Many years ago I learned in a Georgia History class that
|Click on the map to enlarge|
this, my native state, originally had been established as a “buffer colony” to
protect the older and more established settlements in the Carolinas and
Virginia from attacks by the Spanish colonists and native Indians in
When looking at the map
showing the results of those voting at the General Convention to confirm the
election of Canon Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire
, Atlanta repeats
history and appears as a buffer diocese to protect the future and inevitable
change that I personally believe that God has in store for the Episcopal Church
of the Untied States.
To the south,
east and west of our diocese, the map shows that the bishops and delegates to
the General Convention voted against the confirmation of Bishop-elect Robinson
Cobb County is recognized,
ridiculed, condemned and boycotted by many who are supportive of gay
rights. But within this county known
for its lack of understanding, intolerance, fear and in far too many instances
pure hatred of homosexuals, there has long existed the comforting and welcoming
buffer of St. James’. The historic and
enlightened actions of the General Convention have now—for the first time in
the eleven years I have been a member here—fostered unexpected and totally
unanticipated anxiety concerning my parish.
I know that St. James’ will survive. I know that I will survive. I know
that my relationship will survive.
What, then is there to be uneasy about?
The answer is simple—nothing,
provided that I put my trust in God.
This sounds easy enough, but at times it isn’t. I remain torn between sitting back and
letting others take the reigns of leadership and a desire to become involved
myself. On-going prayer for guidance
and an attempt to become better informed on what the Bible says and does not
say about homosexuality is the path I am currently following. But I will leave
the quoting of scripture to those who are much more qualified than I will ever
be, with one exception, a simple statement by Christ, “Love one another.” This
seems pretty simple to me and I prefer to leave it that way—simple.
But I can say what I feel in my
heart and in doing so I do become involved: God loves me just as he made me and
has shown this love with countless blessings, one of the greatest being leading
me to St. James’ and a comforting connection for the first time in many years
to a real church home.
I have sought the guidance of
someone I greatly admire and who was very actively involved with the General
Convention in my quest to both sort out my feelings and to help verbalized
them. He has taken the time to point
out or reiterate several important truths to me as well as suggest my own
obligations to my church community at this time:
V. Gene Robinson
people of New Hampshire know Gene Robinson better than any of those who
criticize him, as he has served them for 28 years.
was chosen as their bishop because the people who really know him feel he was
the best choice, and he just happens to be gay.
is the opposition who has made Canon Robinson the “gay bishop,” not those who
charge that Gene Robinson left his wife and children to begin a relationship
with another man are voiced by the uninformed.
The bishop-elect met his partner many months following an amicable
divorce in which he gained joint custody of his children. He remains in close contact with his former
wife. His eldest daughter accompanied
her father and his partner to the General Convention.
have an obligation and a wonderful opportunity to live in the church of the
future now, before the opposition does.
I must love
those with opposing viewpoints where they are.
The real challenge comes from the
last obligation, loving those with opposing viewpoints. Among the disturbing stories I have received
from a priest friend in the aftermath of the General Convention have been the
account of a parish priest in Texas who led his procession, including young
acolytes given no choice but to follow their leader, in trampling the flag of
the Episcopal Church as they made their way to the altar, and the dean of an
Alabama cathedral who flew a black flag over his church following the
convention, causing one observer to astutely comment, “A black flag! As if it
were a roach motel with stained glass rather than a place of worship, love and
Could such atrocities occur here
at the buffer of St. James’? One would
hope not. But I personally find it hard to believe that one church within our
diocese, in total opposition to the affirmative vote of our bishop, has
announced as a method of protest that they are withholding funds from the
diocese. Or, in another case, learn
that a rector had in his recent sermon that it was his understanding that
decisions made at the convention “led to a shouting match at one Marietta
parish last week.”
“Love those with opposing
viewpoints”? Perhaps harder than it
seems, but it must be done.
“Love one another.” Simple, yes—easy, no.
When the first colonists set foot
on Georgia soil at Savannah Bluff in 1733 a buffer began. When the cornerstone of St. James’ was laid
in 1842 a buffer began. When the
Diocese of Atlanta voted in 2003 to support the choice of the people of New
Hampshire a buffer began. The fledging
colony survived. The infant parish
survived. And the Episcopal Church of
the United States will survive.
But we must all do our individual
parts in guaranteeing and nourishing this survival. Change in all things is inevitable. Change within our parish, both physical and emotional, is obvious
as we look around us. Change within the whole church is ongoing. I, too, hope to change and perhaps through
voicing my opinion this is a beginning.
I support the decision of Bishop Alexander and his majority of delegates
to the General Convention, the recent sermon of our rector, and will try, with
God’s help, to be supportive of those
who disagree. May all of us extend the
same courtesy to our brothers and sisters in Christ. – jvmm 27 August 2003
J. V. Michael Motes Newgate2000@aol.com
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