Diocese of Niagara developing 8 story condo building in cathedral parking lot

The synod of the Diocese of Niagara has granted approval for the development which, in spite of bearing a passing resemblance to soviet era flats, will by no means be low cost housing. Here is a conceptual rendering:

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The plans are here with more details on the buildings here.

Ironically, at the same time the diocese is ploughing millions of dollars into its headquarters, the diocesan image is looking a trifle tattered in Guelph, where residents are planning a demonstration over the sale of St. Matthias for – you guessed it, millions of dollars.

GUELPH — Two community groups are planning a peaceful rally outside St. George’s Anglican Church Sunday to request a meeting with Bishop Michael Bird of the Anglican Diocese of Niagara about the tentative sale of St. Matthias Church property to HIP Developments.

Linda Davis, of the McElderry Community and Friends Group, said the group has made “repeated requests” to speak with Bird about the sale of the property, where HIP intends to build a six-storey, 81-unit student-geared residence called Solstice 3.

[…..]

Davis said she believes it comes down to money for the diocese.

“They’ve tied their futures to that plan and they’re not willing to deviate from it regardless of what we say,” she said.

The bishop has defended the sale on the basis that:

our Diocese is in the business of nurturing and building spiritual communities in the Anglican tradition, not in the business of urban planning.

The cathedral development looks suspiciously like urban planning to me.

Selling cathedral land to developers to build apartments appears to be a trend. Here is the Diocese of Ottawa’s cathedral and diocesan offices sandwiching a large apartment block; the dwarfed cathedral is just visible. It seems to be a fitting metaphor for western Anglicanism: the church used to be surrounded by the secular, now the secular has been invited to dwell and flourish within the church:

The Diocese of Niagara and the love of money

The Diocese of Niagara’s self-proclaimed mission is to be a champion of social justice.  By its actions, it is not only doing a magnificent job of concealing that but it is managing to convey the impression that the church really just wants your money.

From here:

The Anglican Church of Canada Niagara Diocese has inadvertently confirmed a perspective many have about churches: they’re only out for money.

The diocese turned down offers from two local congregations (one for $1.2 million, the other for $800,000), who would have maintained the St. Matthias Church property’s institutional and community use.

Instead it accepted a $2-million bid from HIP Developments whose proposed student housing project has met with resounding opposition from the neighbourhood.

Contrast that to the Sisters of St. Joseph, a dwindling community of nuns in the Steeles and Bayview Avenues area of Toronto. (Pope John Paul II visited this convent while in Toronto for the World Youth Day celebration in 2002.) Developers offered the sisters $75 million for the 23 hectares of prime real estate. Instead, the nuns accepted a $58-million offer from the neighbouring Tyndale University College, who pledged to maintain many of the convent’s unique characteristics, including an incredible chapel and an outdoor Stations of the Cross.

The response from the diocese’s head, Bishop Michael Bird hasn’t helped matters: “Going forward, our ministry — both with the re-envisioned St. Matthias community and all our area parishes — will continue to further God’s loving purposes throughout the Royal City.”

The Diocese of Niagara has competition in Guelph

The Diocese of Niagara is closing both St. Matthias and St. David and St. Patrick in Guelph. As a counterpoint to the sound of shrivelling, accompanied by revving bulldozers, echoing throughout empty diocesan buildings ANiC is considering opening an Anglican Church in Guelph. Ecclesiastical free enterprise is a wonderful thing.

See below for details:

I met recently with the Reverend Zena Attwood, a minister of the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC). ANiC, she explains, is trying to stem this Anglican hemorrhage by establishing churches that fulfill [sic] the goals I’ve described. Their website (anglicannetwork.ca) shows that in their first five years they have 72 parishes across Canada. ANiC is a member of the conservative Anglican Church in North America, that reckons about a thousand parishes in Canada and the USA and is enthusiastically planting more. Ms Attwood says she’s creating a core group to start such a parish in Guelph. The group meets on Sunday mornings for Bible discussion and eucharist. Ms Attwood invites inquiries at 519 846 0454 or [email protected] Mr D’Arcy Luxton is an alternative contact at 519 846 0483 or [email protected]

Another Diocese of Niagara church on the brink of closing

The congregation of St. David and St. Patrick in Guelph will be worshipping in a Lutheran Church starting in June. The Anglican Church of Canada and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada have been combining their office space and holding joint synods for some time now, so it’s not surprising to see consolidation at the parish level; this is almost certainly the first of many. The ACoC and ELCIC, for all their spiritual posturing, are behaving in much the same way as secular businesses. Unlike secular businesses, though, while paying no tax themselves, the ACoC and ELCIC lobby the government to redistribute other people’s wealth by increasing their taxes; this is called prophetic social justice making.

After the public relations debacle with the closing of St. Matthias in Guelph, the diocese is understandably leery about yet another church closure and probable sale of the property to developers. It seems that the parishioners are not “allowed to talk about the issue”. What would happen to them if they do, I wonder? Shipped off to Justice Camp for re-education, I expect.

From here:

GUELPH—As the debate around the sale of the St. Matthias Anglican church heats up, the future of another Anglican place of worship in the Royal City is left uncertain.

The Anglican Diocese of Niagara says the congregation at St. David and St. Patrick, at 520 Speedvale Ave. E., will move to worship at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church this June.

Reverend Bill Mous, director of justice, community and global ministries at the diocese, wrote in an email to the Mercury the Anglican parish has entered into a two-year “partnership agreement” with the nearby Lutheran church.

That leaves the future of the Anglican church building unclear.

[….]

A person who answered the phone at the Anglican church said no one there was allowed to talk about the issue.

Diocese of Niagara is demolishing churches because everyone is doing it

Rev. Bill Mous, possessor of what can only be an antonymic title – director of justice, community and global ministries – justifies turning St. Matthias in Guelph into a six story apartment building by telling us it is “a story that’s playing out in communities across the country”.

I await, with considerable anticipation, the same story playing out for the diocesan cathedral.

From here:

GUELPH — The story of St. Matthias Anglican Church is a story that’s playing out in communities across the country, says a spokesperson for the Anglican Diocese of Niagara, which oversees Anglican ministry in Guelph and the surrounding area.
The decision to sell the church, located at the corner of Edinburgh and Kortright roads, came about from a variety of factors, said Rev. Bill Mous, director of justice, community and global ministries in a phone interview.

“It came from the congregation’s size and their ability to financially support the ministry and the property,” Mous said. “And it didn’t happen overnight. The congregation made many attempts to engage the community in the ministry of St. Matthias. But in 2013 they faced reality and voted to leave their building.

“It was difficult, and bold.”

When the church went up for sale, several offers were received including offers from two churches, but theirs were “substantially lower than the others,” Mous said.

It just goes to show that difficult and bold social justice in the church is mainly concerned with maximising profits – just like capitalism but less honest.

Diocese of Niagara is reductionist and exclusive despite its best efforts

When the lady priests in the Diocese of Niagara performed the Vagina Monologues in the diocesan cathedral for the edification – or titillation – of prurient Anglicans, they probably didn’t anticipate that their impetuous attempt to be trendy would, within a couple of years, be condemned as “inherently reductionist and exclusive”. The problem is, it seems, today, not everyone who claims – or self identifies, to use the current in vogue jargon – to be a woman has a vagina. I can’t think why this did not occur to the lady priests.

Such are the perils of the never ending quest for ecclesiastical relevance.

From here:

“Gender is a wide and varied experience, one that cannot one that cannot simply be reduced to biological or anatomical distinctions, and many of us who have participated in the show have grown increasingly uncomfortable presenting material that is inherently reductionist and exclusive.”

Ensler’s play, which debuted in 1996 and has added new scenes ever since, features in-your-face monologues about sexual discovery, homosexuality, rape and even pedophilia. But even now, most of these fiercely feminist monologues have yet to give a voice to the vagina-less.

Diocese of Niagara fills church for all the wrong reasons

As I mentioned here, St. Matthias in Guelph was sold to property developers for about $2M.

From here:

It is somewhat rare today that the church can gather an overflow crowd but the Anglican Diocese of Niagara has succeeded in doing that — unfortunately for all the wrong reasons.

The crowd that gathered were neighbours of Saint Matthias Anglican Church (at the corner of Edinburgh and Kortright roads) concerned that the Anglican Diocese is planning to sell the church and land to a developer who will build 81 units of rental housing geared to students.

[…..]

We have heard that there were other serious offers to purchase the property by other churches. But these too have been rebuffed. And so the conclusion that many would draw is that the diocese wants top dollar. And worse, that the denomination cares little for the neighbours that the church community has lived beside for the past 30 years. It would seem to be another example of a self-serving church.

The diocese is attempting to revitalise what’s left of the homeless St. Matthias by having some seminars on the Seven Grandfathers of the Anishinaabe people. That should work.

For those who remain unconvinced of the relevance of St. Matthias to today’s world, there is the St. Matthias blog where we discover that “living our questions is where the answers lie” and “There is Truth and it is deep within and around us all the time.” I am so moved, I think I am going to cry; so much so that I can almost overlook the fact that the writer seems to be oblivious to the difference between “lie” and “lye” – a generous application of which could, admittedly, greatly improve the diocese:

Does the truth lye in the living each moment of each day without fear of failure, fear of the other, fear of rejection, fear of all sorts of things that consume our thoughts, emotions, spirits and hearts.

Diocese of Niagara wants to address Ontario’s Dignity Deficit

You could be forgiven for thinking that that means throwing out Kathleen Wynne and her Liberal Government. But no: the diocese wants what every left thinking Anglican wants: a bogus utopia in which wealth is redistributed through increased taxation. Except for the diocese itself, of course, which deserves to maintain its tax exempt status because it campaigns so tirelessly for – well, wealth redistribution for everyone else.

From here:

In a recent submission to the Minister of Finance’s 2015 Pre-Budget Consulation, [sic] the Diocese articulated its conviction that a socially just society is one in which all citizens have enough to flourish. While Ontario’s fiscal deficit is a pressing issue, so is its dignity deficit according to the Reverend Bill Mous, Director of Justice, Community and Global Ministries.

The diocese reckons that the charitable work done by St. Matthew’s House in Hamilton is “inadequate”. Perhaps if the diocese donated more of its tax free income to St. Matthew’s House it would be less inadequate.

The Diocese of Niagara still busy deconsecrating and demolishing

The Diocese of Niagara deconsecrated St. Paul’s in Thorold in June of 2014. Plans to demolish it were thwarted by members of the community who wish to preserve it as an historic building. Representatives from the diocese, holding back the tears, let the community buy it for a nominal fee.

St. Paul'sRead it all here:

On Monday, the Anglican Church of Canada announced that the Synod of the Diocese of Niagara — the governing body of the diocese — has voted to enter into an agreement to sell historic former St. Paul’s Anglican Church and the adjoining cemetery to the new Friends of St. Paul Port Robinson group, which McDonald heads, for a nominal fee.

The announcement means the stately white building no longer faces the wrecking ball and could stand for future generations to enjoy.

McDonald,  who can see the church from her front yard, was convinced by a friend to join a couple of other Port Robinson residents in an impromptu visit to Thorold city council last  September.

The stunned residents had just learned the 170-year-old church, which had been deconsecrated last June, was slated for demolition.