April 17th, 2015 by Carl Buffington
“They took in my family and me when no one else would have us. Why would I leave for money and prestige?” So said Mike Pressler, famous for the Duke lacrosse sex scandal of almost a decade ago, when asked why he continues coaching at Bryant University while turning down offers for more than three times his current salary at division one colleges and more prestigious universities.
When the scandal broke he interviewed his players. All said they didn’t do it, he knew them well, he believed them, and decided to stand with them. Loyalty does that, stands with. Everyone else, especially the local prosecutor and the media, was sure these young men had sexually assaulted and raped their accuser. “Guilty!” “Make the rich boys pay!” That was the hue and cry of the day.
Mike was given the option of distancing himself from his players or resigning his position at Duke. He resigned and was the only one to lose his job over the scandal that proved to be a lie.
Loyalty meant, and means, a lot to Mike Pressler. Loyalty matters.
When I look to the impending ordinations and consecrations on May 2nd, the word and character trait of loyalty comes to mind. While it’s indeed rare and precious, it will be in abundance Saturday, May 2nd!
A few years after the time of the Duke scandal, I remember well leaving a Global Teams board meeting with Archbishop Kolini in my car. He asked me, “Carl, will you, too, leave me and The Anglican Mission?” A number of clergy and parishes had recently left.
Why would I leave? Why would anyone desert such a leader? He took us in when no one else would have us. “No, Your Grace. I’ll not leave.” In the years since, many have left, and I have gotten a couple recruiting calls. “How could you do that, after what he did for you?” I thought and said. I told them up front not to waste their time. Loyalty matters.
One good reason to go to this upcoming consecration is to applaud the loyalty of those bishops coming from Africa. First of all, there is Archbishop Kolini. When he, along with Archbishop Moses Tay, first consecrated Chuck Murphy and John Rogers in Singapore in January of 2000 as Bishops for The Anglican Mission in America, he was ostracized, and considered a pariah by most of the Anglican Communion. Frank Griswold, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church said, “I am appalled by this irregular action and even more so by the purported "crisis" that has been largely fomented by them…”
Archbishop Kolini has continued to stand with and be supportive of these consecrations through thick and thin, and right now it is both thick with conflict and thin on support.
The other bishops that are coming for this event are both our Partners -- i.e. bishops of the dioceses where we as priests have our ‘Letters Dimissory,’ which allow us to do ministry under their authority in the Anglican Communion -- or members of the College of Consultors, i.e. those who oversee the The Anglican Mission.
For reasons certainly not reasonable to me, there has been some sincere push back on these consecrations. Not against the persons, but against the event. And the bishops who are coming to do it have been threatened with discipline from their Archbishops if they continue on this course. And, they too have decided to stand firm in what they have discerned our Lord has asked of them. That sort of loyalty is most humbling! It matters!
Please come and honor them. Shake their hands and thank them.
Another thing about loyalty, it shows up. I think of our son AJ’s memorial service. I can still see his friend and ours, Bill Blomquist, from TX, standing in the parking lot at St. Stephen’s looking so forlorn. He was there. He showed up. So, too, did Barb’s closest friend, Colleen, all the way from Madison, IN.
And, I think of the doctor and parishioner from our church in Indiana, who delivered AJ and Whitney, RSVP’ing that he and his wife will be here the 2nd along with the first worship leader from our first parish.
And it was loyalty that drove me to Kigali last year for the funeral of the Kolini’s son, John. And your substantial financial support for them, and loyalty to them, went with me. Loyalty does that.
One last thought on loyalty. I believe it is part of our covenant relationship with our Lord; there’s something holy about it. In Old Testament times when a covenant was struck between two tribes, say tribe A and B, they would understand that if tribe A was attacked by a foreign force, tribe B was also attacked. What you do to my covenant friend you do to me. Loyalty, faithfulness, is indeed part of the call on our life with God. Loyalty matters!
So there is something very foundational about loyalty in our spiritual heritage and we are getting to see it lived out in this very Anglican liturgical moment in history.
Come and witness! Come and celebrate!
Come and enjoy a professionally catered reception paid for by a loyal parishioner! Fellowship with one another. Celebrate our faithful Lord and his loyal covenant community.
Most of all, come and greet the loyal bishops who are standing with us and for us and celebrate this occasion in the life of New Covenant!
By the way, Mike Pressler and Bryant recently lost by just one goal to the number one lacrosse team in the nation, another North Carolina school, UNC.
Blessings to you all!
PS-- The story about Mike Pressler aired on 60 Minutes last week.