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A series of essays toward General Convention 2003 and beyond


American Anglican Council Bans National Church Leader, Women's Caucus Editor, Others from Dallas Conference

American Anglican Council
Bans National Church Leader,
Women's Caucus Editor,
Others from Dallas Conference

Louie Crew's Sexuality May Be Factor

Editor of Episcopal Women's Caucus Journal Also Banned

AAC's Unwelcome Mat in Church Which `Welcomes All' Criticized; Prayer Vigil and Fast Sought by Integrity Officer

By Jack H. Taylor, Jr. jhtj@swbell.net
TR&I Publishing

DALLAS, Oct. 2, 2003 -- After weeks of planning and costs, an influential and widely regarded leader of the Episcopal Church has been denied promised media credentials and banned from the American Anglican Council's anxiety meeting set at the Wyndham Anatole Hotel in Dallas from October 7-9.

Louie Crew, Ph.D., D.D., a member of the national church's Executive Council, was denied press credentials even though he is a monthly contributor to and member of the editorial board of The Witness, a magazine targeting Episcopalians and Anglicans. At least one other staff member of The Witness also was denied media credentials, among several journalists whose writings or sexualities are found unacceptable by the schismatic, ultra-conservative AAC.

The AAC's meeting is intended to deal with conservatives' anguish over the church's
"General Convention inflicted a severe pastoral crisis on our Church. Many of the attendees of our conference are deeply wounded and confused. A couple of individuals were denied press credentials because they are highly recognizable and polarizing activists who have helped lead the Episcopal Church to the painfully broken state that it is in today. The AAC felt it would be pastorally insensitive to have such polarizing figures at this particular event."

Bruce E. Mason
Media Officer and Program Coordinator
American Anglican Council
1110 Vermont Ave., NW
Suite 1180
Washington, DC 20005

202-296-5360
202-296-5361 FAX
bmason@americananglican.org

Visit us at http://www.americananglican.org

acceptance of the election of an openly gay bishop and allowing local jurisdictions to bless same-sex unions. The AAC, however, has no official standing and no power to alter the church's decisions, made in August at its triennial general convention in Minneapolis. In fact, the AAC, composed of Episcopalians who call themselves Orthodox Anglicans, is but one of several small splinter groups of the church which have been objecting for years without effecting any changes to the ordination of women and modification of the Book of Common Prayer, decisions dating back more than 20 years. In recent years, the AAC, primarily funded by an anti-gay Zealot from California, has been pre-occupied with issues of homosexuality.

That focus raises questions about whether the AAC banned Dr. Crew from covering its conference because he is gay and has been a leading advocate for human rights embracing gays and lesbians in the church for longer than the AAC has been inexistence. In 1974, he founded Integrity, the church's ministry for gays and lesbians, and has served on its Editorial Board since 1989.

The ban puts the Wyndham Anatole Hotel, site of the conference, in the awkward if not legally precarious position of sanctioning a meeting by a group which by its own proclamations discriminates against gays and lesbians and may by extension place the hotel in violation of federal, state and local anti-discrimination laws. The hotel is the annual site of the country's largest `Black Tie Dinner,' a fundraiser sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian and gay equal rights organization. The next dinner is planned there next month. The hotel's management has so far declined to comment.

Crew is professor emeritus in the English Department at Rutgers University and lives in Newark [East Orange] with a partner of more than a quarter century [married 2/2/74]. He also is a lay deputy to the national church's general convention from Newark and is winner of the Bishop's Cross in the Diocese of Newark. In addition to his diocesan and national church offices, he is a [past] member of the Standing Commission on Anglican and International peace and Justice Concerns, and once served as its secretary. He also is creator of the bishops-deputies discussion list and creator of unofficial Anglican pages, chocked so full of information about the church and the Anglican Communion that they attract more than 660 persons per day.

Crew has been such a leader in the human rights and peace and justice areas that he once served as a director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and on the Wisconsin Governor's Council for Gay and Lesbian Issues. Ironically, he also has been a welcome participant in church conferences featuring dialog between him and the Rt. Rev. James M. Stanton, Bishop of Dallas, a founder of the AAC and, although having distanced himself from the group because of its radical direction in recent years, the scheduled celebrant at an opening Eucharist at its Dallas conference.

Asked for comment, Bishop Stanton said through his Dallas office that he is not involved in the AAC's conference planning and therefore has nothing to do with who is approved or disapproved for attendance. He confirmed that he has been invited to celebrate a Tuesday evening Eucharist, presumably closed to those banned from the conference, an uncharacteristic approach to a religious service by a Church that prides itself on welcoming all.

Crew's ban became widely known within the church and promptly decried by some church leaders after he posted the following comment to all church bishops and deputies and noted that he will come to Dallas and observe the conference from a distance:

Just days before the summit, weeks after I registered for it and paid for my flight, I have been denied press credentials. I'll be keeping a non-anxious vigil in the halls of the summit hotel. I encourage those there to spend some gentle time with me. Please pray for the whole state of Christ's church.

He signed the note with his customary, "Lutibelle/Louie," and identified himself as "Member of Editorial Board of The Witness Magazine, L2 Nwk (No. 2 Deputy, Diocese of Newark), Member of Executive Council."

The AAC would ban Crew and another staff member of The Witness may have more to do with their sexuality or writings than the bona fides of the magazine, whose credibility as a part of then media is beyond question, although the AAC may not subscribe to its all-inclusive philosophy, notwithstanding its own claims of adherence to the teachings of Jesus Christ, who taught inclusive love for all. The Witness bills itself at its website as "the only publication aimed at Episcopalians and the Anglican Communion that embraces -- without equivocation -- the liberation perspective that flows from the very core of Christian belief and values. We side with Jesus' radical claim that every person, every creature, every part of creation belongs to God and deserves the deepest respect and care. We represent no particular group or organization, so we are free -- free to ask the emperor's-clothes questions, free to think outside the box of institutional assumptions, free to stir up controversy, free to offer encouragement, free to testify to promises kept and promises broken, free to get personal, and free to offer voice to concerns even our very closest friends find uncomfortable."

In addition to Crew's posting to the church's bishops and deputies, the Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton, a Chatham. NJ, priest and director of programs for the national Integrity, posted a plea for prayers and a fast vigil planned for Friday, October 3rd, ahead of the AAC's conference, called "A Place To Stand" and advertised as seeking to determine a strategy to appeal to the Anglican Communion Primates meeting later this month in England. She stated:

I have been praying and will continue to do so. I understand that `all are welcome' to this conference but must sign a `Statement of Belief' before being granted admission. (The AAC's statement is the antithesis of the beliefs and practices of all Episcopalians but the rigid rightists. It is believed that those in the vast majority, as stated by Crew, could not in good conscience, sign it.)

Kaeton went on to decry the ban of Crew and others.

I am deeply troubled to learn that a member of the Executive Council and the Editorial Board of The Witness, a publication of the Episcopal Church Publishing Company, as well as the Editor of RUACH, a publication of The Episcopal Women's Caucus have been - at the very last moment - denied press credentials.

Thus, both Louie Crew and Katie Sherrod (a former columnist for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the wife of a priest in Fort Worth) have been denied access to this conference which says `all are welcome.' Apparently, the invitation to the Prayer Vigil and Fast is not a frivolous request. The need is a real and serious concern. I think God's heart must be broken.


You are welcome to submit your essays for consideration for this series. Send them to lcrew@newark.rutgers.edu Identify yourself by name, snail address, parish, and other connections to the Episcopal Church. Please encourage others to do the same.

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