Monday, June 18, 2018
News Roundup

Former St. Petersburg Episcopal priest says 'Thank God for marijuana' (w/video)

ST. PETERSBURG — The bishop was not amused.

Not with the video of one of his priests — complete with clerical collar — advocating gratitude for marijuana.

"Now, thanking God for weed might feel a little awkward at first," says the Rev. Chris Schuller — a former rector at St. Thomas' Episcopal Church in the Snell Isle neighborhood — in the short video that's punctuated with the reggae rhythms of Bob Marley.

"Thanking God is going to feel so much better than throwing stones at people who are already stoned," he says.

But Bishop Dabney Smith, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida, which includes St. Petersburg, "was very disturbed by the video," spokesman Garland Pollard said.

"In this age of social media, we have two hats that we wear in the world, and we need to think of how we present ourselves. And the clergy is held to a higher standard."

It might not matter.

A few days ago, Schuller posted to Facebook that he had decided to leave the Episcopal Church and planned to "minister outside of its boundaries."

"This is a video in which viewers — both believers and non-believers alike — are lovingly invited to judge less and love more," Schuller said in an email to the Tampa Bay Times.

"It's a message of faith resting in a fun visual context,'' he said. "One bit of art imitating life is that the Pastor Chris character in the video and I are both light drinkers and don't use marijuana at all."

Pollard said that although Schuller now lives in Venice, Calif., in the Diocese of Los Angeles, he remains under the jurisdiction of the Florida bishop. Schuller's departure from the Episcopal Church is not yet official, Pollard said.

Schuller, who will be 56 soon, is used to controversy. Soon after he arrived at St. Thomas' in 2007, he caused a stir by dismissing the church's longtime music director. Two years later, he removed Marion Fleming, a retired circuit judge and wife of the former rector, the Rev. Peter Fleming, from her volunteer position.

He left the parish in 2011 with plans to write movies and short scripts with a spiritual message. In a January Facebook post, he said that he and a friend planned to start a website. Now up, it's called hashtaghallelujah.com, which notes that the goal is to "Make Faith Fun."

Schuller urged friends to check out the Thank God for Marijuana video, which is now on the site.

"We're just not going to get to that one love, if we judge our brothers and sisters on something as minor as how they relax on a Friday evening," he says in the video.

"So let's practice non-judgment. Let's go with gratitude and not attitude."

Cue to Bob Marley's One Love and the dancing priest.

Contact Waveney Ann Moore at [email protected]

Comments

Tuesday’s letters: Keep programs that fight AIDS

For author Biden, it’s a father’s gift | June 6Keep programs that fight AIDSAfter former Vice President Joe Biden’s recent visit to St. Petersburg, I noticed an article that he co-wrote with former Sen. Bill Frist. It reminded everyone about the ...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
Iceland World Cup Fever … catch it!

Iceland World Cup Fever … catch it!

TAMPA — Iceland isn't what it used to be. Literally. The Nordic island country is shrinking, what with global warming. Iceland's glaciers are getting smaller. If you took all that ice and laid it end to end, well, you clearly have nothing bette...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Where’s the new VA clinic going? Not in the city of New Port Richey

Where’s the new VA clinic going? Not in the city of New Port Richey

NEW PORT RICHEY — The federal government’s search for a home for its new Veterans Administration community outpatient clinic is focusing on the Little Road corridor in west Pasco.Three locations in the running for the VA clinic are identified in the ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs defensive end Will Gholston says ‘no excuse’ for disappointing 2017 season

Bucs defensive end Will Gholston says ‘no excuse’ for disappointing 2017 season

Will Gholston is painfully honest about a 2017 season that wasn't anything close to what he wanted it to be. Ask him about last year, and there are no parentheses in his world to soften what he remembers here."I just played (crappy), completely. That...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Tampa man rescued from near drowning in waters off Whiskey Joe’s

Tampa man rescued from near drowning in waters off Whiskey Joe’s

A Tampa man was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries on Sunday after he was rescued from a near drowning off the shores of Whiskey Joe’s Tampa Bar & Grill, a popular hangout on the beach of the Courtney Campbell Causeway.When police officers a...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Developer Grady Pridgen buys St. Pete’s shuttered Edward White Hospital

Developer Grady Pridgen buys St. Pete’s shuttered Edward White Hospital

ST. PETERSBURG — Edward White Hospital, closed four years ago because of declining revenues, has been sold to developer Grady Pridgen for $2.7 million.Pridgen could not be reached Monday for comment. City officials said he has submitted plans for rem...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Private Florida firm buys Rent-A-Center in $1 billion deal

Private Florida firm buys Rent-A-Center in $1 billion deal

An Orlando private equity firm has purchased lease-to-own business Rent-A-Center in a deal valued at more than $1 billion.Vintage Capital Management put a bid in for the company on Friday: $15 per share, $1 per share above its previous offer. Rent-A-...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Hernando Business Digest for June 22

Business digestBrieflyHOSPITAL RECEIVES AWARD: Oak Hill Hospital in Spring Hill was the recipient of Healthgrades 2018 Patient Safety Excellence Award, a designation that recognizes superior performance of hospitals that have prevented the occurrence...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Fifty years after he disappeared over Laos, remains of Northeast High grad return home

Fifty years after he disappeared over Laos, remains of Northeast High grad return home

ST. PETERSBURG — In November 1969, at a hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, Air Force Capt. James White and his wife Sharon enjoyed their last night out together, dining on hotel room service with family friends Neil and Janet Armstrong.It was four months af...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and fled scene

Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and fled scene

TAMPA — Police are seeking the public’s help in locating the driver who fatally struck a pedestrian before fleeing the scene on Sunday night.Police say the driver struck an unidentified woman near the intersection of N Nebraska Avenue and E Linebaugh...
Updated: 4 hours ago