Anglican Watch

Ugly email from Montvale hater Cynthia Planker

Montvale NJ town of hate

One of the claims made by the dissidents in the Montvale haters is that they don’t espouse anti-LGBTQ hatred. This is part of their gaslighting efforts, which are yet another form of abusive conduct.

The following letter was sent by church neighbor Cynthia Planker to the church and to the Episcopal bishop of Newark. In it, we see a dog whistle about “flags representing one portion of the population,” which doubtless is a reference to the Pride flag on church property. She goes on to say that the “source” of the flag is the devil.

And while Planker decries divisiveness, she does not see any issues with her comments equating a symbol of the LGBTQ community with the devil. Clearly, cogent reasoning is not her strong suit. And while she is dispensing advice to others on how to live into their faith, Planker appears blind to the words in Proverbs: “Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.” In other words, who asked her to get involved? And she comes right out and says she’s a gossip:

Being in the geographical community, friends have communicated to me that members of this church have been shunned, and the pastor has rejected pastoral visit requests to the elderly and widowed. I share this so you know what is being said around town.

But what is most telling is that none other than Jeff Piatt circulated this message in an email he sent to clergy in the Diocese of Newark. Yet nowhere did he denounce Planker’s rhetoric, say that he disagreed, or in any way distance himself from the content.

Res ipsa loquitor — the thing speaks for itself.

Note: Planker’s husband appears to be the owner of  BP Electrical Contracting Co., located in Montvale. He also appears to work as an electric subcode official for New Milford.

From: Cynthia Planker <>
Date: Sat, Feb 26, 2022 at 6:37 PM
Subject: St. Pauls Montvale NJ
To: <>

An important element of my ministry… is to nurture and guide our capacity to build relationships with neighbors locally or on the other side of the globe.”

 As our nation and world struggle with divisiveness and fragmented communities, the Diocese of Newark is an active and united community of diverse people in relationship with each other, with neighbors, and with all of creation. A community where God’s love, justice, and equality are lived and shared in tangible ways that go far beyond toleration or mere acceptance. God has created and called us to be loving, compassionate, and deeply spiritual beings who thrive in Beloved Community.

Without a doubt the most important work of the Diocese is nurturing the community of God’s love, compassion, and justice with our neighbors and the wider world. In the end it seems the only way to healing, reconciliation, wholeness, and vital communities is a restoring God’s love, compassion and justice in the life we share together. When this happens we are the Beloved Community.”

 Ms. Hughes,

Above are quotes taken from your bio, C.J. Hughes, on the Episcopal Diocese of Newark website.

I am not a member of your church in Montvale. I am not an Episcopalian. I live on Woodland Rd in Montvale, NJ, close to the St Paul’s Episcopal church.

I am a seeker and I regularly study the Bible.

Whatever is going on in this church is troubling me, and some others I know in the community.

I have attached photos that are indicative of the divisiveness and provocative nature stirring in this church. This is not the way to invite and encourage “God’s love, justice and equality” being  lived. If I had to guess at the source of the sentiments behind signs to the community saying “stay out”, “no sledding”, “private property” and flags representing one segment of the population, I call that source the devil himself.

What fruit of the spirit do these actions represent?

This church has been an integral part of our community with families sledding, children playing on the “church hill” as we called it and people walking the long and beautiful driveway with a friend or their dog/s. Now we are to keep out.

The beautiful bells that play old hymns regularly, sounding a strong  and peaceful message of God’s love to the surrounding area now sounds slightly out of tune

I believe the Bible, and my heart, are quite clear that we are to live as Jesus taught us to live. Developing the fruits of the spirit over time, until our spontaneous behavior is in alignment with God’s will.

God is merciful, forgiving, loving.

Someone ought to get it together at your church; humble themselves, confess their sin and ask God and their community for forgiveness.

Being in the geographical community, friends have communicated to me that members of this church have been shunned, and the pastor has rejected pastoral visit requests to the elderly and widowed. I share this so you know what is being said around town.

I checked out the facebook page to try to get a sense of what the situation is and found that newcomers are asked to “register” in order to attend services, what would Jesus say?

I also found politically charged posts from the pastor, judging the town leaders. Who does that from the pulpit? Clearly episcopalians are using different guidelines for their behavior than what I have been exposed to in my search for Christian fellowship.

Cynthia Planker


  1. Real talk: Seeing how ugly it this whole thing has gotten on both ends, as well as the number of other scandals recorded in relatively recent times, has made me come to the conclusion that maybe it is time for the The Episcopal Church to just die.

    It seems plagued with petty drama, sexual and financial scandals, and all around gaslighting. It seems more like a social club with an occasional sermon, concerned with adopting trendy political positions (I sincerely doubt the leadership believes in them), reminding people passive aggressively that it is historically the church of the rich, and making sure their kids get into named brands schools. This church seems fine with helping the poor as long as they are out of sight and not seen in their communion or cathedral during work hours; fine with being nice to someone’s face but talking behind their back and then throwing their grievances to their face only as ammo.

    No. I know it may to say this, but maybe it is time for The Episcopal Church to end up in the dustbin of history. It is a shell of its former self. Point blank, that may have been good marketing in the first place.

    Apologies to the editor. I don’t mean for this to come as cruel, I just needed to get it off my chest…

    1. Hi Toucan. No need to apologize. My own experience with TEC in recent years has been profoundly negative and marked by the church displaying a staggering lack of integrity at every level. Far too often, its only goal has been to preserve itself, no matter what the cost to others. And there are serious problems when the church can look me in the eye and say it won’t follow its own canons, including dealing with facially obvious clergy misconduct.

      Members are no better, and their friendship often conditioned on not criticizing the church; neither will they admit that wrongdoing in the church is even a possibility. Or it’s a case of, “Well, that happened before I got here” which begs the question, “Okay, so what are you going to do about it?” Silence equals complicity.

      Apropos St. Paul’s in Montvale, the sad thing is that Jill is one of the few priests I know who is sincere about their faith. And bringing in LMPC is a great idea—I would love to see my former parish do that, but the Diocese of Virginia simply doesn’t have that level of integrity. They’ll raise millions for Shrine Mont, the parish retreat center, but damned if they’ll spend the money to address conflict. I just wish the Diocese of Newark would give Jill and her vestry a little more air cover. It’s also worth noting that Jill is that rarest of all priests — one who doesn’t hide from conflict. (My experience is that the more noisy swagger you see, the less likely the priest is to actually have a, um, spine.)

      So, I think we are all at a place where we are left wondering if the church will survive, or if it should. Even ++Curry is wavering on these issues — at one time, he was saying revolution was essential to survival, now he’s saying he’s not worried and the church will always be around in some form. I guess that’s true if you consider TEC to be nothing more than Trinity Wall Street.

      In the meantime, just know you are always welcome here.

      – Eric Bonetti, editor

    2. A related thought: The dissidents, with their hateful, childish rhetoric and manipulative conduct, don’t realize that it’s behavior like theirs that is causing Christianity to falter. Indeed, with 1/3 of young people indifferent to organized religion, and 1/3 hostile, behavior like theirs plays right into these perceptions.

      And while I anticipate we will get the usual round of “the haters and homophobes aren’t part of the protesters” routine, there is a stark reality in all of this: We have never once seen the dissidents do anything to support Jill, the church, its vestry, or the bishop. At best, we see the whole, “Let’s start by worshipping together,” thing, also known as sweeping the issue under the rug. So while Joe Wahler gasses on about cancel culture, the dissidents themselves epitomize cancel culture. “Someone finally set some boundaries, so now I’m going to take my ball and go home….booohoooohooo….it’s all Jill’s fault.” Or as one friend puts it, “DARVO baby, DARVO!”

      And the fabrications are really ugly, like the bit about closing down the preschool and leaving families in a lurch. For the record, there were only three kids enrolled, so it simply wasn’t viable. Plus the claim is facially illogical — any church is going to welcome a revenue stream independent of pledges. But the dissidents don’t think about whether the lies they tell even make any sense; truth simply has no role in their childish games. Indeed, worst case scenario is that St. Paul’s closes, which is not a bad thing if the alternative is built on a foundation of hate. I’d rather go down in flames doing what’s right than turn a blind eye to the antics of haters.

      Lastly, the words of a pastor I used to work for come to mind vis-a-vis the dissidents: “If you can’t be nice when it comes to church, what good are you?” This is a question all the dissidents need to ask themselves.

  2. Holy Toledo. Planker’s comments reflect everything I hate about organized religion. Yet when a church closes, it’s the Plankers of the world who shake their heads and say, “I don’t understand. It was such a loving place.”

    Would also love to know how Piatt got a copy. Sounds like the answer is in the line, “friends have communicated to me.”

    Birds of a feather.

    1. Yup. And while we are not particularly into titles and the silly, Victorian-era honorifics of TEC, Planker might try using the correct title for a bishop.

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