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When Homosexuals Take Over A Church

When Homosexuals Take Over A Church

By Willard Fishburne

ASHEVILLE, NC--Five years ago I took my family out of one local church
and began a search for a new church home. The experience was difficult.
This is the story of that time in my life. I want to tell you why we
left, what we lost, and what we found.

First of all, I want you to know we were involved at this church, not
just attendees. I had been on the Vestry and had been Junior Warden. I
had been the church Treasurer, and at the time of our departure I was
chairman of the finance committee. My wife had been a preschool and
Sunday School teacher, and both of our children, ages seven and nine,
were members of the children's choir.

My wife and I had been married in an Episcopal diocese in Chicago. The
priest there taught us to be Episcopalians. We attended the inquirer's
class. We learned the tradition and history of the church. It was there
that we first learned of the Episcopal faith's three-legged stool of
the Bible, Tradition and Reason. We read the Book of Common Prayer's
marriage vows, and we shared the hope of children. We read The Nicene
Creed, which stated exactly what our new denomination believed. We
agreed with its fundamental belief that Jesus Christ was the only Son
of God; and that he suffered and was crucified on the cross for our
sins; and that he rose again on the third day. And that by believing in
him we might have eternal life.

In short, our experience at the church of the Redeemer on Fullerton St.
in Chicago was so good that we sought the same type of church in
Asheville.

We joined an Episcopal church where the priest was proud of his
reputation as an avant guard liberal priest. He had come to the church
in 1957 and had assumed a ministry based on personal devotion to his
members, and an overt social liberalism that eschewed such common
symbols as the American flag and N.C. State flags in the church

By the mid-eighties we were a family of four. The little church was our
home and we were comfortable as the only living conservatives in a sea
of liberals. And it was OK. We had our differences, but we worked
together in God's sight to serve and glorify His name.

About that same time, one of the ladies of the church began a self-
designated ministry to the prisoners in the Buncombe County Jail, and
Craggy prison. She delivered personal care kits with toothpaste and
soap, and, I suppose, counseled the prisoners.

Also in the mind-eighties, I was asked to run for the Vestry, and was
elected to the post, just as she asked for the priest's permission to
become a deacon. In the Episcopal church, this is one step below the
priesthood. She could perform every priestly function except
administering the sacraments of bread and wine. To gain this position
her ministry had to be approved by the church vestry.

We gave the approval, provided she would agree to expand the ministry
to the victims of crime, not just the perpetrators. A year later she
came back to the vestry and the priest, asking that her ministry be
changed and expanded again, this time to include the victims of HIV and
AIDS infections. Again, we agreed.

What followed next was a series of half-inch steps until the church was
thoroughly dominated and intimidated by the homosexual community. A
constant flight of traditional long-time members ensued. One never knew
where they went, but they were some of Asheville's most prominent
families. Some of the half-inch steps that drove them away included:

First, a support group for persons with HIV and AIDS was established.
The group met in the church library, or one of the other meeting rooms.
No problem. Alcoholics Anonymous and other groups already used church
facilities for their meetings. One more group seemed to make little if
any difference.

Second, special services were requested for the HIV/AIDS community. The
vestry denied these services, in that there was no desire to establish
a homosexual-oriented church within the church. Thus, we welcomed
increasing numbers of homosexuals to regular church services. This
transpired over a period of months and years, and many of the new
people who joined the church were welcome. The were bright, they were
polite and considerate of others, but, by and large, they kept to
themselves, sat together and avoided Sunday School classes and such
Bible study as the church had. Many, it should be noted, gravitated
towards the church choir. By the end of 1990 the influx of these
individuals had made an impact. Many of the straight men left the choir
and a noticeable group of homosexuals attended services each Sunday
morning.

The deacon's prison ministry had fallen by the wayside, and various
homosexual groups met at the church several times each month. The
deacon spent her full time working with these groups, and had little
time or interest in working with others.

The mainstream congregation seemed unaware of the change. The growing
numbers of smiling and polite young men without wives or girlfriends
seemed not to be noticed. Yet a gradual change had taken over the
church. Homilies, or sermons, delivered from the pulpit now dwelt
exclusively with social issues. One layman took to the pulpit one
Sunday morning to lecture on the benefits of Liberation Theology to the
huddled masses of Latin America. I nearly gagged. I had spent two years
in Central America in the U.S. Army's Special Forces, training
indigenous personnel in village defenses, human rights and patrolling.

We went with them on patrols to fight the communist insurgencies
spawned by Satan's own liberation theology. Many good men, women and
children died in that undeclared war and I suffer the mental and
physical scars today. Fools can rant and rave all they wish from the
sanctuary oft heir liberal pulpits, but when the night fell in
Guatemala in the 1969, I was on the ground with a rifle and a poncho
praying for dawn. So on that morning when the church rafters rang with
that heresy, I felt sick. I wondered how long I would be able to stay.

By 1990 my term on the vestry had expired. The church was torn apart by
the undercurrent of conflict between the straight congregation, the
ones raising children and their grandparents, on the one side, and the
extreme social liberals and homosexuals on the other. Many of the
latter group had AIDS, and one of the fears was that it would be
transmitted by the common Communion cup. This fear was addressed in two
ways. First, a second, small in-tincture cup was provided for those who
wished to dip their wafers rather than drink from the cup. Second,
there was a lecture on how HIV and AIDS were transmitted, with
assurance that the Communion cup was safe. The tone of the meeting was
that everything was fine, there was no chance of any accidental contact
spreading the HIV virus, and we were ignorant if we thought otherwise.

At the same time, two of the most liberal women in the church were
dispatched to a conference on "Human Sexuality." This, as it turned
out, was a code phrase for a seminar on the acceptance of homosexuality
as just a normal part of human life. Live with it, in other words, it's
normal and it isn't a sin. People are just born that way, and if you
think otherwise you are just being "judgmental."

Within a few months, things went from resigned acceptance of a forced
equality between homosexuals and heterosexuals, to an overt preference
for the homosexual community Here is what happened.

The Southern Appalachian Lesbian and Gay Alliance, otherwise known as
SALGA, wanted to put on a gay fashion show. This was a cross-dressing
event. A drag queen show. The church deacon quietly made arrangements
and it was held in the church parish hall. That was the first time in
nearly 100 years that the church had been used for a fashion show of
any type. That it was a homosexual cross-dressed fashion show made it
even more outrageous to the church's straight population. Worse yet,
one of the church's youth groups (EYC) was on the premises at the time,
attempting to use the kitchen facilities, which were also in use by the
cross-dressed homosexuals. These young people were thus exposed to one
of the more outrageous examples of homosexual behavior, without
guidance or preparation for what they saw.

The priest received a barrage of objections from the straight
membership. People continued to leave. This church experience was not
what they expected, and this church's family was like no family they
had ever encountered. It seemed clear that the liberal priest and the
ultra-liberal deacon had gone too far. But nothing was done. The
private conversations between concerned straights vanished whenever the
priest or deacon came by. The Human Sexuality committee, otherwise
known as the get-along, go-along gang, was everywhere. On the Outreach
committee. Teaching Sunday School. In the Altar Guild, and certainly in
the choir. These people, acting either on their own or as duplicitous
tools of the priest, stifled protests of the homosexual influx with
lectures on the need to show loving and tender acceptance of
"alternative lifestyles."

A few months later, they went ever further. In February, SALGA and the
deacon conspired to put on a homosexual St. Valentine's Day dance.
Again, the 100-year old Parish Hall was the site of the event.

The entire affair was done in secret. The fact that the parish hall was
reserved for a SALGA St. Valentine's Day Dance never appeared on the
church calendar, and was never announced during the scheduled
announcement time on Sunday morning. It was a closed event. The
planning, however, was intensive. In January, the deacon presented the
office manager with a beer and wine sales permit application. "Sign
it," she said, "so we can sell beer and wine at the dance."

The office manager, a Baptist, refused. The priest, for a change,
supported the no alcoholic beverage sale position. After all, it would
be the first time the church had obtained a permit to sell alcoholic
beverages during a church event. To an Episcopalian, a little wine and
cheese at a reception was one thing. Selling the stuff was entirely
something else.

Undeterred, the deacon and her friends from SALGA determined they would
have beer and wine at their dance anyway. Rather than sell it directly,
they prepared signs that advertised the beer and wind would be
available in exchange for "love" offerings equal to the predetermined
sale price.

And thus it was that, without the congregation's knowledge or approval,
SALGA held a dance to celebrate St. Valentine's Day in the Parish Hall
of an Episcopal church. Beer and wine were readily available if you
made a "love" offering. From all reports and signs, the event was a
huge success. A gay old time, as they say, was had by one and all.

The next morning, Sunday, I arrived early to find the church sexton and
Junior Warden hard at work cleaning up. I helped them finish the job -
of removing beer cans and other evidence of the previous night's
homosexual extravaganza from the premises. It was clear to me that the
celebrants had not been celibate throughout the evening. The place was
a mess.

That nearly was the last straw, for me. The Parish Hall was not used
for dances for our teenagers or our adults, because the priest had said
he was afraid of "damage to the floor" in the historic building. As far
as anyone can remember, that had been a hard and fast rule during his
30-year tenure. No dances in the Parish Hall. Not even a mixer for our
kids.

But the rule was broken in favor of the homosexuals. And a fashion show
was held for the homosexuals. And beer and wine were, in effect, sold
for the homosexuals. Everything clearly indicated that this church now
preferred homosexual members to straights. The evidence was in the
actions the church took. The general membership was kept in the dark,
and the church bulletin - or newsletter - often seemed to mention the
good things being done by the deacon and her gay friends.

A few months later, with the problems just below the boiling point, the
priest and the get-along, go-along committee announced there would be a
Wednesday night meeting to discuss the problem. I now refer to it as
the "Wednesday Night Massacre."

When I walked into the Parish Hall that evening, I found out just how
far the priest and deacon were willing to go to push their agenda.
First, there were more homosexuals present than straights. And most of
the homosexuals in attendance were neither members nor regular
attendees at our church. Second, to speak at the event you had to have
signed up in advance. Only one straight was on the program, with a
total of about seven folks speaking for the homosexual community.

The program started with a young lady from SALGA stating the she had
personally cleaned up all the mess after the dance. I said she had not,
that there was a great deal of litter on the grounds. She told me that
was a lie, that everything had been cleaned up. I look at the Junior
Warden, who had called me to help clean up on that Sunday morning. He
grimly lowered and shook his head. He and the priest had been very
close for years. In times of birth, marriage, and death. Thirty years
in one church, together. The Junior Warden would not press the issue.

After opening remarks from the head of the get-along committee, we
split into small groups. Each group had at least one homosexual in the
room to guide and lead the discussion. In my group we were hosted by a
defrocked Catholic priest, who had declared himself a practicing
homosexual some years earlier. His seminary training and familiarity
with all Biblical references to homosexuality totally dominated and
intimidated our discussion. After 40 minutes of this oppressive
environment, in which little constructive was accomplished other than
the attempt to brainwash the straights, we returned too the Parish
Hall. It had been much the same in the other breakout groups. The deck
was stacked and no one had been dealt a straight hand.

One person, a member of the church who also was an ordained
Presbyterian minister and psychologist with an active family counseling
ministry, was on the schedule to speak for the straight community. His
remarks were on one sheet of paper, and would take about four minutes
to read. After 30 seconds, the priest cut him off.

"David, that's enough of that," he said. "We've heard all we need to
hear. Sit down."

And thus ended the great debate. Free speech had been stifled. The
forces of darkness had taken control of the church. Half an inch at a
time.

I stayed a few weeks longer, writing a lengthy and impassioned letter
to the Bishop and calling each member of the vestry to see what could
be done. The answer was nothing. The bishop wrote me a very nice letter
that said, "Even if I was of a mind to remove the priest, which I'm
not, I couldn't. Only the church vestry can remove an Episcopal
priest."

The vestry was dominated by the priest's faithful servants. The head of
the get-along, go-along committee was on the vestry. The faithful
Junior Warden, of course, as well as the Senior Warden. Twelve people,
at least eight of whom were the priest's dedicated servants.

We lost. And we left. We moved to a more rural parish where we felt we
could believe in the Bible without fear of criticism from our
ministers. The liberal wing of the Episcopal Church, and the church we
left in particular, is too liberal for us. I was very concerned that
the sight of men holding hands in church, and sitting throughout Sunday
morning services with their arms around one another, was a bad example.
I was afraid that my young and impressionable children were witness to
events that would destroy the very values and morality Christianity
attempted to teach.

The year after our departure the deacon proposed the church open a gay
and lesbian support group for middle school children. Notice of this
plan was printed in the church's annual report.

The time period I have described covers about six years. Six years in
the life of a church, and many tragedies in the lives of young
homosexual men who died of AIDS, when they came the church in search of
God and, found, instead, encouragement for the lifestyle that would
lead to their death. (Italicized section added 6/2000). Later, in 1995,
at the Diocesan Convention at Camp Kanuga, the deacon defied
instruction from the bishop and the priest, and declared on the floor
of the assembly that she was a lesbian. Why did the Bishop and the
parish priest instruct the Deacon not to publicly reveal her
homosexuality? Because she would then have to be suspended. The Bishop
followed through with a six week suspension. She then resumed her
position and continues to lead and preach the gospel of homosexuality
in the church today.

In other words, the Bishop objected to her coming out of the closet. I
believe he knew that she would be more effective if she remained
cloaked. But he restored her to her office just as soon as the public
furor died down. About six months later, the Deacon's husband, head of
Christian Education at this church, announced that he, too was
homosexual. As was their adopted son. I guess that disproves heredity
as a cause.

And more recently the new priest, Todd Donatelli, another avante guard
liberal, announced the church, now the Cathedral of All Souls, would
offer the Church's blessing and an appropriate ceremony for homosexual
unions. Postscript:

The new All Souls rector, Todd Donatelli, last year issued the first
Excommunication in the history of the Episcopal Church in the United
States. This "honor" was afforded to one Lewis W. Green for the offense
of disagreeing with the church's homosexual agenda. Mr. Green, to his
eternal credit, absolutely refused to get along and go along with the
acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle as equal to heterosexuality, and
actually preferable in some cases. An appeal to our Bishop, Robert
Johnson of the Diocese of Western North Carolina, fell upon deaf ears.
The Bishop also supports Donatelli in his decision to bless homosexual
unions.

Speaking of children, at Calvary our adults have a Sunday School class
led by a wonderful retired priest. His table is overflowing with good
things to share with us, teaching us ever more about our Savior, and
God's plan for the world. And we have another retired old-school priest
who sings in the choir and is a font of good and humorous knowledge
about all things spiritual.

I am on the vestry and my wife taught Sunday School until this year
when she decided the task required someone younger. The only mistake we
see there thus far at Calvary is that they have allowed me to join the
choir. Maybe the angels will sneak in and give me the ability to carry
a tune. That certainly wasn't in God's plan, but until the Angels
intercede I shall persevere in making my Joyful Noise.

By the Grace of God, the odyssey on which I took my family in 1991
ended at Calvary Episcopal Church in Fletcher. It was a very long and
difficult journey, but I would do it again. And if Satan ever takes
over the pulpit at Calvary, as he did at All Souls, we'll be on our way
out the door.

And even though, at this time, we are not ready to lead our parish to
the AMiA, it is a blessing that we now have an alternative.

END

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