Reagan Humber

August 8, 2018

A House for Fruitbombs and Saints

Carina Julig at Religion News Service has a story this week about controversially profane Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber departing her Denver church for life as a “Public Theologian.” IRD Evangelical Program Director Chelsen Vicari provides helpful context here. Bolz-Weber is succeeded by an Episcopalian, the Rev. Reagan Humber, as senior pastor at House for All Sinners and Saints (HFASS).

The Episcopal Church and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have a full-communion agreement for the exchange of clergy between their congregations, so Episcopalians can pastor Lutheran congregations and ELCA pastors can be called as rectors or vicars of Episcopal congregations.

Julig reports:

Humber, who came to HFASS from St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco, is well-equipped to carry on the church’s alternative vibe. His partner is a hair stylist who moonlights as the drag queen Fruitbomb, and Humber is open about his struggles with opiates and alcohol.

One of Fruitbomb’s performances, a lip-sync of Radiohead’s “No Surprises” – in which the drag queen enacts staged abortions – is viewable here on Vimeo:

Reagan Humber

Humber, who will take over as pastor at House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver. (Photo: The Rev. Theresa S. Thames)

Humber himself looks to be a bit of a character. Julig’s story features a photo of the Episcopal clergyman wrapped in a metallic chasuble emblazoned with an owl. I’m surprised to have not first run across this on the Tacky Vestments blog. Humber is a product of Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley–a huge red flag–and St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church, known as a whackadoodle activist parish that selectively appropriates Eastern Orthodox traditions like a buffet line, but also practices open communion for “everyone” regardless of baptism into the Christian faith, apparently also welcoming pets to the holy table.

It’s not as though HFASS has been a bastion of orthodoxy, but many of us have mixed reactions to Bolz-Weber’s work. As Chelsen noted, the ELCA pastor:

Regularly acknowledged sin, humanity’s innate brokenness, the need for confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation, and evil spiritual forces at work in this world. However, it is her unorthodox conclusions on sexual sin, hell, and public support for Planned Parenthood that earn the Religious Left’s admiration.

In short, Bolz-Weber acknowledges the reality of evil and sin, but then claims undermining the sanctity of human life and shedding much of historic Christianity’s moral architecture is not sinful. My colleagues and I found worthwhile content in Bolz-Weber’s Pastrix, but we cringed when she tweeted about making a financial contribution to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

While HFASS reports a “stable” attendance of 190, the church is likely facing a difficult threshold to cross, and it will be worth following to see if Humber can guide HFASS through it, or if the congregation will recede without celebrity Bolz-Weber at the helm.

An attendance figure nearing 200 requires a church to transition from a pastoral model (where the pastor knows everyone) to a programmatic model where responsibilities and relational contacts can be divided among multiple staff members. In the Episcopal Church (and, assumedly, in the ELCA as well) it is difficult to cross this threshold and continue growing. Not only are there pragmatic difficulties, but congregants sometimes push back against growth above this level because it ceases to have a “family” feel where everyone knows everyone else. Fewer than four percent of Episcopal congregations make it to an average Sunday attendance of 300 or greater.

Reading the RNS piece, it sounds like Bolz-Weber realized she would not be able to accomplish this transition well. How Humber fares at HFASS remains to be seen.

10 Responses to A House for Fruitbombs and Saints

  1. frances says:

    This is scary to say the least. But terribly so terribly, SICK and full of evil. The face of the “person” in the video is the face of a devil worshipper. This is how I have envisioned TEC:
    swarming with people entwined with snakes and people of same sex that act as if they are on the verge of sexual madness/craziness. I could not watch the video..saddening.

  2. John Donovan says:

    About abortion — did I miss something? Was the Golden Rule repealed?

  3. Les Caldwell says:

    If I never heard about this, I would be happier. Something I already knew. Satan is having a really good time in the Episcopal Church.

  4. Darrell Horton says:

    The slippery slope keeps getting steeper. “THE END IS NEAR” signs are seeming very appropriate as pertains to the demise of certain mainline denominations.

    Will the United Methodist Church be far behind? Not if our illustrious “leaders” can help it.

    If all this seems like a race to Hell, that’s because it is.

    • Bruce says:

      Exactly my thoughts! As a Methodist for nearly 75 years, I’m very upset with the UMC.

    • Judy says:

      Amen Darrell. Yes it is repulsive to watch and see the progressives right before our eyes with such evil behavior. The little book of Jude nails it. I am so ready for the return of Jesus. The UMC is quickly sliding now after 46 years of declining membership and extremely poor leadership while sitting on the fence and caving to culture!

  5. Donaldb says:

    I guess these folks take Luther’s alleged quote, to “sin boldly,” literally. Too bad they have long ago abandoned St. Paul’s comment on this notion, “Heaven forbid!”

    • St Reformed says:

      Heaven may forbid but I strongly suspect that these wacko-birds will self-destruct first. As someone stated earlier, they are living caricatures of mockery and blasphemy. When their 15 minutes of fame has expired , they will need another gig to attract attention (and funds). They aren’t worth raising your BP, folks!

  6. Penny says:

    You keep saying to yourself, “Surely it can’t get worse!” and then it gets worse.

  7. Fruitbomb says:

    I’m famous!

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