by Matt Markell
At the moment I’m writing from my new home in Fort Worth. Moving from Seattle to this place has proved to be a huge transition for us, and continues to be so. I am so proud to have found a new home in the Episcopal congregation through St. Paul’s while we were in Seattle. It continues to remain my church home until I have found a congregation where I feel called to make my new home. This task, however, is proving to be difficult because of where I live.
Recently, I visited a parish in the Fort Worth diocese here, a diocese that has recently left the Episcopal church of North America over the election of Gene Robinson as the first openly gay bishop. As the service began, I leafed through the bulletin and found an announcement of this recent decision. In it was printed, “This week the Fort Worth diocese voted and elected to leave the Episcopal church of North America and realign with the Anglican province of the Southern Cone.” It went on to say, “this historic vote was a stand for the historic faith and practice of the Christian church.”
So, now the tone was set. During the prayers of the people, juxtaposed against this announcement was, “for our communion, that you will raise up instruments of healing and reconciliation, that we may maintain constant love for one another and be connected to that larger community where Christ most fully is to be found, let us pray to the Lord. Lord have mercy.” I openly wept. I felt like crying out loud, “are you all blind?” How do you achieve reconciliation, when you clearly don’t believe in it? The message was clear about whom was in and who was out of the “larger community where Christ is most fully to be found.” I left before the Eucharist. I could not participate in the hypocrisy.
I lament the Fort Worth diocese’s decision and find myself rather spiritually homeless in this land. The temptation for me is to allow my soul and spirit to succumb to confusion and grief. I am working hard at not allowing this to happen. Yes, I need to mourn and experience the grief, but I am determined not to let it govern my future. I’ve found throughout my life that these kinds of desert experiences are initiatory times. If anything, this experience allows me to reflect on how lucky I was to have found a parish like St. Paul’s during the brief time that I had there. I’m not sure what that means for me personally, but I am trusting that God has a purpose for our family here in Fort Worth. In the meantime, be thankful for your community, and continue to pray for the wounded church. At the moment, I am busy shaking the dust off of my feet, and looking to move forward.
Matt Markell was baptized on January 13, 2008 at St. Paul's.