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Finding a parish where you will feel welcomed



On Jan 24 10:31pm ***** *** wrote:

> Your post leads me to reflect on a decision I had to make last
> Sunday, while on vacation in Florida.  When I travel, I *always*
> check websites in advance, to find an Episcopal parish that I can
> visit when I'm "on the road" on a Sunday.  Typically, that is a fun
> event for me; I enjoy making contact with other Episcopalians
> throughout the country.  But I did not do so on this trip, for I
> knew I would be in central Florida on a Sunday; as a lesbian and
> member of the Diocese of Missouri, I assumed I would not be welcomed
> anywhere in that diocese.  It was a sad day for me.
>
> You may treat this as a private message or share it with the HoBD list --
> whichever you deem most prudent.
>
> ***** ****
> ******** ****** Church, **************, Diocese of Missouri

*****,

Next time you plan to visit Central Florida or any other part of
TEC, contact me or others who can help you identify the parishes most
likely to welcome you as lesbian.  They are everywhere, though some
are less conspicuously welcoming than others. Also, The Oasis
maintains a national list of "Welcoming Episcopal Parishes" at
http://theoasis.dioceseofnewark.org/resources_welcoming.htm

The same goes for conservatives who want to worship with other
conservatives.  I can help you identify fine conservative parishes
here in Newark and in every other diocese of the Episcopal Church.

But why seek out our own?  It is God who invites us, God who welcomes
us at every altar.  Why limit ourselves to a subset of that love?

The Episcopal Church is glorious in its diversity.  Don't miss out on
that experience.  Introduce yourself and your partner wherever you
worship.  Do not expect those who disagree or disapprove to grow
snouts.  Many who disagree with me or disapprove of me live far more
faithfully than I do.  I have received God's blessing full measure,
pressed down and running over, but I have no exclusive franchise on
that blessing.  I do not attend a parish asking it to give me its Good
House Keeping Seal of Approval, nor to give it mine.  I have already
been baptized and marked as God's own forever.  So have those who
disagree with me or disapprove of my faith choices.

If I were visiting Orlando, I would welcome an opportunity to worship
at the Cathedral, and I would be welcomed.  If I were in Ft. Worth, I
would welcome an opportunity to visit Chris Cantrell's parish, and I
would be welcomed.  The one experience that I treasure from my
attendance at "Plano 1" in Dallas last October was the opportunity to
attend Mass with Bishop Iker....  As Byron Rushing reminded us in his
sermon at our diocesan convention yesterday, Christians sometimes meet
other Christians whom we do not know, but we already have a Friend in
common.

I have just completed eight years as a member of our Standing
Committee.  When I was first elected, I felt I needed to know more
about the diversity within my own diocese, and through the eight years
I have worshiped at many of the parishes in the diocese.  What a
blessing that has been for me!  I highly recommend the experience to
others.  How much richer the TEC will be for all if we commit
ourselves to visit a different parish on just 3 or 4 different Sundays
of a year.  Do visit my own parish, Grace/Newark, if you are ever in
the NYC area.  The experience will make it obvious why Samuel Ward
composed "America the Beautiful"  when he was our organist and choir
master, and why Bishop Doane titled his sermon at the 1848 dedication
of Grace "The Beauty of Holiness."  And our incense is so sweet you
will cut back on your dry cleaning bill.  And you can hear up to eight
languages (and delight in up to eight cuisines) at our coffee hour.

Someone teased me once about my many visitations, saying "That's what
a bishop does."  Not exactly.  Parishes know when a bishop is coming
and clean up.  I have the great pleasure of experiencing the diversity
just as it is, not gussied up for me; and it is marvelous.  I enjoy
pot-luck sermons. Few people have any idea of how diverse TEC is, but
God knows.

The parish that I have visited the most frequently in my diocese is
one of our AAC parishes. I go expecting to see Jesus, and I am never
disappointed.

As the lessons today stress, we are all one body.  One part cannot say
to another, 'I have no need of you.'

Joy!

L.
Newark, member of Executive Council





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