Thursday, February 27, 2014

The bizarre episcopal fraud

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You know how to tell when you’re jaded?  When absolutely nothing shocks you any more.  Greg Griffithreports that the members of Grace Episcopal Church of Pine Bluff, Arkansas recently received the following letter:

Dear friends,

The time has come for me to share something with you that is deeply personal. This is not easy, but important journeys never are, so let me just say what needs to be told and invite you to join me in this journey.

My entire life I have known that there was something different about me and the way I felt inside. It has been like my inner self was out of sync with my outer self and so I have always experienced (to use a technical term) dysphoria. As a child I prayed that I would wake up some day the whole person that I felt myself to be on the inside. I need to tell you that after years of self-searching and therapy I have come to accept in myself that I am transgender. And now I need to be honest with myself and all those I care about which includes you. I am going to begin the final stages of transitioning and I would like you to invite you to join me in this journey.

There will be plenty of time for talking this out and for education but for today…. I am the same person you have always known. I will continue to be that person you know and, if possible, I hope to grow and become even a better and more whole person and priest.

Do not pretend to have all the answers because I certainly don’t have them all either.

My hope and my prayer is that you accept my sincere invitation to make the journey with me.

- To accept the challenge to grow as an individual and parish
- To discover what transformations and transitions in your life are occurring and happening before our eyes
- To learn more about what transgender means and is, for many people
- To walk with me as I complete (finalize) the transformation that has been working on me from the day I was born.

I hope that you will walk with me in faith, so that together we can discover and witness to that Love we are called to be, and bring into the world.

This letter came from Grace’s priest-in-charge, an…um…individual who used to be known as Greg Fry and now wishes to known as Gwen.  The folks at Grace also got a letter from Bishop Larry Benfield:  Look at it this way, Benny told them.  This is a teachable moment and we Episcopalians rock at those.

For the past few months I have been talking with your priest, Greg Fry, after he revealed to me his awareness that he is transgender. I want to share with you my thoughts about what this situation means for Grace Church and Greg.

I have known Greg and his wife Lisa ever since we all attended Virginia Theological Seminary. I have respected and valued the ministries that they both bring to the church. In fact, I ordained Lisa as a priest as she began her work at St. Mark’s Church in Little Rock.

The issue of being transgendered is not one with which many of us are knowledgeable. I have learned much since working with Greg and another transgender priest in Arkansas, as well as my encounters with other transgender members of the clergy throughout the larger church. It is an issue centered on a person’s gender identity; it is not an issue of sexual orientation/attraction. 
My hope is that we can spend our time in the coming weeks asking questions and becoming knowledgeable about the issue. Good and thoughtful questions always precede any decisions about long-term ministry.

I continue to value Greg’s presence among all of you at Grace Church. he continues to be a faithful pastor. He and Lisa will be working on the next phase of their lives simultaneously with our working on learning more about this issue and how it is lived out in Greg’s life.

“Greg and his wife Lisa.”  Oh, to have been a fly on the wall the day that guy told his wife that she was going to become a lesbian.  “Look at it this way, honey.  You’ll make a lot more friends and you’ll never again have to worry about me leaving the toilet seat up.”

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