The head of an organization dedicated to advancing LGBT advocacy within the Episcopal Church has resigned amid accusations of mismanagement and lack of transparency.
The Rev. Gwen Fry, who had been elected president of Integrity USA in June 2018 to serve a three-year term, announced last week in a letter dated Nov. 25 that she was resigning from her position due to various personal and health issues.
“A few months ago, I returned from medical leave. I moved across the country and reunited with my wife after a lengthy separation. We are in the middle of selling one house and purchasing another one,” she explained.
“Following my relocation, I have taken a more hands on role regarding my extended family that includes failing physical health, dementia and suicidal ideation causing hospitalization. As you can imagine, it has been a stressful time.”
Fry’s term as president was a tumultuous one, with multiple Integrity board members resigning and many longtime supporters expressing criticism regarding the direction of the group.
Former Integrity president the Reverend Susan Russell explained to Episcopal News Service last week that she believed the group “has been struggling to find its voice in a new paradigm of advocacy for LGTBQ Episcopalians.”
“The institutional structure that served its work in the past is not designed to meet the challenges of either the present or the future. And so it’s time for new vision and new leadership,” said Russell to ENS.
Integrity USA was founded in 1974 by Louis Crew Clay, a longtime gay rights activist and former English professor at Rutgers University who passed away last month.
Created with the intention of advancing the acceptances of gays in the Episcopal Church, by 2011 the organization had 58 local chapters and approximately 2,000 members.
However, Egan Millard of ENS reported in October that Integrity had financial struggles, apparent lack of transparency, and allegations of mismanagement.
Some also questioned whether the group remained necessary given the Church’s current stance on LGBT issues, including its decision in 2015 to approve same-sex marriage rites.
Regarding finances, Millard reported that Integrity had seen a major drop in net assets over the past few years, going from $516,152 at the start of 2013 to $134,029 in 2015.
In a letter posted to Integrity’s Facebook page on Nov. 6, Fry acknowledged the concerns many supporters had about the organization and promised more transparency, including an external review of their finances.
“Integrity USA’s board meetings are not open to the public, but as you can see from our updates, we are addressing your questions and sharing what is happening with the organization,” wrote Fry in the Nov. 6 post.
“This is a very exciting time for Integrity USA. We have an opportunity to build on the strong legacy of the past, while addressing current and future needs. Won’t you join us?”