It may be extremely presumptuous or just plain crazy, but — as one in the midst of the Episcopal Church’s current struggles with the Anglican Communion with respect to issues of human sexuality — I sometimes feel like Paul in his struggles in the early church. To paraphrase him in Philippians 3:4 and following:

“If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: baptized and confirmed a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion; member in good standing of the Episcopal Church; ordained deacon, priest, and bishop; thirty-five years of service to the church as curate, mission vicar, church planter, cathedral canon, parish rector, diocesan bishop, and national church staff person; absolutely committed to the mission and ministry of the church.

Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I am willing to suffer the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may be faithful to Christ not having a righteousness that comes through the institution, but one that comes through trusting Christ.”

If God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, demonstrating love for all people, offering forgiveness to sinners, and eternal life for those who trust in him, no longer judging us on “a righteousness of our own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ,” then we must welcome and fully include all those who confess “Jesus as Lord.” All of them! Absolutely everybody!

If that makes us outcasts, then — as Paul clearly says in his case — so be it!   


10 Responses to “Outcasts”

  1. inFL Says:


    What constitutes “faith in Christ”?

  2. R S Bunker Says:

    Thank you for clarifying bishop, I was under the mistaken impression that God wanted us to turn away from sin. Now that you have explained that God doesn’t care about our sin my life just got a whole lot easier. Man, I can go back to my unversity days of wine, women and song.


  3. John Says:

    I agree with the posting here. The issue that confronts us is: what things need to be repented of? what are we welcoming people into? what things does Jesus forgive? to what length does Jesus’ Lordship extend? The difficult fact is that we, as a church, have a serious division on these, truly central and fundamental, issues. We’re not taling about church order, or polity, or about ‘rights’. We’re talking about the shape of the Christian life and, really, the identity of the Lord. Is the Lord one who commands and endorses the things VGR says and stands for, to use him as a representative of one side, or a Lord who commands and endorses things that we might call the sexual ethic enshrined in the BCP?

    Additionally, is this issue about ‘including’ people? I mean, there just are not guards at the doors of any church. Anyone can come in. So why don’t we say, truly, that the issue is about behavior: what kinds of behavior can we, when we hold up someone as unambiguously fit for the episcopate, endorse. That is what the issue is.

  4. JCF Says:


    Verbally stoning the host: yet another demonstration, that the REAL “sin of Sodom” is ***inhospitality***.

    Lord have mercy!

  5. rwk Says:


    I sympathize with the sigh…but I do believe there is a relevant point is that there are very serious divisions and everyone believes they are right.

    I was born and raised in the Episcopal Church while my wife was raised Lutheran Missouri Synod. Talk about differences in catechesis! Mine was a couple of Saturday afternoon classes for a couple of hours. Hers was several years and every Saturday. She had to answer all 100 questions from Luther’s Smaller Catechism to be confirmed. The Episcopal Church avoided its foundational teachings for decades and avoided the hardwork of studying and teaching and our divisions are a result of that.


    When I was growing up I was in the Diocese of Northern Indiana. Bishop William Sheridan, a gentle, loving and Godly man was our bishop. He was firmly Anglo-catholic — by my memory. When I was little I went to Summer Camp and the bishop would come and quiz us on the Sacraments — all seven of them. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I learned the Episcopal Church teaches there are two sacraments and five rites, a result of the Reformation. Would I have cast out the late-Bishop Sheridan (God forbid that I would have had the temerity.)

    The story is emblematic of my point, however.

  6. ecubishop Says:

    inFL — I believe “faith in Christ” means radical trust in the saving power and love of God as we see it in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

    Others above: thanks for the coments…these *are* the issues…

  7. Dave Vanderah Says:

    Bishop Epting,

    Seventeen or so years ago, when, as bishop of Iowa, you were visiting St. John, Dubuque, to confirm, you took the time to share ideas on inclusion and sexuality with me.

    You demonstrated great discernment then and I am glad to see you have not departed from your belief in inclusivity.

  8. John Says:

    “you have not departed from your belief in inclusivity..”

    I am not sure what the commenter means by this. I know, certainly, of forms of religious life that do not make it easy for people to come in, to stay, or to stay and grow. I know forms of Christianity that judge people as not quite up to snuff. My parents were religious casualties–too much guilt heaped on them. And yet, it seems that today in ECUSA ‘inclusivity’ has been elevated to a theological category–if not a idol–that has elbowed out other important commitments of Christianity AND, if you ask me, has let us off the hook from some of the hard wark of creating the kind of friendships that make people stay in the Church

  9. chae sone Says:

    Rev. Jeremiah J. Park, Bishop
    New York Annual Conference
    White Plains, New York
    May 30, 2008
    RE: Abuse of Methodist mission fund to torture fellow members:

    Dear Rev. Jeremiah J. Park:


    The circumstances remind you the moral issues that your office should have taken care of earlier with the help of the church officers and the congregation, according to the church rules because it matters with the honor of the Christian values and the Korean pride.

    You said “No torture.” And marched to UN with other religious leaders against “Torture” in Iraq and Afghanis.
    Then, why can’t you condemn the torture against the innocent members within your church?

    Unwittingly it seems to indicate the double standard of morality in the episcopacy as overlooked the torturous incidents to fellow members in the church. The leaders owe an explanation to the fellow clergies and Methodists about the case history.

    You have a sufficient knowledge about the problems. So far the problems have been ignored, often, it misrepresented to the new comers as well as to the old timers. No one tries to stop the vicious cycle of spinning.

    Now the time has come for your office to clarify the ultimate moral issues.
    Without further delay to stop demonizing of the innocent members to cover up the age old cruelty and money scandals. No more torture fellow Methodists.

    The apathy to the torture appears to be nothing but inhumane and a reflection of deviant clergy minds. Please do not allow them to place the church in Myanmar situation.

    For this occasion, I wish to remind you again to clear, among others, the accounting frauds and particularly the murder charges made against my son and me. The church members will support your faithful moral leadership for the change of illicit patterns in the ministry.

    Mr. Steve Park painfully tortured our family. For he criminally accused us in the demeaning gangster language as a church officer, which is a serious symptom of Christian corruption. It was to destroy the innocent family.


    “ 5. In the year 2000, the defendant Sone, without cause or provocation, approximately midyear, at the behest of the defendant, he sent his son, xxx Sone who threatened to kill me and other church members.”


    10 Chae Sone’s son, walked into my defense
    11 lawyer’s office using profanities, like, you know
    12 fuck you and these were the words that were
    13 relayed to me, you asshole, I’m going to kill you,
    14 everybody in sight, kill you and everybody in
    15 sight ….


    14 A “He said fuck you and asshole on a
    routine basis”

    14. Q Tell me exactly. This is?
    15 A “F you and F you, you know, asshole, you
    16 know, you better watch out your step,”
    17 Q That was the first thing he said to
    18 you?

    8 Q I want to know exactly what you say
    9 that Dr. Sone said to you approximately six months
    10 ago in connection with killing your family What
    11 did he say? What were his words?

    12 A “He said watch out, you asshole,
    13 Specifically said you asshole, you watch out, if
    14 You don’t watch your step; I’m going to kill you.

    5 A “I’m going to kill your whole family.”
    6 Q That’s what Dr. Sone said to you?
    7. A “Yes.”
    P. 62; 9-17, 21-23.

    9 Q You’re claiming that Dr. Sone
    10 threatened to kill you and your whole family?
    11 A “Yes.”


    The witnesses heard the threats and profanities according to Mr. Park; ”Y. S. Kim; K. D. Shin; W. T. Cha; Y. H. Lee; Y. J. Kim; D. J. Chun; Paul Choi; Y. J. Kwon; I. C. Lee. “

    Steve Park presented these witnesses, including Rev. Wontae Cha, for the criminal trial against us.

    On the basis of these false murder charges, my son and I were on trial at a full jury at NYS Supreme Court, Nassau County. The church allowed him to spend the Building Trust Fund for legal costs, although the church had nothing to do with his personal lawsuit. The
    Church financed the torture against our innocent family because we tried to protect the trust fund.

    You should have known the Korea United Methodist Church and Institute has been under control of the spiritually dead clergies, or criminals who filled with demonization, falsehood and deception.

    It seems to be absolutely insensitive or uninformed leadership in this situation if you don’t see the situation as a moral crisis of the Korean Church, the NY Annual Conference or UMC.

    It is the 87th anniversary of the Korean United Methoidst Church and Institute, I believe the Bishop Jeremiah J. Park, Rev. Won Tae Cha, Steve Park, Young So Kim and other witnesses should come to celebrate the age old church and justify to the worshippers why and who allowed the Building Trust Fund to be spent for the criminal torture and other cases within the church.

    According to the court records, someone from church hierarchies, Steve Park and others met with the judge in a secret meeting (Ex parte conference) and deceived the judge F. Dana Winslow as if Park’s case church related.

    Now the Bishop Jeremiah J. Park should responsibly identify who were at it to reveal the secret meeting with the Judge Winslow to

    clarify the conspiracy.
    To date, you never answered to the questions and other false accusations.

    If they avoid the clarifications, either or, it is betrayal to the truth. It seems to suggest that they are “spiting in the face of Christ.” The Bible described when Jesus was under torture, “… they spit in his face, hit him with their fists, and some of them slapped him.” Mt.26:67.

    Now remember that any decent mind cannot allow our historic church to be stood on the foundation of the age old scandals.
    Remember, Jesus said to Peter, “… you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church…” Mt.16; 18
    I am praying for your spiritual victory in good faith and for the renewal of our historic church. The Book of Discipline guarantees open meeting and free speech. Why can’t we have an open debate for the renewal at the church? The congregation wants your spiritual leadership as the bishop.

    Shouldn’t we build our church on “the rock”?

    Please let me remind your office that it is my duty and mission to protect the church’s interests, according to the church rules and the Biblical teachings.

    The church should be maintained as a house prayer, but a “den of robbers.” Mt 21; 13.

    God bless you for His services.

    Sincerely yours in Christ,

    Chae S. Sone and family
    2 Woodbury Court Hicksville, NY 11801

    Letter to Rev. Chang
    Park’s Transcripts

    NOTE: It was an inspiriting message from Rev. Chuck Gommer in response to the subject matter, defining the donor’s will and the church rules for trust fund. But the Bishop and the pastor ignored it.

    The corrective majors are long over due or just ignored by the leaders.

    Sent: Thursday, October 11, 2007 4:22 PM
    To: Bishop@nyac.com;chang.kmci@gmail.com. csone@optonline.net
    Subject: Building Funds Questions – Korean Church

    Dear Bishop:

    This all sounds as though the leadership of our church has handled a “difficult situation” in a poor way. Are these matters of injustice in the claims of those who cry out about the fraudulent use of building funds and trust funds of the Korean Church in New York? Real leaders not only do things right… but in the critical points of decision making…do the right thing. What is the “right thing” in his matter? It is an embarrassment to the whole community of faith.

    Chuck Gummer
    Former District Superintendent
    Former Wyoming Conference Executive
    Wyoming Confeence


  10. chae sone Says:


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