Thursday, June 14, 2018

Now That the Lawsuit is Over: To My Friends and Family on the "Other Side" Who Do Not Wish to Leave Their Buildings

This is a Holy Week reflection that I saved for a time such as this. Many people with whom I have spoken in disassociated parishes said they wanted to "wait and see" if the Supreme Court of the United States would take up the Mark Lawrence appeal. Now that they know the answer, this is my message to them:

I've been yearning to declare to you on the other side a simple phrase of hope:

"You're not!" You are not on the  "other side" of anything except an unnecessary and artificial dividing line drawn across the naves and chancels of your historic parishes. You are still Episcopalians, still parishioners of your beloved churches, still brothers and sisters in Christ with the larger body.

Some of you may no longer wish to be so. I get that. Yes, some of you may feel as though you cannot, in good conscience, be so. I and my associates in the Episcopal Church have been so vilified and falsely accused of "heresy" for so long that you may actually be starting to believe it. But before you make that decision, I ask that you search within yourself whether or not what you know about me, Chris Huff, a native son of South Carolina and the Diocese, a Trinity grad, and a priest of 30 years here, precludes your sharing ministry together with me as Episcopalians. Some of you were there at my ordination. Some of you supported me in both, my lay, as well as my ordained, ministries. Some of you were there when I received my cursillo cross. I counseled many of your children at Camp St. Christopher. Many of you were in attendance at my wedding 40 years ago.

Despite the exodus you may be contemplating as your clergy are asking you to leave your buldings with them, you need not take one step. The sanctuaries built by your forebears were meant to house us together under God as Jesus' Body. I ask you once again not to leave that fellowship. You are free to remain and continue in worship. Many of your clergy,  who chose no longer to be Episcopal priests,  are the only ones who may not stay. This I find to be profoundly sad, and yet Bp. von Rosenberg did not depose them as he could have. He left the door open by removing them from the rolls of active Episcopal clergy so that there could be a way back to their Episcopal ordinations if they so desired. So far, three have successfully taken that graceful option. Bishop Adams continues to hold that door open.

Each attempt at reconciliation has been spurned,  not by you, but by those who would not be reconciled on your behalf, and are now asking you to walk away from what is rightfully yours--your parishes,  your heritage,  the ancient paths upon which many of our families have stood for generations.

Holy Week is approaching. At our Service of the Nails, I will once again hammer thick nails into the cross flung beneath our altar rail. Many of our parishioners will also drive nails. With each hammer blow, I will see all of you, as the Body of Christ, pierced and bleeding. I will not see you as "not a part of me". I pray that the cross of Jesus will be the reconciling instrument that God intended it to be.

I've heard it repeated that the church is greater than our buildings. True enough in one sense. But I must say that the buildings represent and facilitate our togetherness in worship, much the same way as our houses help to cloister our families together as havens of peace in good times and bad. No one is taking your house away from you. No one is "seizing" what already belongs to you.

As God said in Isaiah, "Come, let us reason together," I ask that you call me or Bishop Adams so we can talk. You know where to find me. I'm at St. George's Episcopal Church in Summerville ( Bishop Adams' contact can be found at I am certainly not God, but my invitation is sincere. As a fellow sojourner on this earth committed to carrying out the ministry of reconciliation given by God to all believers, I ask you to stay. "Taste and see" that the Lord is indeed good, and will provide a way where there seems to be no way.

Chris Huff

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