Hijacked: A Bible Believing Episcopal Priest Takes a Stand
By The Rev. Steven R. Randall
Rector & Headmaster of St. Timothy's Church & Day School,
Editor's Note: Homosexual cleric, the Rev. Gene Robinson, was confirmed as the denomination's first openly-gay bishop at the recent Episcopal National Convention. This is a sermon preached by a Bible-believing rector on the Sunday following that infamous vote. In it, Rev. Randall expresses the agony he has experienced as he watched his denomination walk away from biblical truth -- and he makes a determined stand to defend biblical Christianity, no matter what the cost.
On September 11, 2001
At 8:45 am
- A hijacked passenger jet, American Airlines Flight 11 out of Boston, crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center, tearing a gaping hole in the building and setting it afire.
- A second hijacked airliner, United Airlines Flight 175 from Boston, crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center and explodes.
- American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, sending up a huge plume of smoke.
- The south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed, plummeting into the streets below.
- United Airlines Flight 93, also hijacked, crashes in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, southeast of Pittsburgh.
- The World Trade Center's north tower collapsed from the top down as if it were being peeled apart, releasing a tremendous cloud of debris and smoke.
Those pictures we will never forget!
3,031 people died on 9/11 from those hijacked planes!
Our country was shocked and shaken down to our very core as terrorists who had no regard for the lives of thousands of people but served a false god of violence and blind destruction attacked our country.
Today, like many of you I feel like our church has been hijacked by misguided and in some cases evil terrorists. And like those planes of 9/11 our church is being used to destroy not only those inside in the name of some false god, but to destroy the lives of others, outside the church - people like you and me who don't yet know the love and forgiveness God offers each of us.
We've all seen the headlines of papers everywhere ...stating that The Episcopal Church voted to ordain an openly homosexual man who left his wife and 2 girls so he could live with another man. And that the Episcopal Church actively supports the blessings of same sex marriages as if they were holy and good and something from God.
But today I want to speak to you from my heart in the light of Holy Scripture - not the headlines of our News Papers.
Specifically I want to share:
1. Some things I know.
2. Some things I believe.
3. Some things I yearn for.
Some Things I Know
- I know that Jesus Christ is Lord - that He is risen from the grave, Ascended into heaven, is sitting at the right hand of the Father and is coming again to judge the living and the Dead..
I know these things!
- I know this Bible is the inerrant, inspired Word of God. And though I don't claim to understand everything in it - this I know - that it speaks very clearly about marriage and sex.
- Psalm 18:30 says, "As for God, His way is perfect, the Word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him..." I know these things.
On 9/11 the most important and greatest loss was the lives of 1,000s of people - but there was also the destruction of families, dreams and even a way of life in this country. Those things changed for nearly all of us. But what didn't change was that once we took account of the damage and loss we got to doing what our country was really all about... the morals and ideals and working together for common goals of freedom in our land.
What we at St. Timothy's need to do is consider what our church is really all about. It's not the building and traditions nor even our way of life on Sundays. It's about loving and serving and worshipping our holy God... giving Him glory and honor and praises... yielding our very lives to Him.
The Episcopal Church is like an airplane. God has given us moral rules to order our lives sort of like the airlines insist we put our set belts on to protect us... and like assigned seats, we all have our places in the church though they can change in the course of life. Some serve like flight attendants - but some are trusted to pilot the plane... And in the normal course of church life we are taught to listen and follow the directives of the pilot. We depend on them to not only to give us leadership but protect and guide and find the direction and ultimate destination of that plane. Those pilots are our bishops and as long as they are sober and trained up in God's word and are obedient and disciplined we can trust that we and our families and children will be safe. And so we follow and put our trust in those pilots.
But people - our plane has been hijacked! Actually, it's been happening for at least 30 years.
Some of those hijackers are misled - but some are evil and though at first appearance they are flying the plane according to every rule and expectation , I tell you the flight path has been changed - the true, intended destination has been altered - a new doctrine and discipline has been introduced. The gospel of hope and life has been replaced with a gospel of death and destruction.
You and I can sit and wish and hope and trust that all is well - but I tell you it isn't. This Episcopal Church's destination has been changed - the order has been changed - the rules that God has given us for our own protection have been violated. Our church has been hijacked ... and like that fateful day of 9/11 there will be great loss!
These are some of the things I know... and many of you know them too.
Some Things I Believe
And People these are some things I believe -- I believe them with all my heart.
I believe, there is hope ... that God really is in control. The final destination of those who believe in Jesus as Lord and who are faithful to the Holy Scriptures is certain. But we will trust and follow Him and Him alone!
In the words of Paul ( 2 Cor. 4:7b-8), "all surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." ... I believe that!
I believe the Episcopal Church is no longer a worthy vessel to carry God's truth to the world. Instead it distorts the truth. It modifies the truth to suit its fancy. I believe the current Episcopal Church will carry more people to hell and destruction than it saves.
Our church is like a flying coffin similar to those planes on 9/11.
The Episcopal has been hijacked and I believe that now is the time for action.
I also believe I have been called and entrusted as the spiritual leader of this flock and in God's order for the Episcopal Church I have been asked to follow and obey our bishops.
But now I can no longer in good conscience follow the immoral doctrine and discipline of the Episcopal Church. As your spiritual leader I can not assure you that this plane will safely land. I know it won't It has been hijacked!
Some may say, Fr. Steve, you are just bailing out! ... maybe so -- but I'm following God's call as best I can... And I have not come to this place quickly, nor take it lightly.
Already, weeks before the General Convention my wife and I believed we were being called out from under the authority of the Episcopal Church and I shared that with some of my closest advisors before I left for my brief vacation. So I haven't come to this place in anger, nor fear, nor confusion...and certainly not in haste. Barbara and I have prayed long and hard about it. ... And this is no light action to take. I don't have a golden parachute. I will lose my pension, my insurance, my pay check, and all our other benefits.
And we don't know exactly where the wind of the Holy Spirit will let us land but we chose long ago to trust Him with our very lives when we accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. 25 years ago He led us to the Episcopal Church where we learned to love and appreciate the wonderful liturgy and traditions and most of all God's Holy Scriptures.
I believe in the words of Paul (2 Cor. 4:17) that our momentary troubles offer us an opportunity to achieve an eternal glory that far outweighs anything this world or the devil throws at us. I believe that!
I believe that when we are in grief -- when we are troubled -- when we are confused or afraid - that is when we need most to fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.
The Bible tells us to trust not in what is seen which is of this world - but what is unseen which is of God
Trust not firstly in a denominational "church plane" that you and I have loved, but in the Lord whom we chose to serve and obey.
There are many who would really prefer to sit in their seats and hope for the best. But people, I tell you, in this church that is death! There is no real peace and hope on a plane piloted by terrorists.
But let me say this to you.
I am not quitting.
I am not offering my resignation ... but I can no longer submit to our bishops.
I won't leave you or this place of my own free will.
I was called to be your shepherd and Lord willing when the time comes and I am removed by the authorities of this church I shall continue to lead and shepherd to the best of my ability those who follow.
Now, I believe this church building and property is ours by every moral right -- but legally they are owned by the diocese.
For now I shall remain here. I am not resigning. In the days ahead I may be physically removed from these facilities and forbidden to preach, teach or celebrate Holy Communion. But my loyalty, direction, love and trust in the Lord shall not change and it can not be removed!
So, what do I know? I know who God is and that His Holy Word is Perfect.
What do I believe? I believe that I and many others are being called out from under the authority of the Episcopal Church which has been hijacked and is like a flying coffin doomed to destruction and despair.
What I Yearn For
But Let me tell you what I yearn for ... what I hope for.
Especially in these days, I yearn for our Lords coming again -- when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
I yearn for that day when the lion will lie down with the lamb -- when there will be war no more -- when we will have a new Jerusalem and a new earth -- when the battle is over.
I yearn for that day. Maybe it will be today. Maybe today He will come, to which I say, Amen and Alleluia!!
But I also yearn for your salvation -- that every one of you would know in your heart that you are secure in the Lord ... that your sins are forgiven because you've accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life.
I yearn for your salvation. I yearn for that.
And I yearn for God's peace and comfort for all of us. I yearn for that peace which passes all understanding to enfold each and every one of us in our every need and trouble.
I yearn for the courage and strength to carry on that we could all be better witnesses of God's love and mercy to a world enslaved by sin, that we might truly carry the sign of His cross right up to the very gates of hell.
And I yearn for a church that really believes in the Nicene Creed -- that truly serves the Lord. I yearn for a church that isn't afraid to stand up for God's truth and never compromise even in the face of death and evil. I yearn for such a church.
And when I am forced to leave this place I look forward to planting a new church with those who choose to follow and be a part of a new vision. Leaving the authority of the Episcopal Church is an individual decision -- but there is strength and security in greater numbers. Some will stay in their seats and remain quiet and try to obey the hijackers. I'm not called to do that. In the tradition of our church there is a time to stand, a time to sit and a time to kneel. People, this is definitely not a time to sit -- our church has been hijacked!
At God's appointed time I and many others here will seek other apostolic leadership in the worldwide Anglican Communion. And I invite each of you to consider coming along side me ... walking together in faith ... being a part of a new vision.
We will still meet and gather to worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth using the liturgies and music we love.
We will still pursue the mission and ministries God has give us.
And we will still seek to:
- Reach people with the Good News of God;
- Teach believers to grow in Christ;
- Walk together in the Holy Spirit.
We shall still do all those things but for those who understand this church has been hijacked, I tell you it will not be under the authority of the Episcopal Church.
I love you people.
I thank those who have supported and trusted me with the privilege of being your rector. It has been incredibly rewarding and humbling to serve you.
I hurt when you are hurt.
I rejoice when you are blessed.
Sometimes the burden of my calling as both rector of our church and headmaster of our school are tremendous such that I fall and fail and disappoint and hurt some. And for those I have hurt I say I am sorry and ask your forgiveness
because I love you...
In many ways you are part of my family.
My wife, Barbara, will tell you that almost our entire life centesr around this church ... more than probably any one else here. St. Timothy's is our source of provision as my job, St. Timothy's is my family's church where we go to worship and play and eat and just hang out. And St. Timothy's is where the great majority of our friends are. Some of our closest friends are right here.
My life work, our family church and many of our best friends are at St. Timothy's.
So you see, St. Timothy's means a tremendous amount to me and my family.
You are an incredibly big part of our lives.
So I do not formally resign from this church, but I can no longer follow the bishops of our Church.
I've tried to share some of the things I know, things I believe and things I yearn for.
1. I know this is God's Holy Word and that God is who He says He is - that God's Word is perfect and flawless (Ps 18:30)
2. I believe that the Episcopal Church is no longer a worthy vessel. It has been hijacked and that I , my family and others here are being called out from under the authority of the Episcopal Church in obedience to the Lord. I am not resigning but I expect to be removed.
3. Finally, I yearn for the "Coming of the Lord" but until that day we must not be silent and sit in our seats but press on with the mission and ministry to "reach people with the Good News of God, and also teach believers to grow in Christ, and Walk together in the Holy Spirit."
There is still so much more to say, and when I am able I want to share a new vision which is coming together to continue our worship and all our ministries in a new church under a godly bishop and in the worldwide Anglican Communion.
To conclude, Martin Luther, when confronted by the corrupt authorities of the church in his day gave his reasons and defense for his faith and then finally said, "Here I stand, I can do no other!" That's what I do this day. May God help me. May God help us all!
Let us pray...
"Not that I have ... already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. ... So ... one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heaven ward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).
(c) 2003 The Rev. Steven R. Randall. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
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