When I read the stories from Tiller's patients (and there are more here), or stories like Christy's, the notion of Tiller being a church usher makes sense. The bottom line of being an usher is to care about others, whoever they may be and whatever the circumstances of their lives. Tiller cared so much for his patients that he endured years of protests, vandalism, threats of violence, and actual violence. In the end, his compassion cost him his life.
I was away last Sunday, and so tomorrow is the first Sunday I'll be in my parish since Tiller was murdered. I won't be looking at my ushers in the same way ever again.
There is a counter-question. What kind of church would refuse Dr. Tiller as a member? Of course, we all know the answer to that question, but doesn't that automatically beg a further question, to whit, "Is such a grouping of individuals worthy of the name 'church'?"
My patience, my sense of openness, of family, with those who call themselves Christian yet hate; who call themselves Christian yet divide; who call themselves Christian yet kill - is almost, but not quite, broken. The deafening silence of so many on the right in the wake of the murderous rampage of white supremacist James von Brunn at the Holocaust Memorial Museum is enough to convince me that the rising tide of right-wing violence is starting to penetrate their ignorance-inspired bubble of unreality. The screams of the victims, the tears of their survivors are like acid on the denial of this central reality of our time - the environment created by the acceptance of all sorts of false claims about our President is poisonous, and some are more susceptible to these toxins than are others.
As to my main point - I would hope that any church worthy of the name would not only accept the George Tiller's of the world. Any group of persons who call themselves "church" yet would deny him a place at the table is unworthy of the name.