On being an Episcopalian in South Carolina in the 21st Century

Y’know, this will be a topic not many will want to read and I’m fine with that. So, if you are more interested in my ramblings about food, rock ‘n roll, and my happy, sunny, silly crap…you’re out of luck.

This blog has nothing to do with being holy, or righteous, or wearing a collar…nothing like that. It actually has almost everything to do with the opposite of that.

First, a little history. In 2002, I returned to the church. I had strayed for personal reasons, not the least of which was the fact that I felt by being divorced I had done something wrong. It was a greyhound event that drew me to St. George’s Episcopal Church in Summerville. I met a few people who were involved in planning their first St. Francis’ Blessing of the Animals. And, I met Father Mike. I could do chapter and verse on him, and how wonderful and how much of a Christian light he shines through all the inane darkness in this world…that’s for another time.

What is important about meeting Father Mike is, he preached a sermon, the first time I attended services there that spoke straight to my heart. I knew that God was talking to me, welcoming me home and telling me that St. George’s was the right place to return…So, I became a member. I attended regularly. Met some of my first “Summerville Friends” through St. George’s….y’all know who you are! I went to Cursillo. I served on Vestry (for what seemed like fifty years or so…) And it was a happy place. We loved each other, we grew close and grew out into the community…we WERE evangelizing.

For reasons that are way beyond my understanding and my control, I had to move to Carolina Shores and I did move into a church with community…made some of my first “Grand Strand” friends too. It was wonderful…but there was the beginning of these “rumblings” in the church…Division. Derison.

All of a sudden (to the normal person, it was pretty dern quick), we were no longer one community of believers in Christ, the One True Savior. We were…all of a sudden, “TEC” and “DOSC”….we were in fights. We had brought in lawyers, and courts…hurled insults at each other, swearing this one started it by saying THAT, and that one started it saying THIS. Trials, rulings, appeals, rulings, appeals, rulings…more hurling insults back and forth.

So…I’m wondering…what does standing behind TEC or DOSC do to help us get our message out to those who are unchurched? How much of the money we’ve (and by WE I mean both sides) spent go to feed children in our communities that go hungry overnight, over the weekend, over the summer because their families are homeless or living below poverty level? How much of the time spent in courtrooms is actually EVANGELIZING?

Here’s my theory on all of it:

  1. The church is not about all the buildings, the grounds, the beautiful Camp St. Christopher, the fellowship halls. ALL THAT MEANS NOTHING. Nothing. It means nothing if there are still people who won’t darken the doors of a church because they see us (yes, all of us) as hypocrytes…saying “be kind to others,” “spread the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ” and then we go argue over who owns the buildings we worship in. Did anyone for JUST ONE MINUTE think maybe that GOD owns them? They are HIS. Why? Because we are his.
  2. I am pretty sure that this “holy war” is costing millions and millions in legal fees, man hours, sweat “equity”…and yet no one seems to focus on the fact that not ONE PENNY of the money Episocpalians have spent on this fight has furthered the Kingdom of Christ. Not one. Who has been brought into the kingdom because of this fight? If (and that’s a HUGE If) one person did come to Christ because of it, I’d wager a bet that at least 10 have been driven away. One comes in, ten leaves. I’m no mathemetician but that’s a net of MINUS 9.
  3. And, to beat what seems to be a sad, dead subject even further…no one (really, no one) looks at the court battle and says, “YAY, GOD’S WINNING HERE.” He’s not. As a matter of fact, I’d also be willing to bet on this one too: When you short-sighted, sadly mistaken people battling this all out stand in front of God and are called to reckon…I don’t think he’s gonna pat you on the head and say, “good job son, you drove 10¬†people away for every 1 you brought into the church by arguing back and forth over materia things that I told you (in that book you haven’t been paying much attention to) were temporary….do not cling to things of this earth.

So, I’m probably one to be ex-communicated because of this but I’m sick and tired of bowing my head in shame when I say I’m Episcopalian.

I know we’re all broken sinners. That’s crystal clear to me. But let’s be clear on something else. We are supposed to REPENT. That means turn away from, for those of you who have forgotten. TURN AWAY FROM THOSE THINGS THAT ARE SINS. TURN AWAY AND RETURN TO GOD. Return to his loving arms. Ask for forgiveness.

Oh, and please don’t say that “My Side” *was* asking for forgiveness. When we’re talking about millions of dollars in properties, and millions of dollars WASTED in court…no one was asking for forgiveness.

I’m just totally surprised that NO ONE ELSE in South Carolina feels this way. Or has stood up and said it. What is wrong with all of you? Do you all actually think that wasting money (some of it is mine, that I donated, or TITHED, by the way) and hurling appeals and insults will open the gates of heaven wider?

Just once, I’d like someone to mention the fact that Christ came to this earth so that we could learn about God’s love. About God’s grace. And so we can learn to SHARE THAT with others. How is arguing about this crap sharing God’s love and God’s grace with those who don’t believe? How does that make them believe? How does that make us seem to the “outside world”?

Think about it for a little while before you vilify me.


About maryaquino

Food, rock and roll and greyhound lover
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5 Responses to On being an Episcopalian in South Carolina in the 21st Century

  1. Mr Mary Aquino says:

    Totally agree…..not just because she’s my wife.


  2. Sue Davis says:

    I am in total agreement. I have verbalized about the waste in arguments and miss spent funds. Following Christ is about love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, repentance and bringing Christ to the world and the world to Christ.

    I do not see how our actions show we love God, love others as we love ourselves. I do not see where our priorities show they are feeding and caring for those less formal.

    Our actions (infighting whichever views we hold) trump our call to to follow, love, and serve the Lord.

    I pray regularly that we can get back to God’s commands and let go of our misguided agendas. The more we continge supporting division the further we distance from our faithful relationship with our Triune God.


  3. Sue Freeman says:

    Mary, although we are no longer in SC what you said goes for people far beyond the boundaries do SC. Well said. Sue Freeman


  4. Sunny Walker says:

    Mary, I need to catch up on my blog, but I do agree with what you are saying especially with all the money that has been spent. I think it is ridiculous, but the problem is there are some people who have done some dishonest things as well as wrongfully accused our Bishop of things that are not even true. A lot of this is beyond my understanding, but like you I don’t think God is going to be praising us for bickering back and forth in court as well as not adherring to the Bible. i am convinced eventually everything is going to work out the way it needs to for the good of everyone.


    • maryaquino says:

      I don’t think God wants the arguing – but of course he knows we are human. We will put our sinful spin on everything. And because of his grace we are forgiven.


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