Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Sunday, February 26, 2017


Vintage Voice - published by the Church Pension Fund

A Faith Deepened and Refreshed

By the Rev. Robert W. Cromey
My new life commenced in 2002 when I retired as rector of Trinity Church, San Francisco. My 20-year ministry at Trinity was mostly with gay men. Most churches have women as their regular attendees, and they serve as the backbone of parish life. At Trinity, which is in downtown San Francisco, our congregation was 85% men. Even the Altar Guild was all male. Wags dubbed us the gay 90s church because 85% of congregants were gay, and the rest were 90.
During my ministry, AIDS struck and for several years we ministered to dying men, their lovers, parents, and sometimes their children. We conducted 74 funerals. I joined with others to push the city of San Francisco and the Diocese of California to approve same-gender marriage.
After retiring, my wife Ann and I searched for a new parish to attend in San Francisco. After visiting a number of churches, we settled on the Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist, not far from our home. There are many LGBT members and a few retirees like us. Like Trinity, the Altar Guild is all male. Our new parish also suffered heavy losses from HIV and AIDS. At St. John, we continue the fight for the rights of same-gender people to marry.
Fr. Richard Smith, the Vicar of St. John, urges our membership to fight to end police killings of black and Latino people. We are engaged in immigrants’ rights, as our neighborhood is a mix of Latino cultures. Our neighborhood is gentrifying, causing personal and family displacement, so we are working with city officials to find housing for the poor and seniors.
Some of us participate each Thursday in a Vigil for Peace and Justice outside the Federal Building. I had to give it up, as my creaky 86-year-old legs couldn’t stand for very long. I do preach about every six weeks, helping our Vicar, who is part time.
When I retired, I vowed to write 500 words a day as a way to keep my brain stimulated. I continue to write letters to the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle on issues of state and church, LGBT rights, poverty, peace, and the homeless. I find writing short pieces for Facebook on social, political, and religious issues is well received. I also have a blog with over 400 entries. In addition, I enjoy writing RWC Memoir and Essays Irreverent, both self-published and available from Amazon. I also wrote a small book entitled So You Want to Get Married, also self-published. It has information and advice I gave in pre-marriage counseling.
My writing is the closest I come to meditation. Writing articles and sermons, I am astounded how often insights and epiphanies come to me. New angles, approaches, and stories enter my thought processes. I am a failure at sitting quietly. My prayer life is on the run, thanksgivings for all the gifts God has given me, Ann, my daughters, family, and friends. I pray as I go along with my life and activities.
Jesus is the exemplar and guiding light in my life. As the hymn goes, “I want to follow Jesus.” The lens through which I read the Gospel of Jesus is caring for the poor, homeless, the sick, and those afflicted by injustice. That is the essence of Christianity as far as I am concerned.
I am nourished in all this by weekly attendance at the Eucharist. I love our community, our parish church. It is a small group of very diverse people. College professors, medical doctors, teachers, a masseuse, homeless people, a union organizer, and street people are members. Eight of us retired elders, lay and clergy, a racial and cultural mix of people we would never meet elsewhere, come Sundays to sing, pray, and worship.
Fifteen years of retirement have given me the leisure to see my faith deepened and refreshed.

About the Author

The Rev. Robert Warren Cromey served parishes in the Diocese of New York. In San Francisco, he was Executive Assistant to the Bishop of California, James A. Pike, Vicar of St. Aidan’s, and rector of Trinity, retiring in 2002. Fr. Cromey has three daughters and five grandchildren. He has been married to Ann Cromey for 33 years. His ministry has always advocated for civil and human rights. You can contact him via email at

Friday, February 24, 2017


 People thrust into our minds these days are IMMIGRANTS. The President is waging war on illegal immigrants, insinuating all of them are criminals, drug abusers and cheats. The immorality of classifying one group of people by the bad behavior of a few is screamingly clear.

The fact that Republicans have repeatedly cut funding for the immigration service in the US. It has been easy for many determined people get into the United States or remain here because enforcement of laws again illegals has been sporadic. This crackdown is cruel because many children born of parents who are illegal immigrants face deportation even though they have never lived anywhere but in the United States.

A member of our parish, who is gay, was beaten almost to death in Honduras. If he is deported he faces certain rank discrimination, perhaps death on his return.

Daniella is an illegal. She fears deportation back to El Salvador and she and her daughter Lily face mob rule and sexual abuse at the hands of gangs roaming that country. US President Ronald Reagan spent years and money destabilizing that country as they had a communist leaning regime.

Many have pointed out that the agriculture industry in California and in many Border States depend on immigrant labor to accomplish harvests.

When the father in a family is deported, his wife and children remaining have no source of income and will have to go on welfare. Such cases have already been reported in the media.

Statistics indicate the flow of Mexicans into the United Sates has decreased. The flow of Mexicans going back to Mexico has increased. Our elected Republicans leaders pay no attention.

It appears that our leaders play on the prejudices and fears of the few in order to exert power over the poor and disenfranchised. Leaders want to win elections and make money by harping on popular issues, which are unconstitutional and unjust.

I hope the American Civil Liberties Union and other rights organizations fight these matters in the courts to the fullest extent possible.

Thursday, February 09, 2017


I call for restraint and moving away from fear and anxiety about the President’s boorishness. I feel calm and confident that the Constitution, congress and the courts and even the military will keep DT under control. I’ll admit an undercurrent in myself of worry. But is not where close to the apprehensions of Monika, Michael and Ann.

I am not happy with the name calling and trashing of DT on Facebook and the cartoons in the SF Chronicle. After all we Christians start with the notion that he is a human being, deeply flawed as we all are. His worship of money, power, and greed are deeply sinful. His attacking the media, the courts and individual critics is stupid and discourteous. He does not treat others, as he would like to be treated.

Monday, February 06, 2017



You are the salt of the earth. You give flavor, richness and vitality to the whole of life.

Can you imagine an Indian meal without salt? A Chinese or Mexican meal without salt? Bland and Boring.

The people who are the salt of the earth are the creative, tasty, marching to a different drummer, the unusual and risk taker.

Jesus is telling his followers the go beyond the law, to the deeper meaning of the law, to fulfill the law.

What does he mean fulfill the law?

The Salt March:

The British ruled India for many years. They had put a tax on salt, which angered many residents of the country especially the poor. Mohandas Gandhi organized an act of non-violent civil disobedience to reclaim the salt from the British monopoly. 78 people began the march and intended to march 240 miles protesting the salt tax. The march sparked millions of Indians to protest the salt laws. Gandhi was arrested by the British. This produced worldwide news coverage. 85,000 Indians were arrested during the civil disobedience protesting the salt tax.  This march sparked even more India’s desire to be free of the British. It also inspired Martin Luther King, Jr. during the movement for civil rights in this country.

Jesus reminds us of who are the salt people.

Our job is to savor our friends, families, work places and the country with love, gentleness, forgiveness and powerful work against injustice.

Alice came to Trinity Church with a son who called Alice Dad.

Alice a former reporter for the NY Times was born a male. He later made the transition to become a woman. While a male he married and had children.

Alice changed her his hair, clothes and had a surgical sex change. He is a brave person and has lived to see the day when sex transitions are openly talked about.

Our transgender neighbors are some more salt to make our city and society interesting, exciting and creative.

Transition is a move toward wholeness

We help others be the salt of the earth.

Many of us will show our salt when we confront being a sanctuary church and city. We may use non-violent civil disobedience to protect, feed and house our neighbors who are on the run from our stupid immigration rules.

This is the work of God the Holy Spirit working in our lives. We are not alone. We are IN-SPIRED to do the work of God
in our lives.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

ACLU- watchdog of rights

If Trump’s proposals shatter core American values of equality, religious freedom and a commitment to the rule of law, pluralism and democracy, he’ll have to get past us. Thus says the American Civil Liberties Union. I agree with the ACLU and am a member and contributor. I hope you will join and support them too. (

Sunday, January 08, 2017


The Epiphany 2017

I read in the newspaper that Christmas sales were up again this year. Or were they down. I forget.

Why do we have the shopping frenzy to buy gifts and presents? Well, you can blame it all on the Three Kings. They brought gifts to the holy family and now we give gifts to our beloved families, friends and even to our rotten relatives.

We have just heard the ancient story of the three kings who travelled many miles through the desert to visit Jesus, Mary and Joseph. They were following a star.  The kings brought Jesus gifts, Gold, Frankincense and myrrh.

They were not Jews. They were Gentiles. The writer of Matthew wanted to tell his readers that the Jesus was not just for the Jews but also for all people.

St. Matthew showed us that the message of Jesus was for all people.

What was the message of Jesus? Shall I give you a quiz?
We are to be truly human. To be truly human is to love, forgive, care for the poor, the homeless, the sick and those facing injustice.

I want to tell you a story about another man who travelled afar in the desert.

In the 1960s TV show Branded, Chuck Connors plays a classic Western figure, Jason McCord--courageous, loyal, yet aloof and alone.  In the first episode, he meets a dying man in the desert and saves his life by giving him water and even carrying him on his own horse--only to find himself held up at gunpoint at an oasis, as the duplicitous Colbee takes McCord's horse and leaves him to walk across the desert, very likely to die in the attempt.  Colbeen explains that he has to do this because he has a wife and two daughters, and so he has to live--and to get to town in time for his daughter's birthday!  McCord survives, and meets up with the Colbee family in town.  A friend urges him to anger and confrontation.  McCord really is angry, and he walks toward Colbee resolutely, as Colbee's two little daughters play around him with their hoops.  McCord, looking at the family, then has a second thought; he turns around and walks away.  As he does, he says over his shoulder, with a wry smile, "Happy Birthday, Janie."

Here is one way to handle anger and move to forgiveness, a basic teaching of Jesus.

Some members of this parish are happy that Donald Trump will be our new president.

Some of us are angry and upset that he is our president elect.

We are a community who call ourselves followers of Jesus.
We are on a life-long quest to learn how to forgive.

Creative Christians will move on, past our upsets, or our self-righteous glee, and into a new life.

We continue to insist:

 That the people living in the tents outside our church have adequate housing.

That all people have adequate food to eat. We try through the Julian pantry.

That legal and illegal immigrants find justice and residency.

That all Americans have adequate medical care.

That there is continual witness for peace in the world.

I have noted over my many years that both Democrats and Republicans do not care much for these basic rights and needs.

We need to stop squawking about the election and get on with the gifts we have been given in following Jesus.