Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Farewell

The call for Good Shepherd, Binghamton and St. Andrew's, Vestal to leave the Episcopal Church for CANA or some other form of the alphabet soup that the present strife has brought us should help us realize that the ultra-right wing of the Southern Tier has never anticipated any kind of reconciliation with The Episcopal Church (TEC). This should have been done 4 years ago. The absenting of themselves from diocesan meetings, communion and conventions for several years running should have told us. But yesterday's article in the Binghamton Press-Sun finalizes it.

If these congregations are as noble as they would tell us, they would move from their church buildings that were built and paid for by others who supported the Episcopal Church. But in the article there was no suggestion that they would.

It should be said that the clergy leadership of both of these congregations have been at odds with TEC since they were ordained. In fact there is some evidence that the vow to "solemnly engage to conform to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church" was never answered with any truth by these clergy at their ordination. It is questionable if many members of either of the congregations have ever allowed themselves to be truly Episcopalian, but subscribe to some 'high church' fundamentalist tradition that has no connection with TEC.

Do I mourn their leaving? No, not really. I say "Go with God. Thank you for finally getting honest that you are not Episcopalians and will never be happy among us." We are trying to prepare the Church for the future, not get mired in the legalism of the past. We are trying to teach a kind of faith that welcomes all in the name of Christ, not relive some arcane dictates that has never been Episcopalian or even Anglican.

No, we are not kicking you out. No, we have not become "apostate" (as you would call us,) and you are not holier than we are. It is just that we are different and have been for some time. You have just awakened to that fact. Those who thought you were Episcopalian, it may be painful for you not to think of yourselves as Episcopalians, a church that went the way of democracy following the American Revolution. It hurts when you recognize that you are not part of the majority.

I have never really been in the majority of the Church either. But I have never expected that the Church to cater to my needs except when it has said that it will. I chose the Episcopal Church because TEC made conscious statements that welcomed women as clergy and the LGBT persons as equal members of the communion. Because it has said that I am welcome, I expect TEC to live up to what they say.

It is not easy to stay focused on the issues of justice and democracy in a time when so many would erode both in the name of safety and security. But I do believe that I can trust the Church to live out what they have promised if I do my part to call them to that. That means I must be willing to stay active, attend clergy meetings, conventions and the like and stand as a stone of witness to the vows that my Church has made to me and other LGBT members to be an institution that lives out Christ's justice in the world.


Elizabeth Kaeton said...


You inspired me to attend EDS 25 years ago, and you continue to inspire me with your courage and your witness.

Thank you.

Lauren Gough said...

Elizabeth, let's just chalk that one up to the movement of the Spirit, God doing her thing through this miserable offender. Both of us got something special from EDS beyond 'book larnin'--a willingness to call the Church to be honest and faithful. And besides, we both have to have something to blame all these gray hairs on!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for good news!