St. Petersburg Times - Original Article

The Terri Schiavo Case

Judge Greer parts ways with his church on pastor's advice

By Times Staff
Published March 22, 2005

CLEARWATER - Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer left his church last week after the pastor wrote him a letter suggesting "it might be easier for all of us" if he leave.

Greer, whose orders on the Terri Schiavo case have brought him criticism, is a Southern Baptist who attended Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater.

Though he had other unrelated problems with the church, Greer's attendance faltered after a Baptist publication the church supported criticized his decisions in the Schiavo case. He stopped his donations to the church, but remained a member. He briefly discussed his relationship with the church in a March 6 St. Petersburg Times article.

Four days later, Calvary Pastor William Rice wrote Greer a letter: "I am not asking you to do this, but since you have taken the initiative of withdrawal, and since your connection with Calvary continues to be a point of concern, it would seem the logical and, I would say, biblical course."

Rice's letter became public when he sent a copy to the Clearwater courthouse. Rice also said the church supports keeping Schiavo alive, though he said he was "truly saddened and embarrassed by the level of harassment and vitriolic nature of so many comments that purportedly come from people of faith."

Rice, who has been pastor at the church for five months, added: "But you must know that in all likelihood it is this case which will define your career and this case that you will remember in the waning days of life. I hope you can find a way to side with the angels and become an answer to the prayers of thousands."

Greer responded with a letter severing his relationship with the church.