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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



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[LS] Racial restrictions



I remember how surprised the diocesan leadership was in Atlanta in 1975,
1976 or thereabouts when black Episcopalians were upset that the main
banquet of the diocesan council ['convention'] that year would be held in a
country club in Macon that excluded black people except as low-level
employees.

"But we have made special arrangements for black Episcopalians to be
admitted to the banquet," diocesan officials explained on behalf of Christ
Church/Macon, hosts for the convention.   Clearly they expected the black
folks to feel honored by this concession.

As the only white member of a black parish (St. Luke's, Ft. Valley), at the
banquet I sat with most who came from black parishes.  We were a small group
huddled together, and almost no one else spoke with us.  Black folks clearly
did not feel honored to be allowed to dine in a white-only country club. 

A few years earlier, shortly after our marriage in 1974, I took Ernest to
meet Bishop Sims at his office, and while waiting I spotted dottering Bishop
Claiborne, then retired (Bishop of Atlanta from 1953-72).  Bishop Claiborne
had confirmed me at St. Peter's in Rome, Georgia thirteen years earlier, in
October 1961.   Bishop Claiborne was a subject of conjecture to some of his
gay neighbors.  He married late in life, to the widow of a boxer.  Friends of
ours whose lot adjoined his were sometimes fond of saying, down low to be
sure, at garden parties, in those earlier years, "Randy is a dandy!  Randy
is a dandy!" one of them told us. 

"Bishop Claiborne, I would like for you to meet my lover Ernest Clay," I
said.  "You confirmed me in Rome, and we attend St. Luke's in Ft. Valley."

Bishop Claiborne looked us over long and hard, and it was not clear what he
made of us.  It seemed we were not important enough for him to be concerned
at all.  "Oh St. Luke's," he said; "it always had such glorious music when I
visited."

St. Luke's had many fine things about it, but glorious music was never one
of them -- most choir members were over 60, the electronic organ was tinny,
and the congregation sang the hymns lacklusterly.   But stereotypes 'saved
the day,' or at least Bishop Claiborne thought they did.

This is not ancient history -- at least not for me.  I had founded Integrity
in 1974, a year or two before this encounter.

Nor was the chapter in Atlanta happy about us either for the first few
years.  One convener wrote the national president Ron Wesner+ asking him to
"get rid of Louie Crew and his black 'husband'!"   Twice another of their
early conveners, an English professor like me, invited me to speak to the
chapter, and each time only he showed up.   

I hasten to add that 10-12 years later that attitude disappeared, and
Integrity/Atlanta has long been one of the most inclusive and loving
communities I know.

I believe in the Holy Spirit:  I have seen the Holy Spirit happen, in others
and in myself.  I am glad that I won't approach the throne of Grace with the
attitudes carefully taught to me in apartheid Alabama in the 1930s and 40s.
I am enormously grateful to black people who, as God's stand-ins, lovingly,
insistently hold me to much higher standards.

Especially as you face the current conflicts in the Anglican Communion, love
your `enemies' well, for they will soon be your friends, with God's help. 

Louie

Louie Crew, 377 S. Harrison St., 12d, East Orange, NJ 07018.  973-395-1068
http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~lcrew



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