When Rev. Ted Lyddon Hatten, who has served as Conference Artist for some 22 years, gave a statement early in the Annual Conference weekend, his primary focus was engaging the attendees in an interactive experience that invited everyone to consider a series of questions related to a visual artwork he had created for the Conference. However, towards the end of his remarks, as Rev. Lyddon Hatten briefly addressed some of the church body’s difference of opinion on questions of human sexuality, he raised some eyebrows when mentioning the Westboro Baptist Church in the same breath as the Catholic Church.
Click here to read the two statements from the Conference Artist
In a second statement to the Annual Conference, precipitated by concerns raised by many who had been present during the first, Rev. Lyddon Hatten spoke about the nature of miscommunication. “Some of the words that I spoke Saturday night were misheard,” he said. “I am responsible for the words that come out of my mouth. Maybe that doesn’t need to be said, but I’m erring on the side of clarity today. By the volume – and I mean number and decibels – of feedback that Bishop Trimble has received about this, one might come to believe that he is responsible for the words that come out of my mouth. He is not. I am.”
He continued, saying, “I am aware that for some of you, some of my words caused pain. And I want to be exceedingly clear here, that was not my intent. Do I equate the Catholic Church with the Westboro Baptist Church? No.” Rev. Lyddon Hatten also made it clear that he had no intention of being provocative, but rather hopes that his words and work can deepen important conversations between people.
In his remarks, Rev. Lyddon Hatten spoke for a minute about his artwork, too. “The installation surrounding the font was going to change and morph over our time together, but it seemed appropriate to me to leave it unchanged, static. But I did remove two of the smallest rocks from the installation. You may not have noticed because they were there hidden in the shadows among the larger stones,” he explained, noting that he had been carrying those rocks in his pocket.
“The ground that we’re standing upon, with all of our beliefs and questions, with all of our pain and our joy all tangled together, this ground is sacred – but rocky. Not easy to navigate. And there among the large stones are the smaller ones, those of you who may be easy to miss in the middle. I’ve been listening to those stones and I thank you for listening to me and for listening to God and for listening to each other,” he concluded.