St. Stephen's Episcopal Church Oak Harbor

By God's Grace, All Are Welcome

Hey Bill Tell Us Something Cool March 2024


Last Saturday evening, March 1, at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Freeland, Amy Donohue and I attended the performance of “The Laramie Project,” a play rooted in the tragic death of Matthew Wayne Shepard.  Most of the actors are students at Oak Harbor High School, and each one plays multiple speaking parts.  Our own Eclipse Garrett is one of the players and is wonderfully good.  Several actors took part in a powerful Adult Forum at St. Stephen’s not long ago. 

Sadly, the administration at OHHS was unwilling to allow the play to be performed there.  Eclipse and a friend, Grace Jones, sought energetically to change the administration’s mind but without success.  Hence and happily, other venues came forward.

Matthew was 21 years old, a student at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, where he was a member of the Canterbury Club and a member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Casper WY, where he had served as an acolyte.  He died on October 12, 1998, in Fort Collins CO, having been beaten, tied to a fence post outside Laramie and left to die several days earlier. He was a gay man, killed in a hate crime.

In 2018, his remains were moved to the National Cathedral in Washington DC.  The liturgy that accompanied his interment there was led by the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church.  Our liturgy on Sunday next will be informed by what was done at the interment.

“The Laramie Project” will be performed at the Whidbey Playhouse in Oak Harbor later this week, on March 8, 9 and 10. As of this writing, I’ve learned that the performances are already sold out. I’m very hopeful that many of you will be there. Bring tissues! If you have not gotten tickets already, have a look online at the play and storyline.

Next Sunday’s preacher hopes that you will attend so as to engage more fully the sermon for that day.  It will have very much to do with the realities embedded in this remarkable play.

Lastly, in 2016, Craig Hella Johnson, the director of the Grammy-winning singing group, Conspirare, wrote an oratorio related to this play. []  “Considering Matthew Shepard” is a rich and startling composition, available in part and in full on YouTube.  Remarkably enough and long ago, the composer and I served together at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Austin TX. 




Related Information

Through the Eyes of St. Stephen’s