St. Matthias Victoria runs out of chair money

Here is a brief recent history of St. Matthias in the Diocese of B.C.

In 2009 most of the thriving congregation voted to leave the Anglican Church of Canada to join ANiC.

As was the case for every other congregation that left the ACoC, the diocese seized the building but not the majority of the people. This left a small congregation that would not normally be considered viable but had to be made to appear viable, otherwise the diocese would have had little need for the building. Consequently, the parish was put on financial life-support by the diocese.

In 2010 a pair of 17th century Ming dynasty chairs were discovered in the church, by now firmly in the clutches of the Diocese of B.C. They sold in 2012 for a profit $630,000US to the orgasmic delight of the rector, Rev. Robert Arril, who, for some reason, only lasted as rector until 2013.

We were informed that the money would help pay for “several programs sponsored by St. Matthias, including outreach services for single mothers and homeless people.” The reality did not live up to the pious intent of the announcement: the money was actually spent “to cover the structural deficits” because the parish was not self-supporting. It should be self-supporting since, after all, it is:

open and welcoming to all members of the LGBTQI community and we desire to create an environment that is supportive of LGBTQI people and their relationships, respectful of all people, treat all people equally, and are non-judgmental. We do not judge people on their sexual orientation or their gender identity, but rather, we seek to affirm them in their self-identity.

In spite of all the self-identity affirmation, the chair money is running out. Here is an excerpt from a recent, rather dispirited, parish report:

Over the past seven years the Parish of St. Matthias has been in constant transition. In 2009 something over 80% of the parish left, along with the clergy and musicians. Under the Rev. Dr. Robert Arril the parish began a process of recovery. In 2012 the “Hand Document” was produced which charted out an action plan for the next five years. Much of this ambitious plan was implemented. Bob Arril left the parish in Spring 2013, and after a long interim our current Rector came in June 2014. In 2015 we observed our centennial.
In none of these seven years were we truly self-supporting. In the first two years we  were supported by grants from the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia. In 2012 we had a providential discovery in that two Chinese chairs which had sat at the back of the church for decades were found in fact worth to be worth a small fortune. The sale of these chairs has helped us to cover the structural deficits. However, the end of the “chair fund” is on the horizon.
As well, our average Sunday attendance has been stuck at between forty and fifty people. By any measure this is about half of what would be expected in a self-supporting parish.

Spinning Anglican disintegration

What is a bishop to do when his diocese no longer has the money to pay for clergy salaries or building maintenance, when members of his parishes are either fleeing or dying? Other than donning a rainbow mitre and, with an increasingly embarrassing air of desperation, be so inclusive the main requirement for membership is to believe in anything, the only thing left is to spin the truth so brazenly that there is, as Joseph Goebbels noted, “a certain force of credibility” to the underpinning lie.

Thus, when the Diocese of BC has to sell buildings just to stay afloat and maintain pension funds, the church’s mission, according to Matthew 28:19 using the Standard New Amplified Revised Liberal (SNARL) translation, becomes:

 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, and build socially, affordable housing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”

From here:

The Anglican church building in Ladysmith, formerly St. John the Evangelist, will become a seniors’ housing complex.

Right Rev. Logan McMenamie, Bishop of the Diocese of British Columbia, said Monday the move to sell the church to the Ladysmith Resources Centre Association for social housing, was made in the spirit of fulfilling the Christian mission of the church.

“The ministry of the Anglican church will not end,” said McMenamie. “Socially, affordable housing is a big priority for the diocese as we move ahead.”

The Ladysmith Resources Centre Association plans on redeveloping the site to create 30-40 units of affordable housing dedicated to seniors, people with developmental disabilities and others who have trouble with the rental market.

Katharine Jefferts Schori to speak at Diocese of BC Cathedral

Katharine Jefferts Schori spent much of her time as Presiding Bishop of TEC embroiled in lawsuits against ACNA parishes and dioceses who were trying to hang on to their buildings. I met her in 2010 at the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada and asked how a Christian denomination could justify launching so many lawsuits. Her response was that she had a “fiduciary responsibility towards TEC”. The implication that, in her view, it was her most important responsibility, was not lost on me.

Having so much experience in promoting harmony and good-will must have been what prompted the Bishop of BC, Logan McMenamie to invite Jefferts Schori to the Diocese to impart her timeless wisdom – distilled over many years of acrimonious litigation – about Truth and Reconciliation.

I’m not sure if Logan is paying her or not, but I can only assume she is not neglecting her fiduciary responsibility to herself.

From here:

Truth and reconciliation is a response to colonialism but for individuals it’s a chance to enlarge our viewpoints by hearing experiences of others, a pioneering clergywoman says.

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the U.S., the first woman to be elected a primate in the worldwide Anglican Church, said truth and reconciliation at its most basic, is about listening and respect.

“It’s really an anti-colonialism response,” said Jefferts Schori in a telephone interview from her home in Nevada.

“It encourages people to hear each other’s stories and perspectives and to respect their differences rather than imposing your own view.”

Jefferts Schori is speaking Thursday at the University of Victoria and will be at Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria for a forum on Sunday.

Jefferts Schori was American Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop from 2006 to 2015. She has served as Bishop of Nevada and is currently a visiting professor at Church Divinity of the Pacific.

She has degrees in biology and a PhD in oceanography, serves on the Earth and Life Studies board of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and was a member the Council on Neighborhood and Faith-Based Partnerships when Barack Obama was president.

Bishop Logan McMenamie, of the Diocese of British Columbia, said Jefferts Schori has demonstrated incredible leadership in the church and community.

“It wasn’t easy for her with some of the other primates throughout the world,” McMenamie said.

“But she has always demonstrated amazing leadership, and stood tall during some very difficult times in the life of the [Anglican] communion.”

Jefferts Schori said: “A founding principle of Anglicanism is the Gospel, the faith, is supposed to grow and develop in unique ways in different contexts.

But Anglicans haven’t always thought so, she said. In particular, those working as colonial missionaries thought only their views and contexts were correct.

“But it’s core to what it means to be an Anglican today,” she said.

“[Faith] takes different shapes in different contexts.”

For example, she said the U.S. Anglican community has experienced a new creative experience listening to how the Christian Gospels have found new contexts in indigenous societies.

“You begin to develop a more creative community as a result,” Jefferts Schori said.

“There is an ability to see truth in different contexts and find a larger picture than any one individual can find on their own.”

Diocese of B.C. to proceed with same-sex marriages

Bishop Logan McMenamie has stated that he will not wait for the next vote on the marriage canon change in 2019 but will start performing same-sex marriages immediately.

The Diocese of BC has joined the growing number of dioceses for whom synod voting signifies little more than empty gestures emanating from the meaningless gatherings of a decaying organisation.

The other dioceses that are ignoring the synod processes include: Niagara, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Edmonton, Huron, Rupert’s Land. There are probably others. Soon, it will quicker to list dioceses that are not performing same-sex marriages.

From here (page 2):

After receiving the thoughts of the clergy of the diocese the Bishop has decided to move forward with the marriage of same sex couples in the Diocese. He will permit this on a case by case basis after conversation with the clergy person who will officiate at the marriage. He told the members of council that principle takes precedence over process in this issue. He went on to say that unity is not agreement but rather the willingness to work together and to walk together.

Diocese of BC has a Pride Eucharist

Christ Church Cathedral had a Eucharist to celebrate the “rich diversity of sexual and gender identity” – because that, after all, is what Christianity has really always been about – and the “inclusion, welcome and celebration for all people” – except for the recalcitrant remnant who are still not convinced that God is subject to the cultural whimsy of the moment.

From here:

This week, Pride week, the Anglican Churches in the Diocese of British Columbia have been taking an active part in celebrating the rich diversity of sexual and gender identity which is so much a part of the Pride ethos.  On Tuesday 5th July there was held, in Christ Church Cathedral on Quadra, a Pride Eucharist – where candles were lit in hope of inclusion, welcome and celebration for all people.

Anglican church converts to Buddhism

The Anglican Church of Canada hasn’t converted to Buddhism in its entirety – not yet, at least, and not that it would make much difference – just St. Aidan’s in Kelowna, BC.

From here:

Anglican church to be reincarnated as Buddhist cultural centre

KELOWNA – St. Aidans church, a small heritage building in Rutland, should soon see new life under an adaptive reuse agreement with the Okanagan Buddhist Cultural Society.

Staff are recommending three parcels near Mugford and Rutland Road North be rezoned and consolidated, then sold to the society along with a memorandum of understanding about the church’s preservation.

Plans are to relocate the historic Anglican church, opened in 1933, to the centre of the consolidated site where it will be restored under a heritage revitalization agreement with the city. The society will build a new entranceway, church hall and develop the old church as a cultural centre.

Built by volunteer labour on donated land, the original church was designed by Enoch Mugford, superintendent of the Black Mountain Irrigation District and local developer Hector Maranda.

Creeping Congregationalism in the Diocese of BC

In an interview, the new bishop of the Diocese of BC, Logan McMenamie, mentions that the diocese is suffering from negativity and creeping congregationalism. Although the latter sounds a little like a skin disease, it is actually an understandable response to the diocese taking parish buildings from congregations that paid for and maintained them and selling them for its own gain.

Logan McMenamieFrom here (page 5):

We will continue to have some challenges to face but I feel they can be addressed. Some of the things the clergy talked about were lone ranger parishes, creeping congregationalism and negativity. I believe we can turn this around in a positive way and see these as opportunities for growth.

The Diocese of B.C. has elected a new bishop

From here:

The Very Rev. Dr. Logan McMenamie, Dean of Columbia, and rector of Christ Church Cathedral has been elected as the 13th Bishop of the Diocese of British Columbia.

It goes without saying that the Very Rev. Dr. Logan McMenamie is a liberal; even more liberal than his predecessor, James Cowan.

He is presently rector of Christ Church Cathedral and in March of 2013 began to perform same sex blessings in the cathedral:

The congregation at Victoria’s Christ Church Cathedral voted overwhelmingly last week to allow same-sex blessings in the church, more than a decade after Vancouver-area Anglican churches did the same.

“The Anglican church has been talking about this for more than 30 years,” Rev. Logan McMenamie says.

“In some ways it’s disabled us, but it’s an important decision. It’s really a justice issue.”

McMenamie reckons that his parish has lost members because it has been too slow in allowing same sex blessings – that, after all, is what Canadian Anglicans have been clamouring for:

McMenamie laments the parish members he has lost because of the slow changes, but said more progress will be made at upcoming diocese gatherings.

He worries that the diocese he is about to inherit is falling apart, due, he believes, to the insufficiently enthusiastic application of blessing that which the Bible says should not be blessed:

“I know the issues in this diocese and the challenges we face,” he said, citing finances, closing parishes and a lack of young people.

When not pre-occupied with blessing same sex marriages, he concerns himself with other pressing matters such as the environment, homelessness and “spiritual paths” – whatever they are:

He said he has faith in the gifts and skills of the church community to address important issues such as the environment, a focus on relationships with First Peoples, homelessness and spiritual paths.

His agenda appears quite uncontaminated by quaint, outdated and, frankly, embarrassing concepts for those on “spiritual paths”, such as: man is born a sinner, is separated from God by his sin, his only remedy being the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, without which he is destined for hell – the actual Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Diocese of BC: selling churches

From here:

Nearly four years ago, the Anglican Diocese of B.C. recommended closing 11 churches across Greater Victoria, and selling the property in a bid to reduce debt and reinvigorate itself in the face of shrinking congregations.

Out of the 11, three have sold and two are leased by other organizations. The remainder are open for business as Anglican churches, and no longer face imminent closure, largely by strokes of luck.

“They were put all on the market at once, the ones people wanted to buy immediately are the only reason (others remain),” said Rev. Chris Parsons, speaking for the diocese. “We only wanted to sell a certain amount and re-evaluate what was needed.”

Properties like St. Saviour in Vic West and St. Martin in the Fields in Saanich sold, the former to a dance company and the latter to an evangelical denomination.

St. Columba in Saanich’s Strawberry Vale and All Saints in View Royal have closed as Anglican churches and the space is leased out (St. Alban’s had sold in 2009, prior to the mass sale).

Others once on the block – St. David by the Sea in Cordova Bay, St. Peter’s in Lakehill, St. Philip and St. Mary in Oak Bay and St. Mary in Metchosin – survived by the grace of not being attractive to other organizations or property developers.

[….]

A steadily declining congregational base, the basis for church closures and sales, and internal debates on issues such as same sex marriage still remain a problems for the Anglican Church.

A report from the diocese estimated that in 2009 barely one per cent of B.C. residents identify as Anglican. St. David sees about 40 parishioners on Saturdays and Sundays, and St. Peter’s sees about 60 people between two Sunday services.

St. Mary in Metchosin which is “not … attractive to other organizations or property developers” once housed a flourishing congregation that left the diocese to join ANiC.

The fact that an evangelical denomination bought one of the buildings as, presumably, part of their growth contains a message that will probably be lost on the Diocese of BC.

Bishops Ingham and Cowan gather at the totem pole

The two bishops were celebrating the transfer of a parish from the Diocese of New Westminster to the Diocese of B.C. Out of the frying pan into the fire.

11-09-2013 4-16-52 PM

Why stand at the foot of a totem pole rather that at the foot of a cross you might be wondering: the cross would be too Christian.

In reading about totem poles, we are repeatedly reminded that they have no religious significance – just like Anglican bishops – and that each animal on the pole may  represent an ancestor; Aboriginals also thought that the totem pole animals could transform themselves into men. All beliefs that, one presumes, bishops Ingham and Cowan think fit comfortably into Canadian Anglicanism.

From here (page 4):

Soon a gathering of people circled around the totem pole that sits in harmony beside St George church. The visitors were warmly welcomed with singing and drumming. Mike Willie spoke of the long history of his people, the totem and the church. Bishop Ingham welcomed everyone into the church for worship and a time of blessing the restored church.