Baptism debacle in Florida

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In a recent Facebook post, Rich McCaffrey, a new father in central Florida shared the story of a planned baptism gone awry.

Rich and his husband Eric have been attending the Cathedral of St Luke in Orlando, FL and had wanted to have their son Jack baptized.

We spent time discussing our desire to baptize Jack with the Dean, Anthony Clark. We were open with him about our family and that we wanted the focus to be placed, where it should, on Jack. The Dean was welcoming and open about the congregation, explaining it was a mix of conservative- and liberal-minded people. He agreed to Jack’s baptism, and recommended we opt for the later 6 p.m. service, since those who worship at that time tend to be the most “open.”

 

So the baptism was scheduled for April 19, and like many proud parents, Rich and Eric invited friends and family, some of whom came from out of town. But shortly before the day, something went wrong.

 

On Thursday, April 16 we received a message from Dean Clark asking us to contact him regarding “a development” concerning the baptism. With relatives in the room, I called and what I heard still creates a lump in my throat. The Dean shared there were members of the congregation who opposed Jack’s baptism and although he hoped to resolve the conflict, he was not yet able to (the Bishop of Central Florida, Greg Brewer, was also involved). After probing further the Dean said “the issue is with you and Eric being the first two men who will baptize their child at the Cathedral.” He offered his apologies and further explained this was a bigger deal because of the exposure that comes along with the baptism taking place at the Cathedral. In essence “this is not no forever, just not now.”

 

It isn’t clear what, if anything, transpired between finding out the baptism wouldn’t be happening as expected on April 19th and the Facebook post on May 2nd, but that post was quickly and widely shared to near universal dismay and anger. When contacted, Dean Anthony Clark said “Jack’s parents and I have had a very regrettable misunderstanding regarding Jack’s baptism; I’ve reached out to them so that we might resolve the misunderstanding and make this right moving forward.”

 

The original post also seemed to suggest that there was involvement on the part of the Diocesan Bishop, the Rt Rev Greg Brewer. However, when contacted the bishop responded; “Until I saw this Facebook post this morning, I was not aware of some of the details mentioned in this post. Please know that I never forbade baptism to this child, nor did I instruct others to forbid his baptism. I am meeting with the parents this week to remedy this very sad situation.”

 

The Dean also said that the family was meeting with the bishop this week which was confirmed by the family when Rich, the father posted an update;

Hi Everyone, the support from so many near and far in the past day and a half has been truly inspiring and we are very appreciative. Earlier today church leadership reached out to us and we will be talking with them about Jack’s baptism.

So at this point, it seems as though the family is still intent on getting their son baptized and the Cathedral and diocese are working to find a resolution.

 

What isn’t clear is why this became an issue in the first place. There is much speculation, but not many facts. We don’t know for sure the motivation of the members who were opposed or what role the bishop may have played nor do we know why the Dean would weigh their opposition so heavily as to actually postpone an already scheduled baptism.

 

It is no secret that the Bishop of Central Florida, The Rt Rev Greg Brewer holds conservative views, he is one of the self-identified Communion Partners, who opposed the authorization of the liturgy for blessing same-sex marriages at the last General Convention. But in their Indianapolis Statement, they didn’t go so far as to propose denial of baptism to LGBT persons or their families; what they did write was; “We are committed to the gay and lesbian Christians who are members of our dioceses.  Our Baptismal Covenant pledges us to “respect the dignity of every human being” (BCP, p. 305), and we will continue to journey with them as together we seek to follow Jesus.”

 

This incident raises a question about how we live in christian community, with major differences in how ‘christian’ is understood. A significant shift in the baptism rite in the 1979 prayer book is to place it squarely within the context of community; the congregation is asked to give their support; “Will you who witness these vows do all in your power to support these persons in their life in Christ?” (BCP p 303). But what happens if the community cannot affirm that? Though it appears that the Dean was attempting to work out just that question, to deny or delay the baptism, for many Episcopalians, was an unacceptable answer.

 

 

Posted by Jon White

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David Murray
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David Murray

Rob - I have never heard that baptism was directly related to marriage vows. If so - my RC baptism just might be void. My parents hardly had a faithful and quality marriage. Also - my god-parents (who were at the baptism) were an Uncle and his girl friend at the time. The focus is the individual receiving baptism.

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Rob Holman
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Rob Holman

A few points that are not addressed here.
1) the child was not denied baptism (as an individual) but the parents who make the vows on behalf of the child were denied baptism for their child.
2) baptism is not made apart from the vows. If the words of the vows have meaning (otherwise, why say them?) then it would be important to agree on the meaning of those words with the spiritual authority (the priest and bishop) being asked to perform the sacramental rite.
3) clearly there is a fundamental disagreement as to holiness/sinfulness of the parents' relationship in this conservative diocese with many of the dioceses in TEC. In the conservative view, the parents' vowed relationship in marriage is in rebellion against God and his rule -- his Lordship. Jesus clearly defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
4) one of the vows of baptism, is to obey Christ as your Lord. From the conservative view, this couple is saying "yes, we will obey you as Lord, but not in this way (their marriage) that the priest and bishop teach because we don't believe our relationship is sinful. We believe it is holy.
5) so the conservative diocese has a problem. Do we allow people to stand before God, vowing to obey him as their Lord and apply different meanings to these words? And have the congregation vow to support them when they (perhaps only a majority) apply a different meaning from the parents? From an outsider's view, they, the parents and the priest, are engaged in a sham baptism worthy of Alice in Wonderland (either the vows have meaning or baptism means nothing) or from the conservative view, they are affirming a promise before God and the people that they know is false.
6) this controversy is about two world views colliding. As a parent, I know that loving my children is often saying yes, but only on the terms I lay down, not the ones they are asking for. If Bp. Brewer doesn't cave before public opinion, I suspect he will be answering the parents along the same lines. And since he is one of the most loving pastors I have ever met, I suspect the parents will know they are loved by him even as he tells them yes, but only on his terms, which i assume they will say no to.

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David O'Rourke
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David O'Rourke

Rob, good questions here. My response is, does the priest asking the questions have a role in defining what it means for the parents to "follow and obey him as your Lord" or to "renounce all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God", or is it the task of the parents to prayerfully discern what it means for them to follow and obey and what sinful desires draw them from the love of God?

If the fathers do not see their relationship and their love for each other as sinful desires, and have reached that determination through prayerful discernment, then is it the place of the priest to determine otherwise? My point is, in all the sacramental services that include questions, including baptism, confirmation, marriage, and ordination, those receiving the sacraments are asked questions and the assumption is that those answering are doing so in good faith.

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Gwen Palmer
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Gwen Palmer

This is certainly a good explanation of the point of view that could consider this baptism disallowable.

Trouble is, in formulating a blessing for same sex unions, the denomination has clearly stated that it finds committed same sex unions not to be in disobedience of Christ.

So it describes other denominations. Not TEC.

And it doesn't explain why single parents who chose not to marry and are unrepentant about the circumstances of their baby's birth, or about non-marital sex, don't have their commitment to Christ questioned when seeking baptism for their babies. At least, not to the point of denying the baby initiation into Christ's church.

It also ignores the fact that many straight and traditionally married parents are openly in favor of marriage for same sex couples who want it, and obviously will also teach their child that it's not wrong. But they are not denied baptism for their children.

Questioning only the commitment to Christ of gay couples applies a double standard.

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Cynthia Katsarelis
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You are mistaken, Rob, about what Jesus is saying. He is speaking to the hard heartedness of men who divorce their wives. In that time, a woman who didn't live under the protection of a man's household was terribly vulnerable, and likely to live in poverty.

At the time, women were basically chattel. It's only in recent times that "conservatives" have used it as Jesus "defining" marriage.

So no, Jesus did not "clearly define" heterosexual marriage. It's a logical flaw called proof texting. And it is a hurtful and harmful one.

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Rob Holman
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Rob Holman

Cynthia, you have the context and main point of the teaching correct but that does not negate his teaching on marriage which he clearly affirms and defines even referencing Genesis to do so. And your comment about conservatives only using that passage recently to affirm heterosexual marriage is just silly. First, it is referenced in the marriage rite of the BCP 1662 and second it was never necessary to argue for heterosexual marriage until recent cultural changes. For millennia heterosexual marriage has been a given. To even suggest otherwise people would have thought you were daft. And proof texting is to take one comment out of context, but marriage is the context of the teaching. Don't divorce. Stay married. A man and a woman become one flesh. I know. I have a couple of them running around my house. Besides, the scriptures teaching on marriage from Genesis to Leviticus, to the Song of Solomon, to the prophets, through the Gospels, epistles and Revelation is consistent. That is called biblical theology not proof texting.

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Joe Ferrell
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Joe Ferrell

This is truly beyond the pale. What troubles me most is that the dean backed out after "someone" complained. He seems not have had overwhelming theological or pastoral concerns when he initially agreed to baptize the child, although scheduling it at a time when people more "open" to such things would likely be in attendance does indicate some discomfort. I worry that this incident portends a movement to allow clergy to deny access to all sacraments and sacramental rites to "practicing" LGBT folk and their families.

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Dan Beach
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Dan Beach

How is it that Orlando always manages to make the news for all the wrong reasons. Dean Clark certainly could have foreseen this (now national) reaction, handled it with grace, and asked for the Bishop's guidance (perhaps he did?). The backpedaling and attempts to "fix" the situation have begun. The fallout for the Cathedral is enormous. I am sad that 78 years after I was first baptized an Episcopalian, bigotry continues. As Paul Woodrum wrote so well: " Save the place before it drowns in its sea of hypocrisy. And this goes double for the whole see of Central Florida."

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Theodore Greene
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Theodore Greene

I am trying to understand how the couple will get over this situation and mark each of the coming religious milestones like communion and confirmation for little Jack without remembering the horrible feeling that the cowardly phonecall from the priest must have given them. Are they going to tell this story to the little boy when he grows up and be proud of themselves that they still attend and donate to the self-same church that insulted them and publicly humiliated them in the eyes of everyone of their relatives--who learned the real reason for being uninvited to the cancelled baptism?

Does anybody realize how difficult it is to grow up and be told 5-10 times a day that there's something wrong with you? To have people hate you for nothing except that you exist? Bullies that made us suicidal in high school are now running churches.

So, barring all the lists rules written by imaginary friends in God's sky...why is it okay for the deeply religious to be so rude and so destructive to actual human beings here on earth? I would think that if a person is really striving to be holy, they'd place value on their interactions with present day society vs. giving any priority to an imagined fantasy life after death. I mean, I'm simply suggesting the basic dignity and etiquette of loving one another and being kind. But it is clear that God just doesn't want that...otherwise, we wouldn't all be here reading this blog. As progressive as we'd like to think we all are, there are always surprises like this, and the sad truth is that in 2015 Churches are STILL toxic to the LGBT community.

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Steven McCarty
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Bring Jack to St. Andrew's - Clear Spring, Maryland. I will Baptize Jack and our congregation will follow up with a very nice reception!

Fr. Steve+

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The Rev. Harry Coverston
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The Rev. Harry Coverston

I do not think it is possible to understand this story without a little context. Until the late 1980s, the Cathedral Church of St. Luke was a latitudinarian urban parish. There were many out gay parishioners who served in various positions from the choir to the altar. The parish was heavily involved in urban ministries with the homeless and in interfaith events with the nearby Roman Catholic cathedral and Lutheran and Orthodox parishes. The Cathedral really was a rainbow parish in many ways - racially, socio-economically, and sexual orientation. On a given Sunday, homeless people sat next to bankers and judges.

All of that changed with the election of John Howe as bishop. Increasingly, Howe exerted his influence in the direction of the Cathedral. The Orlando Gay Chorus was invited, then disinvited and finally reinvited from participating in the AIDS International Sunday service only after major negative publicity nation-wide in The Advocate. Bishop Jack Spong was invited to preach at the Cathedral only to be disinvited under pressure from the bishop because of his stances on LBGTQ inclusion. People who had served at the altar for decades were suddenly required to sign purity vows stating that they were married and faithful or celibate as a condition of ongoing service at the altar. And a number of fiery meetings culminated in a decision by the vestry to fire the dean of the cathedral, a casualty of conscience in the culture wars.

At that point, the handwriting was on the wall and that firing began an exodus of non-fundamentalist clergy from the diocese and both gay and straight parishioners from the Cathedral appalled at the reactionary direction a once highly conscious urban parish had taken. And while gay and lesbian parishioners have continued to attend the Cathedral, they do so at no small personal cost. The story at hand is but one of many examples.

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MJ McGee
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MJ McGee

So Jesus died for the sins of…whom, exactly? Sinners! All those saintly Episcopalians didn't need saving. Poor Jesus. All that suffering for naught.

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Ann Fontaine
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Ann Fontaine

MJ -- please use your first name and last when you comment.

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Kathryn Hager
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Yes, I am going to say it; O. M. G. Is there really any way for TEC to come back from this? How horrifically dysfunctional can we get? I am embarrassed to be an Episcopalian this evening as I read about this pain inflicted upon a family that wanted their baby baptized. Where did we go? What are we thinking?

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Chuck Messer
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Chuck Messer

Rich and Eric, if you can't make it to Holy Spirit, Mars Hill NC; you are most welcome Holy Apostles and The Mediator in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. Like Regan's church, we welcome your family with open hearts and open doors. Stay strong. God hasn't given up on y'all or The Episcopal Church.

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Regan Burnham
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Regan Burnham

In case Rich and Eric do not receive my prior invitation from the post on the Cathedral's Facebook page I will repeat it here.

With the enthusiastic support of my Rector, I invite you both to bring Jack to our little church just up the road a bit from Asheville. The Church of the Holy Spirit, Mars Hill, NC would love to hold the baptism and we will throw a huge party for you , Jack and the family and friends as well. You are welcome to stay at our home which is already child-proofed. There is a lovely crib in the "grandson" room and guest quarters next to that room with space and privacy upstairs. We will find accommodations for your friends and family within the parish, as needed. Our advice is the same as that given to the Apostles - if a community will not receive you, then shake the dust from your sandals and move on. Come to North Carolina and bask in the love of this special little community. We would be delighted, thrilled. You can't imagine how much love awaits you here!

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Philip. B Spivey
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Philip. B Spivey

It leads me to wonder whether John the Baptist hesitated, for a brief moment or two, before baptising Jesus: " The Messiah without doubt, but do we know who his true father is?"

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Bryant A. Hudson
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@Stephen Gatlin: Silence = Death. Too many have sacrificed too much for the LGBT "members" to hide and remain silent. The system HAS worked it's way out. And this rejection by the Cathedral is the outcome. It will not change until LGBT folk rattle as many cages as it takes. The Closet (including the don't ask and don't tell version) is spiritual suicide. ACT-UP.

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C Bates
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C Bates

Stephen Gatlin's account suggests that there's been a homophobic bully behind the scenes at the Cathedral for some time.

Perhaps the apparent failure of the clergy to react more morally to the anonymous letter may have only encouraged the bully to keep on bullying.

Rev. Sylvia Vasquez put it well the other day: "We are loath to hold each other accountable when we are acting unjustly."

If we are to live out our baptismal covenant, Episcopalians need to get better at identifying, confronting, and resisting bad behavior.

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Regan Burnham
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Regan Burnham

If the letter was anonymous, how does anyone know if it was even written by a parishioner at the Cathedral? It could have been written by anyone!

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C Bates
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C Bates

If it had been written by "anyone," then for the clergy to disassociate themselves from it, publicly, would have been simple and easy.

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Janice Schleunes
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Janice Schleunes

Jesus said "Suffer the little children to come unto me."
It is simple. A baby was denied the right to be a member of the Christian community because of poor judgment on the part of the clergy and public pressure from a small segment of the laity.
There is no need for more explanation. Their actions spoke for them and it certainly defines who they are.
Janice Schleunes

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Paul Woodrum
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Well, there we have it. Gay people are welcome at St. Luke's Cathedral as long as they stay in the closet and are intimidated if they peak out the door. And gay people who like the music or the sermons or the prestige or whatever are willing to go along with the charade and not raise a fuss. At least not until now when their child is involved. One of the oldest, most tired stories in the church. As is said about AIDS, Silence=death and that is what's happening to souls at St. Luke's no matter how furiously everybody wields that broom trying to sweep all under the carpet. I don't mean to sound like I'm blaming the victim -- both sides are victimized in different ways -- but until the gay members of St. Luke speak up for themselves, not much will happen. As somebody said recently, if you don't have a seat at the table, you'll probably be served as the main course.

I challenge the gay members of St. Luke's to follow the example of Rich and Eric. Speak up. Organize. Challenge the status quo. Run for the Vestry. Save the place place before it drowns in its sea of hypocrisy. And this goes double for the whole see of Central Florida.

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Ian Chamberlin
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For all that has been said, there are two primary issues (maybe three) that this situation boils down to, in my humble opinion:

(1) Sacramental Justice:
A child has been denied baptism. That is all that needs to be said for this issue. Now the question hinges on whether the denial was conscionable and appropriate. For many (myself included), the answer is no. The denial is unsconscionable and inappropriate. The only remedy to this injustice is to baptize the child.

(2) Understanding the Hurt of LGBTQ Christians
LGBTQ Christians have, and today still face scorn, ostracism and exclusion from many Christian communities both in the United States and around the world. Many of us have experienced spiritual and emotional devastation at the hands of religious and spiritual leaders we placed our trust in to as younger people. Those of us who are younger, have developed a distaste and trepidation at even approaching religious institutions because of perceived attitudes towards LGBTQ people and those with different lifestyles, resulting in one of the largest proportions of "never-churched" people. The issue here is different from the first issue of sacramental justice. The issue here is that yet another hurt, another spiritual devastation has been inflicted on an LGBTQ couple. Whether correct or not, the optics of this incident signal to LGBTQ people that perhaps, the Episcopal Church, or even Christianity in general is not an option to be considered for seeking spiritual solace, growth and comfort, or a place where they can raise their unique families in peace with the support and affirmation of their church families. This perception is powerful, and mustn't be underestimated. And to put further salt on an already festering, painful wound, it appears that all the arrangements were made, and the cancellation was sudden, leading the whole thing to fail the "smell test", which adds a further perception / optic that the couple was deceived about just how accepting this congregation was of their family. Right or wrong, our congregations have the right to not welcome LGBTQ people into their congregation according to current canon law, and have the right to deny them marriage, or any other sacrament, in theory. Perhaps those which are not at a place where same-sex couples could have their child be baptized during the Sunday Eucharist, or offer blessings of same-sex unions or marriage to same-sex couples, should make that a little plainer and clearer, if only to avoid another "misunderstanding" and that those congregations should be prepared to refer those people which it is not prepared to fully welcome and include in their congregational lives elsewhere including our Full Communion Partners (ELCA, etc.) if need be.

(3) A Public Relations Nightmare
One of the things that has been eminently clear about this incident is that the Cathedral of St. Luke nor the Diocese of Central Florida has done an effective job at managing the political and public relations fallout of this incident. The Cathedral attempted (and very quickly took down) a post on its Facebook page indirectly accusing those who had commented negatively on their page of asking the question of "why" to trap the parish in a quandary and accuse it of something. Also, its statement just reeked of "sweep it under the rug" calling the matter a "misunderstanding", and offering no apology. The Diocese of Central Florida has also made no comment other than to say that its bishop will be meeting with the affected couple on Thursday, again with no apology, and no indication of any remorse, which is highly unfortunate. The effort to deflect has only made the response from the wider church more animated and fierce.

Just some humble thoughts, and prayers for justice especially, and also for reconciliation eventually.

Pax.

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Craig Waterbury
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Craig Waterbury

Early in this discussion, a contributor gave the frequent lament, "there is tolerance for some, but none for conservatives". I submit that disagreement, even vehement disagreement, is not the same as intolerance. If and when a child is turned away from baptism because the parents were heterosexual, I will join you in decrying intolerance for conservatives.

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Chris Kelly
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Chris Kelly

This would be upsetting and embarrassing coming from any Christian church; coming from a TEC congregation, I find it downright scandalous. It's certainly no help to those of us who have proudly advertised our church as diverse, welcoming and tolerant.

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Thomas Robson
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Thomas Robson

How very sad for the child that this is how he will be told of his Baptism. I doubt that I would have as much grace as these two dads to go forward with a Baptism in a community which does not fully, without any reservation, support their child.

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Paul Moberly
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Paul Moberly

As furious as this makes me, and as out-of-touch as I suspect the leadership in this particular diocese might well be, it seems to me that we are all rushing to judgment here. What seems clear is this: somebody f#$&d up, big time. Let's give them a chance to make it right.

It is definitely appropriate to let those in charge at the cathedral and in the diocese know how we feel in light of the facts as we know them. A baptism was cancelled, and might well reflect a poor understanding and implementation of a sacramental theology of baptism in this instance. Calling into question the actions of the leadership is one thing; calling into question someone's faith or fitness to minister is quite another -- at least until we have all the facts. As a general rule, ad hominem attacks are not helpful, in my experience.

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Bruce Garner
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Bruce Garner

Recitation of personal experiences and sharing of history are not ad hominem attacks. It takes guts to be out in church, sometimes even supportive churches. One never knows what hateful person might be ready to pounce and many of our community do not know how to respond to such a situation. But, until we all stop hiding, things like this will continue to happen. Remember, it hasn't been that long ago that an attempt by an interracial couple would have generated the same type of response.

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Carolyn Peet
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Carolyn Peet

David Murray,
Is it possible that someone was simply searching for their male child, and called into the restroom thinking that was where he might be?

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David Murray
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David Murray

Carolyn,
Sorry for the delay. I had exceeded my limit yesterday.
To answer your question. No - it wasn't someone simply searching for their male child. The door was thrown open, it hitting the metal divider with the urinals, and the person (female) shouted for the child. I was alone, and I said as much.

I will assume the best with your question. However those of us who are LGBT can tell when we are not wanted. As surely as when we are seen as child molesters simply because we are LGBT.

I told of this experience because it occurred in a similar Diocese of is Central Florida. These things can indeed happen.

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Ric Schopke
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Ric Schopke

I can keep silent no longer. This comment is not about what happened or didn't happen regarding a baptism. We are all commenting based primarily on one person's perspective. We
Don't Know What Happened ! In spite of that we are rushing to judge a dedicated and compassionate Dean (even being told he is not a Christian and should renounce his ordination), a loving and caring congregation, a Jesus-honoring Bishop, even an entire diocese. This is the response Christians should give? To quote Paul, "God forbid!"

I have been worshipping at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke for around five years. I came there after many years on church staffs and having recently been through a major church upheaval. I have found the Cathedral to be a place of hope, healing, love, and caring. A large part of that has been
the ministry of Dean Clark and the other clergy and staff, as well as the congregation themselves.

I have been appalled at the execution and dismemberment of
the Dean and the Cathedral as I have read through these comments posted on "Episcopal Cafe". We have verbally murdered a pastor and a church community that most of us don't even know. I pray God's grace and forgiveness for all of us.

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John Chilton
Editor
John Chilton

Ric, thank you for sharing your experience. Your voice is welcome here.

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Cynthia Katsarelis
Member

Ric, the Dean canceled a baptism for a baby. Do you think that Bishop Brewer or anyone would be responding if it weren't for the outcry?

Peace and Justice requires people to speak out again injustice. In the case of the church, we are required to speak out against horrible theology.

There would be nothing to wait for if there were no outcry. The Cathedral, Dean, and Diocese would be free to pursue their homophobic theology without question or challenge. Gay people there would go unaffirmed, and bad theology of baptism would prevail.

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David Allen
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David Allen

There is a comment by one of your fellow parishioners posted above that mirrors the experience of the two dads in this story. The dads and the other parishioner all report that they are gay and that the issue was that they are gay. It seems that not everyone has the same experience at the Cathedral Church of St Luke.

Bro David

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Gwen Palmer
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Gwen Palmer

Just above, I have seen comments indicating that one is not a "Christian" if they support same-sex marriage, and, on the other hand, that the Dean Clark's admittedly wrongful actions bring his own Christianity into question. If we can't acknowledge our common Christianity underlying our issues and underlying our awful, unthinking acts, reconciliation won't ever be possible.

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Christopher Stephen Jenks, BSG
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Christopher Stephen Jenks, BSG

My dad (who was a priest) always said that "The Church is a hospital for sinners, not a country club for saints." This was back in the 50s and 60s, and that saying was old then, so this is no newfangled idea. In the gospels the only people Jesus was consistently and uniformly critical of were the self-righteous religious leaders of his time -- those who defined holiness as exclusion. When priests and bishops fall into the trap of careerism and strive to avoid offending those with money and influence at all costs, they lose their legitimacy.

Dean Clark: Perhaps it's time that you took a look at your own Baptismal vows. Perhaps, you need to resign your position and renounce your orders. Liberal or conservative, your actions indicate that you are not even a Christian, let alone a suitable priest. Better yet, you need to fully and publically repent of your sin and ask for the forgiveness of the baby's parents and the entire church. You clearly have lost your way.

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Susan Forsburg
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Susan Forsburg

This is a reminder to those of us who are fully welcomed and wanted in our communities that it isn't universally true, and there is still a long way to go... Not only this issue over Jack's baptism, but the quite disturbing stories told by David Murray and Stephen Gatlin above. Either All means All, or it doesn't.

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Jeff Mayhugh
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Jeff Mayhugh

It's a very difficult situation. On one hand the child should be baptized as long as there is a promise to raise him as a Christian. But on the other hand, it is impossible to support same sex coupling without rejecting clear Biblical Teachings, so there is little change the child will be be raised as a Christian (at best a same sex couple will pick and choose the Biblical Teachings they want him to have). I feel very bad for everyone involved. And, from the article, it seems that the clergy did not act in a Christian manner.

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Cynthia Katsarelis
Member

Jeff, it doesn't seem you are clear about the "teachings."

The Bible is not anti-gay, the "clobber passages" have been studied and they just don't mean what you think they do. Homophobia in the church is in the long tradition of other poor "teachings," like the ones supporting slavery, racism, antisemitism, and the burning of witches.

It will be a fine day when we all realize that the teachings are not particularly about individual sin, but rather corporate sin. For example, our indifference to the poor, the immigrant, the sick, the hungry, and the homeless. Leviticus calls for forgiving the debts of the poor every 7 years. I'd love to see the church get behind that!!!

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Dennis Roberts
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Dennis Roberts

Jeff, whatever those "clear Biblical Teachings" are, they aren't very clear. Nor are they always "teachings." And we are Episcopalians, not fundamentalists. It is important to grasp that last point. We receive Christianity from the church and from Christian tradition, and not merely from some literal reading of the Old and New Testaments. Biblical literalism is the path of other churches, not ours. We stand in the tradition of the faith and read scripture as a -guide-. Proof texts and citations of gotcha verses aren't the way that we resolve issues in the Episcopal Church. We interpret and discuss and explore within the context of reason, tradition, and our God-given ability to think and explore. So, yes, as a church most of us accept what you so derisively call "same sex coupling" in the same way that we accept "opposite sex coupling." (There is one word that covers both terms: marriage.) And the mind of this church seems to be moving rather certainly in this direction. This is as it should be and it is a good thing. This is what we are as Episcopalians.

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The Rev. Nancy Platt
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The Rev. Nancy Platt

Wait till they hear the readings for this coming week from Acts and John.

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Stephen Gatlin
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Stephen Gatlin

I have been watching the comments both good and bad for the last day and a half and realized I must speak up before I blow a gasket. I have attended the Cathedral Church of St. Luke for over five years. I serve as an adult acolyte, unofficial Cathedral photographer, worked on several ministries and served on the Pictorial Directory team a few years ago. I am an active member of the Cathedral and serve and attend with love and compassion. Furthermore, I never hid my partner of over 13 years from anyone at the Cathedral. He has attended many social events, parties, weddings and helped prepare breakfast for the homeless on Thanksgiving morning. The Dean and others in the congregation know of his existence and of our long-term relationship and have absolutely no issue with it whatsoever... Or am I wrong? I certainly hope so.

The incidents of the last several weeks has broken my heart. It is too early to tell who if anyone is to blame. However I am aware of a few of the ultra-conservative members of the congregation and a few members of the Cathedral Chapter who are quite anti LGBT. Thankfully there are other members of the Chapter and the congregation who are able to keep these few in control.

About a year ago I received an anonymous letter via US Mail indicating they didn't like "FAGS" serving on the Altar and that I was a threat to the children of the Cathedral. If I didn't immediately recuse myself from all Cathedral duties I would be reported to the Dean and to the Bishop. After receiving that threatening letter I immediately removed myself from all public appearances and duties as I was concerned about my personal safety. The clergy at the Cathedral were aware of the letter as well as the Cathedral Chapter. While I kept a low profile I thought which "cathedral loon" was lurking in the woodwork. Obviously it was someone either within or outside the Cathedral who was not friendly to the LGBT community. I suggested to clergy the issue of inclusion needed to be discussed in an open manner directly from the pulpit. To date, nothing has happened.

The personal attacks upon me were truly a surprise coming fro within the Episcopal Church - the Cathedral specifically. I thought we had the anti LGBT issues behind us but apparently they still reign. I don't know if the ghost of previous bishops are still floating around the Cathedral but now think it is a possibility. I hope I am wrong.

Rather than go on personal attacks about the Dean, Bishop Brewer or anyone else who's hands may be directly or indirectly involved in this mess, I think remaining silent from this day forward until the issue is resolved is my best course of action. But let me say this...I have a gut feeling that someone or a family with deep pockets may be behind this issue and they probably threatened to take their $$$ pledges elsewhere if the Baptism were to take place. They know who they are and I have a good idea.

So let's cool our jets and let the system work itself out.

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David Murray
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David Murray

I admire your strength in this. For myself, I tried membership in another of those Diocese that have remained in TEC membership. At first, it was well. However, I had an experience that changed my mind about being a open gay member. After a service, I used the restroom to only have the outer door forced open with a call given to what must have been a child. There was no one else in the space, and I said as much. I am a gay man, and not a child molester. When I reported the experience to the Dean. It was the cathedral of the diocese. Well, the person refused to believe it. At least to state that such behavior was possible. I sent my membership back home, and never attended again.

Frankly, there needs to be some way to address the bias and discrimination occurring now behind those 'The Episcopal Church Welcomes You' signs still being used by persons who really are not in TEC.

The story here is one of refusal of baptism to the child of gay people. However, there are many more occurring of similar nature to it.

Sorry for writing this, but the experience I had was terrible. It was unjust, and it was done under the cover of deceit. I never knew who it was... But I could clearly see that the behavior was given support.

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Scott Isebrand
Guest

I believe that it's reasonable for these men to have concluded—and I would agree with such a conclusion—that they have a solemn obligation to present the child for baptism as they did if they are members of the Episcopal Church. Arguably, an inherent problem would arise in an *absence* of such a desire, for however one thinks "parents" should be defined, the men are the child's guardians not only in civil law but I think in any common sense of the notion of guardianship.

What is more, The Book of Common Prayer, p. 298, Concerning the Service, puts greater emphasis on the matter of the godparents than the parents, saying that the former must be one or more baptized persons.

I think that, at worst, a travesty against the sacrament and a wrong by the ecclesiastical decision-makers, against both the child and the church, have been committed in this withholding of the sacrament.

Consider, The Book of Common Prayer, p. 298: "Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ’s Body, the Church." The Episcopal Church's website says (without citation), "In the waters of baptism we are lovingly adopted by God into God’s family, which we call the Church, and given God’s own life to share and reminded that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ."*

What then is God's family? The Book of Common Prayer, p. 862: "The communion of saints is the whole family of God, the living and the dead, those whom we love and those whom we hurt, bound together in Christ by sacrament, prayer, and praise."

There are no equivocations based on whether or not the child is adopted or the presenters guardians by civil law but not, by civil law, full-fledged parents, or if the parent is single, or all sorts of other things that could be elaborated on.

As things now stand (May 5, 2015) to the best of my knowledge of the circumstances, 1) there is need for clarifications by Church authorities because there are grey areas, but I think that those grey areas probably ultimately rest more in the rubrics than the theology, and 2) the undeniable fact remains that the congregation, presenters, and sponsors all have been denied an opportunity to profess their faith and welcome an infant child into the covenant community.

I think that the bishop should have been informed and direction sought as soon as the possibility of this baptism was made known. Also, I think the wrong decision was made, and I think this matter was poorly handled.

(*Thomas Merton defines grace as "God's own life, shared by us.")

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David Groff
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David Groff

Nicholas, thank you for your brave and well-considered presence at this cathedral. I hope that you will indeed find a home there, and the possibility of dialogue. I do worry that such dialogue will not truly happen--as evidenced by how the Cathedral removed a number of critical comments from its Facebook page, including mine. Maybe the Cathedral didn't like that I used the word "pharisaical."

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Susan Sica
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Susan Sica

...and a little child shall lead them (Is. 11:6) I confess that my initial reaction to this situation was one of righteous --even smug-- indignation. However, the "I would never do that & what were they thinking" moment didn't last long. I know full well that I might have behaved in a way that was just as unkind, unfaithful and damaging. Such is the human frailty.
As this story continues to unfold --and no doubt will have a much different conclusion as the calls for justice and grace are heard-- may we ALL take this as an opportunity to redouble our efforts to make all God's children welcome in the Episcopal Church and all of creation whole.

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Nicholas Trombley
Guest
Nicholas Trombley

As a gay male a recently new attendee of the Cathedral I did not enter the church with naivety. I must share that is a highly vulnerable moment when an LGBT person enters a church, kneels before the cross, and seeks to invite a congregation into his/her life and the lives of his/her family. My fiancé and I have spent over two years praying and seeking a church community to join in the Orlando area. The Episcopal church is where we continue to return because the liturgy is familiar, the community has been mostly accepting, and the church itself has a strong tradition of civility in examining sociopolitical issues. I've seen a few slippery slope arguments happening on this board and a mild conspiracy theory reflecting those who believe in a gay agenda. My gay agenda this week is to go to work, make some chicken soup because Manny has a cold, walk the dog, volunteer my time with a local community chorus, and participate in daily prayer and reflection. I believe that God has given us this moment to look within the community and revisit the Great Commandment. I am not pleading for a change in diocesan policy (though I make no effort to hide my opinion on it). I am asking that the community open itself to honest dialog in which both sides of the argument invite one another to experience how they live their lives in Christ. We are at another moment in history where we have been given the tools to search within our own and collective understanding of scripture and decide how to apply it. May god bless us in this journey and lead us to accepting this challenge he presents us.

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Chuck Messer
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Chuck Messer

Brother, bless you an your fiance as y'all find belonging and purpose at the Cathedral. As a native Floridian and priest, it gladdens me to see the quiet heroics of fellow brothers and sisters reflecting to the rest of the world that all will know we are disciples of our Lord Jesus by the love we show. Stay strong. God won't abandon you or The Episcopal Church.

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Elle McDonald
Guest
Elle McDonald

Thank you Nicholas Trombley and Ric Schopke, for representing the Cathedral. Our beautiful church is too sacred to be defined solely by this incident. With God's help, I have faith we can right this ship.

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Susan Russell
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Susan Russell

Giving thanks this morning for the witness of this family to actual family values and prayers that this might be a "Syrophonecian Woman Moment" for this dean, bishop and diocese. Applauding the willingness of these dads to tell Jack's story to (in their words) "give perspective to a reticent institution." Let those with ears to hear not only listen but act -- and let us finally become a church where there are absolutely NO strangers at the gate

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Tim
Guest
Tim

The Florida bishops who, with the exception of a few brave leaders in Southeast Florida, have cowered away from joining the fight for equality in Florida and will be remembered as having been on the wrong-side of history.

Moreover, some leaders in our own church have taken even bolder actions to flat-out deny same-sex couples equal and fair treatment; lobbying against access to rites and now it seems, even sacraments. Most notably, Bishop Brewer and Bishop Smith have been some of the loudest Florida opponents in denying pastoral care and fair and equitable treatment to same-sex couples.

As the result of this incident, this should serve as a wake-up call for members of the Episcopal Church in Florida especially, to implore our bishops to prayerfully reconsider their opposition to people in same-sex relationships. The world is changing and many, many more LGBT persons will be raising kids from failed traditional marriages by fostering and/or adopting. This isn’t going away..

Whatever the motivations of these bishops are – keeping conservative ‘high-roller’ parishioners happy, etc. – this fight to push the Church back into the dark ages is not healthy; it’s not helping the Church thrive; and the Episcopal Church is not some majestic theater where the rich, powerful and socially conservative can show up at Christmas and Easter to drop off a fat check and then call all of the shots.

Homosexuality has been around since the dawn of time and is obviously part of God’s design. Can’t we just let it go and move on to more important topics?

As a nation we’re sick; we’re all-consumed with gays, gay marriage, gay adoption, gay weddings, what kinds of foods we will or will not serve to gays at their gay reception. We’ve pinned up ‘Adam and Steve’ as pariahs -- the reason heterosexual marriage has failed, the root cause of the American family’s decay – the reason for the end times. We’re sick, obsessed – and we’re angry – because two people love each other?

The Episcopal Church we should be better than this – there’s enough bigotry in the secular world. Whatever happened to gathering in and ministering to all who seek God’s Word?

For the first time in my life, I’m really beginning to believe that no religion at all is better than this. All of this is terrible, but we’re blind to see it. We’re still quibbling over who get rights/rites and who doesn’t deserve them. Shame.

We should count on our church leaders to be better than this. They’re not bean-counting CEOs, they’re shepherds – and many of them are leading us astray for the wrong reasons: greed, power, money, avarice and bigotry.

(Tim - please use your full name (first and last) in the future - thx, Ed.)

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Joe Yukish
Guest
Joe Yukish

WWJD??????
I joined the Episcopal Church for its openness, acceptance, and call to help all members engage in their spiritual journey. It seems this purported characteristic of the church is only TRUE in some, not all, Episcopal Churches.

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Teer Hardy
Guest

This is part of a larger systemic issue. Political influence is being given priority over doctrine, which means that the pocket books and wallets of those influencers are being given priority and access within the church than those without such means or influence. Standing up for and identifying with those casted to the margins of society was a hallmark of Christ's ministry. It is a shame that in this moment where the church had the opportunity to stand and do what was right in the midst of outside political influence that it chose to cave. This is just another example of why the younger generation no longer sees the church as relevant in their lives. LGBTQ people and families are a priority for millenials and the church is simply telling millennials that their opinions and theology do not matter through examples like this.

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Brian A. MacFarland
Guest
Brian A. MacFarland

In essence “this is not no forever, just not now.”

As an Episcopalian, I am really offended by this statement from the Dean. Where does it say in the Prayer Book, one can only be baptized after all the bigots are on board? This Cathedral would be history............

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Teer Hardy
Guest

Brian, what this does mean is that the cathedral quite possibly has lost a young family. I pray this family will find a church community that welcomes them but I fear this family will be another statistic of people leaving the church.

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Bryant A. Hudson
Guest

I think too many of us are guilty of offering a stone barely disguised as bread to queer folk when we have invited them to join us in TEC. We queer folk are not fully welcomed or included yet by TEC. Yes, some people do, and even some pockets of the Church do, and things are better than they were. But our families and our relationships are not welcome in large parts of this Church. The DoCF is just one example of many, many places where we are not welcome. Those of us who live in the pockets of welcome forget that throughout TEC we are not welcome to have our marriages sacramental recognized through the rite of marriage, at least not yet. Even the weak and watery porridge of "blessings" that MAY be authorized, at the discretion of the Bishops, is denied by too many of them. Our queerness is denigrated by designations as "gay priest", "gay couples", and "welcoming" parishes, all noting the exceptions to the general unwelcome offered by TEC to us and to many others. Yes, we should work to change things, and the mostly welcoming statements from the biased sample of respondents here is encouraging. We have made progress. But when we say queer folk are welcome, we give bigots like this Bishop and this Dean cover to issue platitudes without substance, and to lie about their own commitment to their own baptismal covenant.

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Melissa Holloway
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Melissa Holloway

I agree that there is a lot of 'cover' that goes on in dioceses that don't fully welcome LGBT folks. The policies of the bishop are not easily publicly accessed. You have google the bishop and 'homosexuality' to find out. I had already made considerable commitments to a local church when I realized that if one of my children was gay, that parish could not be a sending parish for them. When I mentioned this to someone on the vestry, they said, of course we(the parish)would. And of course they were wrong. It is amazing that many people of good faith don't know up front the ethical limitations we must live with depending on the the serendipity of geography.

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Brian Sholl
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Brian Sholl

The Dean's equivocation is absurd and contrary to all biblical and ecclesiastical theological witness. All for anti-gay animosity.

What a lack of understanding of Christianity!

This is a failure of power structures and a renewed call for attention to Episcopal educational institutions. We have to care about the abusive nonsense at GTS (and elsewhere), and how our higher educational institutions are shaping human beings for ministry.

We have to care about access of power. It's our responsibility as those called to priesthood through our baptismal commitment. Every single one of us.

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Gary Paul Gilbert
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Gary Paul Gilbert

It all reminds me of the commercial the United Church of Christ did a few years ago, with people being ejected from a church.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXCzzNoMeNs

Episcopal welcome can be very unwelcoming in certain dioceses because diocesan bishops can do pretty much what they want. I don't see why a family would want to join a congregation which doesn't like them. Who needs the sacrament of baptism if it is going to be merely going through the motions of community?

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Dave Warburton
Guest

I almost hate to say it, but the first thing that entered my mind when I heard of this debacle was that there were objections to the baptism from some "deep pockets" cathedral members, as another poster previously mentioned.

Sadly, all to often I have seen parishes "adjust" their policies to avoid upsetting their biggest donors. It is most unfortunate when it happens, but from personal experience as a cradle Episcopalian and sometime lay leader, it DOES happen, just not in as a revolting and conspicuous manner as reported in this case.

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Liam Muller
Guest
Liam Muller

This whole affair is sickening on several fronts. On the one hand, refusing to baptize is inconceivable and wrong. On the other hand, the rush to judgment without pertinent information (if any exists), the outrageous conspiracy theories and the equally and decidedly non Christian vitriol directed toward our brothers and sister in Christ also gives one pause. Pray, now and always, for the good of all in God's creation to shine through.

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Kevin James
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Kevin James

The only decent thing that Bishop Brewer can do is offer the parents a public apology and go ahead and conduct the baptism himself. If he isn't willing to do that, the Presiding Bishop should apologize on behalf of the entire Episcopal Church and conduct the baptism herself. I suspect that there are more than a few parishes in the Orlando area that would be delighted to welcome the Presiding Bishop to their church to baptize a child.

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John Fonner
Guest
John Fonner

This is not the Episcopal Church I know.
Those who are opposed to the baptism of this child should not attend if they do not wish to participate in the Sacrement of Baptism for this child. It is pure arrogance to stand between this child and God, presuming to know God's will.

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Lee Ann Walling
Guest

About 9 years ago, at our parish in Dover, Delaware, our former rector baptized the child of two women at the more traditional Rite I 8 o'clock service - because that is the service they attended. She did not announce it but she did not ask permission, either (even of the vestry), as she did not a few years later when she blessed same-sex unions, including mine. If any parishioners had raised questions, that would have been a teachable moment. Delaware is not Florida, but it is supposed to be the same denomination and I am really disheartened that a handful of parishioners could derail a young child's joining the Body of Christ. It is not their sacrament to deny him.

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christopher peterson
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christopher peterson

I nearly left the church forever when I came out...My church and family abandoned me...Father Peter found me in a hospital spitting hatred at God and His followers... He was patient with me,revealed Gods true love was not bound in the hatred of others but in forgiveness and love...For 6 months he freely counceled me and I joined the choir, found a new welcoming family where love and acceptance resonated.

I was sadended to here about this family and I know the pain of rejection by a church for being gay...I only pray this unites the church around them and doesn't allow the hatred,confusion of a few to hide the message of Gods inclusive love to all.

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David Groff
Guest
David Groff

So the cathedral church of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida refused to baptism a baby, Jack, whose father was two gay men. This action by the dean--the result, he says, of a "misunderstanding" (and what a political weasel word that is)--was abetted by a bishop who says only that he didn't know the "details" of the controversy. This is contemptible and unChristian. Jesus said, "Suffer the little children and forbid them not, for such is the kingdom of heaven"--a kingdom that I hope the dean and bishop believe includes not just babies like Jack but adult LGBT people who embrace their God-given natures. As the son of an Episcopal priest and a gay man who grew up lacerated by the Episcopal Church, I keep trying to edge back into a connection with my birth-denomination, only to see people in power do hateful things in the name of a straitened and unChristlike understanding of God, love, and justice. Denying baptism to Jack--or even relegating the baby's baptism to a supposedly more liberal minded 6 pm service--is apparently just the latest manifestation of the pharisaical attitudes of a diocese that consigns LGBT to second class spiritual citizenship.

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Reverend Stephen Huber
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Reverend Stephen Huber

How classic! So often it is the deep-seated fears or prejudices of the clergy and bishops, not the good people in the pews - although they get blamed for it - that drive these idiotic and terribly hurtful decisions. Using the gay issue to issue forth the most retrograde praxis around baptism is appalling. I appreciate Philip Snyder, acknowledging both his conservative position and at the same time his understanding that this decision is just wrong. He represents the kind of respectful pastoral dialogue the Church so sorely needs.

Most of the divisions in the Church are the result of clergy agendas, not the people. And here again we see this sad pattern playing out when this opportunity could have presented such a wonderful occasion for some gentle education within the congregation and a movement forward.

Sad indeed!

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Jay Croft
Guest
Jay Croft

In the photo, the dean's posture, gesture, facial expression and dark glasses all remind me of a character in a "Godfather's" movie.

Chilling.

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Christopher Johnson
Guest

sadly this story reminds me of the beautiful moment when I baptized a fifty-five year old parishioner who had been refused baptism as a child in her local RC Church. She sat in tears savoring that moment of spiritual birth and adoption as Christ's own forever. And why was this so? Because her uncle was a member of the mafia! She was punished as a child by a priest who chose to leverage her spiritual life in protest to an uncle. I am not remotely considering analogy between her uncle and these two loving parents. I am, however, holding the clergy accountable for deplorable behavior violating the very gospel they have professed to uphold. Shame on them.

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Robert McLean
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Robert McLean

Debacle is the right word. Reading this story made me ashamed to be an Anglican. Since when do Episcopalians/Anglican lay people get to veto baptisms? One can only hope that those working to prevent the baptism are removed or resign from any office they might hold.

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Tom Pritchard
Guest
Tom Pritchard

Makes one wonder where the love of God is in this Dean's heart. Of course, Rich and Eric could become Methodists as well, shouldn't have to but why would they want to bother remaining Episcopalians? Just when we thought that rational minds could prevail.

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Eric Bonetti
Member
Eric Bonetti

Utterly disgraceful behavior on the part of the bishop, the dean, and others. How dare any person prohibit the baptism of someone else? As for the PR from the cathedral, spare me the equivocation. Turning anyone away from baptism who sincerely seeks it is wrong. Period.

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janice garv8n
Guest
janice garv8n

Great idea& I hope the parents are forgiving enough to agree.

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Paul Woodrum
Guest

You fellow Episcopalians who not only understand the underlying theology of baptism, but recognize bigotry when you seen it, make me proud. Central Florida has problems with Jesus and the Scripture. My sister-in-law, reared as a staunch Episcopalian in the Diocese of New York, at whose wedding I officiated and whose granddaughter I baptized, since moving there, has become a Methodist. In good part this is because of the attitude of the local Episcopal Church to my marriage to her brother. I wonder if the Dean ever baptizes the children of single, un-wed mothers. Or are they too beyond the baptismal pale?

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Daniel Berry, NYC
Guest
Daniel Berry, NYC

Grounds for a canonical investigation if someone brings presentments. The presbyterate of the diocese should have a lot to say about this.

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Steve S.
Guest
Steve S.

After reading this article. I believe that The Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori should fly down there and perform the baptism herself as a sign that this is what Jesus would have done in the first place. Then put the Dean on notice that if it happens again, He will be dismissed.

(Please use full first and last name when commenting - Ed.)

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David Allen
Guest
David Allen

You do realize that she doesn't have the authority to do either? She would need to be invited and then receive Bishop Brewer's consent to act in his diocese. She has no jurisdiction over the priest who is the Dean.

Bro David

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Member

And in the long run, that's a good thing!

Rob, we have a 4 comment limit per day, per story. You are now 2 comments over for today. Please refrain from more today in this thread.
David Allen

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John Cor
Guest
John Cor

It is a very sad time when a baptism is cancelled because the parents don't fit a human determined mold. It is the child that was to be baptised and those witnessing
the occasion who might or might not promise with God's help to assist that child grow towards a better relationship with Christ as time moved forward. No priest or bishop should refuse to baptize a child because someone in the congregation thinks the parents are imperfect. I know of no one who is perfect or without sin. This is a very sat time in our Christian history if things like this happen.

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Br. John Ryan, O.C.P.
Guest

The clergy, serving in a role of leadership are the servants of the People of God, in fact they also are one of the people of God. It would seem the "servants" are in rebellion allowing their personal beliefs to supersede the will of the Church as expressed through the Will of the Spirit of God, at General Convention. After years of work the Episcopal Church changed to become an open, welcoming and loving place to meet Jesus. It seems some of the servants "missed the memo", it is titled: the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Each of us are called to witness that Message and bear it in love to others no matter the cost.

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Jay Croft
Guest
Jay Croft

I wonder if the bishop and the dean are skirting canon law by refusing to baptize this child.

"Misunderstanding," my foot! Bigotry is no "misunderstanding."

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Dan Frain
Guest
Dan Frain

John, I knew a lad by your name in Corpus Christi, TX, many years ago. Okay, MANY years ago. About fifty. I haven't seen him since junior high school, but he

I heard he'd become a minister, but not that he'd become an Episcopalian. Are you the same John Andrews?

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Dan Frain
Guest
Dan Frain

Moderator, this comment was meant to address a comment by John D. Andrews, earlier on the page.

Please move it to an appropriate place. Also, in the event that he replies, please forward his response.

Thank you.
Dan Frain

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Donald Timothy Tribble
Guest
Donald Timothy Tribble

How many straight couples children were baptised yet fail to follow the teachings of the Church? Isn't that the point, not the parent's genders?

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Karen Johanns
Guest
Karen Johanns

I wouldn't be surprised if someone was threatening to pull a big pledge. Money makes people do strange things.

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Peter Carey
Guest
Peter Carey

Yes of course. That's what it's all about.

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Daniel Grell
Guest
Daniel Grell

Even if the Bishop himself offered to perform the Sacrament of Baptism, I believe it is time to say, "Thanks, but no thanks. We've opted to find a loving and affirming parish elsewhere." I know several members of St. Luke's and know that they would never agree with the behavior that has been put forth in denial of baptism. They have also lived through the "reign" of biased and prejudicial hierarchy, yet the same type of hierarchy continues to be selected for this church and diocese.

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Fr. Robert Lewis
Guest

There are plenty of bishops whose "reign" excludes traditionalists too. Yours is not the only justifiable opinion. Leave Brewer alone!

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C. Salmon
Guest
C. Salmon

Yes, but it appears that this bishop acquiesced in excluding a baby from "The household of God". The best Bp. Brewer could say was that he wasn't aware of some facts before he saw the father's fb post; the implication (bolstered by the Dean's statement that Bp. Brewer was aware of the situation) is that he was aware of at least some of the facts, and presumably never said to the Dean that there was no excuse for refusing to baptize someone, and especially not a baby. Baptism is not predicated on the worthiness of those presenting the candidate for baptism; if it were, no one would ever be baptized, because we are all sinners.

The Dean should have stood up to whoever complained, and if he felt he needed support in order to do that, then Bp. Brewer should have backed him up, period.

Note: C. Salmon - please add your first name as well as last when you comment. Thanks Editor

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June Butler
Guest

None of us should be in the business of telling, suggesting, advising the parents what to do. The fathers are adults, and they are capable of making their own decisions. Perhaps they wish to clear a path for same sex parents who may follow them. If so, I applaud them for their courage.

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Catherine Haggard
Guest
Catherine Haggard

Jesus didn't judge people "outside the norm"; he embraced them.

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Catherine Haggard
Guest
Catherine Haggard

Thank you Carolyn Cline for stating the obvious. Baptism should not hinge on societal norms. Jesus didn't judge people who outside the norm. He embraced them.

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Rosie Castelli
Guest
Rosie Castelli

That this would still happen in the Church I love saddens me to no end. Once again, the Episcopal Church is embarrassed by the short sighted, uncaring decisions by those who are supposed to lead. Shame.

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Bill Nicholson
Guest
Bill Nicholson

Seems like the Dean is not in charge. Did some of the "deep pockets" disagree with the plans. If not, I would find another church where everyone is welcome.

(comment edited to meet our comment guidelines - Ed.)

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John Keasler
Guest
John Keasler

Do you really want to raise your child in a church where hate can raise its ugly head at anytime? My advice to this gay couple is to find a denomination that will welcome their family with love and not a denomination where compassion and acceptance runs hot and cold. As a devout ex-Christian, I wonder what century these people live in.

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Member

ps. The vast majority of Episcopalians have reacted with disgust to this situation. Let's hope any rectification of the situation does not include a passive "mistakes were made" apology.

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Member

I can't disagree more, John.

The theology of the Anglican faith was founded on the very concept of "challenging" repressive expressions of "orthodox" absolute authority (yes, there's that small matter of Henry's divorces as well).

As a member of this diocese, it should be our mission to proclaim the Good News- even to those here who have chosen fundamentalism and intolerance as their expression of Christian faith.

Just as these people were forced, in a former incarnation, to renounce their "biblical" justificatioin of condoning slavery or racially mixed marriage, they may in time see the ugliness in the mirror.

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Kennet Rowan Gencks
Guest

I am a layperson who co-runs the Indianapolis outreach and support group for LGBTQ persons and allies. I have been Episcopalian for 4 years, and I have experienced amazing love and acceptance in my Church, enough that I consider them family.

When I read what happened to this child and his parents I was sickened and horrified that Episcopalians could do such a thing. I was literally nauseated. I showed the article to our Dean, and he was disturbed greatly, himself. He said that there was absolutely no reason to deny baptism to a child even if one considered the parents sinful. The child has not sinned.

How long, Lord, do LGBTQ people have to suffer emotional pain and sometimes even threats of physical harm before the Church fully accepts them as brothers and sisters in Christ? Have I been promising people a safe place to *exist* in error?

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David Murray
Guest
David Murray

What is the name of the group, and do you have a website. Living in the midwest, I am a traveling through Indianapolis.

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Patty Fort
Guest
Patty Fort

"...even if one considered the parents sinful." Whose parents aren't sinful?" Have I missed something?

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Cynthia Katsarelis
Member

Editors, thank you for all your work. But I would like to suggest that the tag line here could use an edit. Yours is "A father and his husband are heartbroken when their son’s baptism is put off."

May I suggest "Two fathers are heartbroken when their son’s baptism is put off?"

You understand, right? There's not one father, there are two fathers. Yes?

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Gwen Palmer
Guest
Gwen Palmer

That this ever became an issue is abhorrent. No child should be refused baptism.

But I think assigning motive might be harder to pin down. Crass face-saving, or substituting the "gospel of empire" could be the reason behind this, but there is clear reason for the bishop and dean to fear a split similar to South Carolina's situation. They seem to be trying to keep the sides together, and it might be impossible to do so with such rigid anti-gay opinions as those of the congregants who would actually deny a baptism over it. Of course those congregants should not be pandered to, and of course this "misunderstanding" was at best cowardly.

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Bob Chapman
Guest

There is really only one response the Dean should make to this:

"Name this child."

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Marta Sigmon
Guest
Marta Sigmon

How dare they refuse baptism! The church does not belong to those selected to serve it. Don't you get the word "serve"? And where have those teachers who are to help the congregation learn to live demonstrating God's love? I have been an Episcopalian for 73 of my 85 years -- and I am so disappointed to read of this event. What is being preached in the Florida diocese? There is a big problem there.

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Hooper Harris
Guest
Hooper Harris

I also note that I have known Bp. Greg Brewer for four decades, and completely trust his word. If he says he did not know, he did not know.

What is my proof? If he had, a different outcome would have emerged.

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Gwen Palmer
Guest
Gwen Palmer

To be clear, Bishop Brewer specifically said that, until he read the Facebook post, he "was not aware of some of the details" in the post. Not that he knew nothing of the incident.

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Hooper Harris
Guest
Hooper Harris

Point well taken.

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Hooper Harris
Guest
Hooper Harris

Well, this is a revolting development.

Holy Baptism is full initiation by water and the Holy Spirit into Christ's Body the Church. The bond which God establishes in Baptism is indissoluble (Book of Common Prayer, page 298).

Of note, in Baptism, there is no "if any of you know" question offered to the congregation present like we do at ordination (as demonstrated in this case, an underutilized tool). No question, and no answer. Baptism is not even effected by the "will you do all in your power..." question. If no one answers in the affirmative, the celebrant is not obligated to stop the proceedings. That's an issue of the congregants and their relationship to God, not the to-be-Baptized.

In short, no one cares what the congregation thinks. Baptism is about a bond between God and the one being Baptized.

Apparently, some in the congregation at St. Luke's are uncomfortable with the Baptism of a child because they don't like that his legal parents are both male. You know, that might even make me uncomfortable, too.

But Baptism isn't about being comfortable. It is intended to make you uncomfortable... that's the idea.

What does Baptism do for you? It makes you take on the burden of being different from the world. It qualifies you for are having odd priorities compared to others, being thought of as strange in school, maybe walking around with a dirty forehead the day after Mardi Gras. But, in some parts of the world, Baptism a death sentence. It can get you decapitated by ISIS. You make the short list when Boko Harum comes by. Yeah, it could be uncomfortable... very uncomfortable.

The fact that these two guys are willing to place Jack in harm's way, to seal his fate in the face of a dangerous world, speaks volumes to their courage. Too bad the Cathedral is so squeamish... they need to gut it up and grow a spine.

I would refer the parents to page 313 of the Book of Common Prayer:

"Emergency Baptism

In case of emergency, any baptized person may administer Baptism according to the following form.

Using the given name of the one baptized (if known), pour water on him or her, saying:

"I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and
of the Holy Spirit." "

Page 314 goes on to offer these notes:

"The person who administers emergency Baptism should inform the priest of the appropriate parish, so that the fact can be properly recorded."

My recommendation would be that the record include the nature of the emergency: My church was uncomfortable.

The note goes on to say:

"If the baptized person recovers, the Baptism should be recognized at a public celebration of the Sacrament with a bishop or priest presiding, and the person baptized under emergency conditions, together with the sponsors or godparents, taking part in everything except the administration of the water."

Now, wouldn't that be uncomfortable.... celebrating a Sacrament already performed.

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Br. Karekin Yarian
Guest
Br. Karekin Yarian

The Cathedral Church of Saint Luke in Orlando Florida needs Confession and repentance. Primarily it must confess that it proclaims not the Gospel of Christ, but the Gospel of Empire. It must confess that it would rather create outcasts than reconcile everyone the the Body of Christ. It must confess that it would risk the salvation of a child than be at peace with two loving parents whose genders don't "match" what some bigots would prefer. The congregation of that Church, and the Dean should repent of their patent disregard for the plain teaching of Chris and for fostering a culture in which this *could* happen. They barred access to Baptism and the forgiveness of sin; they barred access to the grace of the Holy Spirit in the life of an innocent -- in order to save face among bigots. And that is a scandal more profound than any other.

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Pete Hoffman
Guest
Pete Hoffman

I'm saddened by the "rush to judgement" I'm seeing here. There was a mistake made by human beings, and they appear to me to be willing to admit to it and correct it. What more can we ask? And which of us, sometime in our lives, hasn't done the same? I think we need to forgive and love them in their humanity, which as we all know is frail.

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Bruce Bevans
Guest
Bruce Bevans

Thank you, Pete Hoffman. Thank you.

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David Murray
Guest
David Murray

The decision, if that is the right word, is not a small error of judgment. It does point to a very ugly choice made, and made for something quite apart from a rite of the church as called for by Christ himself. It was Baptism, and the baptism of a child that is a person regardless of what is thought of those asking for baptism - of a child. Frankly, the church needs to be concerned.

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Hooper Harris
Guest
Hooper Harris

Pete, you are correct. We do need to forgive them, and indeed, they are. But there is no learning if forgiveness is given without teaching.

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John Chilton
Editor
John Chilton

The Diocese of Central Florida is the master brand.
https://medium.com/@ericmineart/what-the-clintons-teach-us-about-brand-architecture-acef883b637c
Here's Bishop Brewer's pastoral letter of 2012 on baptism, the dignity of every human being and rites for same-sex couples,
http://www.cfdiocese.org/news/article/2012/07/17/pastoral-letter-addresses-general-convention?page=4
Bishop John Howe preceded Brewer. Google him.

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Larry Graham
Guest
Larry Graham

Since when is a child responsible for the sins (if any) of his fathers?

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Marny
Guest
Marny

"What is to prevent me from being baptized?" Fortunately the Ethopian court official encountered by Phillip didn't have two dads.

(We ask that you use your full name when commenting, thanks - Ed.)

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David Allen
Guest
David Allen

Perhaps the bishop himself could offer to baptize the child at the cathedral's 10:15 am Sunday service!

Bro David

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Philip Snyder
Guest
Philip Snyder

I think that one of the seals spoken of in the book of Revelations has just been opened. David and I agree on something. 🙂

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John Merchant
Guest
John Merchant

And Jesus wept yet again.

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Nicholson White
Guest
Nicholson White

Amen, John M!! The entire episode is a disgrace.

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Scott Elliott
Guest
Scott Elliott

I think it would be wonderful of this baptism were the centerpiece of the cathedral's Whitsunday service.

Three weeks should give plenty of time for everything to be worked out.

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janice garv8n
Guest
janice garv8n

Great idea& I hope the parents are forgiving enough to agree.

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Colin Lynch
Guest
Colin Lynch

From this past Sunday's First Lesson: "As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?" He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him."

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David F. Wright
Guest

In my homily this past Sunday to one of the most marginalized groups in society, residents of a long-term nursing home, I spoke of the eunuch and his position in society. I spoke of castration (talk about being cut off from society). I could see the residents identifying with that eunuch--not as one having had such mutilating surgery, but as people who themselves had been relegated to a life they certainly didn't choose. They are some of the most loving people I have ever met. Giving them the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ restores me! I feel so blessed, so privileged, to be in the position I am, as a conduit for God's restorative power. These people are strong Christians; I have known several, sadly, for several years. And their faith is vibrant and healing. I know they will be trying to spread God's Word this coming week. Perhaps the most physically able should go down to Orlando to show the clergy afraid to baptize the young adopted son of two gay men what faith means to them! They are not wrapped up in worrying about what people think. They are worried about maybe not seeing tomorrow's sunrise. And they believe in God's restorative, healing powers. God help the clergy of theDiocese of Central Florida (and from personal, firsthand experience, the clergy in other Floridian dioceses!

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June Butler
Guest

I think there was no "misunderstanding". That is spin from the diocesan PR person, plain and simple. The baptism was scheduled and then cancelled when members of the congregation objected. To refuse baptism to an infant because some in the congregation object to the relationship of the child's parents is scandalous. Family and friends from out of town had arrived to celebrate a baptism that did not happen. What do all those people think of the cathedral's practice of Christian charity? That's not to say there is no forgiveness, but there is something to forgive, something more than a misunderstanding.

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Rick Thionas
Guest

This is the first time I have ever been ashamed of the Episcopal Church. Every child has the right to be Baptized regardless of his parents. One reason that I have been so proud of my faith has been for tolerance of the LGBT community. I sure hope that a second look will be taken of this situation and remember what Jesus Christ stands for. ALL LOVING and I hope, inthis case, ALL FORGIVING

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Bruce Garner
Guest
Bruce Garner

All of this begs the long standing issue of the true place of LGBT folks in the Diocese of Central Florida. The previous bishop, John Howe, literally purged all LGBT folks from serving at the altar as EM's, lectors, and adult acolytes. Unless it has been changed, there was also what amounted to a "purity oath" which only barely managed to veil the fact that it was getting at same sex couples.....if you were married or celibate you were "okay." Never mind that true celibacy is a calling not a restriction.

This impacts the guaranteed canonical access to the life of the church and the ordination process. Of course, no one is guaranteed ordination, but our canons guarantee access to the process. I do not believe you will find such access in Central Florida.

As far as I can recall, this is the first public/open challenge to some of the foolishness that has been allowed to exist for now a couple of decades. Perhaps someone who has been denied access to the ordination process or even denied being licensed as an EM will now have the courage to file charges against the clergy and bishop who continue to uphold their restrictions. It rings rather hollow for the bishop to talk about meeting the needs of LGBT members when this is what happens to a same gender couple who wants to have their son baptized.

I will probably catch hell for posting this next month at the Province IV Synod.....but I've known many of these folks for years and years....and I'm too old and too weary for their continued games with my sisters and brothers.

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Canon Jim Rosenthal
Guest

During the time of Dean G R Lobs III under Bishop Howe, I had friends who were "purged" by them and it was rumoured that was a mandate from the Bishop. Very sad. The world is on fire and a silly man says no to bring new life to a child of God. We have evangelical clergy in the C of E one just 3 miles away who refuse baptism of children for "human" reasons. I just don't get it. Sacrament - grace, no?

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John D. Andrews
Guest
John D. Andrews

Bruce, thank you so much for your respectful and honest post.

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Member

Thank you Bruce! As a delegate to several CF diocesan conventions, I too have been troubled by the intolerance expressed for years by some of our episcopoi, clergy, and laity. Perhaps this will be a teaching moment for those who have advocated this position as they are forced, for the first time, to look in the mirror and see how ugly intolerance in the name of "orthodoxy" really is.

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Bruce Garner
Guest
Bruce Garner

It has been so sad for so many years that bishops did not really teach and lead on issues relating to changes to the BCP, women's ordination and the place of LGBT folks in our church. A bishop's position carries much more weight than some might think when it comes to these issues. So instead of categorically saying that we should flee from something new and maybe unknown, he or she would say that we should engage in dialogue and study about, for example, LGBT issues. How many did so? I doubt Howe did. We engaged in such dialogues in my diocese almost 30 years ago at the bishop's suggestion. Getting to know who is behind a label really changes how you look at each other. LGBT folks look and act pretty much like anyone else! Well, now, isn't that a big surprise!? Wringing hands and moaning and whining isn't leadership. Calls for study, teaching and discussion are the marks of leadership.

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Chris Cooper
Guest
Chris Cooper

Bruce, may I post your comments on the reply by the Dean on Facebook where he states this was all just a misunderstanding. +John Howe is most definitely at the root of this evil behavior.

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Member

I don't think you can put all the blame on John Howe, although he was certainly a major player. At the time, he resisted strong calls by many to leave the TEC and go rogue with the other four former bishops. If we had separated from the true Anglican/Episcopal church, think how much worse things would have been for the many thousands of parishioners who disagreed with the fundamentalists.

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Bruce Garner
Guest
Bruce Garner

Sure....it actually isn't anything that I haven't noted before! This time, however, there was an incident to document the situation more clearly.

Bruce

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Jay Croft
Guest
Jay Croft

I, and many other clergy throughout the Episcopal Church, would be happy to baptize this child.

I've never heard of a bishop interfering with a baptism before. Never.

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Paul Ditz
Guest
Paul Ditz

Regardless of the reasons, this was a horrendous mistake on the part of both the Dean and the Bishop. Even if it is a misunderstanding, they have hurt one of their flock through their actions or lack of communication. There is simply no reason, NONE, not to baptize this innocent child of God. This needs to be made right immediately. I am hurt as an Episcopalian and as a Christian.

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Jon Spangler
Guest
Jon Spangler

I fail to see what "just cause" could ever exist for NOT baptizing a child whose parents are practicing Christians (or not, for that matter). According to the Scriptures (Matt. 19:14 and many more) the church should never say "no"--or even "maybe."

It seems that the "misunderstanding" in the St. Luke's cathedral community is on the part of those who would seek to oppose this baptism based on (inappropriate) political--or supposedly "moral"(?!?) grounds. Why else would there be any misunderstanding about such a straightforward sacrament?

As a lifelong practicing Episcopalian, choir member, and former jail Bible study volunteer, I call on the cathedral of St. Luke's community and the rest of the church to stay within the Scriptural tradition we have been given, which is quite clear in support of baptizing those who seek the sacrament in good faith.

Sadly, the "public relations fixer" statement posted on the cathedral's Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cathedral-Church-of-St-Luke-Orlando-FL/115682488487538?) does not reflect the clear imperatives of Scripture or the Church Universal to baptize. Why is this? How could a bishop, dean, and the staff of a cathedral go so far astray from the Gospel?

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Philip Snyder
Guest
Philip Snyder

The clergy of this congregation need to make it clear that the congregation promises to support the child in his new life - not to approve of the relationship between the parents. If you can't support any child who is newly baptized, then I have to question your own commitment to Jesus as Lord and as Savior.

The Church is NOT a club for righteous people. Baptism is not a celebration of the parents or of the child or of the church family. The Church is a hospital for sinners and Baptism is the celebration of new life (life in the Holy Spirit - the Lord, the Giver of Life). Refusing a child membership in the Body of Christ because you think his parents are sicker than you are makes as much sense as kicking a patient out of a hospital because you think he is sicker than you are.

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Ellen Campbell
Guest
Ellen Campbell

This is a very unfortunate situation. I am sure they must realize now, looking back, having the 6 pm service suggested to them may have been the first indication things were not well. I certainly hope this mess is rectified quickly and in the way the parents want the baptism done. Anything short of what the parents want to do would be troublesome.

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Geoff McLarney
Guest
Geoff McLarney

So many alarm bells. The church isn't a gentlemen's club: you aren't "voted in" by the existing membership and the opposition of other parishioners is irrelevant, not a "conflict" to "resolve." Second, cathedral deans in North America are not the free agents their English counterparts are: there is something seriously wrong if the bishop is finding out via Facebook about such a major decision taken, ultimately, in his name.

It's fitting that our modern rites for baptism involve the assembly by inviting their assent. But it is not a marriage or ordination: there is no provision for an "objection." It's hard to imagine any answer but "We will" actually being forthcoming at the end of the day, but regardless the show must go on.

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Fr. John-Julian, OJN
Guest
Fr. John-Julian, OJN

Isn't it amazing in this time of "mission madness" that the Dean of a Cathedral could refuse the request to make a new Christian.

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Ann Fontaine
Member
Ann Fontaine

For contacting the Dean and Bishop: The phone number for the Cathedral (407) 849-0680) and email for the Dean is deanclark@stlukescathedral.org.

The phone number for the Diocesan Office (407) 423-3567 and email for the Bishop is bpbrewer@cfdiocese.org

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Dennis Roberts
Guest
Dennis Roberts

Done. Letters sent to both of them and a comment posted on the cathedral's facebook page. I also used twitter to send a message to the diocese and the cathedral and I called and spoke politely with what seemed to be an office manager at the cathedral.

I encourage everyone to reach out and let them know your thoughts. If they understand just how shocking this is to the rest of the church perhaps it might encourage change in that diocese.

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Bruce Bevans
Guest
Bruce Bevans

I do not think inundating the Canon or the Bishop with phone calls and e-mails is the most helpful thing to do. I am sure they are aware of the opinions out there. It sounds like an invitation to bullying to me. Let them work it out.

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John Bedingfield
Guest
John Bedingfield

I am a "card carrying liberal," but I agree with Bruce on this part. The Cathedral Dean and the Bishop have plenty on their plates in (hopefully) trying to bring the love of Christ into this mess, without having to respond to a mountain of well-intentioned messages, expressing righteous indignation.

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June Butler
Guest

Thanks, Ann. I sent an email to both the bishop and the dean.

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June Butler
Guest

I received a response from the office of the dean with the exact same stock reply that is posted on Facebook.

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Harry Nicholson
Guest
Harry Nicholson

I recently preached at a baptism. I told the congregation that one of three things they could do to support the newly baptized infant was to pray for her for the rest of their lives or her life. Certainly even members of the cathedral congregation who oppose everything gay could pray at least once for the baby boy. Even if that is "everything" in their power. Oh, thus just stinks to high heaven.

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Elaine Warren
Guest
Elaine Warren

This incident is an opportunity for the clergy to respond to the objectors to the baptism and educate them to the meaning of "God is Love" and "Judge not....". The church should be the sanctuary of love and kindness and not change policies to accommodate ''Grinch" sized hearts in a hurry to cast the first stone so to speak. I pray that the love of Jesus will come into their hearts. God bless the child and his loving parents.

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Patricia Nakamura
Guest
Patricia Nakamura

ALL children, ANY child, deserves baptism.
Who or what the parents may be is irrelevant.

The CHILD, all children, any child, is a child of God.
When Jesus said "suffer the little children..." he didn't mean "make them suffer for your opinion of their parents"!

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Marylin Day
Guest
Marylin Day

Amen!

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Philip Snyder
Guest
Philip Snyder

As one of the few conservatives on this board, I unequivocally say that the clergy behaved badly here. The only reason to deny baptism is if there is strong evidence (or even overwhelming evidence) that the parents/godparents are not willing to raise the child in the Christian faith or if there is evidence that the child/person has already been baptized. Such is not the case in this situation.

Regardless the sinfulness / lack of sinfulness of the parent's relationship, the child is not responsible for that relationship and should not be penalized as a result of it. This child should be baptized.

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Mary-Frances
Guest
Mary-Frances

Thank you for your comment. The fact that you think this little boy should be baptized. Lets me know that you have a loving heart. I'm very liberal and am sad that the little boy wasn't baptized on the planned day. I'm happy that the priest said it's not no forever but I think all children are worthy of baptism if the parents or guardians want to provide this sacrament.

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Charles Wingate
Guest

I must agree with this (as a sort-of conservative). This last Sunday's reading from the Acts is quite apropos: if Philip can baptize a eunuch on the side of the road, we can baptize a child without regard to the sinning (or lack thereof) of the parents.

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hilary cook
Guest
hilary cook

There is a wideness in G-D's mercy and it extends to the breadth, depth and height of G-D's vision, not ours.

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Carolyn Cline
Guest
Carolyn Cline

It's ironic that yesterday's reading from Acts concerns Philip's unconditional baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch. I don't recall the apostle's questioning the eunuch's parentage or the level of comfort among bystanders.. Baptism should not be a reward for parental adherence to societal norms. It is much too critical an action for it to be subject to a Dean's whim. David is right; this is absolutely wrong, totally un-Christian. This is a child's soul, not a social event, at stake.

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Chris Harwood
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Chris Harwood

Others point to this story as a sign that baptism should be the person's choice and that baptizing children is the wrong idea. TEC puts so much power in baptism--taking the eucharist, being married in the church and the call for women and gay priests (and anyone else) since they've been baptized--that some think it should only be a personal decision and not something automatic by parents with no input by the individual.

Locally, outside the church, the general population here thinks child baptism a family photo op with no meaning since the local child abuser, murderer and "madam" have all been baptized.

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David Murray
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David Murray

I believe Philip has said this. Let's us enjoy those times when we all can find something that we can unite in. Baptism is about a meeting with our Savior, and not us being perfect. Baptism was the request being made, and not whether 'you' approved of those making the request for the baptism.

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David Murray
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David Murray

Thank you for saying this. We may find things that divide us in many areas, but like you, this denial of baptism was wrong. Period.

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Geoff McLarney
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Geoff McLarney

"What if the intentions of the parents were not totally on the up and up? “Well, if you baptized our child, and we are a gay couple, certainly you should bless our marriage?”"

And just how would that be "not on the up and up"?

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Bruce Bevans
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Bruce Bevans

Friends, I really appreciate how you responded to me. What I assumed was, and when I assume I automatically run into trouble, was that the couple might seek a blessing to their marriage, not knowing if they were married in an Episcopal Church. All the better that they were willing to attend Baptism Class. Of course, again, baptize little Jack ASAP. I remember, way back, when Conservative Bishops were given a conscience clause over the issue of WO and when it was taken away. Proponents of WO actively visited those errant dioceses and performed "prophetic actions" to disrupt worsrhip. ( Of course, I am for WO). I was suggesting there might be something else behind this story. That is all I meant, we all know the issue of SSM will be a focus and I fear, Conservatives will also become foci of prophetic actions.

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David Murray
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David Murray

Mine fourth for the day (and last), but I looked into a political method of this in the cultural wars. What I found was about last year, and from a Roman Catholic point of view. Perhaps I am wrong, but this appears to be a choice coming from the right-wing. Personally, I find this as choice disgusting. It uses (here) a child as a tool.

I further believe the argument too assume too much. Instead, it seems an Diocese that isn't really acting in good form. It acts as if it wants membership in TEC, but assumes it will allow what it wants. Plain and simple - why stay if the Episcopal Church moves forward? I see no real reason, but create trouble. Frankly, even if this is served by denying the rite of baptism to a child...

Sad. This isn't the Episcopal Church. This is something else going under the label of Episcopal.

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Gwen Palmer
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Gwen Palmer

Bruce, I don't think you're either a hater or a phobe. I just don't see this as a logical way to make a political move, since its triggering an issue of outright clergy refusal seems so unlikely. Caused complaints from parishoners, maybe, but who could have predicted that clergy would react this way?

I'm not sure what a gay agenda is, but if it were to press the issue of full marriage rights, or to make a backdoor into them, it would only seek to confer those rights on those who want them, and no one who thinks the exercise of those rights is sinful would have to exercise such rights. But I realize this is sort of the whole issue.

And with that, I use up my 3rd and last comment allowed per day.

You may make 4 per day per story.
David Allen

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Bruce Bevans
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Bruce Bevans

I will surely be called a hater and a phobe, but I see this controversy in another light. What if this were an effort to force the agenda of the LBGT community upon a conservative diocese? What if the intentions of the parents were not totally on the up and up? "Well, if you baptized our child, and we are a gay couple, certainly you should bless our marriage?" I surely hope I am wrong; but, as can be clearly seen in this blog, there is tolerance for some, but none for conservatives. I see this as an unfrortunate ploy in the culture war in TEC. I do hope the child is baptized, my parents were not particularly faithful church goers and yet I somehow came to know the Risen Christ, not having the opportunity to go attend worship regularly until I was a young adult.

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Ann Fontaine
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Ann Fontaine

Dear Bruce: The couple is already married. They went to baptism classes and attended church - more than many who want their child "done". I don't see any logic in your post.

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