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Louie Crew
377 S. Harrison Street, 12D
East Orange, NJ 07018

Phone: 973-395-1068 h


LGBT Christian
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Louie & Ernest Clay-Crew
Married February 2, 1974


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RE: [HoB/D] Title IV revisions

  • To: Bishops Deputies Discussion <BishopsDeputies@hobd.org>
  • Subject: RE: [HoB/D] Title IV revisions
  • From: Louie Crew <>
  • Date: Mon, 16 Jun 2008 11:22:54 -0400

*****, I appreciate your starting this discussion about how Title IV might
hold all in the church accountable.

Robert's Rules of Order, the default at GC when not counterstated by our own
rules, requires a two-thirds majority for any proposition that would reduce
the privileges of any member of the body.   We would be very unwise to set
up a policy with a lower standard.  There are few mobs quite as vicious as
church mobs.

(When Ernest and I married in 1974, I did not have a copy of Robert's Rules;
he brought his to our library.  Knowing Robert's Rules was important to him
as young, gifted, and black deep behind the Cotton Curtain.)

Nor would we be wise to give rectors or bishops absolute power to remove on
a whim those whom they appoint for specific tasks with specific terms of
service.  Rectors and bishops are not exempt from original sin, and our
rules should not license them to practice it.  They too need to be

Ernest and I spent the first 6 years of our marriage only a few miles from
Perry, and loved going for dinner at the Perry Hotel.  Ernest was fired for
organizing some other LPNs at a nursing home in Perry, and did not fret for
one moment. I learned from him, as from my father, that the world does not
fall apart when you challenge injustice.

My own experiences in your diocese (Atlanta) may help to clarify some of the
problems of holding one another accountable.  I doubt that it is possible to
codify all solutions.  That's why the creed uses the present tense for the
actions of Holy Spirit.

Because of my work as the founder of Integrity, the bishop in the Atlanta
Journal (April 1976) summoned me for discipline for "disturbing the peace
and good order of the church."  The Journal story made its way into an AP
report.  An Episcopal lawyer and theologian (Bill Stringfellow, whom I knew
only by his reputation at the time) saw the bishop's summons and called me
from Block Island, RI:  "Don't dare go to that meeting without a lawyer, and
if they so much as mention the word 'excommunicate,' jump up on the table
and say 'I double-dog dare you to!"

I demurred about hiring a lawyer, citing the possible cost. Stringfellow
found an Episcopalian lawyer in Atlanta who represented me for free.  Six
months later we appeared before the bishop and the Standing Committee.

"Bishop, by what authority do you summon my client for discipline?" my
lawyer asked, holding up a copy of the diocesan constitution and canons.
"I cannot find it any reference to lay persons of the diocese who are not
serving in elected or appointed positions."

"I spoke in anger, Louie," the bishop said, agonizingly looking to me for

My rector had put him up to summoning me.   The rector refused to share the
peace and sometimes preached against me directly from the pulpit. At his
request, the vestry had sent me a letter asking me to "find some other place
to worship more in sympathy with your concern for gay people," and he
harassed anyone in the parish who sat on the same pew with me.  A small
group of women organized themselves to do so one at a time, week after week.

A friend who worked at a local supermarket came with my lawyer and me to the
meeting in Atlanta.  She reported how the rector had twice blessed out women
in her check-out line for daring to sit with me.  Imagine how quickly he
would have removed them had they been on the vestry at that time.

The rector left, and before we moved away from Georgia in 1979, the parish,
with a new rector, in open meeting voted, at my request, to rescind the
vestry's letter of unwelcome.  In the 1990s yet another rector of the parish
invited Ernest and me to attend the 75th anniversary of the parish.  He told
us that our witness is an important part of the history of the parish and
the power of reconciliation.

Suppose I had left as they asked me to?   It is God's feast, and God issues
to invitation to absolutely everybody.

Later the Bishop and I became good friends.  At a service at General
Convention in 1994 he recalled that episode and said, "Louie scared me.
Louie was saying that God loved him just as much as God loves me, and of
course God does!"

Two years ago the widow of the Bishop invited me, at his request, to be one
of the readers and chalice bearers at his interment.   I believe in the Holy
Spirit.  I have seen the Holy Spirit happen.

Be very careful what you ask for when you specify new powers for people.  Be
sure that God is able to get a word in edgewise.

I would not have been able to exercise my lay priesthood in your diocese or
later in the Diocese of Fond du Lac (where the vestry also discussed my
excommunication) if I had to swear to obey my bishop.  Even today, many,
many dioceses and parishes do not enable lgbts to exercise ministry.  Upon a
request from the Bishop of North Dakota, the PB and her chancellor ruled
recently (and accurately, I believe) that our canons do not protect lgbt
priests in good standing from being denied a license by the bishop.  We need
to revise that canon.

Most of my family still live in Middle Georgia.  Perhaps I can take you to
dinner at the Perry Hotel someday.  I would like that.

Louie, Newark L1

Louie Crew, 377 S. Harrison St., 12d, East Orange, NJ 07018.  973-395-1068