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Rev. Ian Mitchell: What a Difference Thirty Years Make

One of the more interesting albums I posted (or more accurately reposted) is Ian Mitchell’s American Folk Song Mass.  At the time he was living in Chicago.  Listening to the album, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out which side of the political spectrum Mitchell was coming from.  But I’ve always taken an open view of that subject when considering albums of the Jesus Music era, which should be obvious to anyone who’s looked through them.

Evidently he headed for the coast, for this appeared (appropriately) in the 31 October 1985 issue of the Los Angeles Times:

A preliminary injunction forbidding the Rev. Ian Mitchell to perform any functions as rector of St. Athanasius Episcopal Church in Echo Park after Nov. 20 was issued by Superior Court Judge John L. Cole, who said he will appoint a retired jurist to try to mediate. But lawyers for both sides said an out-of-court settlement is very unlikely. Episcopal Bishop Robert Rusak had asked for the order, on the ground that Mitchell’s election as rector of the city’s oldest Protestant congregation was illegal, since the priest’s license to preach and celebrate Mass had been revoked. Mitchell’s supporters responded that he was being forced out because he attracted Latinos and homosexuals as new members of the congregation. In recent months, the issue has so divided the parish that rival Sunday services have been held in the main sanctuary and parish hall.

Today of course Mitchell would be a hero in his diocese (especially considering the bishop) and everyone else would be getting the boot.  But that’s emblematic of the changes in the Anglican/Episcopal world, and (as the album attests to) those changes started long before the current flap detonated in 2003.

But both situations have litigation in common.


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