In its storied 99-year history, Christ Episcopal Church has fashioned itself into a pillar of orthodox beliefs, Anglican heritage and charismatic fervor for spreading Christian salvation worldwide. But in recent years, a gut-wrenching question has tested the bonds of this spiritual family. Should it leave its parent organization, the Episcopal Church, for making unwelcome liberal changes by accepting openly gay and lesbian clergy and modernizing time-honored theology?

One group had enough. They walked away from the 2,400-member parish in Monte Vista last month to forge a new one — free of potential intrusion from national leadership but one that will meet, at least for a while, in less ideal facilities. A larger group remains in the parish, and while equally disturbed about the direction of the national church, it is resolved to carry on the parish legacy despite the shifting winds.

The unraveling began in earnest in May when the parish rector, the Rev. Chuck Collins, announced plans to retire for a future outside the Episcopal priesthood. Most of the lay governing body resigned the next month to organize the new church, including architect Rick Archer, a 22-year member and former junior warden.

“We miss the people the most,” said Archer, 53. “Being in that place with that body of believers — young and old — is my fondest memory. But at the same time, we're not trying to re-create it. We're trying to understand what it is God wants of us.

Retired Bishop Bill Frey has replaced Collins as interim rector, rallying those who remain with a message to be a light in a wayward denomination.

“I've often felt that the (national) church had been taken over by pirates,” Frey told them during a recent sermon. “And years ago when I was praying about the future, God said something like, ‘Don't let the pirates tempt you to jump overboard. If they make you walk the plank, OK. But don't do it voluntarily. It's my ship.'”



  1. Paraphrasing Bishop Frey:

    “I’ve often felt that the Anglican Copmmunion has been taken over by pirates,”…‘Don’t let the pirates tempt you to jump overboard. If they make you walk the plank, OK. But don’t do it voluntarily. It’s my [God’s] ship.’”

    This post is repeated three times, in case you don’t know, Jonathan.

  2. Hi, MP.

    (1) I’m getting a triplication of this post, for no clear reason. A friend of mine, to whom I gave your URL so he could find the Tea Party Jesus site, says that he’s not getting OCICBW…, he’s getting the London Gay and Lesbian Switchboard. (All very fine folks, I’m sure, but they ain’t you.) I wonder if your site is getting screwed over, hopefully just by accident.

    (2) I used to know Bishop Frey back in the day. A good guy, though I think he’s been flirting with the Dark Side lately.

  3. They seem to be leaving quietly, following their consciene, full of faith. No blackmailing their former church, no wanting to take the buildings, no law suits.
    I like that.

  4. I responded in one of the duplicates that must have been removed.

    Ironically, this San Antonian is responding from the shadows of Ely cathedral.

    The scuttlebutt we heard before leaving suggests a “retirement” that was not exactly voluntary. Chuck has been an extremist agitator for years. “Leaving quietly” was apparently not his plan. It is our understanding that the “retirement” was “strongly encouraged” by parishioners who would have nothing to do with trying to steal the facility from the diocese.

    Ed’s choir is doing a residency at Ely this week. They sang yesterday’s evensong brilliantly. In the magnificent setting of the cathedral, it was very moving and got me all teary eyed a few times. Can’t wait for today’s.

  5. Thanks for making us properly envious, Mike! I have fond memories of Ely Cathedral, back in my only trip to the UK 30 years ago. Best to you and Ed in Merry Olde…

    Re schismatics? {Yawn}

  6. You know, JCF, the authorities have probably forgotten all about your visit by now. It’s probably safe for you to visit us again.

  7. Safe but unaffordable, Crazy @rse (unless you designate my visit the target of your next charity fund-drive? ;-/)

  8. You’re right, Paul. I’m worried he’s going to tell us next that he has been a very naughty, kidnapped cabin boy who deserves to be punished.

  9. I, of course, was thinking of the poor lad, Jim Hawkins, but leave it to this crowd to make it all tawdry. One day I’m going to follow-up on my resolution of finding a better sort of e-friends. Some day.

  10. I, of course, was thinking of the poor lad, Jim Hawkins

    Ah! So KJ fancies Jim Hawkins. I thought there was something going on between those two – always sneaking off to sea together.

  11. When KJ went to Disneyland he brought back a souvenir of the Pirates of the Caribbean that read;

    My brother was homosexually ravaged on the Pirates of the Caribbean and all that I got was this bloody T-shirt!

  12. Dah-veed, I wish you weren’t kidding. I would wear that T-shirt.

    I like the parrot on KJS’s shoulder, BTW. If KJ is the cabin boy I want to be Long John Silver.

  13. Cathy, there is a real T-shirt that you can buy in the Castro in Sodom-by-the-Sea, San Francisco.

    My brother was sodomized in San Francisco and all I got was this T-shirt.