Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ain't Done Crashin'

This is the story of what happens when someone in Fort Worth dares to offer a counterargument to the bishop and the standing committee's efforts to leave The Episcopal Church.

First, let me introduce Marvin and Gloria Long . Marvin and Gloria are long time members of Christ the King Episcopal Church in Fort Worth. They have been deeply involved in the parish for years, giving of their time, talent, and treasure in countless ways.

Christ the King has long had a special place in my heart because my husband, Gayland Pool, was rector there back in 1976. (This was many years before we were married.)

That was when they located an abandoned Methodist chapel being used to store hay. They bought the Texas Gothic building, moved it into Fort Worth and restored it in time for the July 4 Bicentennial celebration. The little white church on the west side of town soon won the heart of the city with its simple elegant beauty.

These days, the rectors and interims at the parish are firmly in the bishop's pocket, even if many in the congregation are not. The reference to "saddle your own horse" was from a speech given by Bonnie Anderson, president of the House of Deputies, in Fort Worth in September.

I'll let Marvin tell his own story:
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By way of introduction, my name is Marvin Long, a parishioner of Christ The King Episcopal Church in Fort Worth Texas since 1992. I am 67 and was confirmed an Episcopalian in 1963. I have served on the vestry and as Senior Warden and as Lay Minister. Until last week I edited Celebration, the church news letter. I would like to recount what happens in the diocese of Fort Worth when one `saddles up his own horse and stands up for ECUSA.'

On October 2, 2007, the diocesan office released the amendments to the diocesan constitution and canons that would "begin the process of affiliating with another Province of the World Wide Anglican Communion." Subsequently, my wife and I wrote the vestry of Christ the King parish and requested that they pass a resolution stating their intention to remain with ECUSA and withdrawing the congregation from the Anglican Communion Network.

On Sunday morning Oct. 21 at both services our interim priest preached a sermon maliciously attacking ECUSA. The senior warden attended the vestry meeting that day and handed out the old attack on ECUSA by Bishop Harold Miller of the Church of Ireland with a cover letter from Bp. Jack Iker.

I decided to include four polite articles in the November issue of Celebration that support ECUSA. For my efforts, I was removed by the interim priest as editor of the newsletter and from all other church functions. My lay minister's license was revoked (an act reserved for the bishop) and I was forced to shut down the church's web site. The small weekly healing service I and a few other liberals regularly attended was cancelled until further notice.

On Sunday, Nov. 4, I was publicly excoriated for the Celebration in both church services by the priest and the Sr. Warden. So there you have it: what happens when you saddle up your horse in Ft. Worth.

The bright side is that there is support for ECUSA here. Although I am saddened by the current state of affairs, I hopefully look for the national church to reassert itself. Come soon. I'm still on my horse.

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Marvin posted this on the Fort Worth Via Media listserve, and received many replies sympathizing with him and offering encouragement. His reply is below:

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I want to thank you all for your expressions of love and support. You keep me with my head up and a smile on my face. That goes for Gloria, too.

As far as giving up is concerned, I will share one of my favorite stories.

After an aircraft is repaired, it must be test flown and certified OK by a pilot. An old Cessna Citation (Number 123WB) had some repair work done at Alliance airport and was taken for a spin by a test pilot. As he approached for a landing, he saw the three green lights that say the landing gear is down and locked, but when he touched down the gear collapsed and he went screeching down the runway at 125 mph trailing a plume of sparks and smoke.

The tower operator saw him go by and shouted into the radio, “Citation Whiskey Bravo! Do you need assistance!?”

The pilot radioed back calmly while keeping the wreck lined up on the centerline, “I don’t know yet, I ain’t done crashin’.”

Well, I ain’t done crashin’. I’ll stay ‘til the end and I plan to come out on top. Good things are going to happen at CTK because of this.


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No, we ain't done crashin' yet here in Fort Worth. We know it's going to be an ugly wreck. But we're hanging on and we plan to walk away from in in one piece -- spiritually battered, physically and emotionally exhausted, but steadfast in our resolve. We are Episcopalians, whether Bp. Iker and his minons like it or not.

UPDATE: If you want to see the Celebration newsletter that caused all this, go to
http://anewcelebration.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/11/november-2007-celebration.pdf

10 comments:

introspectreangel said...

This post gave me chills! I had not yet been blessed enough to discover TEC when I moved away from Fort Worth 6 years ago, but I was received into the church in 2003 in the Diocese of Oklahoma. Worry about finding a parish community in Fort Worth has been the only thing that has marred my joy about moving home. It gives me great hope to read this story of a faithful member of the Body of Christ willing to stand up for what is right, regardless of the consequences to his ministry.

Anonymous said...

I was Rector of Christ the King after Gayland Pool. At that time, CTK was full of joy and liberality. The diocese, after being cleaved from Dallas, was conservative, though I think it has become much worse. It saddens me that the Interim & Senior Warden treated Marvin in such a shabby way. To me, one of the marks of Anglicanism is inclusiveness, which these break-away people seem to ignore.
I attend St. Thomas the Apostle in Dallas, which is maily gay & lesbian, though many straight individuals and families attend because they like the atmosphere. Stephen Waller, the Rector, is always urging us to go against our desire to demonize the right wing. He points out that we are to love them even if we cannot stomach them, and know that they would just as soon burn us at the stake!
Hang in there Marvin. You are not alone. The whole church is NOT the Diocese of Ft. Worth or the Diocese of Dallas. Mercifully, I saw this as a priest in the Diocese of New York. Since I am now retired, that is where my canonical residence remains. Just know that the majority of ECUSA is thinking the way YOU do! Michael Winsor

Anonymous said...

How hard it is to watch evil play itself out -- especially when that evil has such a hold on the church God has given us.

Thank you, Katie, for this article. It is important that the wider church be aware of the enormous hurt imposed by your bishop and those who align themselves with him.

I hope you, Gayland, and others have plenty of opportunity to sing hymn 688: "And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us: we will not fear, for God has willed his truth to triumph through us. ." We all wish the task were easier.
Tom Woodward

Fr Craig said...

Katie - I check you daily and it makes me sick to see the ugliness that the bishop et al are promulgating. Please know that you are in my prayers - wish I could do more. Don't know, but have a feeling +Iker will be surprised at how few finally follow him...

Anonymous said...

Gee, aren't the same people who have restricted your participation in the church you love the same people that are always talking about being marginalized and persecuted by those evil power hungry liberals? I have always suspected that were the traditionalists to regain political power they would be far more draconian than the we progressives would ever conceive of being. My prayers are offered for those of you caught in places like Fort Worth where the traditionalists have indeed held political power.

Muthah+ said...

Martin and Katie,
I have just returned from visiting family in FTW. I must admit that I avoid the Episc. Church in FTW when I visit. This was my mother's 95th birthday so I didn't have time to check in on my Episc. horse saddleing companions in the dio.

Clerical violence is not just a conservative phenomenon. There are dioceses where so called progressive bishops do much the same thing. People with power when having to deal with truths that are uncomfortable will strike with all the power at their disposal. But so far you have not been deprived of you means of supporting your family as some of your clergy has.


The most important thing about speaking the truth to power is to be united. Find others in the parish who feel as you do. Find others in the diocese and unite with them as Via Media has been. The right wing will leave and that will mean that those who have been moderates will have to step up to the leadership.

Remember that this will pass. You are fighting the good fight. Saddleing your own horse may be a good euphemism, but the reality is that it will be the members of the diocese who choose to take back the diocese from the naysayers. No, you will have to all saddle your horses together--and what a posse that will be!

Anonymous said...

Katie, thank you for your post. You are not forgotten in Fort Worth. The frightened do controlling things. Marilyn

Anonymous said...

introspectreangel, Our former parish, Trinity, Fort Worth, has de-networked themselves. Marilyn Bedford

Anonymous said...

Here’s another example of the goings on at CtK in Ft. Worth.
For some time I’ve been printing out and posting the weekly bulletins from Episcopal Life Online, the official TEC website. I tacked them to the bulletin board in the hallway going to the parish hall. This all went very well until I posted an insert that had a picture of the Presiding Bishop. The insert, dated November 4, 2007, had a picture of PB KJS and the headline “Reflections on one-year as Presiding Bishop”. Last Sunday as I was posting the current insert I noticed the one with the picture of PB Schori had been removed. It was the only one missing. I can only presume that someone did not like her picture being displayed in the church. If it was removed for that reason I consider it a very petty act. But on the other hand I am not surprised considering the increasing atmosphere of repression and the desire for control of information in the Diocese of Fort Worth. We also have a very nice portrait of +Iker posted near our library but we don’t have one of PB Schori. I doubt that it would be allowed.
Last Sunday I posted a news bulletin from the official TEC website that contained the letter the PB sent to +Iker. There were negative comments made about that.
Of further note is that I was at the vestry meeting when the issue of removing the parish from the “Network was discussed. I too wrote a letter requesting that CtK be taken out of the Network. The vestry chose not to act due to new information that was brought to light at the meeting. It appears that the Diocese had changed the Constitution to require a two-thirds vote of the parish for any such action. I find this strange in that our parish was listed with the Network at the whim of +Iker. It appears to be another means of control.
Marvin did nothing wrong when he mailed the newsletter with no prior approval as he had been doing all along. I found the articles useful in providing another view of what is going on in the church. It certainly is not the view you will find on the Diocesan website. I believe +Iker is wrong in his actions against Marvin and did it to try and silence a dissenting voice. I too am a licensed layreader at CtK but don’t know how long I will be after this since I won’t be using an alias.
Personally I don’t think God cares if the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church is a man or a woman. The real tragedy is that how all this looks from the outside. My how Satan must be beaming as our energies are diverted from the works of mercy and the saving of souls to our own trifling concerns.
Well time for me to saddle up. I’d better make sure that cinch is tight!
Acta non verba - Action not words
Harold Parkey

introspectreangel said...

Thank you Marilyn - so has St. Martin in the Fields in Southlake,
which is a little closer to where I will be living. As far as I can
determine, these two parishes are the only ones who have
"de-Networked" at this time.