Saturday, January 17, 2004

Hijacking the church

I've probably bored everyone with my rantings about the church, but I have to add this chapter. This evening, I came back from the vestry retreat totally disheartened and depressed.

Our rector, Father Dearest, has been up to his neck in the AAC. He's going to the Plano conference next week (his second trip in the last few months). This information wasn't divulged exactly willingly.

The whole vestry retreat had been focused on anything else to distract us from what is happening. The shit hit the fan when I questioned the minutes of last week's annual parish meeting. Father Dearest had made a statement at the meeting that both he and the vestry had selected delegates to the diocesan annual convention. I sat up straight. This was news to me -- in fact, there had been no discussion at any vestry meeting about delegates to the convention. All three are extremely conservative. Father Dearest didn't have to take it to the vestry for approval. Maybe he wanted to make it appear to dubious parishioners that he and the vestry were in agreement on the delegates.

When the minutes of the meeting were brought up for approval, I questioned that statement. Father Dearest had to admit it hadn't been mentioned to the vestry. An oversight. Well, let's vote on it now. After all, the delegates have already been to the pre-convention meetings and been briefed on the agenda, etc. Someone else called attention to the fact that these extremely conservative individuals were not representative of the parish as a whole. On what issues would they be voting at the convention? What was on the agenda?

Well, the agenda is AAC platform all the way. There are resolutions to ask the Presiding Bishop to resign, to demand sanctions for all who voted to ratify Gene Robinson as Bishop, etc. One of the ultraconservatives on the vestry said we could look at the AAC Web site to see what the church is doing.

I said the AAC is NOT the church.

Father Dearest said he didn't want to talk about all this stuff. The controversy just stresses him out too much, he said. He just couldn't deal with it. Let's move on to other topics.

We don't need to discuss these important matters in vestry meetings. We shouldn't ask any questions. We shouldn't rock the boat.

It slipped out about the trip to Texas for an AAC meeting. Even one of the conservative good old boys was a little put out that he hadn't know about that.

Father Dearest said he has no intention of leaving the Episcopal Church of the USA at this time. That's cutting no ice with me. The AAC strategy has been leaked: not to officially leave the national church, just do it de facto. Be prepared to be disobedient to the Presiding Bishop, they're telling their constituents in preparation. These renegade bishops plan to thumb their nose at the church but keep the Episcopal name so that they can keep the property in their Dioceses. They've had lawyers investigating how to get the property and this is the only way they can. And they're not convicted enough in their principles to leave without the property.

The parish-by-parish attempt at AAC sign-up wasn't successful. They're going to do it at the Diocesan level. This Diocesan convention is going to be crucial to the future of the Diocese. But we shouldn't bother our little heads about it.

This boat-rocker has had about enough. I'm going to stick around a bit longer just in case there's a miracle or some revelation from God that I must stay. Otherwise I'll be out of there. I'm not sure what to do. I want to stay an Episcopalian, but it's a long drive to any church in a neighboring diocese. Maybe I should start visiting some of the other denomination's churches in the area.

Jesus told us not to put our trust in earthly leaders because they will betray us. He was right.

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