On the Topic of Why We’re Doing the 52 Project and not Returning to ECOR
11 March 2008
You asked me today weren’t we ever going to visit ECOR as we’re visiting churches, and I sidestepped your question. The truth is, I’m not inclined to tell the truth about why we moved to Trinity and why we aren’t returning to ECOR, largely because it’s mostly just divisive.
In the Fall of 2006, Fr. Brian decided that the music ought to be blended, instead of having the Folk Mass and guitars separate from the organ and piano music. There was some reluctance on the part of many of the musicians involved, but Michael was determined to make it work, and to bring the different parties together. The truth is that, on her best days, [the hired organist/pianist] doesn’t “play well with others” and the rest of the time, she just seems intent on making everyone else just as miserable and dour as she is. I should mention here that she isn’t the only one who was upset with the change, there are several people who have been so upset that they’ve made hopelessly cruel comments to and about (and within earshot) of Michael.
Of the two of us, Michael is the one who “needs” church. He feels much as you do, that the church family is his family, too. He needs to go and worship God and get right with the universe to make it through the week ahead. He needs it to be the man he wants to be. And that stopped happening. He walked out of at least two services, because he was so hurt and so angry that he felt it was the only thing he could do without blowing up and saying things he’d regret. As we moved into last summer, and started going to Holy Trinity, we were attending both churches every Sunday, because he needed the second service to ward off the petty nastiness that happened over and over at the 10am at ECOR.
When I was offered a position on Holy Trinity’s Bishop’s Committee, I jumped at it, because it gave us a graceful “out” to leave ECOR. Michael was having a great time playing with [the young man who plays piano at HT's evening service], and was coming home energized and renewed and ready to face the week, Farmergirl had made the transition to only-acolyte, and we were plugging-in.
That all kind of fell apart when Fr. Paul decided to use incense at both services, and made it clear that would be the standard for 25% of the year. We were not willing to be part time congregants, and not willing to put Farmergirl’s health at risk for aesthetics. When Fr. Paul put it like this: “There are 6 other [Episcopal] churches within 30 minutes that don’t use incense,” we knew it was time to look elsewhere.
Somewhere in all of that, we realized we’d inadvertently raised a cradle Episcopalian, and before she decides to confirm as an Episcopalian, we thought we should give her some of the experience we had in the larger body of Christ. It morphed into a project of visiting 52 Churches over the course of this year, and we’re writing about it.
So . . . so now we’re in this weird position. I don’t think we’ll return to ECOR while M—– is still the organist. It’s not our style to threaten or make ultimatums—that’s counter productive and toxic behavior—which is why I’ve avoided giving a straight answer about our not returning. Neither of us wants to say, “It’s her or us,” because we don’t think that’s a right thing to ask of others. Neither of us want to be “the reason” she left, because that will only exacerbate the problem of those folks in the congregation who already have hard feelings toward guitars in general and Michael in particular. But that whole situation had become so spiritually toxic that I think he’s relieved for the break, even as he really hates being “new” every week.
Well, that was probably more than you really wanted to know when you asked this morning, but I appreciate that you asked. We miss you, too, and I’m really glad every time you come to the Fiber Arts group. I have a thought on the prayer shawl idea, and I think we might be able to use the different gifts the group has, by making something just a bit different than a fully-knitted shawl. I’ll try to have a sample ready for next Tuesday, and see if we can’t get the group on board.
I sure am glad to know you, my Friend.