Wednesday, February 15, 2006

More sad news

I learned of a distressing situation on Sunday. One of my very favorite priests is having major problems with his congregation. A few people quite suddenly decided to stir up trouble for the gay people at the church (which includes my friend, the rector). These people have been at the church all along and he's never hidden his orientation. They just started making a fuss now, over a year into his tenure there. They've written a letter to the bishop denouncing him and are generally spreading an atmosphere of hate within the body.

His partner said he's never seen Christians act so terribly towards one another. Now I've seen some pretty ugly situations against pastors (usually my own dad), and it hurts tremendously to have the people you love so much turn on you. In this case, the priest is about as gentle and humble as people come. It's horrible that this would happen to him, especially when he cares so much about his flock. My Fuller friends who met him agreed he was one of the most pastoral people they'd ever met. He even forced a couple of them to rethink their position on sexual orientation - not by arguing, just by being.

So please pray that the situation will get better. The letter to the bishop is almost funny, because our bishop is so pro-gay. But it's still no fun when churches divide and Christians act nasty to each other. I can understand disagreement and debate. What I don't think is appropriate is hatred and meanness.

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.


Emily said...

We were just discussing on Sunday that there's some real ugliness going on in the church right now, something dark and deep.

(They are probably feeling very threatened about something--their position in the congregation--to be engaging in this kind of sabotage).

JTB said...

I have family members in the Episcopal church on both sides of this issue. (My own tradition is nowhere near even a healthy, out in the open discussion, despite the efforts of a brave few. We're still stuck on whether women can speak in church. Hmph.) My observation is that a lot of people who oppose "homosexuality" (I'm talking about genuine people, not contentious or divisive or hate-mongering types) do so with a sense of burden and grief and incomprehension that there could be any Christians who could think differently on this (it's all so clear, you know). Some people even really want to understand but just can't get there, or at least, haven't gotten there yet.

It might be that there's some other reason that is the real causative force behind this sudden action, but it might also be that a year of having a bedrock certainty implicitly yet constantly questioned has simply taken its toll.

This is not a criticism of the leadership of the church at all. It's just that while this may be eye-opening for some, it's polarizing for others, extremizing rather than ameliorating.

It may be that the Christian witness of the rector through this persecution becomes more clear and even some of the troublemakers will reach a point where they are forced to rethink as a result. I don't mean this as pie-in-the-sky consolation or as some kind of justification for this form of evil...just a way to endure and get through. But it sure does suck to be a lightning-rod of contention.

Dave said...

I was thinking along the same lines, Emily. My gut feeling is that the homophobic wing of TEC is threatened by something more, but what that more might be I don't have the faintest idea.

Really, I don't want to bother anyone. I just want to be homophilic on my own time, in private, and Christian whenever I attempt to practice discipleship. Really. That's all.