Randolph is a little village in the outer bounds of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York. On Monday morning, said sleepy village woke up to graffiti all over town. A bunch of is was profanity, as graffiti sometimes is. But on the light grey clapboard of Grace Episcopal Church in bright blue paint, there was a quote from a song, quite apropos to the building on which it was spray painted.
can i still get to heaven if i kill myself
Now whether this was done as an tongue-in-cheek joke based on the quote or whether it was a conscious cry for help really doesn’t matter, because it just created a very public forum and asked a question that cries out from our deepest and most profound fears – death, abandonment and absence of love.
The priest there, my colleague Tom Broad, and his team of non-clergy leaders took a deep breath and talked and prayed about what they should do. They decided that though they didn’t love the forum, the only thing to do was to respond in kind (yes, this means they spray painted their own church, but that’s how we roll) and to respond with the absolute truth as they knew it. (And this is what happens when one challenges an Episcopalian in a public forum.)