Bruce Garner's Letter to Todd Wetzel

Bruce Garner's Letter to Todd Wetzel

Bruce Garner is a past president of Integrity. He served on the Standing Commission on Human Affairs, 1991-1997, and serves now on Executive Council's Commission on AIDS/HIV+. This letter appears with his permission.

E. Bruce Garner
Post Office Box 1151
Atlanta, Georgia 30301

July 27, 1999

The Rev. Todd Wetzel,
Executive Director
Episcopalians United
30325 Bainbridge Rd A-1
Solon, Ohio 44139

Dear Todd,

I read your most recent newsletter [July 1999] the one with the letter from several primates of the Anglican Communion with a degree of sadness. The sadness comes from several areas: First, it is distressing to see so much energy devoted to negativity and exclusion. The effort it takes to continually seek ways to keep people out of the church must be incredibly draining emotionally and psychologically.

Equally saddening is the absence of any evidence of conversations with lesbian or gay members of our church (a Lambeth resolution that seems easily overlooked). No where do I find any discussions of the personal relationships lesbian and gay people have with Jesus Christ. Those relationships exist, Todd. In fact, they are quite common. No where do I see any articles that relate the faith journeys of lesbian and gay people. Those journeys run the gambit from being beautifully simple and ordinary to heart wrenchingly sad to joyfully uplifting and inspiring.

The several primates are quick to condemn and pass judgement based on their literal interpretation of Holy Scripture. Yet none of them takes those same holy passages completely literally at least not all of them. If they did, none would permit divorce. If they did, all would keep kosher households. If they did, none would wear clothing woven from two different fibers. If they did, at least some would be missing parts of various limbs that had committed offenses. The issue is not to take them literally; it is to take them seriously. They provide the models of relationship into which all of us are called. That relationship is summed up in words very familiar to us all: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind. This is the first and great commandment. The second is like unto it: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Talk to me sometime, Todd. I will gladly share with you my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I know I am a beloved child of God who has been saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. Talk to me about the faith journey that has been a part of my life since I was a teenager and sought out a church where I could worship God with my mind as well as the rest of my being. The fact that I am also a gay man does not change any part of those realities in my life one jot or tittle.

I will tell you about my relationship with God, but I will also tell you about the damage to Gods children publications like the one you publish cause. You need to know that you drive people away from the church AND away from God. When I meet my maker I will have to explain my life. I will not have to explain why I tried to exclude people from Gods table. Can you say the same, Todd? How will you answer when asked why you persecuted the Children of God because they happened to have been born lesbian or gay?

Gods table is big enough for all of us. Its big enough to accommodate the glorious rainbow of Gods diverse creation. It is not my place or yours to decide who sits at that table. As I heard once somewhere, the business of the church is to gather, not sort out. The business of determining who belongs and who does not belong is Gods business and Gods alone.

You lament the financial situation of Episcopalians United. Has it never occurred to you that people of good will eventually tire of being asked to fund causes built on negativity and exclusion? Those of us who understand the historic nature of Anglicanism realize that we must live into relationships with people with whom we may differ in a number of ways.

The via media is not neat and tidy. It is messy and often confusing. But it is wide and broad enough for all of us to slip and slide and stumble around together bound up in our common goal to love God and to love each other as we love ourselves. Todd, I will pray and I will do all sorts of battle to insure that you have a place at the table of God and in the via media. Will you do the same for me and for my sisters and brothers who happen to be lesbian and gay?

Yours in the peace of Christ,



Bruce Garner



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