A stained-glass panel in the newly-renamed Blacktip Polyagnostic Sanctuary is a reminder of its former life as the Blacktip Island Interdenominational Church. (photo courtesy of Ernestine Bass)
Faced with declining attendance and increasing expenses, the Blacktip Island Interdenominational Church shuttered its doors Thursday and handed the keys to the Blacktip Island Theosophy Society, church leaders said, setting off a war of words in the small Caribbean island’s spiritual community.
“I hated to do it, but I couldn’t cover the electric bills or afford repairs,” the Rev. Pierre Grunt said. “Congregation members either lost faith or were lured away by Our Lady of Blacktip. The church was the island’s heart and soul. Now it’s been sold off.
“The theosophists were the only ones who showed any interest, and that’s one hell of a coincidence,” Grunt said. “They’re in cahoots with that damned ecumenical council and pulled off a hostile takeover, pure and simple. They’ve always held a grudge against us. Both groups have.”
Ecumenical council members denied any hostility.
“We’re deeply committed to faith and enlightenment on Blacktip,” said the former-Rev. Jerrod Ephesians, Blacktip Island Ecumenical Council president. “But Pierre shot himself in the foot, repeatedly, by constantly preaching against the sins of drinking and smoking and carrying on. You’ve got to know your audience.
“His droning on and on and on in that monotone didn’t help, either,” Ephesians said. “The theosophy society had been looking for someplace permanent to meet for a while, so the council stepped in and helped make that happen. They’re already drawing bigger crowds than Pierre ever did.”
Theosophy society members hope to appeal to a broad swath of Blacktip residents.
“The building’s still a church, we’re just about seeking God through each individual’s direct, intuitive steps, not in some narrowly-defined sectarian tropes,” BITS president Ernestine Bass said. “We’ve renamed it the Blacktip Polyagnostic Sanctuary to emphasize that. And for our first meeting, the place was nearly full.”
Community members backed the change.
“It’s a lot more fun now that Reverend Grunt’s gone,” Ginger Bass said. “There’s less emphasis on sin and damnation and more on forgiveness and being happy. Plus, they’re OK with us bringing drinks in with us.”
The Rev. Grunt will continue to conduct itinerant services at various island locations.
“I’ll be preaching this Sunday at Diddley’s Landing public pier, weather permitting,” he said. “I’ll be doing baptisms right there on those concrete steps, too. There’s plenty on this island could use something like that. Communion’s out, though, after Dermott Bottoms got into the Communion wine last week. All the wine.”
Our Lady of Blacktip cathedral will continue to be open for any who prefer not to attend Rev. Grunt’s services or theosophy meetings.