An old friend and his former cathedral


I knew the late Bishop Ron Haines of Washington DC very well. He and I talked many times when he was Rector of St Francis Rutherfordton. I knew his wife Mary . We continued our conversations off n on for many years. When me Dad passed Bishop Haines remembered my Dad by name at the High Altar and we both smiled as he and I knew what my father thought of Episcopal worship! Ron was a conservative theologically but not necessarily a dogmatist even though like me he believed there are some foundational or dare I say fundamentals of the Christian faith.
After reading the statements of the Dean who apparently does not believe in either the Great Commission or the reason for it and after reading of reactions both pro and con about the Moslem prayer device held there last Friday I wondered what my old friend would have thought.
Ron had become disillusioned with his church in some ways or at least with a number of fellow bishops in leadership roles following the accusations and the resulting law suit over alleged abuse of his son by an individual who had become a priest in his former diocese. He felt as he told me on the phone that when all was said and done it was the institution that mattered and not the individual. When he had turned to some of his fellow bishops for support he found opposition and this was a great shock to him and a bitter disappointment.
When he was the bishop of the “nations’s church” it was in good shape metaphorically speaking and was not without controversy as when he ordained an openly gay women to the priesthood over the stated and vocal opposition of many clergy and laity alike. During the ordination after noting the opposition he asked the congregation if it was their desire that she be ordained and they said ‘YES” and he ordained her!
But this latest publicity stunt however well intentioned it may have been I don’t think he would have agreed to. Ron had profound respect for other faiths and religions but he never forgot, unlike Spong, Schori,and others like them, that he took solemn vows before God and the congregation on three separate occasions to preach the faith of Christ not a sophistic relativism!
But ultimately for a building that has to rent out space just to keep its doors open for lack of membership and their support does it really matter what is done or not!

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