Wednesday, November 14, 2007
"Not a small misconception"
After posting Jerry and Marvin's testimonies about their experiences in Pittsburgh and Ft. Worth, respectively, I was contacted by someone from yet another diocese in "The Network", desperate for someone to hear another personal testimony and witness of abuse and oppression.
It took two emails to convince this person to allow me to reproduce this personal story - that is how fearful this person is of personal reprisal as well as that of this person's daughter.
I apologize for the tortuousness of this writing, but I am trying even to protect the gender identification of this person, to allay fears and anxieties.
This is a brave and courageous act on this person's part. I hope you join me in applauding this bold act as well as being appalled at what this person has had to endure.
For yet another testimony of institutional bullying see Louie Crew's natter on what's going on in the Diocese of SW Florida.
Blessed are the truth-tellers, for they shall liberate the human spirit.
I am an Episcopalian in an Anglican Communion Network (ACN) diocese. I have corresponded with you several times in the past and actually introduced myself to you at our Presiding Bishop's investiture last November. My daughter, a lesbian, is in a discernment process in a more open diocese. She was recently recommended by her COM to proceed to the next step on this journey. I have worked as a family system’s trained mental health professional for over 20 years.
I want to say that Martin's (Marvin) story, recorded by Katie Sherrod, is being played out in this diocese, as well. And, I imagine without much effort that this sort of blatant ostracism is happening in most, if not all, ACN or Common Cause dioceses across TEC. There are many, many similar and painful individual stories of solid, long-time parish and diocesan lay ministers and clergy persons who have been relegated to the back pew or the churchyard because we don't/won't/cannot submit body and soul to the local powers that be.
I won't trouble you much further with my experience, except to say it includes being accosted by three prayer warriors in the aisle after a parish meeting that was held (with the unstated purpose) to discredit anyone who disagreed with the rector and his supporters.
I had spoken out at the meeting, passionately, against a manipulative leadership and financial decisions the vestry had made. These prayer ministers literally backed me into a pew and blocked my exits, laid hands on me and prayed that I'd be healed of my anger and come to know Jesus as my Savior.
That was March, 2003. I stayed two more years....because of the sick, crazy, toxic system of this parish and because I was made sick by it. I thought, "If only I could say (..X..) in just the right way, then, they would understand what they were doing and change things and become a healthy hospitable parish again.....................
Not a small misconception.
I want to say from my place on the back pew that the organizational system of these radically conservative, fundamentalist and evangelical neo-Anglican churches seem more than a little cult-like, if not actually and fully cultic.
Are you familiar with the (rather fundamentalist, IMO) self-help book Toxic Faith by Stephen Arterburn and Jack Felton? I first learned of it by something Mike Russell (I think) posted to HoB/D a few years ago. There is a summary of this book by “b jackson,” posted online in several places. [ http://tinyurl.com/2fmjdz ]
I have no clue who “b Jackson” might be. The summary actually transposes the content of two paragraphs, I believe, on an essential topic: The roles of toxic faith: persecutor, co-conspirator, enabler, fearful enabler, victim, outcast. In spite of the errors, etc, there is enough TRUTH in this summary to describe in some detail the Episcopal Church that I've experienced in this ACN diocese.
Following Martin’s (Marvin's) story, posted by Katie Sherrod, I wanted to make folks aware of this link again and to add an empathic ‘me, too’ to Martin’s (Marvin's) experiences. Unfortunately, I’m not as brave as Martin (Marvin).
I am fearful of having my name posted, so I’m counting on you to protect my identity.
Perhaps my fearfulness will add something significant to the larger story of faithful Episcopalians in dissident dioceses that may be just emerging.
I pray TEC will pay attention to our experiences.
NB: Yet a third email:
These stories do indeed need to be told, for the telling and for the hearing of them. It's a healthy thing for TEC.
I don't think my name is important. I am pretty sure that the file I sent to you will find me labeled once again as an angry woman, but I no longer am angry. Just deeply saddened by the ripping of the fabric of this good church and the raw grief of it all.
I do have hope that all will be well, probably not in my lifetime, but, B033 notwithstanding, I think TEC is headed along more solid path under +Katharine's leadership.
I believe that Jesus is standing here and there in the midst of it all. No magic wand, just an empty cross and a gospel hope. Many small deaths have happened for faithful Episcopalians in these ACN dioceses, and the gospel promise is that good will be redeemed from evil and that new life will grow from the ashes and dust. That is my prayer. Amen.
And, thank you again. If ever you need a passionate storyteller who must remain part of the underground, the woodwork, let me know.