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Louie Crew -- Sowing the Seeds of the Good News
I attended a celebration on Monday night hosted by Integrity, the leading public voice in the Episcopal Church for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons. The celebration was a profound "thank you" to Louie Crew who in 1974 founded the organization based on the simple premise that the Church must be true to God's desire that all God's children are safe, welcomed, and affirmed regardless of sexual orientation. Louie accepted the accolades with the same humility that has marked his ministry from the very beginning. He noted: "It's not about me." Rather, his work has been about God, and helping this Church to fulfill God's intention for equality and full inclusion. As his partner of many years, Ernest Clay, proudly looked on, Louie gently reminded the gathered of the importance of being faithful to God's vision even in the midst of adversity.
It brought to my mind an incident on the floor of the House of Deputies in 2003, when a lay deputy in protest of the pending consent to the election of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire, threw a measure of table salt at Louie as a symbolic condemnation of him and what he stood for. I recall as we gathered around Louie and prayed while laying our hands on him, that he was insistent that his supporters not engage in retaliation for what had happened. By example, Louie had sown the seeds of Christian charity in the midst of a highly-charged situation.
At the eucharist which followed Louie's reception, Gene Robinson, who is now 6 months from his retirement as bishop, remarked that everyone present is called to be an evangelist of the Good News of Inclusion. He proclaimed that this Monday was a wonderful day in the life of the church, referring to the House of Deputies joining with the House of Bishops in adding "gender expression and identity" to the list of prohibited discrimination in The Episcopal Church (Resolution D019). He recounted that the movement began with calls for the inclusion of gays and lesbians and later expanded its focus to include bisexual identity and now, incusion of transgendered persons. Not only did the Bishop's words cause us to reflect on just how far this Church has come in 38 years, but they also served as an exhoration to proclaim the Good News on behalf of those who remain marginalized.
And in that great celebratory throng sat Louie Crew who first sowed those seeds of the Good News back in 1974, now taking stock of the wonderful harvest that his vision and hard work had brought about and no doubt marvelling at how the Holy Spirit continues to surprise and bless.