I’m Not One of the Mushy Middle

Sarah Dylan Breuer attended a meeting of something called the Lay Episcopalians for the Anglican Church. This appears to be a front for the people who want to take control of the Episcopal Church and fight the mythical “gay agenda.” Here’s what she experienced: The Witness: Inside LEAC

Ince walked a careful line in the meeting. On one hand, he was eager to present LEAC as an organization completely independent, not only of the Anglican Communion Network, the American Anglican Council, and Anglicans United, but also of All Saints’ Chevy Chase — despite that it was the site for all organizational meetings, survey tabulations, and other announced functions.

“The reason for that I think you know,” he said. “Clergy can’t be identified with some of the strong positions this organization will take. Priests can suffer under the tyranny of bishops, so clergy will have credible denial that they have anything to do with [LEAC].”

At the same time Ince presented LEAC as having powerful — and anonymous — allies from other conservative organizations.

He noted that he’d had extensive conversations with Bill Boniface of the American Anglican Council’s “Episcopal Witness” (not to be confused with The Witness magazine) initiative for laity, and that they’d “tried very hard” to merge the two organizations. He noted in particular that he’d had “good meetings” in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and that “a number of employees” of the diocese there had contributed financially to LEAC, and “committed to help in any way they can as individuals.” And “three of the top people in the Anglican side of the Episcopal Church in America,” Ince said, had telephoned to say that they “will do all they can to support us without incurring reprisals against clergy.”

Where LEAC differed most from these other organizations, according to Ince, was in the extent of their ambition. “We disagree with clergy-led organizations” like the AAC and ACN, he explained, “in their seeming to be satisfied with the policy of saving only a remnant of our church, those affiliated with organizations.”

LEAC aims to secure the allegiance of 80% of Episcopalian parishioners — and a significant chunk of their pledges as well. The four “well-defined” initiatives Ince hopes LEAC will do before and during General Convention 2006 will cost an estimated $90,000, and he’s hoping that you’ll consider donations to LEAC “part of your church tithing.”

What are these projects? Ince wouldn’t say, except to say that they were targeted at what he called the “mushy middle,” which he estimated to be 80% of the church. Ince believes that these people don’t support ordaining gay clergy or blessing same-sex relationships, but value staying with their parish and the Episcopal Church more than they do fighting such trends. Ince fears that “without somewhat grotesque education” they will “go with the Episcopal Church” — instead of what, he didn’t say, except that it would involve their being “settled in a good, Christian, Anglican environment again.”

There’s a whole lot between the lines, there – the Diocese of Pittsburgh is run by a bishop who’s at the forefront of the conservative (and fundamentalist-supported) takeover gang.

I’m definitely not in this “mushy middle,” and I question very much the assertion that 80% of my denomination doesn’t care all that much for gay people, and doesn’t mind if they’re excluded from the clergy (or indeed, from sitting in the pews).

Well, Holy Moly wouldn’t have lasted as long as we have without gay clergy, and lately Father Ted has really been getting people energized and enthusiastic. We had a retreat yesterday for the whole parish (which translates to “the people who always turn up when there’s work involved”). We were sorry that several entire families opted to do something else, but we got a lot done.

Without Ted, we’d still be complacently doing church club every week with a supply priest and ignoring the larger community’s needs. This need on our part to actually do something as Christians started with Marion’s tenure, and now we’re trying to get our feet under us enough to carry it on with Ted.

I just can’t see what the hell the “reasserters” (strict Biblical interpreters) think is the value in hounding gays and lesbians from our church; do they not notice that homosexual Episcopalians are some of the most committed groups in our denomination? Or am I deluded into this thought because at every step in my journey to becoming an Episcopalian and then a better Christian, a gay person was at every crossroads?

I had previously seen Sarah’s article somewhere else, but was reminded of it by a prodding from Salt. Thanks, Father Salt!

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2 thoughts on “I’m Not One of the Mushy Middle

  1. I think it shows a weird obsession with how other people are having sex. I wonder sometimes if it’s easier to obsess about that than it is to wonder how to best do Christ’s work in the world. Because doing His work is HARD.

    And I care if gays and lesbians are excluded. I care a lot.

  2. Oh, you know it. Apparently, at large meetings of bishops, some yutz feels compelled to stand up and start describing gay sex in great detail. This is somehow supposed to “turn” people against our gay brothers and sisters. It works about as well as Phred Felps and his merry gang of military funeral gatecrashers and their anti-gay “protests.”

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