Monday, December 15, 2008

Finding Your Ground In A Strange Land

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.

8 comments:

wdnix said...

Matt,

Many loyal Episcopalians in the Diocese of Fort Worth share your angst. But they are organizing to continue the presence of the church in union with the Episcopal Church. Log onto steeringcommitteente.org for information on plans and for a list of loyal Episcopal parishes.

Bill

liturgy said...

Not just a new province,
but a whole new Anglican Communion!
See:
http://www.liturgy.co.nz/blog/true-anglican-communion/246

Catherine + said...

Matt, I am contacting Barbi Click in Fort Worth to help you find an ECUSA congregation. Email me at centauri12@gmail.com and I can then send you the information.

Catherine+

Catherine + said...

Barbi Click said to tell you t contact Trinity -- Give him the name Thomas Squiers -- tsquiers@inbox.com. Or there are several faith communities. Here is the website for a list of what is happening and where the FCs are. http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http://www.steeringcommitteente.org%2Findex.htm.

Tell him that there are lots of people in FW...you just gotta look under the right rocks! :0
Barbi

Anonymous said...

Thanks to everyone for the contacts!

-Matt

AnglicanAlone said...

Hi Matt,
Thanks for the post! It's a very interesting contrast to what I've gone through since moving to Seattle 6 years ago. In moving to the Northwest, I also found myself spiritually homeless. Time after time I'd visit Episcopal churches who clearly didn't want the trouble of including an orthodox Anglican in their midst and, not wanting to be a troublemaker, I quietly moved on. I visited other denominations but sorely missed the liturgy and taking sacramental communion. The diocese of Olympia is truly "ahead" of Ft. Worth in terms of the progression of acceptance and redefinition of Biblical principles. Oh how I would trade you places! At least there are TEC churches left in Diocese of Ft. Worth. There are no orthodox Anglican congregations, TEC or not, that would willingly take me in anywhere within 40 minutes of Seattle. I'm not picky with my affiliation on this count, but the lack of pickiness hasn't helped me find a church family in an area where all conservative priests have long since been replaced.

Good luck finding a church in Ft. Worth. I'm sure there are several TEC churches that will welcome you happily, and I know you'll find a new church home. I just wish I could say the same for myself.

Anonymous said...

AnglicanAlone,
Have you tried St. Luke's in Ballard? They are a conservative parish that has managed to stay within the diocese of Olympia. St. Paul's (the parish that writes this blog) is not a conservative place politically, but we do have a wonderful anglo-catholic sacramental mass. And all are welcome.

AnglicanAlone said...

Thanks Anon! I'll check out the recommendations. :) When I look for "conservative" I'm speaking theologically, not politically. I see no need to be in a politically homogeneous church. An Anglo-Catholic mass sounds great!