Sunday, September 13, 2009

Who Is In and Who Is Out or The Big Tent Revisited

There is a growing debate over at Jake's Place about who gets to stay and who gets to leave the Episcopal Church. I know the heading and the initial post doesn't say that but take some time to read the comments section. Fr. Bill, along with I think one other, asks the question should he stay or leave the Episcopal Church. More specifically, is there "room" for his viewpoints, I would assume as a priest in TEC.

This is no small question and yet I think stands somewhat apart from the more general question of the big tent. I would like to comment on that more fully here, allowing each of you to do the same.

Let me start by saying that I have lived and worshipped in some very different places. St. Matthias had a Rector that in his retired years, was the president of the local chapter of the United Nations. His successor, when asked by city council to stop serving the poor and close the soup kitchen at his parish, "God has called me to this service, I will not close it just because it makes you uncomfortable." A true parish in Menlo Park, Trinity Parish. Because of the proximity to Stanford University we got not only a very Anglo-Catholic overtone but some excellent sermons as well. Moved to San Jose and attended briefly St. Francis. The moved to Virginia where we were first part of a mission, Holy Spirit (thank you St. Margaret's) then merged with a church from Triangle,VA and became All Saints Dale City. (A quarter to the first person who recognizes and correctly identifies the "Rector". During this time we had a terrible fight over the building -- some of us wanted to go inexpensively and "green" by building a dome while the leaders wanted the traditional steeple and all that jazz church. Moved to Fremont,CA and St. James Parish. Then moved to Trinity Orange where I served on the search committee and we recommended a woman for Rector- - WOWsers! Moved to Messiah Santa Ana -- probably the greatest single parish I have had the privilege of attending. back to St. Matthias in Whittier (we still attend on Christmas since Wilma's folks live there) and then to St. Matthias in the valley and finally moved to Christ the King in Riverbank. My point, in all of this, we have seen and heard a lot of different clergy, served on a bunch of Vestries, Stewardship Committees, LEm'ed, and searched. Travelled through time and space with the original astronut, JDS. We have seen and worked with probably every type of clergy there is and from all walks. Is there room for both liberal and conservative, anglo-catholic and evangelical? Let me state it this way -- If someone is discerning their way why would there not be room for them? We are/have a huge tent that can cover everyone. The operative words are discerning and of course not doing harm. Our communion is all inclusive and all encompassing we MUST or we fail our own self-imposed litmus test. Oh, and, by the way, anything else falls short of the gospel.

So, now it is your turn -- is there room for Fr. Bill? Is there room for conservatives and liberals and everyone or have we come too far and cannot go back? Must we now play the hand that has been dealt TEC to it's logical conclusion?

In closing, and to help everyone think about this Lynn has put up some music for us at Off Topic please listen as you write.

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