This is a special issue to report on an activity that culminated in two days time. That activity had huge consequences in my life and will effect a moderate change in my writing technique in Feed My Sheep. I owe you an explanation of how I arrived at this point in my life.
       On February 11, 1997, I sent an e-mail message to my dear friend, Rev. Elder Troy D. Perry, announcing my resignation from the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches as an Ordained Clergy and as a retired Elder. The following day I submitted my resignation as a member of the Cathedral of Hope Metropolitan Community Church in Dallas (the body I participated in founding and was its first pastor.)
       The purpose of this issue is to give you information on my decision and to inform you that, in future, I will be writing as a private lay person with no ministerial titles. I will be concentrating on spiritual matters and avoid any causes or conflicts that pervade the world, although I may on occasion refer to them. Now on to the boring stuff ……

       Raised in a Baptist family (but never baptized), I was impelled to join the Roman Catholic Church fifty years ago during my senior year at Purdue University. Although attracted toward the priesthood at that time, I worked in underwater sound research for six years before I was undeniably called to study for the priesthood in the Franciscan Order (OFM) of the Church. In a period between May and September of 1953, I had disposed of all my personal property except for my new house, which was placed in the custody of my mother. I resigned my job and started my studies (at the fifth year level) in Santa Barbara, California.
       It was a wonderful time. Living in cloister and cut off from events in the world (NO radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, etc.), I concentrated only on spiritual growth and studies. My homes were at the old missions … Santa Barbara, San Miguel, and San Luis Rey in Southern California. Solitude can bring many blessings but it also brings isolation from family and friends and, to a 29 year old in the company of teenagers it meant almost complete isolation (I was permitted to receive letters and have visitors but I could write only to parents and I was not allowed to leave except in the event I lost my calling or a parent died.) Eventually the isolation, studies (some books written in Latin) and an assurance that I would become a teacher of math and science in a high school became very stressful for me which was manifested in a continuous cough.
       At the recommendation of the Fathers, I dropped out of studies and decided that I would also request for dispensation from my vows and return to lay life. The Fathers wanted me to remain in the Order and "become the first Brother to teach in the Santa Barbara Province." I declined because, if I chose, I could teach as a lay person. I felt the call to be a priest and work with people … hopefully in the Philippines. I was transferred to Las Cruces, New Mexico, to assist in the start of construction of the Holy Cross Retreat House in Mesilla Park. When I received my dispensation, I returned to Los Angeles and to my former vocation … engineering … this time in missiles. Much had happened to the world in my absence.
       After that, I floundered. I didn’t know how to handle the loss of such a dream. Now, not only was the dream gone but my absence had placed me far behind technology (when I entered the OFM it was "vacuum tubes" and I returned to a world of "transistors.") Also, my friends had scattered or had become occupied with other things … and, I suspect, felt a little uncomfortable with me because of my try at the priesthood. I came out a different "Richard."
       Years passed as I "existed." Missile project management, sponsoring the immigration of friends from Mexico, technical writing, jet engines for spacecraft, computers and an unsolicited new job at LTV in Grand Prairie, Texas. A year later, on July 27, 1969, I met William Victor Pass at a meeting of the Circle of Friends … my first visit. We were soul mates for nearly 23 years until his death on Maundy Thursday, April 16, 1992.
       On July 30, 1970, a year after our meeting, Victor and I joined ten others to investigate the possibility of starting a Metropolitan Community Church in Dallas. Six of those present agreed to support the effort and we were on our way. We rambled as a study group, were made a mission in the Fall of 1970 and received our charter from the newly founded Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches on May 20, 1971. There were three candidates for the pastorate … the new congregation of charter members elected me as their first pastor and I was licensed as clergy in the Fellowship. Suddenly I was in a position that I had sought so many years ago! Now I could really devote myself to God’s work … without pay, of course.
       On September 3, 1972, I was ordained at General Conference in Los Angeles … my mother and Victor attended. A year later, at General Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, I was elected to the Board of Elders (the governing body of the Fellowship.) In the Fall of 1974 I went to Los Angeles to serve full time as an Elder in the office with the Founder of UFMCC, Rev. Elder Troy D. Perry.
       At General Conference in Washington, DC, in 1976, my three year term on the Board of Elders ended and I was not returned to the board in the election process. There is no way to explain my feeling … it was similar to having a long time lover say "I don’t love you any more." What was I to do? Where was I to go? I had no income and nobody seemed to want me. I was replaced as President of Samaritan College. There were no new assignments.
       For awhile I worked with a small (uncooperative) group in Las Vegas and I felt that I was failing there. On New Year’s Eve 1976-77 I was driving back to Las Vegas from Los Angeles when suddenly there appeared an impression in my mind that "no matter what happens in Las Vegas, when the Board of Elders make their decision, my work in the Fellowship was finished." What a blow that was! What was I to do? Then there immediately came "Help Victor!" What could that possibly mean? There was no answer but I did have the impression that "I had accomplished all things that I had come in to do except to help Victor … helping Victor was the last task that had been assigned (although I would still be useful while in materiality.)
       Because of my move to Los Angeles to serve on the Board of Elders, Victor and I had separated, assuming our relationship had ended (much to my personal pain.) When I reached Las Vegas, I called Victor in Dallas and told him that "I have decided to return to lay life after the decision was made about Las Vegas." He asked, "What are you going to do?" I responded, "I don’t know, I guess I will return to Los Angeles and live with mother until I can find a job … maybe in engineering." His immediate response was, "Why don’t you come home?" He didn’t have to ask twice!
       The Board of Elders ended the effort in Las Vegas and I returned to Los Angeles. God had told me that my work in the Fellowship was ended. I submitted my resignation to the Fellowship and returned to Dallas. I was later informed that the Board of Elders did not accept my resignation but did place me in retirement. I really appreciated this action because, at least, I was still part of a ministry in process although not directly involved.
       Little did I realize that I was in a real ministry of my own .. a special assignment, if you will. God had said that I was to help Victor. That was a real puzzle at first but developments proved the need. Within a year after I returned to Dallas, Victor was diagnosed as being diabetic and placed on oral medication. The medication was not working. In July of 1979 I awoke one night hearing him crying his heart out in the living room. I went to him and he announced that we could no longer be lovers "because he couldn’t be what I wanted him to be" … that is, in a monogamous relationship. At that time I chose to remain celibate. (I continue living a celibate life to this day and fully intend to remain celibate for the rest of my life.) A month later Victor had a "psychotic episode" that put him in the hospital for the month of September. His blood sugar level was 580 (80 to 120 is considered normal) and it had a telling effect on him. For six years he was in and out of the hospital with "psychotic episodes" and diabetes problems.         Finally, in 1985, he was diagnosed as being manic depressive and placed on Lithium. At about the same time he was tested to have the HIV virus.
       Seven more years of intense anxiety, frustration, supporting Victor in whatever he wanted to do, trips to the hospital, hurting, hoping, praying. Toward the end, the diabetes wrecked havoc with his poor body … taking insulin and then not eating or not being able to eat or not being able to keep food down resulted on several occasions of a ZERO blood sugar level which would place him in a coma and impending death. I still believe he died in a diabetic coma.
The time came about 10:30 on the night of April 16, 1992. It was nine days after mother had died in Los Angeles and two days after I had returned from her funeral. Five months earlier Victor and I had arranged for both our funerals and burial in the same underground crypt. Victor had wanted so much to have his funeral at the new cathedral for MCC in Dallas but it would not be occupied until December. I promised him that I would have a memorial service for him in the cathedral later so that his family and friends could remember him in the new church.  I was unable to honor his last wish!
       Victor’s funeral was at the temporary facilities on Maple Avenue and he was buried in our crypt on Monday, April 20th, the day after Easter. After moving into the cathedral, I tried desperately to arrange a memorial service for Victor but to no avail. I was finally told that, if I wanted a memorial service, I would have to conduct it myself. That, of course, was impossible for me! I guess the point was that he had been buried from the church … what more did I expect? So, I did the best I could and spent some private time with him and God in the sanctuary of the church. I know he does understand. It was beyond my control
Again I had reached a "now what was I to do" stage in my life. I could no longer help Victor … that assignment was completed. Maybe I could help in a local MCC. God had said that was already finished but I didn’t want to believe it … surely there was something I could do. Besides, if I ever needed spiritual support and activity, I certainly did need it now!
       Having concentrated on my ministry to Victor, the changes in the Fellowship had not been apparent to me. Now I was shocked at what I was finding in general terms of the path being followed and the priorities of activity. I had hoped that I might inspire a redirection of that trend back to the original intent expressed twenty years earlier. We had said that we were returning to the basics of Christianity as taught by Jesus … but I was rebuffed for asking a return to twenty years ago.
The Purpose and the Doctrine, Sacraments and Rites Articles of the By Laws remained the same but what had been done to the rest of the By Laws? At the start we objected when we were called a "gay church" because we were for ALL people without any further definition … now MCC was calling itself a "gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, etc. church." It gave the appearance of a "selected people" church rather than a "God" church.
There were many other differences that I considered extreme and "off course" in some of the churches that I observed. I will not get into all that.
       It appears that, over the years, the TOWC (Tribes of Worldly Causes) have taken over the Fellowship to the extent that God was mentioned in passing, if it were useful to a cause. Even then one needed to be careful which words they used or someone might be offended. "Diversity" (which connotes "divisiveness") seems to be the watchword … even studies on how to be more diverse! In my spirit it became:

"Big fleas have little fleas upon their back to bite ‘em. Little fleas have lesser fleas. And on ad infinitum."

Truly, there was no place for me in the Fellowship. My work was indeed finished. But what could I do that I might better prepare for my transition to the next life? What could I do to help spread God’s love to the world. Surely there was some way I could still be of use! This was the status on February 8, 1997.
On February 10th, I had a wonderful discussion with a priest at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Dallas. It was very uplifting. The next day I had another fantastic conversation with another priest at Holy Trinity, made reconciliation with the Catholic Church and received my first Holy Eucharist in the church in 30 or more years. What a blessing! And, most amazing, all that happened in just two days!
       Lesson: "When God says that it is Time, God doesn’t fool around … and you better not either!

       In the past four years I have [1] been a member of and served as Lector and Eucharistic Minister at Holy Trinity Church in Dalllas; [2] served as a volunteer chaplain in day surgery at Parkland Hospital; [3] served as volunteer maintenance engineer at Mount Carmel Center; [4] transferred my membership to St. James Catholic Church in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas where I have become a Lector and Eucheristic Minister.
       I have sought to become a friar in four Orders of the church [Vincentian, Franciscans, Benedictines and Carmelites] but get the same answer from all --- I am too old to be considered for membership in the Order.  There is no hope for that blessing to live in brotherhood in a religious house for the remainder of my days.
by Richard [February 11, 1997]