Oasis Commission

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The Oasis can refer to any of a series of diocesan ministries of the Episcopal Church to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) persons.

The first Oasis group was established in the Episcopal Diocese of Newark by bishop John Shelby Spong on June 21, 1989 at All Saints Church, Hoboken.[1] Its first leader, The Rev. Robert Williams had been the first out gay man to be ordained to the priesthood.[2] However, Williams and Spong clashed on theological and moral issues and he left the organization shortly thereafter, replaced by The Rev. David Norgard.[3] At this time, making gay and lesbian people feel welcome in churches was the exception, rather than the rule. The Oasis provided a "safe space" for them to worship together, as well as social events, educational opportunities, etc., while also helping build acceptance in the rest of the church. By its seventh anniversary celebration, which was led by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, The Most Rev. Edmond Browning,[4] nearly half of the diocese's congregations were supporting the work of The Oasis. In January of that year, a diocesan LGBT ministry in San Francisco which had operated as The Parsonage since 1981 was reorganized with the assistance of Norgard as Oasis/California.[5] Similar ministries have also been founded in Michigan, Missouri, the Diocese of New Jersey, and the Diocese of Rochester in upstate New York.

Since the formation of The Oasis, time the climate within the Episcopal Church has become much more welcoming.[6] The Oasis ministries work alongside IntegrityUSA, a national organization which was founded by Louie Crew in 1974, in projects like Believe Out Loud, an ecumenical campaign to promote LGBT inclusion within mainline Protestant denominations.[7]

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  1. ^ Goldman, Ari (21 June 1989). "Episcopal Diocese Blesses an Oasis for Homosexuals". New York Times. Retrieved 13 May 2012. 
  2. ^ Navarro, Mireya (17 Dec 1989). "Openly Gay Priest Ordained in Jersey". New York Times. Retrieved 13 May 2012. 
  3. ^ Hanley, Robert (30 Sep 1990). "Ministry for Gays is Revived". New York Times. Retrieved 13 May 2012. 
  4. ^ "At Anniversary Celebration, Browning Praises Oasis' Ministry to Homosexuals". Episcopal News and Press. 26 Jun 1996. Retrieved 13 May 2012. 
  5. ^ McAdams, Kathleen. Transfer 2009/0_Historical/chron.html#1995 "A Chronology of Lesbian/Gay History in the Episcopal Diocese of California and Beyond". Oasis California. Retrieved 14 May 2012. 
  6. ^ "Most Mainline Protestants Say Society Should Accept Homosexuality". The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. The Pew Research Center. 19 March 2009. Retrieved 13 May 2012. 
  7. ^ Niedzwiecki, Max. "Believe Out Loud Episcopal Congregations". Retrieved 14 May 2012.