Br. Blane Frederik, n/BSG

Br. Blane Frederik OLW

I was born an African and British Subject in 1960 in Southern Rhodesia in the Province of Matabeleland in Kwabulawayo, a Sindebele word meaning “Place of Slaughter.” Our neighbors to the South were embroiled in systemic Apartheid, Desmond Tutu had been ordained a Priest in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, and Nelson Mandela was leading the fight against racism and injustice and would soon be banished to Robben Island as prisoner 46664.

I neither knew of these events at the time, nor comprehended the historical significance of these times until many years later after a journey that took me deeper into the African continent as a counter insurgent (76418813 BG) with the South African Defense Force; (Propoganda at the time: “Nasionale Diensplig moet beskou word as ‘n geleentheid vir elke jong Suid-Afrikaner om lewenservaring op te doen, wat nerens anders verkry kan word nie. Dit is ook ‘n voorreg om militer opgelei te word om ‘n positiewe bydrae tot die beskerming van ons land, Suid Afrika, te lewer.”) then to Manchester, England as an ordained Elder — a missionary — for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; (Propoganda at the time: “When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan — it is God’s Plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give directions, it should mark the end of controversy, God works in no other way. To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost one his faith, may destroy his testimony, and leave him a stranger to the kingdom of God.“)

I mention these landmarks because they have shaped and defined my leading to ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church as it has been revealed to me through the Holy Spirit, spiritual mentors, pastors and priests and my own convictions.

My journey to ordained life and Religious vocation really began in when I was a child in 1970, transplanted from Southern Rhodesia to a new and frightening culture in South Africa where my parents sought a safer life and a better future. I was despised by many Calvinist Afrikaner Boere (for my last name, van Pletzen, was Dutch, but my mother tongue was English); my kind was marked forever as those who, during the second Boer War, had scorched their earth, burned their farmsteads and herded 27,000 Afrikaner women and children into the world’s first concentration camps where they died from dysentery, blackwater fever and starvation. I was marked with the blood of British colonial expansionism.

My refuge lay in the sanctuary of St. George’s chapel. There God knew me and spoke to me, consoled me, held me up and whispered, as mother to child, that at the end of it all I was acceptable to him. I clearly remember experiencing salvation at my confirmation on Tuesday March 21st 1972:

“Do ye endeavour to keep God’s holy will and commandments, and to walk in the same all the days of your life?” The Bishop held my head between his hands and prayed: “Defend, O Lord, this thy child, Blane, with thy heavenly grace, that he may continue thine for ever; and daily increase in thy Holy Spirit more and more, until he come unto thy everlasting kingdom.”

The phrase “. . . continue thine forever” became an early touchstone for me. I felt I would become a priest. My faith rested in my clergy and with my parents. While this was a time of early formation, and though I knew of my leading to a spiritual call, I had the world to discover; I was not yet awake.

In 1977, my senior year of high school, I took membership with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints along with my entire family. In hindsight, this is something that I ought not to have done given the swiftness of the process and the absence of discernment. While I now look back on the paucity of theology during those years, I am grateful for the experiences this Church afforded me. I understand clearly how invaluable my tenure with the Mormon Church was: its abiding gift to me lies in my sense of leadership, pastoral care, the steady rhythm of ritual and the importance of scriptural study.

In 1980, up in Katima Mulilo where I was stationed with the South African military, a Dutch Reformed Dominee earnestly tried to convince me that I had taken a misstep by converting to Mormonism. Knowing of my strong Anglican roots, he quoted Timothy:

But continue thou in those things which thou hast learned and which have been committed to thee. Knowing of whom thou hast learned them: And because from thy infancy thou hast known the holy scriptures which can instruct thee to salvation which is in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3: 14,15).”

This passage has spoken to me many times when I have been in need of spiritual direction.

I emigrated to the United States in the Summer of 1983.  I married Lisa Ann Tullis in 1984. Our daughter, Esmé Camille, was born in 1985.

Davis High School Seminary
Davis High School Seminary

After receiving two degrees, I worked for the Mormon Church first as a Seminary instructor (at Davis High School in Kaysville, Utah) and then as a professor at Brigham Young University – Hawaii (in Laie, Oahu.)  It was there that I finally began to come to terms with my sexuality and began my slow exit from Mormonism.  Lisa and I later divorced.

I now understand Thomas Merton, the twentieth century mystic and Trappist when he argues that:

“. . .although men [and women] have a common destiny, each individual also has to work out his  own personal salvation for himself in fear and trembling. We can help one another to find the meaning of life no doubt. But in the last analysis, the individual person is responsible for living his own life and for “finding himself”. If he persists in shifting his responsibility to somebody else, he fails to find out the meaning of his own existence. You cannot tell me who I am, and I cannot tell you who you are. If you do not know your own identity, who is going to identify you?”

There is much more I have to tell. What you must know, though, is how God brought me to St. Mark’s Cathedral Church. Scott, a former Mormon and returned-Missionary, and I arrived for a Friday night service not fully knowing why we were there. Following Eucharist I introduced myself to the Priest and briefly shared my story.  “What must I do to come home?” I asked her. Without hesitation, Mother Robin James opened the Book of Common Prayer, looked me dead in the eye, and assured me: “Blane, may the Holy Spirit who has begun a good work in you direct and uphold you in the service of Christ and his kingdom.”

Now my husband of fifteen years, Scott and I currently live in Buffalo, New York, where I am an Episcopal Priest and Monastic with The Companions of Our Lady of Walsingham.  Scott works for The Episcopal Church Center and I work at Trinity Episcopal Church in Hamburg, Western New York, as their Rector. My former wife, Lisa, has since remarried, and Esmé lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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25 Comments Add your own

  • 1. van Pletzen  |  January 29, 2007 at 6:19 am


    I am a van Pletzen as well – in South Africa. Would very much like to chat

  • 2. John Montgomery  |  February 8, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    Blane, I have very fond memories of our childhood in Bulawayo and of the time we met briefly at the end of 1978, which I’d forgotten about until you reminded me. Your friend John

  • 3. charles bonner  |  February 18, 2007 at 12:14 am

    hi blane i received your email from sar united- was not able to reply so did a search on google- 30 years since nigel high- where are you?

  • 4. Aulaire  |  January 25, 2008 at 7:29 am

    Ah, now I know who you are. How goes the discernment?

  • 5. Keith  |  February 19, 2008 at 4:21 am

    Blane, I’m happy to see that we’re fellow WordPressers as well as fellow Macheads. Well, that, and fellow Anglicans to boot!

    And I’m happy to read your thoughts here. I know your life experiences must surely have been deep and varied. That is part of what makes for a good priest, I think.

    We’ll talk more, soon, I hope. Best regards.

  • 6. ekke  |  May 2, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    hallo, I’m a ng dominee, born in the same year as you (1960), went through the same indoctrination (it seems). Fought with my church and kapelane over the wrongness of apartheid. I’m still an afrikaner and living in SA. I love my country, hate (and hated) apartheid or any form of discrimination, actually any form of injustice (I love the OT and God’s repudiation of injustice). Liked your blog. Will visit more.

    Are you still fluent in afrikaans? You’re welcome to visit htttp://ekkedink.wordpress.com/

  • 7. Thomas Mark  |  July 31, 2009 at 6:51 am

    I’m glad to see the link to this site at the end of your e-mail to the Brotherhood of Saint Gregory.

    Br. Thomas Mark, BSG

  • 8. Nikita  |  January 13, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    1980 Katima… I think I know someone that waa at Katima the same time…

  • 9. Norman  |  January 15, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    Re your question:
    “Feb 2007 … Anybody remember the Leadership Course for Transvaal schools at Krugersdorp High in 1974, I think Sheila Gibbon (Deputy Head) was there? …”

    Please contact me for more details, although the memory is going.

  • 10. The Van Pletsen Saga « Blane  |  February 1, 2010 at 3:27 am

    […] About […]

  • 11. J. Scot Irwin  |  March 4, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Blane, I hope you remember our time together in Kaysville. I appreciated our friendship and always respected the gifts and talents you demonstrated as a teacher of youth. Our lives have obviously taken different paths but hopefully the journeys have been worthwhile and meaningful. As I read your story I was reminded of the times we spent together talking about the “weightier matters” and I appreciate your influence on my character.

  • 12. jeffrey cave  |  March 14, 2010 at 8:02 am

    You are new to me and I am new to you! Hope the novelty doesn’t wear off. I loved the exegesis on the good samaritan. Yes, please keep me in the loop.

    Jeffrey Cave

  • 13. pastor. joshua  |  January 14, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    good website, great work, please pray for us and here church and people. please send the books, please support here people and church poor persons and needy.

    thank you,

    post box 126,
    kakinada -533001,
    E.G.Disdst, Andhra Pradesh,
    I N D I A.

  • 14. Ken Madsen  |  May 6, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Brother Blane,

    Enjoyed the time we shared in Manchester; your great home-made film-strip district meetings, your musical talent and the long talks we had. Seems, you were a shooting star. Glad to see you have held to your believe in God. Hope you found greater happiness. You seemed so sure and content, the iron rod would see you through the mists of darkness to the Savior.

    So many hands have reached out to correct my path, but they never added up to me or harmonized on any chord except for their dismay concerning my faith–thousands of discordant voices like the Mancunian (Presbyterian?) cursing us in tongues as we walked past his back garden.

    The Old Testament’s veiled references to the Atonement of Christ reverberates throughout the books of the Bible in ways that rings true to me. Just the same, Old Testament references to Joseph’s unexpected birthright path from the missing and nearly forgotten son, to the arrival of his family in Egypt, reverberates through Old and New Testament passages with me, making me I wonder: If not the Nephite’s book, where is the history of Joseph’s posterity which will be come one with the Jewish record? and what about the dispersed other sheep which the Lord seems to remember in the New Testament?

    Who could believe Mary and Joseph’s story of conception and birth of the Son of God? Mostly naive people who could believe new prophets the same as old ones. That’s the same way millions believe the writings of Paul in the Christian church are Holy.

    Who can consider the billions of years the mountains have churned on the molten rocks of this planet and believe in the God of the Bible? Mostly I believe because of mountainous and craggy expectations I have given the Lord in a life of prayers, and the many exact mountainous and craggy matching answers which reveal the unknown God is at work at least when I call out in times of both hope and despair, whispering I’m a stranger here, and cometh from afar, and loving home.

    Please tell me its not just convenience we grasp, in total chaos. It may seem chaotic at times, but surely magnificent beyond anything chaos could conjure.

    Thank you for your goodness then, and now.

    Ken Madsen.

    • 15. Br. Blane Frederik, n/BSG  |  May 7, 2011 at 9:37 pm

      Hello Ken: So good to hear from you after all these years! Looking forward to hearing more of your story. Much love, Blane+

  • […] | Leave a Comment  Gert Frederik Heyns van Pletzen (“Van”) is my husband’s (Blane Frederik van Pletzen-Rands) grandfather. Gert Frederik Heyns was born in Zastron, Orange Free State, South Africa, on 1 March […]

  • 17. Dan Patch  |  December 30, 2013 at 10:41 am

    Is this blog still active?

    • 18. Br. Blane Frederik BSG  |  December 30, 2013 at 10:44 pm

      It sure is, Dan. I’ll soon be emailing you privately. It has been too long since we last spoke!

  • 19. Siumei  |  April 14, 2014 at 4:23 am

    Aloha! I want you to know that I want to return your thesis to you. I have been keeping it for so long but due to my own struggles in life, I was not able to contact you until now. I was one of your ELI students back in those Laie days.

  • 20. chris van der walt  |  November 28, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    HI,i wonder if could help me,i was in st goerges home in the middel 70 to 81,i would like to know where i could look in the archives to find any of my pics there if any and any data concerning me,and my brothers.

  • 21. Road Works  |  November 5, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    Penny for the Guy! Thinking of you today.

    • 22. Br. Blane Frederik OLW  |  November 6, 2015 at 12:00 am

      Happy Guy Fawkes dear Joyce!

      • 23. Road Works  |  November 6, 2015 at 12:52 am

        How wonderful to find you and in such a good place. David also sends warm wishes.

        Joyce Kinkead, Professor Utah State University

  • 24. Br. Blane Frederik OLW  |  November 6, 2015 at 12:55 am

    Well you certainly made my day, Joyce. Much love to you and David.

  • 25. Brijit Reed  |  July 20, 2017 at 11:45 am

    Hi, Blane– according to FTDNA and GEDmatch.com, you and I are distant genetic cousins and it appears that we’re related through your mother’s side of the family. Forgive me, but I’m not a religious person but I am very spiritual and the Thomas Merton quote really resonated with me. After reading your story, I found it really moving and I applaud you for finding yourself both spiritually and in your sexuality. My brother and several cousins are gay and each one deserves love and happiness as much as anyone else. Many blessings to you and your family.

    –Brijit Schmook
    Los Angeles, CA


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