It’s tempting to use war language to describe the politics that affect gays and ex-gays: Battles, attacks, retreats, wins, and losses.
In the end, much of it becomes more personal than that, though. The issues play out in families, in marriages and divorces, in nurturing and estrangement, neighbor-to-neighbor, friend-to-friend.
In the Episcopal Church, property is owned by the dioceses, not by the parishes. When a part of a congregation splits off, some have fought to keep their church building while others have moved on. That is the story of the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation in Cordova, Tennesse, as told by reporter David Waters:
Church of the Annunciation officially split May 31, more than two months before the House of Bishops approved the election of V. Gene Robinson.
The priest at Annunciation, the entire staff, every church officer and more than half the members of the congregation left after a vote some members didn’t even know about.
“We just felt like we couldn’t stay in the Episcopal Church and hold true to our Anglican roots,” the Rev. Herbert Hand told a reporter later.
The next morning, Hand and dozens of members of the new Faith Anglican Church conducted their first worship service at a rented banquet hall.
The split left two dozen of the original congregation asking themselves, “What now?”
Waters tells of both groups moving forward in the spirit of a family that resigns itself to the reality of divorce, grieving at times yet refusing self-pity and bitterness. Despite the breakaway, the some ties have been sustained:
Annunciation doesn’t have a new priest or staff yet. Nor does it have a youth program. Parishioners are sending their kids to the youth program at [newly formed breakaway church] Faith Anglican.
“We’re not going to hold a grudge. We’re not going to let doctrinal issues affect our relationships,” Jacobs said.
Tellingly, there wasn’t even unanimity among those who remained with Annunciation – some supported the consecration of gay bishop Gene Robinson, and some did not.
Most of us – gay or ex-gay – have personal experiences of being supported and estranged, of friends gained and loved ones lost. The outgrowth of political controversy, too often, is personal loss. To the extent we learn to practice compassion with each other, especially in the middle of family skirmishes, we make the world a better place.
— Steve B.