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Re: [HoB/D] apostasy is not an appropriate expression in this conversation ...

> I really don't have rage over this issue at all.  It is only that
> someone needs to articulate for these not very diverse group of
> posters that there are many in church who would find such an action
> by convention offensive, even apostate, as you rightly point out--to
> have turned its back on Christ.
> Hope that adds to the discussion as did your post,


I rejoice in your freedom to proclaim your views here, and I admire
you for your courage.  I well remember when my views were more of a
minority in the church than yours are in this forum, and it is not
easy to stand against a perceived majority.

Your post is indeed much less emotive than comments directed to me
personally over several decades by some who hold your views. For
example, at a 1995 evangelism conference in Kanuga, one of the
participants told me, "You are a defilement on the Body of Christ, but
I love you."  Another in the same group held my arm and would not let
go, commanding me, "Repent!" and yet another would not let go of my
arm in public, saying, "God has told me to tell you to leave your
African American 'husband'!"

When we lived in Georgia in the 1970s the vestry of my parish sent me
a letter asking me to "find some other place to worship more
sympathetic to your views of gay people."  I knew as certainly as I
have ever known anything that I should not honor their request, lest I
fail to bear witness to the One Who invites us all to the feast.  If
possible, I became even more faithful in attendance.

Sunday after Sunday the rector refused me the Peace and would not
shake my hand at the door at the end of the service.  Three women on
the vestry who had not signed the letter organized a group of women to
sit on the pew with me, rotating one each through the Sundays.
During the week, the rector would excoriate everyone who did so for
month after month.

Using the Atlanta Journal on Palm Sunday in 1976, the bishop summoned
me for discipline for "disturbing the peace and good order of the
Church." AP carried the story round the world.

That afternoon a caller identified himself as Bill Stringfellow from
Block Island, RI. I had never met him, but did know him to be a very
important person, sometimes described as the 'lawyer behind women's
ordination.  "Don't go to that meeting without a lawyer!" he charged

"I am a poor professor at a small black college; I cannot afford a
lawyer," I replied.  Having recently wasted money on a lawyer who was
not able to get us justice when an apartment owner in Macon refused us
explicitly because of race, I was not interested in wasting more money
on a lawyer, and besides, this is church.

"A friend of mine is rector of All Saints in Atlanta.  If he can find
an Episcopalian lawyer who will represent you pro bono, will you

"Yes," I replied. "And if they ever mention the word 'excommunicate'
in your presence again, will you promise me that you will stand up on
the table and say 'I double-dog dare you'?" he asked.  I did not make
that promise.

Ernest was lapsed Baptist and not an Episcopalian.  He did not go to
church except when we were out of town and out of that diocese.  "I
get enough of hate during the week," he said.

To the meeting my lawyer and I brought with us one of my friends who
was a witness to the rector's steady harassment.  "By what authority
do you summon my client for discipline?" my lawyer asked the bishop;
"I can find no references to lay people not on vestries in the canons
of the diocese."

The Standing Committee was also present.  "I spoke in anger," the
bishop replied, obviously distressed.  "Louie, you understand

The bishop was the celebrant at the Integrity Eucharist at GC 1994,
and I was the preacher.  We had long been good friends. After my
sermon, the bishop recalled that struggle two decades earlier and told
the congregation how much I had scared him.  "Louie said God loved him
just as much as God loves me.  Now I know that of course he was
right."  To my surprise, the bishop also thanked me for my gentleness
with him back then;  I remembered myself as being outrageous for
daring to say anything critical of a bishop.  I still do not find it
easy to do so.

About five years ago, I received email of just one sentence from a
stranger:  "Are you the same Louie Crew who used to live in Fort
Valley and had a black lover?"

"Yes," I replied, "and why do you want to know?"

"I was afraid I would never find you, and I am in desperate need of
your forgiveness," he replied.  "I was a teenager back then, and my
family encouraged my brother and me to throw rocks at your apartment
and to call you threatening to murder you.  My father ran you off the
road with his truck several times when you were jogging.  I grew up
gay, and I am having trouble living with myself for having done these
horrible things.  Can you find it in your heart to forgive me?!"

"You were forgiven long before you ever thought to ask," I replied,
"from the same source of my forgiveness, the same source of all
forgiveness.  Bless you!"

"I have an Hispanic lover," he replied, "and my parents have welcomed
us home as a couple."

Eighteen years into our marriage, Ernest became an Episcopalian, in
1992.  He had started attending in part because our rector in Newark
valued him and gave him tasks to do, and because Jack and Christine
Spong are our good friends.  Ernest spends at least a day a week at
the parish as the recording treasurer, and is on the vestry.

Before we moved away from Ft. Valley in 1979, the parish voted to
rescind the vestry's unwelcome.  The parish invited both Ernest and me 
to participate in their 60th anniversary three or four years ago.

How very important it is to God that no one leave!

We do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and
ourselves as your slaves for Jesus' sake.  For it is the God who said,
"Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give
the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus
Christ.  (2 Cor. 4:5-6)

Lutibelle/Louie, L2 Newark

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