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Rules and Tools for Radical Pastors #5

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FACTS:

FACT 1: The Fairfax County Virginia Website has a page dedicated to the work of the Fairfax-Falls Church Partnership to Prevent and End Homelessness. That page has a link to a document entitled Governing Board Member Bios. The document makes a clear, unambiguous statement concerning Fr. Grinnell’s original relationship to Virginians Organized in Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE), an affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation.

“Grinnell is the founding member of VOICE (Virginians Organized in Interfaith Community Engagement). He currently works with Fairfax County, the tenants, VOICE, and the owners of Vista Gardens to improve the deplorable conditions in the apartment complex.”[1]

FACT 2: As noted in the post For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2015-03-01 the minutes for the February 15th Meeting of the Pastoral Council had appeared on the St. Peter’s Website. Following is a quote from the minutes:

 “A survey announced last week and included in the bulletin solicited care needs, including projected needs. This effort to canvas needs from Rappahannock’s aging population was launched by a new group called the Rappahannock Clergy Association, of which Fr. Grinnell is a (founding!) member.”[2]

FACT 3: On September 18, 2014, the Rappahannock News reported in a story entitled Rappahannock Clergy Association:

“Washington Baptist Church has long participated with other local churches in everything from shared worship on special occasions to joint study programs like Vacation Bible School. Now, Pastor Walt Childress is working to expand on those efforts by forming a Rappahannock Clergy Association (RCA).”

“While we each have our own worship and ministry ways, there are still many things that we can do together as God’s people. The RCA is open to all clergy in the county. The group’s first meeting — with County Administrator John McCarthy and Social Services director Beverly Dunford — is 10 a.m. today (Thursday, Sept. 18) at the church, and will focus on the need for foster care.”

FACT 4: The post For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2105-02-08 Supplement observed that, “The first insert in the bulletin is a Rappahannock Clergy Association (RCA) / Community Needs Assessment.”

FACT 5: Our post For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2015-03-01 notes that according to the Sunday bulletin:

“The ecumenical dinner, prayer and reflection each Wednesday night during Lent continues. All the evening Lenten dinners will begin at Washington Baptist Church with a pot-luck dinner at 6:00 pm. Prayer, songs and reflection at 7:00 pm.”

ANALYSIS & COMMENTARY:

In the post For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2105-02-08 Supplement my wife and I engaged in speculation that associated several pieces of disparate data. We described a peculiar set of circumstances that we ascribed to coincidence. We also noted:

“The advent of the Rappahannock Clergy Association is, in some ways, reminiscent of the early stages in the founding of Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE). The coalitions are being made and the case for social “needs” is being brought forward to the local government. My wife and I cannot help but recall that one of the training documents available on the VOICE Website was Rules for Radical Pastors.”

An obstacle that had been blocking our research was determining who founded VOICE (of course there was more than one person) and who founded the Rappahannock Clergy Association. We had a report from the Washington Post that Fr. Grinnell was a “one of the founding clergy members” VOICE, but the reference was somewhat vague.[3]

FACT 1 and FACT 2 above helped us to determine that Fr. Grinnell indeed was a founder of VOICE and he also was a founder of RCA.

At some point during the course of research on a particular topic, an analyst may determine that there is a pattern in events or a modus operandi. VOICE and RCA are coalitions of clergy working to promote social justice. (See the VOICE Website and consider the nature of the needs assessment described in FACT 4.) The founding of RCA is following the same general path as the founding of VOICE. There are definite similarities in founding and formation and they are both community action organizations under the banner of “social justice”.

The background of VOICE and its relationship to the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), founded by Saul Alinsky, is well known. The background of RCA is not so well known and it still appears to be in its formation period. The open question is: Will the RCA develop into the same kind of organization as VOICE? If it does, will it also subscribe to the principles of the IAF and Saul Alinsky?

Note 1: We are not criticizing the RCA nor are we criticizing any of its members. (We only know two for sure – Father Grinnell and Pastor Walt Childress.)

Question 1: Considering the problems we have chronicled at St. Peter’s in this blog, we wonder if Fr. Grinnell has sufficient free time to engage in the work of the RCA. We would consider that work to be secondary to his primary duties and responsibilities as Pastor.

Question 2: We also wonder what percentage of Fr. Grinnell’s time should be expended on ecumenical activities such as the ecumenical dinners? Until the problems in the Parish are resolved, all the Sheep in Exile find it safe to return, and the entire flock at St. Peter’s is being fed in the way that Jesus commanded St. Peter, wouldn’t it be better if Fr. Grinnell dedicated his time to healing the divisions in our Parish?

Our Lady of Good Counsel, pray for us!

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us!

St. Peter, pray for us!

[1] PASTOR HORACE H. GRINNELL, Pastor, Saint Anthony of Padua Parish, Fairfax-Falls Church Partnership to Prevent and End Homelessness, Governing Board Member Bios, Updated 10/09/09, URL: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/homeless/board_bios_2009.pdf

[2] Pastoral Council Minutes, St. Peter Catholic Church, 10 February 2015, URL: https://sites.google.com/site/stpeterva/mass-schedule/pastoral-council-minutes

[3] A Binding Concern for the Poor, By Jacqueline L. Salmon, Washington Post Staff Writer, Saturday, October 4, 2008, URL: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-yn/content/article/2008/10/03/AR2008100303168.html

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