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Re: [HoB/D] a question re: unintended consequences
> What was the situation when anti-miscegenation laws were on the books in
> some states? Did the church refuse to bless such couples? Did they find
> a creative way around the problem? I think you have identified a key
> issue here for the debate, the relationship between Christ and Caesar,
> if you will, and when the church has the right, if not the
> responsibility, to do what it believes to be in keeping with the Great
> Commandment even if the state believes otherwise.
My parish, Grace, is on Broad Street in downtown Newark. When it was
built, a few blocks away was St. Philip's, "for the descendants of the
darkened and deserted Ethiopian," as Bishop George Washington Doane
described them in "The Beauty of Holiness" -- his sermon at the dedication
of Grace on October 5, 1848. (See
Fortunately, bishops can't always keep people in their place.
Congregations, and even whole dioceses, can and do abandon traditions
which do not bring Good News.
Soon after, and before the Civil War, a slave in the Carolinas paid for
his own emancipation and came to live as an artisan in Newark. While
here, he saved up money to pay off the indenture of an Irish woman; the
two had fallen in love in the Carolinas. When she arrived in Newark,
their Catholic parish refused to marry them, but Grace Church did.
Their family has never really left Grace Church since. One of their
granddaughters (or great-granddaughters?), now in her 90s, is the most
respected matriarch at Grace today. Her children, grandchildren, and great
grandchildren have all been part of the parish at one time or another,
though most are professional people and now spread across the country.
It means a lot to both Ernest and me as a racially integrated couple that
Grace Church celebrated our renewal of vows at the same altar in February
2, 1999, on the 25th anniversary of our holy union. (See
Parishes in two dioceses where we lived earlier seriously discussed my
excommunication. The rector of one of them bragged to GTS Dean Roland
Foster that when he saw Ernest on the street, he told Ernest -- one of
only 23 persons of color in the town -- "You are living in sin!" With
such welcome, it is small wonder that, though he enabled my own ministry
in hundreds of ways, Ernest took years before deciding to become an
Episcopalian. He was a reader at the early service at Grace Church for
over two years before he sought confirmation. Now he serves on the vestry
and serves as the parish's recording treasurer.
It also means a lot to us that Samuel Augustus Ward (1848-1903) composed
"America the Beautiful" while he was organist/choirmaster at Grace Church.
It's the kind of parish where one can readily appreciate the beauty of
wholeness and of holiness.
God has blessed us all beyond measure. We who are the Church do not need
to be fearful or stingy in blessing others.
Wherever love and charity are, there God is.
http://www.gracechurchinnewark.org Grace Church's website
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