How to begin…I have written and erased at least three sentences and have put this off as I attempt to sort out this hairball of emotions. How do I put into just a few sentences all the hope and fear that is churning within me regarding this weekend of reconstituting the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth?
I remember attending the Special Convention called by then bishop Jack Leo Iker in September 2003. The events of that day are burned into my memory. The special convention was called due to the actions of General Convention '03. As we all know well, Gene Robinson had been called and elected by the Diocese of New Hampshire and this election was approved at General Convention by the Episcopal Church at large.
There, those who worried, fretted and argued that the fact that Gene was a gay man in a committed relationship could cause problems for the Church. However, he was elected, ironically, on the same premise as was Jack Leo Iker; that is, the people of the diocese elected him and there were no character flaws obvious to keep the deputies and bishops from approving that election. So it was.
Of course, the Diocese of Fort Worth had been angry at the main body of the Church for a while. The good bishop and most of the clergy did not believe that women should be admitted into the process of ordination. They felt it to be in opposition to the Holy Scriptures. The approval of Gene Robinson was yet one more trial to which the clergy and bishop of Fort Worth could not offer acceptance.
Had they gone about the objection in a different way, the outcome might have been different. However, from the beginning, the bishop showed such a disdain for Bishop Robinson, making fun of his name, sneering at those who disagreed with him and wittingly egging others to do the same. People in power lead by example and his example was to act in a childish, snide and diminutive way. Others followed that lead. The result was lies, lies and more lies.
The Special Convention was full of hate and misinformation with the majority of those there buying into both fully. I found myself in the full grasp of the Holy Spirit and realized with a great deal of panic that I needed to speak out against some of the fear and hate that covered the room with a putrid pall.
Giving into this Spirit that gripped me, I told her that she best be putting words in my mouth. And well she did.
I stood up at the microphone and introduced myself as a Lay Reader, volunteer on various committees and Altar Guild, mother, daughter, sister, niece, aunt, lover, friend and a Lesbian. I asked them to please look and me and let my face burn into their memories the next time that they begin to think of "homosexuals" as pedophiles, murderers, thieves and all the other horrendous analogies many by them (clergy and lay) stupidly made. I said thank you and I sat down.
One might have thought that it would have made a difference. Maybe it did to a few. But immediately the next person began speaking and it was fairly obvious that those whose minds were set in stone would not be moved. The hate and rage grew from there.
This Special Convention called by the Presiding Bishop to elect a Provisional Bishop and to reconstitute the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth was very different than that other Special Convention.
Joy-filled, joyful, unbridled and even a bit rowdy – all these words could be used to describe the atmosphere there. I likened the atmosphere to the image of people coming up out of a dark dungeon and for the first time in a very long while seeing the sunlight. As their eyes adjusted to the light, the joy at being released from the darkness just could not be bound up by Robert's Rules of Order.
So, is the problem solved? No. Jack Iker may have been the one to blame for many (most) of the problems but he was not alone.
Will the problem right itself? It will, with God's help and with a whole lot of work by the people of the Diocese.
Everything is not now perfect in Fort Worth. But it is a whole lot better than it used to be! I still have to sort out all my emotional entanglement between Fort Worth and Missouri. But I am working on it and I think I already have the answer. Fort Worth will always be home but Missouri is where we are called to be at this time. Here we will stay until God directs us in another direction.
Meanwhile in Fort Worth, as several people said, "Welcome to Easter in February!"
Thanks be to GOD! Alleluia Alleluia!