Bakhita - Monastic (1947)
February 8th, 2021
The Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop
The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean
The Cathedral Church of St. Peter & St. Paul
3101 Wisconsin Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20016
Your Grace and Your Reverence:
With all due respect to your offices and the admiration I felt for your comportment over the past year, I felt compelled to join the chorus of bewilderment and dismay surrounding the decision to offer the pulpit at the Cathedral to Max Lucado.
I freely admit, that—like Bishop Robinson—I had never heard of this person before this controversy ensued. Almost twenty years after fleeing an intolerant denomination for one which purported to celebrate or at least respect people like me, I felt I could use my church leadership as an imprimatur to discern “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right” … whatever will keep me from feeling like God considered me a mistake. I thought I could assume, for example, that a man who likened my relationship to bestiality or incest would not be invited to preach at a Sunday Eucharist at what had felt, heretofore, like a safe place.
While I understand the somewhat unique role the Cathedral plays in the national conversation by nature of its location and appreciate the privilege this has given the wider church at various moments in history, I assert that it is still the Episcopal cathedral in that city, with a responsibility to the LGBTQ people, some of them horribly church-burned, who seek safety within its walls specifically because of that affiliation, and the spotlight it enjoys means decisions like this are seen far and wide and impact how the entire denomination is perceived, especially now.
I spent twelve years working to cajole, nudge, and in some cases beg this church towards actual LGBT (we never got to the Q) inclusion. After hearing countless painful stories, enduring some withering diatribes, and witnessing some quite un-Christian behavior, I eventually had to step away for my own well-being. While we have as an organization been congratulating ourselves for a long time on how inclusive we are, it appears today in a lot of eyes that we are not yet there.
As a denizen and frequent unofficial ambassador of the church on the social Internet, I am today watching LGBTQ people who were looking to us as a sanctuary now reconsider that choice. Arguments about diversity of opinion are ringing hollow with them: people who have been wounded by words like Lucado’s do not want to hear that we need to give him a turn. And—as Jim Naughton pointed out—he is not some unknown prophet who needs the Episcopal Church’s help to be heard. My pointed question to you is: do we need his?
I am reading again the Isaiah passage from this morning and trying to decide what outcome to pray for here. I know from your public response that you are not unaware of how this decision has been received. I pray you find the wisdom and fortitude to repair this breach and make Wisconsin Avenue again feel like a safe street in which LGBTQ people can live.
Former Stakeholders Council Chair, IntegrityUSA
EDIT: The following statements were issued since this was published:
- Hearing From Those We've Hurt
The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of Washington
- I Was Wrong and I Am Sorry
The Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, Dean, the Cathedral Church of St. Peter & St. Paul