Episcopal Priest Underwent Abortion to Finish Divinity School, Later Tanked Parish

on March 3, 2016

Whenever an activist Episcopal priest shows up in the news, as a general rule, scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find a dead or dying congregation.

A recent example comes from USA Today, covering the March 2 U.S. Supreme Court hearing about a Texas law requiring abortion clinics to meet the same regulatory requirements as ambulatory surgical centers. Pro-Life advocates argue that such health and safety regulation is necessary, especially in the wake of Philadelphia abortionist Hermit Gosnell’s murder trial and the gruesome discoveries about his clinic. Abortion rights advocates counter that a rapid decline in the number of U.S. abortion clinics is placing an undue burden on women seeking to terminate their pregnancy.

Enter Episcopal Priest Anne Fowler, one of 10 women submitting an amicus brief, arguing that:

“If the Reverend Anne Fowler had not had access to an abortion when she accidentally became pregnant after enrolling in Divinity School, she would never have been able to graduate, to serve as a parish rector, or to help the enormous number of people whose lives she has touched.”

As USA Today reports:

All the personal tales have similar morals: Without having access to abortions, the women said, they might not have been able to achieve professional successes and contribute as much to their communities.

According to LifeNews.com’s Micaiah Bilger, Fowler is active in the pro-abortion movement and is a leader with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) an organization which exists primarily to provide a veneer of religious approval for abortion-on-demand. Fowler served nine years on the board of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, two as Chair. Currently, Fowler is a chaplain for Planned Parenthood, but until recently was rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.

So how did Fowler “achieve professional successes” shepherding the flock at St. John’s from 1992 until 2013? Contrary to a 2013 story in the Jamaica Plain Gazette on her retirement in which Fowler asserted that during her leadership the church has stabilized and grown, the opposite seems to have actually occurred.

In just the past decade, the parish lost about half of its membership and attendance. St. John’s dropped from a membership of 400 down to fewer than 220; average Sunday attendance shrank from 110 down to about 50 persons in 2013, Fowler’s final reporting year as parish rector. Fowler has since relocated to Maine where she works as a freelance spiritual director and pastoral counselor.

I’ve linked to a PDF of Fowler’s parish statistics, which were made available by the Episcopal Church Office of Research.

St John Jamaica Plain MA

Fowler claimed in the Gazette piece that St. John’s doubled in size and more than doubled in budget under her leadership. She said that she is most proud of “fostering a loving, creative, responsible and fun community of faithful people.”

“I pray that that will be seen as my main legacy,” Fowler told the Gazette.

Sadly, we know this legacy all too well: another decimated parish led by a liberal activist.

  1. Comment by T_Ford on March 3, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    What right did she have to deny her child their legacy?

  2. Comment by AndrewDowling on March 3, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    So much wrong here….
    “chaplain for Planned Parenthood” (how about “chaplain for gulag employees”?)
    “accidentally” pregnant (darn those invasive little fetuses!)

    The biggy is her blatant lie about the decline in her own congregation. Did she actually delude herself into thinking there were MORE people showing up on Sunday, or was this just an obvious lie to the media to build herself up?

  3. Comment by Arbuthnaught on March 4, 2016 at 10:31 am

    He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.

    Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”

    21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

  4. Comment by Andrew Huddleston on March 4, 2016 at 11:28 am

    No repentance–instead she has doubled down-a “chaplain” for one of the most evil groups we have in this nation, this baby killing nation.

  5. Comment by Courdeleon02 on March 4, 2016 at 11:35 am

    The Episcopal Church is no longer Christian.They have been heretical for many years. They ignore the Bible and have created their own version of Secular Humanism. Their numbers are in the tank .They are not Christian. They are left wing liberals.

  6. Comment by Yank In Slough on March 6, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    That’s a very harsh thing to say, as well as untrue. We are not all liberals. It is true, Anglicans do not put doctrine first; we favour process and spiritual practice. We do not require strict adherence to the party line; to us, community and love are the clear fruits of devotion to the Way of Jesus. My parish is growing, multi-generational and thriving; we are full of kids.

    Yes, many of our parishioners are left-wing liberals; many of them have problems with the Nicene Creed. My response is to engage with them respectfully, not hurl insults. And it works.

  7. Comment by Cynthia Schletzbaum Gee on April 7, 2016 at 1:17 am

    It most certainly does not work. No matter how respectfully you do so, if you let on that you believe in the Creed, you will at best be patronized and regarded as a “crank”, and at worst, ostracized and laughed at.

  8. Comment by Yank In Slough on April 13, 2016 at 1:53 am

    Cynthia, I understand what you’re saying, but I haven’t experienced that. I’ve found that most parishioners have no idea what the various parts of the Creed actually mean and are quite interested in exploring it. I’ve been asked to put together a class on the Creed for the Fall.

  9. Comment by C. Y. Cheng on January 7, 2017 at 10:39 am

    You are in a very tough situation. I have no reason to doubt that you don’t adhere to the core Christian faith based on the Biblical doctrines, if this is what you try to tell us.

    But on the other hand, it seems to me that you subject yourself constantly to the tests and temptations imposed on you by the organization (I don’t even know whether I should call Episcopal a Christian church or not): to make compromises and go with the flow when you are active among them. Nothing wrong to love the Episcopal organization, but it can be wrong if the love is disproportionate. It may be an issue of “idol worship”? Only you and God know.

    Your parish is growing, but so are the Mormons.

  10. Comment by YankInSlough on January 13, 2017 at 3:01 am

    Well, I do adhere to the core doctrines of the Nicene Creed, but my faith is not based on doctrine. It is based on my relationship with Jesus. Turning Christianity into a doctrinal checklist misses the point.

  11. Comment by Michael Patrick Brewer on March 8, 2016 at 12:25 am

    As a combat veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a family man, I find the Episcopal Church to be the closest to “turning swords into plowshares” as the Bilbe asks of us. Most other main liners are just part of the endless war machine and have no couraget to stop it. not sure what you mean by ignoring the Bible. Do you mean we ignore right wing hatred?

  12. Comment by Stacey Noel on March 5, 2016 at 12:22 am

    A demon preaching at the pulpit.

  13. Comment by virginiagentleman on March 5, 2016 at 6:16 am

    Not only do we find either death or dying people and congregations where these “prophetic / activist” religious shysters show up, we also find all of the other demons that travel with the Adversary.

  14. Comment by MarcoPolo on March 7, 2016 at 8:30 am

    I’d be curious to know “who” all the other demons are?

  15. Comment by virginiagentleman on March 7, 2016 at 11:13 am

    cf – the Seven Deadly Sins.

  16. Comment by MarcoPolo on March 7, 2016 at 11:39 am

    My error in oversight…Sorry!
    I would completely agree that the seven “deadly” sins are prevalent among mankind at every turn.
    I, however, don’t feel that Liberal / Progressives are any more plagued by them than the Neo-Conservative crowd.

  17. Comment by MarcoPolo on March 5, 2016 at 9:18 am

    So it seems apparent, that a seminary student ISN’T allowed an abortion?
    What happened to her rights as a United States citizen?
    And why are congregational numbers such a litmus test of success?

    There are plenty of Christians who have aborted unwanted pregnancies, so why persecute this person for exercising her civil liberties?

  18. Comment by Joe Sherrill on March 5, 2016 at 11:58 am

    It is the killing of life. Say what you want, but even an idiot understands that you have to kill a life in order to terminate a pregnancy or else it will become a person. No abortion is committed without the shedding of blood, the most innocent blood there is, I need not remind one who claims to be a Christian of what the Scriptures say about the shedding of innocent blood.

  19. Comment by MarcoPolo on March 5, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    And it is the liberty of every female America citizen to choose whether she will carry a pregnancy to term.
    Yes, a zygote, fetus, a “viable mass”, or whatever else you wish to call it, it is not a human who is capable of living outside the womb. Thus, it is the property of the mother, and NO one else!

    Can’t you imagine how difficult it must be for a woman to make that severe a choice? So, given the myriad of reasons that a pregnant woman might have to make that choice, shouldn’t she be allowed to make the decision on her own, without the interference of people who have no vested interest?


  20. Comment by Anneke9 on March 5, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    “it is the property of the mother, and NO one else!”

    “It” is the property of God. We are all the property of the God who gives us life. That this needs to be said in a thread on a website focused on Christian religion and theology says a lot about our culture.

  21. Comment by MarcoPolo on March 6, 2016 at 8:37 am

    Respecting the likelihood that most commenters on this website would protest abortion for almost ANY reason, I submit my opinion only for the advocacy of our country’s collective conscience. A federal liberty ensuring personal autonomy for half of the population…WOMEN!

    If it appears that I have ignored the one being aborted, it is because “personhood” as we acknowledge it, is not bestowed upon any human not yet born.

    Call me cold, or cruel, but Life isn’t always fair. But it also wouldn’t be fair to force an unwanted pregnancy upon a woman who possibly would make a terrible mother!
    I won’t presume that would be the outcome of this particular woman’s situation, but with the human population on the rise again, we can at least not add to the Earth’s burden of more mouths to feed.

  22. Comment by John Donovan on March 6, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    I assume that if someone proposed that you be cut up and dumped into a bucket, you would agree to that procedure.

  23. Comment by MarcoPolo on March 6, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    If that were done to ME as a fetus, I would never know it! So, no, I wouldn’t have any problem with that!

    Do we now need to consider the “feelings” of every fetus? Not every sperm needs a name, either.

  24. Comment by John Donovan on March 6, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    A sperm obviously doesn’t count, but there was a time when you were a fetus and you owe your life to a mother who didn’t abort you.

  25. Comment by MarcoPolo on March 6, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    Au contraire! If not for both, Egg AND Sperm, none of us would ever exist!

    I DO appreciate my mother having wanted me, and thus having nurtured “me” within. But had she wished to NOT be pregnant, I wouldn’t have had anything to say, as I wouldn’t have been a “person” with autonomous authority to claim my existence. Such is life….and death!

    My point being, if one is aborted, one would have NO awareness of it. And isn’t THAT the optimal time to abort?

    Granted, the mother will always have to live with her decision. And thankfully there are numerous support groups for assisting after the fact.

    If abortion is made illegal, it will still happen. Probably at greater risk to the mother’s health, but some zealots don’t seem to recognize that downside.

    Like you, I hope there will be fewer abortions. But people are going to have to ‘bone-up’ on responsible love-making in order for that to become a reality. (Pardon the pun).

    Peace be upon you.

  26. Comment by John Donovan on March 7, 2016 at 8:47 am

    The idea of my never having been born is appalling to me. Still, I agree with your emphasis on responsible love-making, and that’s more important than any law one way or the other. There’s too much emphasis on laws and lawmakers and not enough on personal and social self-discipline.

  27. Comment by MarcoPolo on March 7, 2016 at 9:17 am

    Agreed! Not enough personal and social self-discipline.
    However, I’m puzzled by your opening statement: “The idea of my never having been born is appalling to me.”
    If it were the case, there would be no “memory” or “awareness” of it.

    At the risk of going off topic, I think we need to be aware that the physiology of brain function at the early stage of development is fertile ground for research.
    Perhaps we will discover that there really IS a retentive value to the human brain at that age?

  28. Comment by John Donovan on March 7, 2016 at 9:57 am

    It’s true that I would have had no awareness of not being born, and maybe my thought is too abstract, and yet it is still appalling to me, like the idea implied in Eastern religions that we all just merge into the totality of the universe and essentially become nonexistent forever and ever.

  29. Comment by MarcoPolo on March 7, 2016 at 11:00 am

    That’s a reasoned response, and I appreciate your not having dismissed it out of hand.

    And perhaps as Science has noted that ENERGY, is a constant entity that never ceases to exist, but merely changes form?
    This may, or may not take into account, the Soul, so I acquiesce to those with greater knowledge. I most certainly DO NOT have all the answers.

    I’ll admit, I adhere more closely to Buddhism than Christianity, and therefore am not generally welcomed among these threads.
    So I thank you again for being a considerate and cogent individual. Thanks!

    May you continue in good health!

  30. Comment by John Donovan on March 7, 2016 at 11:24 am

    As I recall, Marco Polo encountered Kublai Khan who wanted to know about Jerusalem; maybe he wanted to hear more about the transcendent dimension of God (not just the immanent), the Lord of history and personal immortality.

  31. Comment by MarcoPolo on March 7, 2016 at 11:35 am

    There’s always that likelihood!
    With my moniker, I guess I should know that.

  32. Comment by Curtis James on March 7, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    Then why can’t she kill her children until they leave home?

  33. Comment by MarcoPolo on March 7, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    I imagine she could do that if she chose to, but then she would be committing murder!

    What part of autonomy outside the womb did I fail to make clear? Once you’re born, you’re an entirely different liability and responsibility, to the parent(s), and the State.

  34. Comment by Ikeydog on March 7, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    So you believe ending human life is a lesser sin than being a bad parent? How about adoption? As an adoptive parent, I am keenly aware of how few pregnant women consider the “choice” of adoption in the cases of crisis pregnancies. Loving homes seeking to adopt often wait months and years and may never have an opportunity to adopt a child. It seems the inconvenience of pregnancy outweighs the value of the child’s life and the value of the childless families who seek to adopt.

  35. Comment by MarcoPolo on March 7, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    Yes, abortion (of an unwanted) pregnancy does immediately solve the problem of being pregnant. And your assumption is correct, I don’t find that to be a sin.

    I too, am part of an adopted family, and I can attest to the need for families to be created by that process. But as you pointed out, not every unwanted pregnancy produces a candidate for adoption. Sometimes the most immediate option prevails.

    I don’t know many women who choose to put their babies up for adoption, but I agree, it is a noble choice.

    The number of same-sex marriages that cannot procreate are among the growing number of families seeking that option. So, you’re right, there ARE families out there.

  36. Comment by Ikeydog on March 7, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    How is it that I pointed out that “not every unwanted pregnancy produces a candidate for adoption?” I said that there are far many more families waiting to adopt than there are women who are willing to be inconvenienced enough to not end the life of their unwanted babies. Very, very few abortions are done to save the life and/or health of the mother. They are for convenience. And yes, when you go to the ob/gyn and the pregnancy is wanted, the doctors and nurses call them babies. When you go to the ob/gyn to get an abortion, the doctors and nurses call them “fetuses” to ease the conscience of the women about to end their lives. The greatest social injustice I can think of is that of the “women’s movement” who used language to make women believe that they are not really ending human lives that they are carrying, they are only making medical choices for their own bodies. That is a huge lie scientifically speaking. That unborn baby or fetus if you will has a completely independent DNA and is a wholly separate human life than the mother who carries it. It is not the woman’s body that is in question it is that of the separate life inside her. And, yes, I have both biological and adopted children so I’ve experienced them both.

  37. Comment by MarcoPolo on March 7, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    I stand corrected. Perhaps there are fewer orphaned babies available for adoption than compared to the number of those aborted.

    And yes, that is probably because carrying a baby to term, is an astronomical undertaking for a woman who did not intend to even get pregnant in the first place.

    I don’t deny that the vernacular changes to suit the atmosphere of the participants. So sue for misrepresentation!

    Whether you blame the “Women’s Movement” for these “ills of society” is your prerogative. I beg to differ, as that particular movement did more to level the playing field of misogyny that existed to suppress women. As a card carrying Feminist myself, I am quite proud of the social advances that the Sixties produced.

    Separate DNA does not qualify as a reason to not abort. That decision is still a legal option for every American female.
    If a baby exists inside another woman’s body…. it doesn’t give you, or anybody else ANY authority whatsoever over that woman, or her baby.

    I’m not seeking to disavow your sincerity, or reduce your zeal for the sanctity of life. I am simply trying to understand why some people think they have the right to expect pregnant women to succumb to your wishes.

    These are tough decisions, and I’m glad I don’t have to make them for myself. I’m happy that I don’t own a womb!

  38. Comment by Ikeydog on March 7, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    It’s not about misogyny. It’s about telling women that they aren’t ending human life. Whatever good came of the women’s movement, and I don’t deny that many, many good things came from it. Telling women that abortion is not ending a separate human life was a lie to ease their consciences. It’s not about succumbing to my or anybody else’s wishes. It’s about telling women the truth. They are killing their babies. Plain and simple, calling it a “fetus” or saying it’s “health care” is just a way to make it easier to swallow. I do have a womb and I have given birth. Never for an instant did I think that the life growing inside me was my own. Yes, it is a legal option. But that doesn’t make it moral or ethical. Lots of laws on the books fail the moral and ethical smell test.

    The children who are in the foster system by the way aren’t there because they are orphaned. They aren’t there because they are unwanted by their biological parents. They are there because of abuse and neglect and are taking away by the state after repeated attempts to make the biological parents fit to raise their own children.

    The numbers of families looking to adopt by far outnumber those women who choose not to end their babies life and decide to allow someone else to raise their child. Abortion is indeed the often the more “immediate option” as you say.

  39. Comment by Curtis James on March 7, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    And when she aborts her baby she can continue having sex without consequence. “Satan’s song is sweet.” Calvin Miller

  40. Comment by MarcoPolo on March 7, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    True… but we, and no doubt, she, also knows there are ALWAYS consequences!

    Satan’s song IS sweet! Just don’t get caught dancing to it!

  41. Comment by MarcoPolo on March 6, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    The age of blood does not merit any distinction of innocence, or guilt, as blood is simply the fluid for cell nutrition.
    Every time we apply pesticides, we “kill life”!
    So now we’re suppose to prevent EVERY abortion simply because it’s a LIVING organism?!

  42. Comment by Sheri on March 6, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    Posting an article about a person is “persecuting” her? Seriously?

    You might want to familiarize yourself with the United States Constitution, especially the First Amendment.

  43. Comment by MarcoPolo on March 7, 2016 at 8:33 am

    Referring to Anne Fowler, the “persecution” word I used, was to reference the vitriol she received from her seminary and peers. Not because posting an article is any kind of persecution.
    I’ll try to be more perspicuous in my comment, henceforth.

  44. Comment by bob on March 5, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    I expect one isn’t under any kind of obligation to tell the truth in a submission to the Supreme Court like this one? It’s all anecdotal and what one “feels”? It appears she just plain lied about her parish numbers. The fact of the abortion is trivial in American law, but isn’t lying to the court considered pretty stupid for anybody?

  45. Comment by Anneke9 on January 7, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    Saddest part of all? She’s lying to herself.

  46. Comment by Sheri on March 6, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    The Episcopalians really have low standards for their clergy. Make a gay guy a bishop, give a pulpit to someone who got pregnant out of wedlock and then had an abortion? I think the pagan priesthoods in ancient Rome had higher standards than this.

  47. Comment by ken on March 8, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    John Calvin stated that, following a ruling of the Council of Chalcedon, there should not be “absolute ordinations” in the church, i.e., a person should be ordained for a particular post in a particular parish, not just a free-floating “reverend,” of which there appear to be many in the mainline churches, frequently making mischief, as this woman is a prime example. Obviously God is not honored when people who prove to be total flops in parish ministry pack up their Reverend title as they go out on their SJW mission.

  48. Comment by myrnaJO on March 8, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    I can envision those 80% Conservatives in the Anglican Communion “walking away ” from the AC as I am wont to do.. TEC wants to run the AC their way, well, they can have it . Along with its Archbishop !

  49. Comment by The_Physetor on April 2, 2016 at 11:12 am

    This isn’t surprising. Liberal seminaries are hotbeds of sexual experimentation. People who sleep around are always liberal on abortion.

  50. Comment by Cynthia Schletzbaum Gee on April 7, 2016 at 1:15 am

    And this is just one more reason why I am no longer an Episcopalian. Better to belong to no church at all than to align oneself with a denomination that would ordain a moral degenerate who would engage in fornication while in divinity school, and then murder her own unborn child in order to more easily complete her studies!

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