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Louie Crew
377 S. Harrison Street, 12D
East Orange, NJ 07018

Phone: 973-395-1068 h


lcrew@andromeda.rutgers.edu

Please sign the guestbook and view it.


Louie & Ernest Clay-Crew
Married February 2, 1974


12/21/1974
 
8/17/2006


Don't repeat the mistake on page 847 of The Prayer Book .  Here is what God really requires from the chosen people:

Do justice

A series of essays in the Episcopal Church


The Episcopal Church has stirred up some controversy and has received some negative responses lately

I Have a Dream

Sermon preached by the Rev. Ed Lundin

August 23, 2009

St. Thomas, Belzoni and Chapel of the Cross, Rolling Fork

 

Forty-six years ago this week (August 28, 1963), Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the greatest orators and leaders of the twentieth century delivered his “I Have a dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  His words inspire me to this day.  I also have a dream: a dream about full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life, ministry and worship of the churches I serve and the Episcopal churches in Mississippi.

Why am I moved to state my dream now?  Our bishop, Duncan Gray, is on record as stating that exclusionary practices toward ordination of homosexual persons will not change during his episcopacy.  There are no changes on the horizon, unless the Holy Spirit moves us, as a church, to change.  I felt the call to share my hopes and dreams about the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of the church before, but I kept waiting until “the time was right.”  

The immediate catalyst for this vision arrived at the Fourth Annual Retreat of Ministry with Gays and Lesbians in Canton, Mississippi, this weekend.  The retreat leader, The Rev. Dr. Ruthanna Hooke, opened our session by assuring us that we are all in “a safe place.”  I realized through comments made by gays and lesbians in attendance that there were many places where they did not feel safe.  I thought, “that’s what the church should be: a safe place, where all can experience the love of God with peace and acceptance.  That’s what the churches in Belzoni (St.Thomas) and Rolling Fork (Chapel of the Cross) are, ‘safe places’ where all are welcome.” 

My dream emerges from personal experience and deeply held beliefs, which I will set forth.  I realize, however, that others have experiences and beliefs which differ from mine, so I share this dream to invite conversations in the quest for Christ’s love in the midst of disagreement and dissent.

I want to establish the perspective on inclusion of gays and lesbians through a poem by Edwin Markham* (see endnote):

 

He drew a circle that shut me out—

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.

But love and I had the wit to win:

We drew a circle that took him in.

 

“I Have a Dream”

 

My first ‘dream point’ affirms inclusion based on personal experience.  My beloved sister, Lee, celebrates her 25th anniversary in a committed relationship with her partner, Kay, this year.  Lee and Kay are saints, in my book.  They are the Sunday School Superintendents of their Lutheran church in St. Paul, MN.  I admire my big sister for her heroism and steadfastness.  She has been a model of faith for me.  She and Kay served the Church for twenty-plus years while the Church banned pastors who are in same-sex relationships.  On Friday, August 21st, the ELCA lifted the ban, making it possible for a congregation to call a gay or lesbian pastor.  For me to consider the exclusion of a homosexual person from church leadership means to tell my sister “No.  You can’t serve or lead—you’re not worthy!”  Inconceivable.  The Lutheran church has “drawn a circle that has taken Lee and Kay and other gays and lesbians in.”

 

 

My second “dream point” affirming inclusion has to do with how I, over the years, have experienced the love of God through gay and lesbian persons through  our work on the Ministry with Gay and Lesbian Persons Committee.  The Bishop assigned me to this Committee in 2006. I have gained immeasurably more from gays and lesbians and other committee members than they have gained from me.  I have seen and felt the pain of people whose lives were broken through ‘coming out’ and claiming their homosexual identity, struggling with family members for acceptance, defending themselves against the attacks by bullies at school and in the neighborhood, suffering discrimination in education, housing and employment and, finally, being treated like second-class citizens in the church, ridiculed through crude jokes and outright harassment, and excluded from leadership roles in the church.  When I began work on the committee I was undecided on the issue of whether homosexuality resulted from personal choice or genetic predisposition (nature versus nurture).  My conclusion regarding the “choice vs. genetics” debate is that no one in their right mind would choose to disrupt his/her life and subject himself/herself to all manner of scorn and rejection to attain this “lifestyle.”  My sister told me that she knew she was different when she was two years old.  Choice is not an issue.  Gays and lesbians are “children of their heavenly Father”—now and forever, world without end. Amen.  The gays and lesbians on the committee “drew a circle that took me in.”

 

My third ‘dream point’ affirming inclusion has to do with how one of the churches I serve,  The Chapel of the Cross in Rolling Fork, two or three years back, came to terms with the consecration of Bishop V. Gene Robinson, the first declared gay bishop in the Episcopal Church.  As related to me, the Church met as one big family, and each individual and family was polled about their reaction to Bishop Robinson.  Each family, or at least a majority of families, stated that a sibling, a child, a nephew or niece, or some close family friend was gay.  Judging the gay bishop, or leaving the church on account of the bishop, was the same as judging and excluding a family member or friend.  The Church “drew a circle that took gays and lesbians in.”

 

For my fourth ‘dream point’ I would affirm full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of the church based on our Baptismal Covenant.  At Baptism, all receive the Holy Spirit of God and  membership in the Household of God.  Back in the late 1970’s, when the ordination of women was a hotly contested topic, my professor of Church History, Dr. Donald Armentrout, was asked about women’s ordination.  He memorably stated, “those whom you baptize are given full access to all the Sacraments of the Church-including ordination-otherwise the Baptism is conditional.”  The Statement on the back of the bulletin at the Chapel of the Cross reminds us that we, as a Church, are called to affirm and welcome all people into the Household of God and in our common life.  The vows we take in our Baptismal Covenant commit us to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.”  We are called to draw the circle which takes others in.

 

Let me repeat the poem by Edwin Markham*

 

He drew a circle that shut me out—

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.

But love and I had the wit to win:

We drew a circle that took him in.

 

That’s what Church is: a safe place, where all can experience the love of God with peace and acceptance.  We are a family of families, a Sanctuary Christ invites us to: “Come unto me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Or, am I just dreaming?

 

Seated, let us pray:  “Lord Jesus Christ, you stretched out your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of your saving embrace:  So clothe us in your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know you to the knowledge and love of you; for the honor of your Name.”  Amen

 

 

*Endnote

 

Quoted in Peter J. Gomes, The Good Book, Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart.  New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1996 (p. 165)

           


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