As expected, the priest of New Creation Anglican Church, Fr. Justin Clemente, responded to my letter to the editor which I included in my Wednesday Word from two weeks ago. I have been asked by a few parishioners if I would respond. My answer is, “No, I will not.”
I won't respond because, among other things, I will not engage in a war of words or religious disputes via 270-word limited personal opinion pieces. Nor will I engage in yet another battle that people on the outside can point to as a reason why they won't attend church.
That said, there is one thing Fr. Clemente said in his letter of last week that I do want to address here: “I do not love what your church has become. And indeed, I would urge you to consider what it has become very carefully.”
What has our church become? After careful consideration, I believe our church has become:
a place that finally realizes there is no more Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, gay or straight, black or white, for all are one in Christ;
a place that values men and women equally (or at least tries to);
a place that engages scripture critically in an effort to learn how God is speaking to us today;
a place that understands the societal context of today is different from the societal context of the ancient near east;
a place that is focused less issues of purity and more on issues faithfulness;
a place that works to include those whom society and religion would work to exclude;
a place that is comfortable with uncertainty and doubt;
a place that welcomes questions over blind adherence;
a place that knows it's easy to enforce laws and difficult to live with nuance;
a place that values inclusion over exclusion;
a place that understands God shows no partiality.
These are but a few ways in how I see our church. And from where I sit, we have nothing of which to be ashamed.