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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


Louie Crew's Natter [BLOG]

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[HoB/D] Permissions required for laity

  • To: "HoB/D" <bishopsdeputies@hobd.org>
  • Subject: [HoB/D] Permissions required for laity
  • From: Louie Crew <>
  • Date: Tue, 30 Mar 2010 12:31:53 -0400

In 1981 Tom Woodward invited me to preach at St. Francis House, the
Episcopal chaplaincy congregation in Madison, Wisconsin.   At the time I was
a professor at the University of Wisconsin in Stevens Point.   Bishop
Gaskell overruled the invitation.   To stay within the rules, Tom led a
communion-only service in the church and after the benediction, we moved to
the parish hall where I spoke, using the same text that I had prepared for
the sermon.  I suspect people paid much closer attention than they might had
the bishop not intervened.

In 2006 I was invited to preach at a parish  in New Orleans.   I had
preached at another parish in New Orleans on two earlier occasions.  The
bishop blew up when he heard that I had been invited.  I advised my host
rector not to make a point about it, to report that I had decided to decline
the invitation.   He wanted me in part to help in his outreach to the lbgt
community in the parish's neighborhood.   I explained that he could easily
find another lgbt Christian less likely to upset the bishop.

A few months later the bishop wrote the rector that he regretted his
interference, urged him to invite me, and insisted that the rector and I
come to his home for tea while I was in town.   I treasure the sterling
fleur de lis that he gave me on that occasion.

In the 1975 the Bishop of Atlanta exacted from me a promise that I would not
send material to the press in the state without first contacting him.   The
Macon News had reported the letter in which the vestry of my parish asked me
to find some other place to worship.   After I had made my promise, the
vestry of my previous parish in the Diocese of South Carolina was
scandalized, and wrote Ernest and me that we would both be welcome there at
any time.   "I am going to share this better news to counter the bad news
which has already been reported," I explained to the bishop.  He was
furious.   I had agreed to tell him, but had never agreed to let him inhibit

I understood all along that I have been called to lay priesthood in large
part because I would not have been able to do significant portions of my
ministry if I had to vow to obey my bishop.

The press is rarely interested in good news and likely would not have
reported the letter of welcome, but the bishop did not wait to see. Instead,
he called the Atlanta papers summoning me for discipline for upsetting the
peace and good order of the church.  The Associated Press carried that story
all over the world.

Bill Stringfellow, whom I had never met, read the AP article, called me, and
insisted that I not go to the meeting without counsel.  Six months later I 
showed up with a lawyer whom Bill found to represent me pro bono. I was 
chagrined when the lawyer told me to keep silent while he asked the questions.

"By what authority to you summon my client, good bishop, when I can find in
the canons of our Diocese no reference to lay people unless they are on

"I spoke in anger," the bishop said, obviously in discomfort, looking at me
for sympathy.

That bishop and I later became good friends for more than a quarter of a
century, and at his request, I was a lector at his interment.

I am glad that Jesus did not have to ask for permission to tell the story of
the Good Samaritan.   Would the temple authorities have let him tell a story
that made Jews look bad?

What makes some bishops so niggard?   I have never found Jesus to be that


Louie Crew, 377 S. Harrison St., 12D, East Orange, NJ 07018 973-395-1068
http://queereye4lectionary.blogspot.com/  Queer Eye for the Lectionary

    We make his love too narrow
    By false limits of our own
    And we magnify his strictness
    With zeal he will not own.

         -- Frederick William Faber