Normally, I let this stuff pass. But several sources have passed on several consistent reports of several priests spreading several rumors about me and about my parish:
1. "Tim Fountain is a troublemaker affiliated with some group in Texas."
- Yes, I'm a troublemaker if questioning or objecting to the direction of the Diocese and trying to share FACTS with others is "trouble making."
- I have no affiliation with any group in Texas. I am a member (not an officer) of the American Anglican Council, which has a South Dakota Chapter and national offices in Atlanta, GA.
2. "People at Good Shepherd are trying to get other people to leave their Episcopal Parishes."
- No, we are not. Most of our growth is new folks from the community.
- The AAC Chapter has sent letters out around the diocese, NOT to solicit parish defections, but to share statistics, quotes and other hard evidence of realities here in the diocese and around TEC. How else are we to raise intelligent discussion at diocesan meetings?
- We have a couple of families that have come over from other TEC congregations... but this was after their rectors told them to pretty much shut up, sit in the pews and give money. In other words, we've picked up a few "troublemakers." And their former parishes have ignored several requests for letters of transfer.
3. "All of Good Shepherd's people are leaving to go to Calvary Cathedral."
- This one is a howler. Calvary lost close to 100 in average Sunday attendance (ASA) over five years. Good Shepherd's ASA, in the dog days of August, is over 100 (higher than our ASA for 2007). We continue to grow, even if some people leave. Healthy churches do that.
- There are always people moving between Calvary and Good Shepherd. Usually, it is because folks get mad about something at one place and storm over to the other. The traffic flows both ways and this is a decades-old fact of life in Sioux Falls.
- Calvary has gone through something like 4 Deans in three years. They have their own problems.
4. "Tim Fountain is trying to steal Good Shepherd" (the building, that is).
- This question has been asked and answered so many times that those spreading the rumor are simply lying. The Articles of Incorporation were redrawn in the '70s (during the upheavals over Women's Ordination and Prayer Book change), and make it clear that the physical property belongs to The Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota.
- As a show of good faith, GS keeps it financial books open to diocesan inspection. There is simply no funny business with money or property - we are totally above board and the diocese knows this.
- I care about people and their souls, not buildings. All TEC stands to loose are a bunch of good people who want to love and serve the Lord, and a faithful and fruitful priest with a solid 20 year record of church growth and development.
5. "There's gonna be trouble for Good Shepherd..."
- Well, I'm not the one to answer this, am I? Especially since there has been no communication from the diocese telling us to remedy anything in particular.
Now, let me share some reality with you all:
1. I have tried to be in communication with the diocese over the four years I've been here. I have attempted to make my position clear but respectful. The response of the diocese has been sarcastic public broadsides and now shunning. Letters to the bishop, the Standing Committee and General Convention Deputies receive no reply. And now we have priests running around spreading what appear to be "talking points" which are totally false.
2. I have been clear with diocesan staff that my conscience might require me to step out of TEC, and to that end I have made personal (not congregational) application to a realigned entity as a contingency. This is not a secret. And, btw, the entity ain't "some group in Texas."
3. Why am I blogging this? I have attempted to address these matters discreetly, including direct answers to questions posed by diocesan staff. Yet the rumor campaign continues in the shadows. So, Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them (Ephesians 5:11).
4. I have had several clergy here warn me that the unwritten rule here is "stay out of sight." I appreciate their concern but cannot be invisible when soul-threatening issues are infesting the church. That would be a betrayal of my Baptism, Confirmation and Ordination promises - and of the Lord who died for me while I was still a sinner (Romans 5:8).