GC2009: "I'd love to be Episcopalian, but..."
Mary Ann Mueller in Anaheim
July 11, 2009
Ruben Israel and two of his friends have been spending the noon hour in front of the Anaheim Convention Center trying to get exiting bishops and deputies to see the error of their Episcopal ways.
"I'd love to be Episcopalian," Israel shouts to the exiting throng. "But people like (Bishop) Gene Robinson turns me off."
Israel is a member of Bible Believers, a Los Angeles-based national organization dedicated to confrontational encounters, usually at the top of their lungs, with liberal-minded Christians or the non-churched in an attempt to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to them.
"Show me where in the Bible there is homosexual bishops," (sic) he screams.
Many Episcopal General Convention -goers give Ruben and his compatriots a wide birth, even stepping out into the street to bypass them. However, some strong-hearted visitors venture closer out of curiosity and to take pictures.
Ruben, a large dark skinned man, is shabbily -dressed in wrinkled black walking shorts and his enormous feet are shod in large black plastic sandals. He is clutching in his hands a large white sign that says: "JESUS WARNED Against False Teachers." To Israel's right stands Rod Warner who is carrying a large rectangle white sign with red letters that scream: "Gene Robinson Minister of Satan."
Warner, too, enters into the heckling of the Episcopalian whom he calls "Epis-co-aliens."
"You are aliens to the Word of God." the white-haired and white bearded fellow is not quite as boisterous of Ruben. But he does get his point across.
"There is something wrong with that picture," he suddenly says as he points to a woman-priest in a black clerical suit and white Anglican collar.
The priest hardly breaks her stride and refuses to get caught up in the heckling. She is secure in who she is as a female priest in The Episcopal Church.
"Go in peace to love and serve the Lord," shouts back another (male) priest in support of his female counterpart in the cloth.
"Robinson is on his way to hell," Israel continues. "But don't let him take the congregation with him."
Another woman-priest blows a kiss as she passes.
"Do you really think God is pleased with The Episcopal Church?" Israel questions. "Do you think He is welcome?"
"YES." comes the answer from behind him. "He is welcome. All are welcome."
"They welcome your sin," Israel shouts.
"You are addicted to sin," says the mousey soft-spoken third member of the trio, Doug Burton. His voice rises barely above a conversational tone. He is simply dressed in a blue jeans and a white pull over. His face is partially covered by a large straw hat.
"This entire organization [The Episcopal Church] is addicted to sin." he says.
"Where is The Episcopal Church contending for the Faith?" Israel asks. "I am here to prove the Word ... a bishop is male. No females. No homosexuals."
"The Episcopal Church has no backbone, no spine and it is not contending for the Faith," he continues.
He is met by a ripple of laughter as an Integrity supporter flies a rainbow colored spinner over head.
A video camera team gathers trying to capture the spectacle on tape.
"God loves everybody," comes a female voice from the side.
The heckling continues throughout the noon hour. Israel and his group have been at General Convention every day and they plan to stay for the duration.
Other reporters note that Israel and his team have been seen at five previous General Conventions.
Israel's verbal Gospel display is a traveling road show.
According to Israel's website, his organization is dedicated to going anywhere they feel that sin abounds including Episcopal General Conventions, Mardi Gras, Wall Street, university campuses and inner city slums and ghettos.
---Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline
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