CHAPEL HILL — Integrity USA, a nonprofit working for full LGBT inclusion in the Episcopal Church, has named Viv Taylor, an Iraq war veteran and columnist for The Chapel Hill News, its new executive director.
Taylor is among the first transgender women to enter the Episcopal ordination process and will be the first openly trans woman to lead a major mainline Protestant denominational organization in the U.S., according to an Integrity news release. Integrity has been the leading grassroots voice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the Episcopal Church and for equal access to its rites since its founding in rural Georgia in 1974.
"I am thrilled to have this opportunity to serve both Integrity USA and the wider Church," Taylor said. "Working together in the love of Jesus Christ, there is nothing that can prevent us from opening the full Love of God to all people regardless of their orientation or identity."
Taylor started writing My View columns for The Chapel Hill News as Sam Taylor while stationed in Basra, Iraq as a chaplain’s assistant. Upon her return, the UNC grad began living openly as a transgender woman and continued writing occasional columns describing her transgender journey as Viv Taylor. Those columns are available on our website at www.chapelhillnews.com
"We are delighted to have Vivian taking up the helm of Integrity," Integrity’s president, the Rev. Dr. Caroline Hall, said in the release. "Her appointment is in line with two of our strategic goals: to bring more young people into leadership, and to increase our diversity. She was an integral part of the Communications Team at the last General Convention and has the leadership skills and ability to think strategically which are vital as we move into a new organization in a very different, more inclusive church."
Currently residing in Somerville, Mass., Taylor is a North Carolina native who enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 18. She served as a chaplain’s assistant in the U.S. Army National Guard from 2003 to 2010. After graduating from UNC with a bachelor’s degree in religious studies, she deployed with her unit, the 1/130th Aviation, to southern Iraq from 2009-2010.
In 2012, Taylor was invited to the White House to meet with Vice President Joseph Biden and other national leaders, where she advocated for full inclusion in the U.S. military of all transgender people willing to serve.