the Rainbow Rosary Guild and Appointment of Director — Some of you may not know that Kathleen Fallon, the mother of a gay son, single-handedly recruited volunteers and churned out over 700 rainbow rosaries for the 2016 Houston LGBTQ Pride Parade. This is an ongoing effort and you can find out more about it in the Rainbow Rosary Guild article in this newsletter.
  • Transgender Day of Remembrance and other days — Transgender Day of Remembrance and a host of other significant dates is coming up, and your Board is working to properly remember each of them You can find out more in the Our Calendar article in this newsletter.

If there's anything you'd like the Board to consider, please send us an email at Webmaster. You can  also complete the Member Recommendation for Agenda Item form available at all our services or discuss your suggestions with Kelly Martino, At-Large Trustee. 

Rainbow Rosary Guild

Some of you may remember the countless Rainbow Rosaries that we gave out at the 2016 Houston LGBTQ Pride Parade last June. What you may not realize is that Kathleen Fallon, one of our members and the mother of a gay son, single-handedly organized a group of volunteers, including her 80+ year-old mother, to make Rainbow Rosaries for us. Not just make Rainbow Rosaries, they made 700 of them, painstakingly hand-printed information on each centerpiece and put them in bags with a brochure. All in record time.

After a brief respite, Kathleen and her Rosary-making Moms are back at it, making Rosaries for DignityHouston to pass out at the many tables and booths we’ll be staffing in the days to come.

In honor of all their hard work, your Board of Trustees officially created the DignityHouston Rainbow Rosary Guild and named Kathleen as its Director. Let’s all keep Kathleen and her Rosary-making Moms in our prayers!

Featured DignityHouston.org Content

Each month, we will feature one or two pages from our Web site to help you become familiar with it.

DignityHouston has no paid employees, and Federal and State law prohibit its Trustees from receiving any compensation whatsoever for their work. Everything that gets done in DignityHouston is done through the hard work of volunteers. We all do it because we realize that God gave us time, talent and treasure to do His work. And we need your help! Hurry on over to our Getting Involved page on our Web site and have a look at all the exciting ways you can get involved. You can sign up for as many as you like on that page.

We’ve got our very own blog going, and its blossoming! Be sure to check out Roy’s posting, Predawn Courage and Clarity By the Light of the Early Morn. It’s a great coming-out-and-growing-up story sure to bring back memories for most of us. And, if you would like to post blog articles, yourself, just see the paragraph above. They can be just about anything relevant to DignityHouston. (Well, just about anything. We have to draw the line at partisan politics because of our 501(c)(3) status, as much as I’d like to …)

Do you have any suggestions for our Web site? We’d love to hear them. Would you like to write blog articles or other material for the Web site? Let us know! Just send us an email at DignityHouston Webmaster.

Featured Web Site

Each month, we feature a Web site that’s important to the Catholic LGBTQ+ community in this section.

We’ve all met folks who are struggling with the integration of their faith tradition and the sexuality and gender-identity they were born with. It’s incumbent on each of us to have resources at our fingertips to help those folks out — and maybe even ourselves. The Explore: Religion & Faith section of the Human Rights Campaign provides a wealth of resources for just that, and it does it in a way that’s very even-handed across the many denominations. Seeking ways to find acceptance in your Church, how to come out to ministers and parents, looking for answers to what the Bible really says about homosexuality (almost nothing unless you want to give up wearing clothes of mixed fibers)? You can find it all on this Web site. I wish they had more on Judaism, Islam and Buddhism, but still, it’s a fantastic start.

If you know of a Web site that you’d like us to feature, be sure to send us an email to info@dignityhouston.org giving us the URL of the site and why you think it’s important.

Phil Helfrich’s Birthday

As many of you know, Phil Helfrich was a long-time member of DignityHouston and the Secretary on the Board of Trustees when he passed away in June, 2015. George Wetzel, a close friend of Phil’s described him in this way in an article prepared for DignityUSA:

Born November 29, 1939 in Harris County, Texas, the oldest of four children, he attended St. Thomas High School and there upon entered upon entered his U.S. Army career.

With a smile for all, even in the military, Phil would joke even with strangers, and they remembered fondly his struggles with his sexual orientation that eventually led him to DignityHouston after he retired from the Army.

A regular Board member, he served under many presidents and was still on the Dignity Board when he died quite suddenly last July, not long after the Seattle Convention.

Phil found in Dignity the strength and courage to accept his true self in an environment of acceptance and compassion. He rejoiced mightily when the Armed Forces finally recognized the honor and dignity of his total human being.

We miss you Phil with your smile, your jokes, and your love of incense.

Phil was very proud of his military service. We encourage everyone to make a donation to your favorite Veterans’ organization in his memory.

Thanksgiving Day Brunch

As you know, November 24th is Thanksgiving Day. Traditionally, DignityHouston has celebrated it at the Black-eyed Pea, 4211 Bellaire Blvd., Houston, TX 77025. They generally have a fantastic lunch menu for Thanksgiving at reasonable prices. First, if you’re going to be in town, be sure to hold that date open. (We usually gather at about 11:00 am to get seating together.)

Second, let us know if that’s what you’d like to do for Thanksgiving. You can contact any Board Member either at our services or by phone or email. Or just send us an email at info@dignityhouston.org

Be sure to join us every Saturday at 5:30 pm at The Havens @ St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 1827 West Alabama, Houston, Texas 77098. Afterwards, you'll want to join us for dinner at a local restaurant.

Larry E. Lutz, President ✠ Kenneth Hollas, Vice-President ✠  Roy Brooks-Delphin,Secretary ✠ William Brent Clarkson, Treasurer ✠  Kelly Martino, At Large Trustee

Dignity/Houston, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and a nonprofit corporation in the State of Texas. It is a chapter of DignityUSA. Donations are tax-deductible.

Contact us at:

    Email: info@dignityhouston.org
    Phone: (832) 390-4453
    Web: https://dignityhouston.org
    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dignityusahouston/
    Twitter:https://twitter.com/DignityHouston
    Meetup: http://www.meetup.com/DignityHouston
    Mail: P.O. Box 66821, Houston, TX 77266

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Be sure to join us every Saturday at 5:30 pm at The Havens @ St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 1827 West Alabama, Houston, Texas 77098. Afterwards, you'll want to join us for dinner at a local restaurant.

Larry E. Lutz, President ✠ William Brent Clarkson, Treasurer ✠  Roy Brooks-Delphin, Vice-President/Secretary

Dignity/Houston, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and a nonprofit corporation in the State of Texas. It is a chapter of DignityUSA. Donations are tax-deductible.
Contact us at:
Be sure to like us on Facebook Like October, 2016 DignityHouston Newsletter on Facebook

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