Sunday, December 17, 2006

Editorial From the Falls Church (VA) News-Press

Sometimes the media actually gets it!

Descent Into The Abyss
14 December 2006 [Falls Church News-Press]

Few people in Falls Church, including many who attend the Falls Church Episcopal here, fathom how bad what the church’s leadership is asking its members to vote for this week really is. Balloting of the 2,800 church members will continue through services this Sunday, and it is expected that the vote will be overwhelming in favor of the church’s formal withdrawal from the Episcopal denomination.

This move has been coming since the Episcopal denomination, by wide majority of its bishops nationwide, voted in November 2003 to consecrate the openly-homosexual Rev. Eugene Robinson as a bishop.

Local church leaders have variously confirmed this, emphatically, and also tried to cloud the issue with theological jargon, claiming the denomination has, more generally, drifted from roots they claim are grounded in “Biblical inerrancy.” That is, the claim there is not a single mistake or outdated notion in the Bible. Therefore, since homosexual behavior is condemned in a handful of random Biblical verses here and there, it is anti-Biblical to consecrate a gay bishop. You’d be surprised to see what other things are condemned in different parts of the Bible.

The actions of the Falls Church Episcopal’s leadership, and that of the Truro Church of Fairfax and some others across the U.S., is a mild replay of the same sad history of centuries of division, slaughter, discord and tyranny within Christendom. This week’s action will not trigger another Inquisition, but the mentality is the same.

Rather than affirming a generosity of spirit and Good Samaritan compassion that can embrace and nurture a complex and multi-faceted humanity, in this case, the leaders of the Falls Church Episcopal have chosen to stand against the civil authority of the U.S. Constitution that promises equal rights for all, just as happened in all those pulpits that, in the past, denounced what they called the “un-Godly” acts of freeing slaves, ending segregation, or more recently, ending prohibitions on interracial marriage. Church folk experience such hate, emotionally, as a burning righteous indignation.

If this week’s vote results in the departure of Falls Church Episcopal from the Episcopal denomination, the church will go down in infamy as a regrettable and despised bastion of bigotry, prejudice and hatred.

In order to earn this legacy, the church’s leadership is willing to disenfranchise its members from access to one of the nation’s most historic church structures and histories. On this one issue, of the consecration of an otherwise completely qualified, but gay, bishop in New England, this church’s leadership is descending from the heights of grandiose plans for a major expansion in 2000, to years of development paralysis, to now being expelled from its property by the Diocese of Virginia following this week’s vote and its flock sent wandering. The power of hate can be so strong.

4 comments:

Jared Cramer said...

wow, excellent article. thanks.

Bill said...

Charlotte's dismissal of Truro's near unanimous vote to remove their church from the oversight of the Diocese of Virginia as primarily a fit of pique against the election of VGR to be bishop of NH is so far from the truth as to be laughable. When she also dismisses the claims of Episcopalian departure from God's Truth as irrelevant, she demonstrates a total fialure to have listened to more than one side. It is obvious that her sympathies lie with the secular, social, cultural norms of today.
One can extrapolate from her words that she would, if she were alive two hundred years ago with the same value system she shows, have dismissed those founders of Truro as bigotted, inquisition-minded, prejudiced and bigotted lot. In her own words she describes the Bible as containing error and outdated 'notions' and therefore only a document to contain some useful ideas.
It is sad that Charlotte is unable to see the Truth that is Jesus, the only Way to the Father and the unimaginably miraculous events through whch we are enabled to come back to a loving and knowing relationship with our God, our Master, and our Saviour.
For this inability to see the Truth and to embrace a relativistic 'religion' is precisely why Truro is throwing off the shackles that the Episcopal Church attempts to draw ever tighter around those churches that will remain with it.

revsusan said...

Bill ... who's "Charlotte"???? Did I miss that she's the writer of the referenced Editorial? I just checked the URL and there's no name indicated ... ????

Pfalz prophet said...

Bill, as a man who, very much like Paul Barnes, prayed for four decades not to be gay, I can witness to God's Truth in a way few can. I can witness to the shame and loathing I feel for my emotions and the bottled anesthetic I have taken to suppress them. It has only been in the last year that I have surrendered to God's will for me, that a cloud of witnesses has arisen to surround and support me (and, in due time, my wife), both in TEC and out.

And it has only been in the last few weeks that the power of the Truth that is Jesus has come crashing in on me, helping me to stop lying about being straight and telling the truth about being gay. I commend Zephaniah, today's OT lesson, there's a wonderful line in there about God turning our shame into our glory. Now I know the power of the Spirit in Jesus, how immeasurably transformative it is, and what joy it can fill me with. Secular norms, Bill? No, the culture is changing, but it's changing toward deeper respect for all human beings, not just straight white males. That is the problem these congregations face, OTW why would the schismatics also be the ones most troubled about women clergy?

The departing congregations are following a false prophet (no, not a Pfalz prophet!), they need our prayers and support, and they need to see our joy in God's creation: us, humble but joyful, celebratory and not judgemental. Stopping up their ears is their decision.