Yes, Jesus Loves You. But Not That Way.

St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, holds its 57th annual parish meeting this Sunday, January 31, 2010.

On the agenda? Electing five new members of the vestry, awarding the St. Martin’s Star Award to someone who has been an exceptional leader through the years, and voting to codify hate and fear in the church’s Articles of Incorporation.

The amendment to the church’s Articles of Incorporation reads:

Pursuant to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Sixth Amendment of the Texas Constitution, this Corporation declares itself to be forever committed to the primacy and authority of Holy Scripture, as written in the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Bible. In keeping therewith, neither the Vestry nor the Clergy of this Corporation shall:

(a) Conduct or participate in rites, services or ceremonies for the Holy matrimony or blessing of the union of persons of the same gender;

(b) Sponsor for ordination or employ any priest or other clergy who is engaged in a non-celibate relationship outside of  Holy matrimony between a man and a woman, or be required to participate in any liturgy where such a non-celibate person is in leadership; or

(c) Offer any liturgies or promote any teachings inconsistent with those contained in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.

While not surprised, I am sad to see them put it in ink. According to the cover letter signed by The Rev. Dr. Russell J. Levenson, Jr., Rector, they actually approved the change by acclimation [sic] last summer, with “roughly 600 votes for the change, and two against,” but need to make it legal now.

Yep. Yet another way those god-fearing homophobes get to make it legal.

I think either they got sloppy or they also hope to ban the ordination or employment of any priest engaged in a heterosexual relationship outside of Holy matrimony. I read “a non-celibate relationship outside of Holy matrimony between a man and a woman” as either a non-celibate relationship between two people of the same or opposite gender. Lawyers, weigh in on that, please. (Or people who watch lawyers on TV.)

My husband and I both grew up in this church. We remember a happy place where we sang about the fact that Jesus loved us, all of us, no questions asked.

I know one of the people nominated to serve on the vestry. I hope I will have the courage, the next time I see her, to express my deep disappointment in her decision to affirm and support bigotry and hatred by her service to this institution.

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One Response to Yes, Jesus Loves You. But Not That Way.

  1. Anneliese says:

    The Presbyterian Church voted in similar language about non-celibate ministers some years back in a bitterly divisive and (as far as I know) ongoing battle about homosexuality. And yes, it did apply to non-celibate heterosexuals, as well. I think for some people it made them feel less bigoted. They were taking a stand against sex outside of marriage, it just happened that gay people couldn’t get married. So too bad for them.

    I heard a wonderful sermon on the topic years ago when I was very involved in the pro-inclusion movement of the Presbyterian Church. The minister asked what if the message of Jesus Christ had been “Come unto me all of you. Except…” The “excepts” have changed in people’s minds over the years – African Americans, women, and now gays.

    I can’t imagine being a part of any church where people spend their time and energy trying to keep other people out or denying those whom God has called the right to minister, participate in rituals, or engage in leadership (hello, Catholic Church). Who knew this would one day make me Baptist? But I’ve never found a more inclusive and welcoming church than Covenant, and I’ve loved learning about the radical and even anarchistic history of a denomination I had long dismissed as conservative and close-minded.

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