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Fr. Tom Logan (From Plano East Meeting in VA)

The Rev. Tom Logan
Source: AAC News
January 11, 2004

“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to him belong. They are weak, but he is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
The Bible tells me so.”

I have two emotions as I am attending this conference, and I had two same emotions when I attended Plano One. The first is one of great joy to see this many Episcopalians in one place, here praising God, and singing his praises. But the second one is one of profound sadness. If you look around here you see one portion of our Episcopal family that is missing.

Now, it’s been talked about in the press, and as I was talking with the organizers, I brought it up. And, as we gathered around, they looked down and said, “Well, you’re right.”

The African American Episcopal Community is missing. Last night, there were only three African American priests here for Eucharist.

Plano East is a wonderful experience of a Biblically-based Anglicanism. But my community is not represented in large numbers, and this causes me great pain. What is also painful is that the leadership of my community, and I am a former board member of the Union of Black Episcopalians. I was at the conference in Minneapolis at Gethsemane Church that was right before General Convention, and some of my members, who are here today, were there and we were angry as we heard the support of what was coming.

Not only that, [but] the vast majority of African American Episcopal lay persons are silent on these issues. What is also so very painful to me is that we sons and daughters of Africa in this country are out of step with our brothers and sisters from the mother continent.

But I have a faith in a good God. He can turn my brokenness into holiness. My pain into an impetus for action.

And how do I know it? Because the Bible tells me so.

An African American priest colleague of mine said, “This is not my issue.” When I questioned him further, he told me that this controversy of homosexuality was not his issue. My brothers and sisters in Christ, we have allowed those who supported GC actions to set the parameters of the discussion. In the words of Malcolm X, “We have been bamboozled, hoodwinked, run amuck.” They have determined that the issue is inclusiveness. We need to declare this day that the issue in the Episcopal Church after the General Convention is the authority of the Word of God.

We need to shift the discussion to the basic instruction before leaving earth: the B-I-B-L-E. It is not a doctrine of inclusiveness that will save you and me, but the word made flesh in Jesus, who is God incarnate, who lived in Palestine, who was arrested, died on the Cross, rose on Easter Sunday, and opened the gates of heaven to us poor sinners. It is that which will save you and me.

And how do we know it? Because the Bible tells me so.

Now, St. Luke in his gospel, gospel of Luke, chapter 8, verses 22-25, that he was asleep in the back of the boat. And, if I was a brother, "How dare you, brother, be sleeping in the boat when this boat is sinking?"

I would have been the first back there to wake him up and say, “How dare you Jesus.”

“What you mean, brother.”

He didn’t say that.

And the important part of that, he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and he caused them to cease, and there was a calm. And then he turned to them and he said, “Where is your faith?”

Where’s your faith, Afro-Anglicans? Where’s your faith, Episcopal Church? Is your faith rooted in the theological profundity of political correctness. Is your faith rooted in soundbytes that sound oh so good and oh so hollow? Or is your faith rooted in the Biblically based Anglicanism that your grandmother would recognize?

That Biblically-based Anglicanism is found in the message that came into the world starting in Genesis and ending with Revelation. It is the story of Moses and the Hebrew children being freed from bondage in Egypt that suckered African Americans through the oppression of slavery. It was the message of hope that saw us through the dark days of Jim Crow. It was the message that we had a friend in Jesus, who we came to know in the gospels. Who walks with us and talks with us. That is our constant companion as we faced dogs and water canyons.

It is the struggle of African Americans in this church rooted in the Word of God. This church has changed and called racism a sin, not because of inclusiveness, but because we are all created in his image. That we are accepted as oneness in our creation. That we have a new life in Jesus Christ. Jesus died for us all.

And how do we know it? Because the Bible tells us so.

I must confess that I have been complacent. I have sought not to be involved because I believed that there were more pressing issues I was called to face. Within a 5 block radius of Calvary Church, you have all the issues facing an inner city. I must confess that these were more important than to deal with the issues facing the Episcopal Church at General Convention. I confess that I believe that all this discussion about sexuality and the Episcopal Church was an issue for the white community that really didn’t affect my parish or me. I confess that I had uncharitable thoughts about those conservative, Bible-thumping carismatics who were on the fringes of intellectually sound, theologically profound Episcopalians. For these, and other sins, I publicly confess and ask forgiveness.

I affirm that my attempts to help those in need is rooted in the word of god. I affirm that my striving for justice and equality and fighting against racism in this church, and elsewhere, is rooted in the Word of God. I affirm that my entire ministry is rooted in the

Word of God. And if all these things are not rooted in the Word of God, and all of our ministries, all of our worship, all of our wonderful liturgies are not rooted in the word of god, they are nothing. And we need to close up shop and find something else to do with our time.

General Convention took away the biblical basis of what I, and my parish, are attempting to do. And what you and your parish are attempting to do. The important aspect of what happened at General Convention is not what the decision was, but the method that it used. As I read the testimonies of those who supported the decision, there were few references to the Bible. All those who opposed talked “Bible, Bible, Bible.”

I can no longer say to the young people in my parish, and in the community surrounding Calvary, the Episcopal Church teaches the Bible tells you, “Don’t shack up. Reserve the gift of sex for marriage because that’s what the Bible says.” I can no longer say the Episcopal Church bases its teaching on the Word of God. “The Bible says don’t do it, and that’s where we stand.” I can no longer tell them that.

I call on the Afro-Anglican community in America, and the Episcopal Church, and Episcopalians across the nation, to repent. To return to the faith of our ancestors. To return to that faith rooted in the Word of God that saw us through slavery. To return to the faith of your grandparents. Return to a Biblical foundation of liberation theology. Return to a Biblical, Bible-based Theology.

When you are in the hospital, how do you know that there is a healing power in the blood of Jesus?

The Bible.

When you’re feeling hopeless, how do you know that God will make a way when there is no way?

The Bible.

When you’re feeling broken, refused, and abused, how do you know that you have a friend in Jesus that will never fail you?

The Bible.

How do you know Jesus died for your sins?

The Bible.

How do you know there is a heaven?

The Bible.

How do you know there is a hell?

The Bible.

How do you know there is everlasting life?

The Bible.

We need to get the light of the Word of God to shine in our lives. We need to let the light of the Word of God shine in our decisions and our discussions. We need to let the light of the Word of God shine in 815. We need the light of Word of God shine in Lambeth Palace. We need the light of the Word of God to shine in our lives because this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.

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