Priest leaving Episcopal Church in New Haven to follow evangelical calling

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the Rev. Geoffrey Little and his wife, Blanca, it's time to leave one spiritual home and build a new one.

Today will be the Littles' last day at St. James Episcopal Church on East Grand Avenue, but they'll continue to serve the Latino community in Fair Haven and Fair Haven Heights.

This week, they'll open a new evangelical parish, worshiping in a banquet hall at 229 Grand Ave.

Blanca Little, who has run St. James Christian Academy, will open a new school in the fall, running it out of their home on Lenox Street.

"We're going to open a new church in Fair Haven," Geoff Little said. "It's going to be called All Nations Christian Church and it's going to be associated with the new Anglican Church of North America."

That affiliation is important to the Littles, because the change is much more weighty than just changing addresses. For Geoff Little, it means resigning as a priest in the Episcopal Church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC Conflicts* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Theology

21 Comments
Posted June 28, 2010 at 9:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Kendall Harmon wrote:

For those of you who may not know, Geoff Little, who is a class act and a friend, is a classmate of mine from Bowdoin (we both graduated in 1982).

June 28, 10:32 pm | [comment link]
2. Jim the Puritan wrote:

Many blessings on their new endeavors.

June 28, 11:14 pm | [comment link]
3. AnglicanFirst wrote:

One of my first thoughts regarding the imposition of the revisionist agenda on the parishes of ECUSA following General Convention 2003 was the impact of that agenda on the ability of parishes to ‘reach out’ to the growing Latino population in Northern Virginia where I was living at that time.

Latin America had been one my areas of professional focus when I was involved in studying and analyzing international political-military affairs. 

It was obvious to me at that time that the revisionist leadership of ECUSA was doing things that were going to turn Latinos who were aware of that agenda away from Episcopal parishes rather than attract them.

June 29, 7:45 am | [comment link]
4. seraph wrote:

It may turn some Latinos off, though we all should know Latinos are not a homogeneous group by any stretch of the imagination! The spiritual needs, presupositions, culture and education of a migrant family in Texas will not be the same as those of a well educated Venezuelan or Cuban-American family in Florida nor of a second generation Newyorican. 

There are those among Latinos who will balk at women clergy, think it is odd for priests to marry, and to an extent reflect the machismo and homophobia which flavor their cultures of origin. It certainly will not turn off others, as evidenced by growing Hispanic ministries in the Episcopal Church. In addition half of all US hispanics are US born,  often better educated, more progressive than their parents and not necesarily sharing the same values nor prejudices! That has been quite well documented.

I do not know Rev. Little, am sure he did what he felt was right, but his experience does not mirror mine or that of other Hispanic Episcopalians! It seems like stepping out to hold on to the past, sadly enshrining cultural prejudices in a Christian wrapping. Time will tell wether that approach will be the best to evangelize Hispanics. He leaves, others come!

http://pr.dfms.org/study/Exports/ParishRPT_20100629_082510.pdf
http://pr.dfms.org/study/Exports/ParishRPT_20100629_082609.pdf
http://pr.dfms.org/study/Exports/ParishRPT_20100629_082712.pdf
http://pr.dfms.org/study/Exports/ParishRPT_20100629_082806.pdf

Blessings

Seraph

June 29, 8:36 am | [comment link]
5. Sarah wrote:

RE: “He leaves, others come!”

Something that has been demonstrated—by the spiraling numbers—as utterly and laughably false.

June 29, 8:49 am | [comment link]
6. Sarah wrote:

But hey—maybe TEC can gin up some boutique Hispanic churches made up of rich second generation highly educated revisionist Hispanics.

Sweet.

June 29, 8:51 am | [comment link]
7. AnglicanFirst wrote:

“The spiritual needs, presupositions, culture and education of a migrant family in Texas will not be the same as those of a well educated Venezuelan or Cuban-American family in Florida nor of a second generation Newyorican.”

Unfortunately it has been discussed/acknowledged ‘ad infinitum’ that freshman/sophomore college classes that touch upon culture, history, political ideology, religion, etc. have been targeted and dominated by faculty members who strongly push an anti-establishment/anti-cultural heritage and often anti-American message upon immature 17 through 19 year-old college students who often are still going through the throes of their period of adolescent rejection of parents, community and country.

These not completely mature and confused students who listen to wacked-out, left-wing, drop-out professors adopt political views and attitudes that are those of their professors and not their own.  They usually will not critically examine these adopted knee-jerk attitudes until they are in their forties, if they ever go through a period of critical reflection and self-examination. 

So the phrase “...well educated Venezuelan or Cuban-American family in Florida…” needs to be taken with a big grain of salt if the adults of that family are a product of many of our colleges/universities.”

As to “...second generation Newyorican…,” this too needs to be taken with a large grain of salt.  A peculiarity of residents of New York City that has been noticed over the generations by Upstate New Yorkers is the tendency for the NYC crowd to dismiss the Upstaters as being backward.  As a matter of fact I have heard the term “hicks” used more than once by a New Yorker from the City in this context.

June 29, 9:41 am | [comment link]
8. seraph wrote:

Dear Sarah:

The numbers, as it relates to Hispanic ministries in the Episcopal church, do not reflect your wishful thinking. There are many Latino/ Bilingual parishes that are actually growing despite dismal funding, neglect and overall lack of interest for this needed ministry in many dioceses! 

Have some Hispanics left TEC and others not consider joining the church over gay inclusion ? ...surely! However, for many there are other issues of importance; language, spirituality, Bible study, a strong sense of community, charismatic or livelier worship, social ministries! These will continue to be a draw as they have been shown to be repeatedly. 

Some Latinos come to the Episcopal Church disgusted at the well publicized abuse scandal in their very “conservative” church, others fleeing evangelical fundamentalism,  some seeking help, medical care, prayer, orientation, a new spiritual outlook…not all are as disgusted as you seem to be over progressive ideas in this broad, inclusive church family!

My parish certainly is not hurting for inquirers and visitors, some of which choose to accept the Episcopal Church’s welcome and remain.  Ther are similar stories from many other clergy in Hispanic Ministry in TEC.  This year when the bishop visits our church there will be aproximately 30 adults for him to receive…for a sort of smallish parish, those are not trivial numbers

As far as second generation, well educated Hispanics…somebody does have to extend the good news to them as well… since no one seems to be doing such a grand job of reaching them. Maybe, “La Iglesia Episcopal” should focus on “darle la bienvenida”! 

blessings

Seraph

June 29, 9:47 am | [comment link]
9. AnglicanFirst wrote:

MY apologies.  I have just read what I posted and corrections are needed.

Please change,
“So the phrase “...well educated Venezuelan or Cuban-American family in Florida…” needs to be taken with a big grain of salt if the aults of thast family are a product ofg many of our colleghes/universities.”
to read,
“So the phrase “...well educated Venezuelan or Cuban-American family in Florida…” needs to be taken with a big grain of salt if the adults of that family are a product of many of our colleges/universities.”

June 29, 10:05 am | [comment link]
10. seraph wrote:

Dear Anglican:

The point of this comment in my post is that Latino/Hispanic is a term that describes and impossible diversity of people, different races, cultures, education, backgrounds. There are commonalities of course, but we should be very cautious to over generalize what will appeal to Hispanics or turn them off specially as it relates to religion….they are not a homogeneous group.

Blessings

Seraph

June 29, 10:19 am | [comment link]
11. AnglicanFirst wrote:

Dear Seraph,

The point of my regarding your comment “...well educated…” is that in a USA context this does not necessarily mean ‘broadly educated,’ “open minded,’ and ‘critical thinking.’

Unfortunately for many of our college graduates it means ‘politically programmed by faculty,’ ‘narrow minded while presuming to be broad minded,’ and ‘unthinking rather than thinking.’

YBIC,
AnglicanFirst

June 29, 10:30 am | [comment link]
12. Sarah wrote:

Why how clever of you, Seraph—first, you switched the meaning of your original statement “he leaves, others come” to mean Hispanics, and then you yourself supply your anecdotes of Hispanic congregations that in no way refer to TEC as a whole, that are *your* products of wishful thinking.

My assertion, however, was based on our own church’s statistical research about the plummeting attendance and membership of our church:
http://www.episcopalchurch.org/documents/Domestic__FAST_FACTS_Trends_2004-2008.pdf

In other words, taken as a net net, your assertion that “he leaves, others come” should be re-written to be more factual, such as: “he leaves, more leave.”  Or at best, “ten leave, but two come.”

At least we know by your diversion above that you yourself are aware of the plummeting decline of TEC, and merely attempting to rabbit trail us away from your false assertion.

Pathetic.

June 29, 10:31 am | [comment link]
13. Sarah wrote:

But hey—if we’re *only* talking about Hispanic success in TEC let’s quote from the “strategic vision” released by TEC less than a year ago—July 2009.

Sadly, almost 40 years of documents, resolutions, good will, and immeasurable effort from talented individuals has yet to produce results. Nothing the Church has produced so far has reflected the growth of the Latino/Hispanic community, the changing face of America, and the dispersal of this community into a sizable percentage of the 7,000-plus neighborhoods of the Episcopal Church.

Kudos to them for their unblinking honesty.

If one reads the report carefully [you can easily find it at the Episcopal Church’s website—I don’t have the link handy] one can see that the New Strategy is to essentially give up on the rapidly expanding pool of newly arrived immigrants—they’re simply not the fringe foaming liberals that TEC attracts now—and to try to attract the second and third generation Hispanics that have been Americanized and are hopefully more liberal.

Overall—that’s probably the best strategy.  But then, that’s the best strategy for TEC for *any* demographic in America—try to attract the spiritually-interested from the tiny subset of fringe foaming liberals in the US who might possibly be interested in such a church that also offers some interesting buildings and vestments.

Question is . . . are there enough spiritually interested from the tiny subset of fringe foaming libs to join TEC to also support its interesting buildings and clergy with vestments and bulging top-heavy diocesan staffs?

So far, the answer is no.

June 29, 10:57 am | [comment link]
14. seraph wrote:

5. Sarah wrote:RE: “He leaves, others come!” Something that has been demonstrated—by the spiraling numbers—as utterly and laughably false.

it keeps getting more laughable all the time…you think?

this is funny…   

http://www.episcopalchurch.org/81803_122585_ENG_HTM.htm

this hilarious…

http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/061908/met_292480590.shtm

surely laughable…

http://staugustine.com/stories/080709/religion_1822104.shtml

Some do come Sarah and like it…denial is a sad thing! I hope the Rev. Geoffrey Little and his wife, Blanca are happy in their new home. A growing numbers of Hispanics are discovering a home in the Episcopal Church…to each his own!

Many blessings

Seraph

June 29, 10:59 am | [comment link]
15. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Back to the article for a moment.  I see the departure of the Little’s and the great majority of thier parishioners as a quite significant development that’s richly symbolic.  It helps to counteract the common impression that all of us in the ACNA movement are just a bunch of conservative, old fashioned, suburban WASP’s stuck in a homophobic time warp.  The 16 year ministry of Fr. Geoffrey Little and his wife Bianca among Hispanics in the New Haven area demonstrates their deep and abiding commitment to truly inclusive ministry, in the best and authentic sense, serving among “the least of these.”.  As opposed to the false pseudo-inclusivity gospel that dominates TEC which confuses unwarranted and unbiblical theological inclusivisity with ethnic inclusivity.  Those are two totally separate and incomparable things; one legitimate and the other totally illegitimate.

I’m glad that the Little’s are leaving TEC on good terms with their bishop and presumably many former colleagues on their left.  I’m glad that they’re not fighting for the property and there will be no lawsuits.

However, there is one thing glaringly wrong in this otherwise fine article, though it is probably more a reflection on +Ian Douglas than the unwary reporter who presumably took his viewpoint for granted as correct.  Namely, it’s highly misleading and innaccurate for the article to report that the Rev. Geoffrey Little has decided to “resign his priestly orders.”  Of course, as an Anglican priest in the new ACNA he’s no such thing.

Quite the contrary.  It’s precisely in order to be FAITHFUL to his priestly calling that he’s rightly resigning his role in an increasingly apostate and corrupt denomination in order to continue his pastoral ministry in a truly Anglican movement, that is recognized by the great majority of practicing Anglicans around the world.

As someone who lived in New Haven for three years in the early 1980s (when I was a student at Yale Div. School), I’m glad to see an ACNA church starting in that part of the world.  Bravo for Geoffrey and Bianca, in their brave new venture of faith!

David Handy+

June 29, 11:38 am | [comment link]
16. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Oops, I left a key word out at the end of the 3rd paragraph.  I meant that Fr. Little has of course not really resigned his priestly order.  He’s DONE no such thing.

David Handy+

June 29, 11:41 am | [comment link]
17. Sarah wrote:

RE: “Some do come Sarah and like it . . . “

Ah—I see that Seraph has now gone with “ten leave, but two come.”  At least that’s now more consistent with the actual stats for TEC of the plummeting net losses. 

See—sometimes “dialogue” and “conversation” really does lead to learning—or at least a change in rhetorical strategy!  ; > )

June 29, 12:15 pm | [comment link]
18. seraph wrote:

Dear Sarah:

The report details pretty accurately TEC nearsighted approach to evangelism among Hispanics over 4 decades. It is worth a careful read! 

It is true that ..... “the growth of the Latino/Hispanic community, the changing face of America, and the dispersal of this community into a sizable percentage of the 7,000-plus neighborhoods of the Episcopal Church.” .....is DEFINITELY not reflected in ECUSA’s demographics.

What the report does not do is look at the Episcopal church’s aproximately 230 missions and parishes which minister primarily to Hispanics.  Despite the challenges the report lists, there are definite sucesses. 

Since you mention wishful thinking anecdotes, you surely realize that Rev. Little’s story is also anecdotal! He is one clergyperson ministering to Latinos who has chosen to leave the Episcopal Church. I am sure there are others. That story is not more valid nor somehow more representative of truth than the anecdotes of of 4 Latino clergypeople who decided to make the Episcopal Church home which I posted for your enlightenment.

It seems you choose to see only the departures as if all was doom and gloom…that is your choice. I do not see it that way!

Blessings

seraph

June 29, 12:17 pm | [comment link]
19. seraph wrote:

SARAH: Ah—I see that Seraph has now gone with “ten leave, but two come.”  At least that’s now more consistent with the actual stats for TEC of the plummeting net losses. 

Wishful thinking here Sarah?

I do not think that ten for two is the case for Latinos in TEC…lol…there would be none of us left!!! My experience and that of others in similar ministry tells me that more come than leave! We all came from somewhere else to be here…very few craddle Episcopales Latinos…I do not know any!

Given that I have only anecdotes and you no better as it relates to this demographic in our church we are both going to have to indulge in daydreaming! You delighting in the plummeting and I enjoying the growth….time will certainly tell whose wishful thinking and anecdotes better reflected reality. 

Blessings

Seraph

The personal nature of the comments is getting off topic. Please discuss the specific thread.

-Elf

 

June 29, 12:38 pm | [comment link]
20. David Wilson wrote:

For the record, Geoff Little not only has spent the last 18 as an Hispanic minister in the Dio of CT but he served on staff at the OCMS (mission studies), was a SAMS missionary in Peru, and more recently the Executive Director of CMS-USA until last year.  I think his commitments stand for themselves.

June 30, 12:05 am | [comment link]
21. Sarah wrote:

RE: “My experience and that of others in similar ministry tells me that more come than leave!”

Hi Seraph,

Of course I still note that you’ve attempted to shift the topic away from the actual stats of massive decline overall in TEC to the still un-quantitative research on a certain niche segment.  Even so, I think I’ll trust the actual study and stats of the writers of the report on Hispanic ministry in TEC—which depict devastating failure and a “new plan:”
http://www.episcopalchurch.org/documents/Strategic_Vision_7-09.pdf

RE: “Given that I have only anecdotes . . . “

True. 

It’s also true that there are anecdotes, for instance, of some individuals who have actually shot themselves in the head at point blank range, striving to commit suicide, and yet survived and thrived.  I wouldn’t go with such anecdotes of “success” personally in regards to the overall efficacy of shooting oneself in the head and surviving—I’d go with the global stats.

But . . . to each his own.

June 30, 9:52 am | [comment link]
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