No More Father Eric

Last July, I notified the Bishop of my Diocese that, since I had not succeeded in planting the church in the vicinity of OSU, which he had commissioned me to plant when he ordained me in May 2011,  I believed it was incumbent upon me to resign my Orders as an Anglican priest. I genuinely believed, at the time, that my action was the better part of wisdom and integrity and the right thing to do. After a long conversation with the Diocesan Canon to the Ordinary, I was persuaded to reconsider my request. It was withdrawn.

On September 26, in a moment of deep personal frustration, I posted a status update on Facebook in which I made reference to the Episcopal Church in a way that apparently embarrassed the Bishop and my Diocese in the Anglican Church in North America. It was completely inadvertent. I meant no disrespect. Still, I was suspended from my “priestly faculties” as a result.

I immediately deleted the post and sent a letter of contrition and apology to the Bishop, asking his forgiveness for any embarrassment I may have caused him or the diocese. At the same time, I renewed my request to be released from my ordination vows. In the Anglican Church, this action is known as “laicization” of a priest and is usually taken as part of a disciplinary process. That was not the case in my situation.

Today I received an official communication from the Bishop. My request for laicization was granted. I have been released from “the obligations of the Ministerial Office,” and I am “hereby deprived of the right to exercise the gifts, duties, and spiritual authority as a Priest of God’s Word and Sacraments conferred to (me) in the Ordination as a Priest.” The formal statement, which the Bishop signed, made it clear that “this laicization is voluntary and for reasons not in violation of moral integrity or canon law.”

Even though I requested this action, it is still a sad day. I feel adrift and homeless. Thanks for your prayers.


11 thoughts on “No More Father Eric

  1. Eric,
    While you may feel as though you are homeless and not impacting the world as you may have envisioned or wished, but know that your impact on those you taught and led is a testimony that will live on long past any position you may hold. I often attribute my sense of call to the study and teaching of the Word of God to the passion for both of those things that I saw in you in my classes at RBC. You challenged me to dig deeply into the Scriptures, and showed me what it looked like to come away from those digs not with a cold, staunch, emotionless attitude but with a love and excitement for God and for sharing the truths found there. You taught me what it meant to use my mind for the glory of God. And it is my passion to pass that along to those I have the privilege of serving where I am a pastor now. And I know that I am not alone in that. There are many who I have heard say the same thing. I don’t know if thats an encouragement or not, but I know that I am exceedingly grateful for the way God used you to shape my life during my time at RBC.
    Shawn Yoder

  2. I am deeply saddened to read of this most recent event. You have so many gifts and so much to offer the Anglican Church in North America. It appears that they do not have the capacity to fully appreciate all the gifts, talents, and abilities that you bring with you to their fellowship. It always makes me weep when I observe leadership given a sacred trust to rule in the Body of Christ who do not have the integrity, nor the competency, to lead—especially when their failures damage the work of the Kingdom.

    If I read properly between the lines, it seems as if the Bishop has taken this action without ever affording you the courtesy of meeting with you face to face. If that is, indeed, the case, then I would declare that the spirit of Matthew 18:15-17 has not been followed.

    Surely whenever an ordained priest seeks laicization, at the very least, the Bishop has an obligation to meet personally and pastorally with that priest. Such a meeting affords the Bishop to perform his duties as overseer to offer counsel and support and to inquire into the circumstances that have brought the priest to such a point of despair. If, as it appears, you have had no face-to-face contact with any official of the diocese since mid-summer, then—no matter what you may have requested—a meeting with the Bishop himself was in order before granting your request.

    How does the Bishop know but that you may have reconsidered your request? How does the Bishop know the matters that have led up to your request. How does the Bishop know but that the circumstances of trying to plant a new church without even one scintilla of support from the diocese have created such understandable frustration but that one could only expect the need for some small token of, at least, pastoral support from the spiritual leader to whom you have given your allegiance.

    This incident, as tragic as it may seem in your own life, is far more tragic to the Kingdom of God. If this is the manner in which the Anglican Church in North America in general, and the Diocese of the Great Lakes in particular, intends to build up the cadre who have left the Episcopal Church in America, seeking greater orthodoxy in their theology, then there is little hope that this new potential province will survive and thrive.

    No matter what, God is at work and He will lead you into a place of ministry that will reap enormous benefit for the Kingdom of God. You, Eric, are deeply loved and earnestly and fervently prayed for by a host of people whom God has touched significantly through your ministry.

    May God turn your sorrow to joy, even as He reveals to you His heart in this matter and His pathway forward.

  3. I feel for you, Eric. But in all honesty, you escaped from a sinking ship. Your mind, your talents, your gifts are too great to be submitted to any church hierarchy (or any other for that matter). They may have, in their infinitesimal wisdom, “deprived [you] of the right to exercise the gifts, duties, and spiritual authority as a Priest of God’s Word”, but they don’t have the power to do such a thing now do they. I know you know that, but I’m just affirming it. stand strong! The american church establishment may not want folks like you and I, who speak truth even when its inconvenient, but onward we march all the same. This is because we receive our orders from God, not men. May the reality of the universe guide you, because you alone are much bigger than the whole Anglican Church.

  4. Out of the ashes…..Eric, you already know, your life is hidden in Christ, now and for all eternity. May he work to bring about in your life the future and the plans he desires for you. I’ve found, most often, the path is through pain and suffering. But, there is coming a glorious day……
    (And, it’s completely natural to feel adrift and homeless. He not only understands, he empathizes.)

  5. Our Lord knows: “Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. ‘” Matthew 8:20. But : “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58.

  6. I hope to see you in my lovely part of the world. I invite you to participate in the fellowship of the saints, either over coffee–likely only two saints–or in the fellowship where I am privileged to minister.
    I am praying for you.


  7. I too occasionally feel ‘adrift and homeless’. Having those kinds of feelings makes me realize once again that we all are strangers and pilgrims. seeking for our home in that city whose architect and builder is God. Let’s pray for each other and not faint by the way…Buen Camino, hermano!
    (This is a very common greeting between those thousands of pilgrims who do the Pilgrimage of St. James in northern Spain.)

    • Thanks for your kind words, Judi. I do identify with the “pilgrim” motif. In fact, I hope to walk some portion of the Camino de Santiago next fall. I have begun to prepare already… physically and spiritually. And yes, I agree to pray with you and for you. Buen Camino, hermana. (I hope I got that right.)

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