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As some of you know, I recently made the decision to affiliate with the Anglican
Communion through the Episcopal Church. While there are many reasons for this,
one thing I have not addressed is my own personal process in this decision. It was not
an easy one, but I have to believe that what may seem as detours in our life are
actually the very roads we are meant to travel in more cases than not.

I have written elsewhere of my own path of return to the Roman Catholic Church (see
link below to my published article on this topic) so rather than fully repeat it now I
will just say that it too was a path of seeming detours and twists. The very brief
version of it is that I was raised Catholic until age 15, and always followed my faith in
a serious way growing up. During those formative teen years, I began attending an
Assemblies of God youth group, and eventually began going there regularly, although
still considering myself to be Catholic. I officially joined the A/G at age 16, however,
and remained in those circles for approximately 20 years. Due to my own religious
convictions, I never had any sexual encounters outside of marriage with either gender,
and was married at age 23 to a very decent and caring Christian woman. I also
entered ministry that same year and was for the next 12 years a married A/G minister
in varying capacities.

While never self identifying as ³gay,´ I was well aware of my own tendencies or
desires in that direction. However, I had been taught, and truthfully believed, that if I
did not act upon those feelings I was not in reality homosexual. It came to a crisis
point for me in 1991, at a point when my marriage was severely weakened and my
unmet emotional needs were at a peak. I met a man (ironically also named Richard)
who I developed strong feelings for, and realized finally that I had to deal with the
issue head on²either to end my marriage, or to move onward and explore a side of
myself I had long denied.

Spiritually, I struggled²and struggled²to find out whether it was perhaps viable for
a Christian to live as an ³out and gay´ person. After studying, praying, and even
fasting, I began to believe I was cheating both myself and my former wife by living
within a marriage that essentially had become dishonest, so we separated later that
year and were then divorced in July of 1992.
For the next 15 years I was ³out´ to both friends and family, met many wonderful
(and a few not so great!) friends and lovers of my own gender. In that process
however I lost track of myself spiritually, and began to long for the closeness to God I
had once experienced during the more traditionalist years of my Christian journey. In
summer of 2001, I began attending a very open hearted yet evangelical church (United
Methodist) in my neighborhood, sharing with the pastor where I was at in the area of
]GBT issues and my own walk with God. While not agreeing doctrinally at least
totally, he nevertheless warmly welcomed me as a full member and for the next 4
years I attended this church.

I had been celibate by then for a few years, at first not for religious reasons but finally
coming to the conclusion that remaining single was most likely God¶s plan for me,
and I embraced it as such. I also became interested in re-exploring the earlier spiritual
traditions of my youth, and wondered if such devotions as the Rosary or formal
Confession might have a place in my life again. I hungered too for the gift of Holy
Communion (Eucharist) on a more regular basis, something Catholics offer during
each and every Mass, but which in almost all of the Protestant churches I attended was
held monthly, so if I happened to miss that particular Sunday I would have to wait in
some cases 2 or even 3 months before next receiving. Again, I will not repeat my
entire story here but suffice it to say that my studies increased more and more, and
eventually I found myself strongly desiring to become Catholic once again. I came
back to Rome on October 4, 2005, and remained there until late September of this
year (2010). During those 5 years I continued my commitment to celibacy, and did
my best to understand and accept the Roman Catholic teachings on homosexuality and
human sexuality overall. I also became very involved in parish work and was very
glad to be ³home´ in an environment that allowed me to again minister in some
areas. For 3 of those years it seemed to me that I was finally where I was meant to be
all along, and I did not question the concept of hierarchy or the authority of the
Church in any area. It still troubled me that the attitudes towards ]GBT folks (not
only in Catholic but in many other mainstream churches) were so negative. I
struggled to maintain my focus on serving God but this and a number of other
theological issues began to bother me more and more, causing me to develop a
³love/hate´ relationship with the Church on many levels. I resented the idea that I did
not feel I could use my mind in a questioning way (although many Catholics did so
regardless) but the claim that Catholicism was and is the ³one true Church´ was ever
held over my head, stopping me personally from pursuing my own processes of
searching when I would begin to do so. I would frequently go through days or
sometimes occasional weeks where I was ready to leave the Church yet again but soon
after would find myself at the confessional and truly repentant. And ready for battle
again.

After 2 years of this, finally I was at a point where the questions were looming larger
than the spiritual club held over my skull by the hierarchical system. The list of
questions and doubts, none of which seemed to be satisfactorily answered in my mind
even after counsel with priests and study after study of earlier Councils, the Catechism
of the Catholic Church, and of course Sacred Scripture, juxtaposed themselves against
my own processes of reason and study, and had ultimately pushed me to a point I had
closely come to a number of times but never quite faced²that perhaps I had
misinterpreted what Catholic Christianity actually was and is. That perhaps the
Traditions of the Church were not on the same level as Sacred Scripture, but were
meant instead to supplement them as a help in interpreting our faith, and that God
given intellect and reason were every bit as important as tradition. In short, I was
gravitating towards Anglican theology without even intending to! Couple that with
the fact that ]GBT issues, as important as they are, seemed to be dealt with less and
less healthily by the Church in general and this Archdiocese in particular, and I
crashed towards an ³hour of decision´ as the Rev Billy Graham would say. I knew no
choice I could make would please everyone, and assuredly it has not.

As of November 7, 2010 I am officially Episcopalian/Anglican, and what happens


beyond this time is up to God. I am still celibate but no longer believe I am obligated
to stay so if a person enters my life in a healthy way, and yet I still have the Eucharist,
Confession, and the other Sacraments and gifts of the Church to strengthen me in my
walk with Christ. I am no longer a ³Bible only´ Christian and yet accept Sacred
Scripture as God¶s Holy Word, with the caveat that it be interpreted not only in the
light of tradition but reason as well, and that I have the definitive say in how I
understand it for me and my life. While any change in theology can certainly be used
as an excuse for sin, that is not my intention in any way. But I now, for the first time
in many years, realize the liberty to walk according to my conscience, while yet
informing it by the Church Fathers, current thinking in both science and religion, and
certainly Sacred Scripture.
In short I am free.

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