One question which many have asked is: What's happening to you now, what are your immediate plans? Frankly, I am still waiting to hear from the bishop as to what my status currently is with my parish and the Diocese of Fresno. I mailed a certified letter to him this week in which I said that if I did not hear to the contrary from him, I would resume my duties as pastor of St. Paul's Newman Center this weekend.
All of the priests of our diocese were attending their annual retreat this week from Monday through Thursday. For obvious reasons, I thought that my presence at this retreat would be disruptive and I thought it more prudent to take a private retreat instead. Friday is my usual day off and so, my tentative plans are to return to my parish this weekend and resume my pastoral work. Unless, of course, the bishop informs me otherwise. I can tell you frankly, that my family is not very thrilled at the idea of my returning to Fresno. Both they and others have expressed fears for my personal safety and even for my life.
I had expected to be suspended as a priest immediately, which is why, I took my personal belongings with me when I left the parish for retreat. Since this has not happened, and I am still a priest in good standing, and as far as I know, still the pastor of St. Paul's. So, here I am waiting for the phone to ring.
I am however, making good use of my time. I am speaking with various groups and individuals who are working very hard for the "NO on Proposition 8" campaign. I have to tell you, this is a fight for all of us, not just for people in the state of California. If the yes on prop. 8 party wins, they won't stop with robbing gay and lesbian people in California of their right to marry. They will then, move on to weaker states and go after domestic partnership laws, adoption laws, and employment protection laws. Essentially, they would like gay and lesbian people to have no rights at all and simply to not exist.
What can you do? If you live in California, vote NO on Prop 8 and, try to persuade as many people as you know to also, vote NO on Prop 8. Give money to the NO on Proposition 8 campaign. It cost large amounts of money to buy air time on major media here in California. People who want to take away civil rights from gays and lesbians are spending HUGE amounts of money to buy air time. Lorri L. Jean from the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center (www.laglc.org )spoke at a fund raiser this last week in LA and said that the Yes on 8 machine has raised 20 MILLION dollars to strip us of our rights. We are 5% points behind in the polls right now. We need to catch up, to do that we need to be heard. To be heard we need to buy air time. To buy air time we need cash and we need it NOW. Please, contribute to the No on Proposition 8 campaign.
It has been my pleasure to assist you in any slight way possible to get your message out.
I just won't willingly go back to being a second class citizen again.
Don't feel you have to respond to, or publish my comment! I just wanted to say that I am tremeondously impressed by your integrity and courage. It is rare to hear anything so positive come from Catholicism on this subject and so refreshing too. Doubtless you are far from alone! Please know that you are in my prayers, with every best wish, Greg
You are quite remarkable. Who knows what will happen, but there you are.
As for answering each comment- it is a great idea and so well intended, but it likely is impossible.
And ignore the trolls and haters - as has been before by One greater than we... "Father forgive them, they know not what they do."
Pax et bonum always.
I sincerely hope that you have a canon lawyer - or a team of them. You need to be represented.
Glad to see you're blogging, Father Geoff. I wanted to write on Tuesday when I heard the news, but I thought it best not to go through your parish email account.
Thank you for standing up for all of us, but more than that thank you for standing up for God last Sunday.
It's such an important message, especially for kids who are just putting together the puzzle of their different-ness, one that they desperately need to hear. You absolutely nailed the thoughts and emotions I had when I went through that period, and hopefully others will identify as well.
I'm sure you've already heard from the anti-gay folks, and you know as well as I do that it's only going to get worse. Don't let them knock you off course. Stand tall, Father.
Grace and peace.
I have posted your sermon on my blog here in Montreal. I am keeping you in my prayers. May Holy mother Church be wise and merciful. I applaud what you did and said that took courage. God is with you dear father.
God bless you, Father Geoff!
I'm sure this waiting must be killing you (far worse than a quick suspension).
I know you don't need me to tell you this, but what you're on, is the Way of the Cross---as such, not only are you NOT alone, you have the "Pioneer and Perfecter" of our faith right there with you. Lean on Him, when the weight gets to great. You will find that Way of the Cross, is nothing less than the Way of Eternal Life. Alleluia!
JC Fisher, your pal in Michigan. My grandparents buried in Fresno (I have perfect trust) are praying for you...
I just wanted to let you know of my prayers, from the UK. Please don't worry about replying to this comment - you have far more important and pressing things to be dealing with!
Take care - I pray for your safety, and for the powers-that-be to recognise your message.
Dear Father Farrow,
I am a lesbian girl and I live in Amsterdam which is quite far away from California... but when I read your story I really wanted to let you know how important I think it is what you did. How very brave. You're an example for a lot of people.
My sincere respect,
Welcome to the blogosphere. You don't have to respond to my email. But I will nose around your blog with some regularity.
You will let us know as soon as you hear something, right?
God bless, Fr Geoff. IF you are x'd, there is the Episcopal Church. We'll welcome you.
A couple of rosaries will be offered for you today and my Holy hour tomorrow for you.
I will certainly keep you in my prayers. Try not to worry about what your Bishop will do, and always remember that Bishops, Archbishops, and Popes do not have the last word.....God does.
The honesty and integrity that you have shown in this time will bring you comfort in the years ahead.
God bless you.
Congratulations. You have prayer support from this small corner of the Curch of England.
As a former religious, now an out lesbian married in Massachusetts, I wanted to say I appreciate your speaking out for equality and justice. God Bless You!
Dear Father Geoff,
I am praying this prayer for you, written by a 10th grade girl. It implores the intersession of Fr. Mychal Judge, the 'Saint of 9/11', and probably the most beloved openly gay Christian in our lifetime. I invite others to join in this prayer --
Prayer for strength with Fr. Mychal Judge
Holy God, Life is unpredictable,
and at times frightening.
Give us the strength as you did
Father Mychal Judge
to face our fears head on.
Help us to meet our challenges
with dignity and grace.
Enable us with Your holiness
to accept our duties.
With Your compassion, aid us in helping others, even when our own lives are in jeopardy.
This we pray through our Lord Jesus Christ, and the intercession of Your servant, Mychal Judge. Amen.
John M. Kelley,
"Is there so much love in the world that we can afford to discriminate against any kind of love ?!"
-- Fr. Mychal Judge
Many blessings for your courageous witness to the LGBT population of which I am a member (live in Vermont, in a civil union). When the Rt Rev'd Walter Righter of The Episcopal Church was presented for charges of heresy for ordaining a gay man to the priesthood, he said words to this effect, 'They can take away my episcope, but they can never take away my baptism.' You are a beloved child of God and through your words, you help another community know they are too. No need to respond.
I would have preferred to send you my thoughts via email, but I cannot find an email link in your blog. Regardless, I would like to commend you on your bravery in publicly opposing Prop 8 against the directives of your church. I hope others follow your fine example.
I have two points that I would like to raise that perhaps you will be able to address in future posts on your blog (if you continue to update it).
First, while I like that you took the time to disentangle marriage from procreation (the connection is a common fallacy of anti-gay marriage arguments), I think an important additional point is that Prop 8 concerns the law of California, and as such should be exempt from religious analysis. I understand that marriage (as a ceremony) is important in religious contexts, but where the legal system is concerned it is a measure of legal standing - an issue of legal rights. Even if gays can legally marry, the government is not going to require churches to perform those marriages if they don't want to. As such, religion is only threatened by gay marriage (avoiding the question of whether this is true at all) in the public sphere, where the separation of church and state dictates that it already has no authority. Whether religions are concerned about their waning influence in American life is perhaps the issue; yet the fact remains that the issue at hand is a legal one, and not a religious one, and so the opinions of various religious groups about the acceptability of gay marriage are frankly irrelevant.
The second point concerns the Bishop's order to mobilize congregation members against a political cause. At what point do religion and politics intersect, and where does the Constitution draw that line? Stanley Fish has written an excellent discussion of this issue in The New York Times. As Prof. Fish discusses, religion requires that one's moral beliefs affect one's public life, yet our Constitution asks that politics be separate from religion. Regardless of how we judge the Bishop's mandate to vote for Prop 8, should he have even made such a declaration in the first place? Considering that there are many Americans who subscribe to opposing religions (as well as many who subscribe to none), at what point do religious leaders cross the line by commanding their followers to entangle their beliefs with their politics, especially when those beliefs justify their oppression or exclusion of others on religious grounds?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these issues.
To Father Geoff,
I think that you have alot of courage in saying wht you have said.
In most peoples eyes(including mine )you will always be a Priest no matter what any Bishop says.
In the UK we have the same Bigoted problems in the churches.They seem to spread misinformation about interpreting the Gospels and this leads to Hatred and prejudice.
I am 110% in support of you and so is God.
Those who don't live in California can help by linking this blog to their friends. This is an important moment in the life of the church, and we need the world talking about it. Don't let anyone sweep this under the rug.
Father Geoff, you have given us a catalyst in this courageous act of faith. I pray for your safety, peace and vocation. God bless you and thank you for your humble example of servant leadership.
In some ways, the worst is over. You've got everyone's attention. I suspect you will use it well. And, shame on the thousands of gay Catholic priests who are not standing up with you. There is simply no excuse for their behavior.
Bless you for speaking out!
Many blessings on you and your courage to be yourself. I was born and raised in Fresno in a very evangelical Baptist context. I did not have a hierarchy to contend with but have a great appreciation for the social and religious context in which you live. I am also a gay priest but an Episcopal one who was 100% out to everyone before I was ordained at Grace Cathedral. I rejoice always in knowing that God loves me, calls me, and used me as a channel of grace and that my affectional orientation is part of how God made me and part of the texture of God's grace in me.
With prayers for you in the days ahead.
Very touched by your circumstances given the courageous stance you took. May those around and near you give you support and suitable advice. May your mind be at peace!
ps The following is not for now, but who knows what the future might bring, from the way you are writing. But, to remain in a priestly ministry, some other denomination probably would recognise yours, if you felt you needed the shelter of, say, the Episcopal Church, or that of the Lutheran... In the USA or perhaps even in Canada or elsewhere.
Take care of yourself and thank you for your courage. You are in my prayers.
When you look up 'courage' and 'hero' in the dicionary there is a picture of you. You've risked everything to follow your truth. You've put your spiritual faith ahead of your religion. Amazing. Thank you.
I hope and pray that not having heard from the bishop is indeed good news.
All the best from Sweden!
Dear Fr. Geoff,
You are in good company in the ranks of the conscientious and courageous.
St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “It is better to die excommunicated than to violate one's conscience," when in conflict with official church teaching.
And Fr. Mychal Judge, ‘the Saint of 9/11’, often asked, “Is there so much love in the world that we can afford to discriminate against any kind of love?!”
Fr. Mychal was the most beloved openly gay Christian of our lifetime, often at odds with diocesan authorities. He reported directly to a Higher Authority, and urged us to, “not let the institutional church get in the way of your relationship with God.”
You have my prayers,
John M. Kelley,
Father, my deepest support for you. I recently left the Church over this and other issues of morality. I'm a happy Anglican now, but I surely applaud your courage. I am praying that things turn out well. You Father are what Jesus was talking about. You are to be commended and supported to the best of everyone's ability. My best to you.
Hello Father -
My name is John Esquivel and I write for the Fresno City College Newspaper. We just heard of your touching story and I would personally love to write a piece about you and your message you'd like to spread. We are currently working on an an issue that is focusing on politics and how it is affecting our community. There are so many young people who are undecided on the issues that are around us. I hope to give you a way to reach the young people here at FCC. Please email me at email@example.com if you would like to speak to us. I would love to hear from you.
Dear Fr. Geoff
My thoughts & prayers go with you, especially during this trying time.
I am touched by your sensativity to the subject as well as your response to it. It seems to me Jesus would have responded as you have.
You are amazing!
It is inevitable that one day your Church will face the same difficulties experienced within the Anglican Communion. Prayers for your sincerity and bravery
Dear Fr. Geoff:
I understand your bishop's decision and I respect yours. There is a difference. He's a "company man" and your are prophetic in your witness. And prophets are never honored in their own country.
But, with your obvious spiritual strength, your path though hard, will be clear.
The Peace of the Lord be with you.
All Saints' Episcopal Church / Atlanta
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