First public witness for a new bishop: Marching for Trayvon

Orlando Sentinel:

Two days after he was consecrated as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida, Gregory Brewer was marching Monday with the crowd demanding justice for Trayvon Martin.

He was the only white clergyman to address the Sanford City Commission inside the Civic Center that evening, urging city leaders to address the concerns of the black community.

"I thought it was very courageous," said Andy Searles, a pastor with Aloma United Methodist Church in Winter Park. "It would have been very easy for him to sit in his office and organize the paperwork on his desk, but he made a statement of what the church should be."

Brewer characterized it not as an act of courage but as one of faith and commitment to his diocese, which covers 15 counties and has 31,000 Episcopalians. It was the most direct way for him to make a public statement about what kind of Episcopal bishop he intends to be.

"Part of what I'm trying to do is chart a course of what my role is as bishop in Central Florida. I don't want to hide out with my local churches. My role is to be involved in the life of my community as a Christian presence," said Brewer, 60, who remembers Klan marches growing up in Richmond, Va.

Brewer, who was ordained in Central Florida and spent 16 years here, was rector of a small, multicultural church in downtown Manhattan when elected to succeed Bishop John W. Howe, who retired after serving 22 years. Apart from his opposition to ordaining gay priests, Howe was a low-key leader given more to intellectual study than community involvement.

Brewer comes from the evangelical tradition of the Episcopal Church that applied spiritual conviction to social activism, dating back to opposition to slavery and exploitation of child labor, said the Rev. Rory Harris, who has known him for 14 years.

"This is a consistent pattern with him. This is living out the gospel to be involved in the spiritual life, but have it inform our actions in daily life," said Harris, rector of Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Sanford.

Comments (32)

I'm intrigued: Justice for all, unless you're a gay priest. I'm not trying to be sarcastic. It's just that sentence seems so out of place. Does he still feel this way?

-Cullin R. Schooley

It was the former bishop, Howe, who opposed ordination of gay priests. I suspect Brewer thinks differently, although I don't know.

Thanks for commenting. Please sign your name next time. ~ed.

Is the Diocese of Central Florida going to start paying it dues to the national church now?

Morris Post

No one is entitled to ordination. How about us being happy for one of our bishops standing for something that is less likely to divide the whole church.

Nicole's right, but hers not at all an argument against the ordination of gays as she would have it. It's an argument for ordaining the right people.

But the shame is our comments take a story about the proper response of the church to the killing of an innocent black man and use it as a jumping off point for a debate that's receives an adequate airing in this blog -- gay rights.

Come on folks. We make ourselves as small as those we don't want to emulate by applying a litmus test on everyone human being (in this case Bishop Brewer) we encounter.

Based on these comments is it any wonder that NOM saw a tactical advantage to dividing gays and blacks?

The division was already there. NOM just pointed out the obvious. I have no issue with celibate gay clergy btw.

@ Nicole. Interesting, I have no issue with celibate heterosexual priests either. I believe that both gay and straight clergy should have an equal opportunity to choose to be celibate.

@ John,
It would never have occurred to me to say anything about LGBT clergy, but it is in the main article that's posted, you must admit. That was where it was "brought up."

As for Bishop Brewer, I would bet that even some of his friends are gay.

You have that right to that view,Doctor, but I'm sure you know exactly what I meant by that. But it does beg the question, why even mention it in the first place in the article at all?

@ Nicole. Of course, I knew what you meant. Irony has its place.

I would agree to some extent that "bringing up the gay thing again" might be "tiresome" for those looking for some positive PR for TEC. Heaven knows that we can use it. If a TEC bishop was the "only white face" there, then shame on us (as Christians not just Episcopalians), I would probably say.

Maybe it was "wrong" for the newspaper writer to bring it up, but many persons outside the church feel that to oppose the rights of LGBT persons while defending the rights of African American persons is just simple hypocrisy. I would tend to agree, but we do not, of course, know for sure what Brewer's position is (at least I do not). It's not the most stellar work of composition to "throw in" that bit, but we probably "asked for it" in the bigger picture based on his predecessors all-too-well-known views. It is a shame that our divided record on LGBT persons could call into question the sincerity of other actions on behalf of minorities, but there you have it.

I don't have any reason to believe that his views would be any different than his predecessor (it's a conservative diocese), nor do I feel that it's hypocrisy if that's so. In any case, I don't think it bothers +Brewer or the majority of his flock in Central FL the slightest bit.

A November 11, 2011 "Sentinel" piece, linked from this article, says "Brewer said he believes in the literal interpretation of the Bible, including the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. But he also believes less time, and energy, should be spent on the differences within the church than on the beliefs that all Episcopalians hold in common."

Re "In any case, I don't think it bothers +Brewer or the majority of his flock in Central FL the slightest bit", have you the faintest idea how many gays live in the Orlando area, Nicole? There again, do you care?

No to both questions, Roger. I'd be lying if I said I did.

Then why, Nicole, beyond feeding the sense of smug self-satisfaction evident in your last response, do you hang around here?

Would you rather I lie? I'm here because I'm an Episcopalian that cares about the Church, and I have the right to share my views in a respectful manner. TEC isn't monolithic in thought,Roger. Nice to meet you too.

Roger, you know that every Anglican blog with a liberal stance attracts its conservative hangers-on. Then they eventually get tired of the flack that they get from the regulars with every snippy little comment that they make and move on. Only to shortly be replaced by another.

Bro. David
KONY 2012

You care about the Church, absent its gays: got it, Nicole.

Being that I'm in your Null Set, can you understand why I don't find your views "respectful"?

JC Fisher

Nothing besides affirmation is "respectful" to you and some others on this board, I got that completely.I respect your opinion and we'll just have to agree to disagree.

With that aside, I fully support +Brewer with his participation in this movement, which is the point of this thread, not anyone's take, including +Brewer's, on controversial issues. And I think it's depressing that anyone would make it an issue, especially about something we'll never be united on.

I respect your opinion too Bro.David.

Hold on, Roger, are you trying to imply that the number of gay people in Orlando is in any way such that a majority of the Diocese of Central Florida might be gay? Or are our numbers there such that the diocese is terribly interested in the welfare of gay people? Everything I've read about Central Florida suggests it's a conservative bastion. I'd be surprised if, in fact, a burning compassionate interest in their gay fellow-citizens were very high on their list of priorities, myself.

And JC, Nicole might not, for all I know, care about gay people, but that's not what she wrote. The question was if she knew or cared how many gay people lived in Orlando, wasn't it?

For what it's worth, Nicole, I think you're wrong about our never being substantial agreement about sexuality. I seem to remember that you're in your twenties, but studies show that your attitudes towards gay people are not representative of Americans under 30. I truly think that within the foreseeable future disapproval of gay people will be distinctly a minority opinion associated with the past, just as overt racism is today.

Hi Bill, I wasn't referring to my age group when I said that. I was speaking in regards to all practicing Christians, in particular, all of us in the Anglican Communion. So in that regard no I don't believe there will ever be unanimity on that subject.

As the older generations go the way of all flesh, so will their attitudes towards gay people. The general population will consist of people who grew up knowing gay folk as just one more type of person. And the process will be repeated elsewhere as countries like Nigeria attain higher levels of development and education. It may be a slow process, but we'll get there. I think it's the closest thing to inevitable that there is, as more and more straight people realize that gay men and lesbians aren't moral monsters, but people just like them. I think we've passed the tipping point. If we can keep from killing ourselves with senseless wars and environmental destruction, that is.

Nicole and Bishop Brewer, which definition of "Biblical" marriage do you support? I count at least 8 definitions, see this helpful graphic.

Biblical "literalism" is always hypocritical to the core.

Josh, was the wedding at Cana one of a husband and multiple wives? Is there any recognition of a marriage in the Bible between two males or two females? Any New Testament recognition of your little graphic? And one more question, are we Jews or Christians?

There's no explicit justification in the Bible for a lot of what we do. However, the Jesus tradition and the whole of the Biblical tradition, at its best rather than its worst, speaks to the heart of the issues of human dignity and God's love and embrace of the whole.

As for the Torah, try your pseudo-literalist chops out on Matthew 5:17-19.

The decision to be bigoted remains yours, just recognize that it is a decision that lies in your heart rather than God's, as your brothers and sisters on this site make plain.

Your opinion is your opinion,Josh. You're absolutely free to it. There is no Canon in the Episcopal Church that says anyone has to agree with anyone's take on scripture. That's been made clear, and it goes both ways.

Josh, what's your point about the appeal to the verse in Matthew? Surely not to argue that somehow Jewish law applies to Christians, I would hope.

Nicole, there's no mention of whether the wedding at Cana involved the groom taking a second wife or not (there's no mention of the bride at all, IIRC). It *probably* didn't, as polygamy was not widely practiced in first century Palestine. What there was of it at that time was mostly confined to aristocratic circles - but it did exist.

Romans and Greeks, as far as I know, were entirely monogamous.

I was trying to highlight the ridiculousness of pseudo-literalism. She asked if we were Jews or Christians, and I cited the Matthew verse that says we are still obligated to keep Jewish law, which would include the eight rather unsavory biblical marriage arrangements.

Nothing besides affirmation is "respectful" to you

Well, yes, when it comes to immutable, God-given qualities. I complete affirm your (I presume) femaleness, your two XX chromosomes. God made you that way, I respect you in and as female. I don't regard you as "the secondary creation" or "responsible for The Fall"---as women routinely WERE regarded by Christians, not all that long ago.

I suppose this isn't controversial to you. Rather, it ALL comes down to whether you regard homosexuality as something similarly innate---reflecting the Image-of-God (that God has a queer aspect, as God has a male&female one---while of course transcending those qualities at the same time).

...and then it comes down to your TRUSTING when LGBT people tell you this is the way God made them. Or will you merely offer another pat dismissal "that's your opinion, we'll have to agree to disagree."

Can't you understand why I wouldn't feel "respected" by you in that situation? Can't you place yourself in my shoes? To tell someone a Deep Truth about your own person, and have the reaction be, essentially, "I---who only know you via an online discussion board---know you better than you know yourself (w/ your mistaken opinions)"?

Really, Nicole: put yourself in my place. Truly. Just for this Triduum, try it.

JC Fisher

JC, I can co-exist with people who feel the same as you at my own parish, why can't you just accept that there will be some people in TEC, such as myself (as well as the Christian community at large), who won't?

"I can co-exist with people who feel the same as you at my own parish, why can't you just accept that there will be some people in TEC, such as myself (as well as the Christian community at large), who won't?"

Racists, homophobes, sexists and others are welcome in church- as Jesus said, it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick- but you should not be welcome to run the church's policy and exclude gay people from full participation in the life of the church based on your ignorant, bigoted, or delusional beliefs and inept approach to Scriptural exegesis.

I think we should all stop feeding the homophobe troll comments on this blog, but I know we are going to keep it up.

All I can say to you Josh is Happy Easter.

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