Saturday, February 24, 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
Police: Man, 60, arrested for fleeing from fatal Largo pedestrian crash

Police: Man, 60, arrested for fleeing from fatal Largo pedestrian crash

LARGO — A 60-year-old man who police said was the driver in a fatal pedestrian hit-and-run on East Bay Drive from three days prior was arrested by Largo Police on Saturday, the department said.Victor Bonavita was arrested on three charges in relation...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Sheriff: Roads reopen after Tampa crash results in natural gas leak near Citrus Park Mall

Sheriff: Roads reopen after Tampa crash results in natural gas leak near Citrus Park Mall

TAMPA — Officials reopened roads near Citrus Park Mall Saturday evening that had been closed in the afternoon for a natural gas leak caused by a car crash, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said. The Sheriff’s Office and Hillsborough County Fi...
Updated: 5 hours ago

boca ratonState lawmakerencourages Scott to remove sheriffA lawmaker is calling on Florida Gov. Rick Scott to remove Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel from office after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In a letter sent to ...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Two airlinescut ties withNRA aftershootings

The National Rifle Association lashed out at corporations rushing to abandon it on Saturday, as companies from United Airlines to Best Western have cut ties with the gun lobby organization.Without context, twin announcements from Delta and United air...
Updated: 6 hours ago

‘Up to States’ to armteachers, Trump tweets

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump appeared Saturday to begin refining his proposals for combatting school violence, tweeting that arming teachers as a deterrent against such often deadly violence — an idea he championed in recent days — is "Up to S...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Security Council demands30-day cease-fire in Syria

Security Council demands30-day cease-fire in Syria

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Saturday demanding a 30-day cease-fire across Syria "without delay" to deliver humanitarian aid to millions and evacuate the critically ill and wounded. U.N. humanitarian ch...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Updated: 7 hours ago
Call her more than just a survivor

Call her more than just a survivor

TAMPA — On the quiet morning of Oct. 8, 2011, a 30-ton freight truck ran a stop sign in the small town of Clinton, Conn.It ran over Colleen Kelly Alexander, who was riding a bicycle.The truck's front wheels crushed her, then spit her to the bac...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Police: Male motorcyclist crashed, then the driver was run over by two cars

Police: Male motorcyclist crashed, then the driver was run over by two cars

TAMPA — A male motorcyclist died early Saturday morning on the Courtney Campbell Causeway, the Tampa Police Department said.About 1:35 a.m., the victim rode his motorcycle west on the Courtney Campbell at high speeds, police said. The motorcycle stru...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Northeast High alumnus Jon Mott wins 3rd Gasparilla 15K crown

Northeast High alumnus Jon Mott wins 3rd Gasparilla 15K crown

TAMPA — Roughly 20 minutes into Saturday morning's Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K, reigning champ A.J. Richmond glanced over his left shoulder to former college teammate Jon Mott and flashed a quick hand signal."He was telling me that t...
Updated: 11 hours ago