On the day before Christmas Eve, Reverend Jonathan Erdman had a heavy heart. In a somber letter to his parish, he announced his decision to resign as rector, effective January 10, 2016. Invoking Martin Luther, he explained the issue of conscience which made this decision inevitable. “After prayer and study of scripture, I am not able to approve same-sex marriage as rector of Calvary.” Jonathan would not perform a gay blessing, nor as shepherd of the flock at Calvary, could he allow one to be performed in his parish. In an act of pastoral concern for the few LGBT members of his parish this may affect, he arranged for same-sex members of Calvary to be married by other clergy at the Episcopal cathedral nearby. Predictably that was not enough.
As soon as General Convention allowed for same-sex blessings in the Episcopal Church, certain members of Calvary Church were eager to begin. I’m sure the self-righteous indignation was palpable as Fr. Jonathan informed this vestry–a different vestry from the one in place when he arrived to which his views on same-sex marriage were specifically addressed–that same-sex blessings would not take place at Calvary Church. Fr. Jonathan apparently did not give priority in his ministry to arguing from the pulpit for or against the secular social agenda strangling the ECUSA. An orthodox high churchman, graduate of Yale Divinity School, and former curate at St. Thomas 5th Avenue under the now-retired Reverend Andrew Mead, Fr. Jonathan Erdman loved and ministered to parishioners from all walks of life and of all sexual orientations. There are some that too quickly confuse the difference between withholding judgment of an individual’s sins and celebrating them (or allowing them to be celebrated under your authority) as a sacrament of the Church.