Bishop Scott Mayer has shared a letter from the Rev. Celia Ellery, rector of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in San Angelo. The letter is especially meaningful in that Ellery and her congregation understand very clearly what the situation is here. In 2006, a questionable majority of the members of Good Shepherd voted to leave The Episcopal Church to affiliate with the Diocese of Uganda, Africa; however, they refused the order of Bishop C. Wallis Ohl, then the bishop of Northwest Texas, to vacate the property by January 5, 2007. The loyal Episcopalians reorganized to elect new vestry members to fill the places of the departing vestry members, and Bishop Ohl appointed appointed Ellery priest-in-charge in 2007. She has been a clergy person at Good Shepherd since 2005, serving as assistant rector, priest-in-charge, then rector of the parish. The property remains in litigation.
Letter from the Rev. Celia Ellery
Dear Bishop Mayer,
I had the great pleasure of meeting Communications Director Katie Sherrod back in 2012 as we attended the celebratory return of the Episcopal congregation to St. Stephen’s, Heathsville, VA. Later, in 2015, our two dioceses sat together at the General Convention in Salt Lake City. What a glorious time that was, too. I’ve been in awe ever since at the amazing energy and enthusiasm for ministry that you all in Ft. Worth demonstrate every day!
Now, we find ourselves in a very different situation, and I want all of you in the Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth to know that Good Shepherd, San Angelo, stands with you in solidarity and great sadness in the wake of this ruling against the Episcopalians. We are proud of your faithful testimony to God’s grace in the midst of this latest turmoil, even in the midst of dealing with the COVID-19 threat. Although we might not be able to see the future clearly, we trust that God does, and we pray that God will continue to uphold and lift you as you faithfully proclaim the Good News of Christ. We love you all dearly and hold all of you close in our hearts.
Bishop Mayer’s reply
Thank you for your kind and supportive email. I will convey your message to the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.
So in a way I’ve learned what I knew already: empathy is not the same as knowing. Now I know. I’ve become a member of your club.
We got the news on Friday May 22. It was my observation on Saturday the 23rd that the sun came up. We are grieving, but have not lost perspective or hope. This is a diocese to be admired. They are faithful, resilient, and tough. I am humbled to serve them.
God bless you and the people of Good Shepherd, all an outward visible sign of resurrection hope.