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.

Fred Hiltz speaks power to Truth

One of the things that I find comical about extemporaneous prayer is that the person praying sometimes yields to the temptation of telling an apparently absent-minded God what he is like, who he is, what he thinks, what he likes, what he dislikes and what he should do, rather than humbly laying petitions before him.

It could be worse, though, and in Primate Fred Hiltz’s case, it is.

In the case of the soon to be held Primates’ Meeting which has filled Justin Welby with an excitement exceeded  only by that of teenage girls attending a Justin Bieber concert, Hiltz has somehow contrived to leave God’s will out of his prayers entirely.

Rather than, for example, praying for insight into whether or not it’s in God’s plan for two marry to men, he asks for “patience with one another in continuing conversations about same sex marriage”, as if patience for an incorrect view is the guiding principle for theological understanding.

Similarly, the rest of the prayers are largely given over to nudging God into Correct Thinking on the fashionable preoccupations of the day: a shameless attempt to co-opt God’s support for the leftist, intolerant, power-hungry juggernaut that replaced the Anglican Church of Canada some years ago, a speaking of power to Truth, delivered in the pious trappings of prayer. The good news is nobody cares what Anglican leaders think. Including God, I suspect.

From here:

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, offers his prayer for next month’s Oct. 2-6 Primates’ Meeting in Canterbury.

Please pray…

Pray that we have patience with one another in continuing conversations about same sex marriage.

Pray for perseverance in our commitment to honor the Calls to Action from Canada’s Truth & Reconciliation Commission. These calls revealed the horrible suffering endured by Indigenous People through the Residential Schools System established to enforce a colonialist policy of assimilation.

Pray for God’s continuing guidance as we work together in supporting the emergence of a truly Indigenous Church.

Pray for our commitment to eradicating the crime of human trafficking.

Pray for our Church’s response to the Communion Wide Call to a Season of Intentional Discipleship.

Pray for the Primates that at our gathering we have a heart not only for the unity of the Church but for the peace of the world. Pray that we be humbled and graced to be a prophetic voice speaking into the suffering of the poor, the enslaved, and those forced to flee from their homelands.

Bishops playing politics

From here:

Some 125 Episcopal Church bishops signed a full-page ad that ran Sept. 21 in the New York Times, imploring President Donald Trump and member of Congress not to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the program known as DACA.

“To do so would endanger the lives of thousands of young people and their families and run contrary to the faith and moral traditions of our country,” wrote 122 bishops, along with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, 26th Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and 25th Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold. “It is unfair to threaten the well-being of young people who arrived in our country as children through no choice of their own.”

As you can see, the compassion of Anglican bishops knows no bounds.

Very soon we can expect Episcopal cathedrals, emptied of congregants driven out for non-compliance with Doublethink, to be filled with DACA victims, potential DACA victims and pretend DACA victims. Katharine Jefferts Schori will be housing at least ten personally in her home. Michael Curry, who earns over $280,000 annually placing him squarely among the despised 1 percenters, will be donating most of it to homeless migrants and will vacate his bishop’s residence to make room for ten more.

Frank Griswold has been asked to take in yet more illegal immigrants but is still working on the deeper hermeneutical meaning of the words take and in.

Remember, though, the main thing is to hate Trump with all the inclusive vitriolic loathing that this elite cadre of dog-collared oven mitt wearing geriatrics can muster. That’s what it means to be a missional church.

Bishops falling like dominoes

It is the season of quitting for Canadian bishops. Michael Bird is departing the diocese of Niagara and now Colin Johnson has announced that he is leaving the diocese of Toronto. Bird is moving to Ottawa, to “work more closely in parish work” – a hard to dispute career demotion from the position of bishop – and Johnson is retiring.

Both Niagara and Toronto are extremely liberal dioceses that have contributed much to the havoc that is undermining the Anglican Communion, so it is not surprising that, having steered their respective vessels into violent storms of Anglican controversy, both figureheads have had enough and are leaving it to others to mop up the mess. Messy Church is the in thing now, I gather.

From here:

This afternoon I have informed the members of Diocesan Council that, after many months of prayerful discernment, I am asking Diocesan Synod to concur with my request for the election of a Coadjutor Bishop for the diocese in the middle of next year. I will step down from my role as the Metropolitan of Ontario at the next Provincial Synod in October 2018 and concurrently as Bishop of Moosonee. More importantly for our diocese, I plan to retire as Bishop of Toronto at the end of December 2018. The Bishop of Ottawa, who is the next senior bishop of the Province, is now in receipt of my letter of resignation. A Coadjutor Bishop is elected by Synod to assist the Diocesan Bishop prior to his retirement and to succeed the Diocesan Bishop immediately on the Diocesan’s retirement.

Prancing in the Church of England

Rev Richard Coles is a gay Church of England vicar who is making a name for himself by appearing on the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. The impulse to take the church into the world is not a bad idea, although there may be limits beyond which one should not stray. I remember some years ago seeing an interview with a Christian stripper who, she claimed, “stripped for Jesus”. Coles is cha-chaing for Jesus; I suppose we must be thankful for small mercies.

Unfortunately, Coles is also doing the reverse by taking the dance floor into the church. You can see his latest sermon below. One can only assume he is convinced that this makes Christ more accessible, the congregation more with-it and the church more relevant.

Or it may leave the impression of a church that has forgotten how to do what it is supposed to do and resorts to a rather pathetic attempt to imitate what the world does instead.

Now is the time to say goodbye

Michael Bird’s exit from the Diocese of Niagara has generated enough interest to be noted in the secular press. Or perhaps it was a slow news day in Guelph.

As you can see, other than the bodies under the parking lot, the Diocese of Niagara is a veritable avian utopia:

As the eleventh Bishop of Niagara, Bishop Bird has borne witness to God’s transformational and inclusive love. He led the diocese to create a new vision for its ministry that includes a focus on prophetic social justice-making, life-changing worship, and leadership development. Bishop Bird is a strong and progressive voice within the Anglican Church of Canada on issues related to the inclusion of members of the LGBTQ2 community, the alleviation and eradication of poverty, the truth and reconciliation process with Indigenous peoples, and the global refugee crisis.

At its next meeting in October, the governing body of the diocese will begin the electoral planning process by selecting a seven-person oversight committee known as the Electoral Synod Nominations and Planning Committee. It is expected that an electoral synod will happen in the first quarter of 2018.

Bishop Michael Bird resigns

As Bird himself notes, “There is so much more to say”, but I will have to confine myself to: I’m devastated.

From here:

Dear friends in Christ:

This evening I have informed the members of Synod Council that, after many months of prayerful discernment, I will step down from my work as the Bishop of Niagara on June 1, 2018. At that time, I will take up a new ministry in the Diocese of Ottawa. Archbishop Colin Johnson, metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario, is now in receipt of my letter of resignation.

The decision to end my episcopal ministry here in Niagara was a very difficult one and serving as your bishop has been one of the greatest privileges of my life. Together, we have embraced so many exciting opportunities, we have faced and met a number of daunting challenges, and above all we have remained steadfast in our calling as God’s people. This time has been marked by a decade full of faith and vision, courage and hope, change and innovation. We have never shied away from allowing our prophetic voice to be heard both within the Church and beyond, and we have passionately advocated for those who are marginalized and with those whose voices have gone unheard.

There is so much more to say and I have so many people to thank for the love and support that I have received during these past ten years. There are, however, many months ahead to celebrate and give thanks to God for all that has transpired. For now, let me simply and sincerely ask for your prayers for our diocese, and for Susan and me personally, as we all prepare for this time of transition that will unfold in the days and months ahead.

With profound gratitude, I remain yours faithfully in Christ,

Bishop of Niagara

The Islamophobic iPhone X

Apple announced its latest iPhone today, the iPhone X.

One of the major changes is that the fingerprint scanner has gone. Instead, the phone relies on face recognition for security:

Your face is now your password. Face ID is a secure new way to unlock, authenticate, and pay.

The only problem is, how will it cope with this:

A clear case of anti-Islam bias. This would never have happened if Steve Jobs were  still with us.

Women changing the world

Katharine Jefferts-Schori has been selected by Time Magazine as One of the Women Changing the World. Hillary Clinton is also in the list.

I can’t find much fault with Time’s choice since Schori has the distinction of suing more congregations than any other bishop in history, male, female or transgender – a category I’ve always suspected might apply to Schori – and Clinton, that of losing of an unlosable election.

No mention is made of whether the world is better or worse as a result of the labouring of these ladies and, in the interests of even handedness, Time has chosen one of each: Katharine, worse through suing and Hillary better through losing.

From here:

Time includes Katharine Jefferts Schori in series on women changing the world

Time magazine’s new multimedia project, Firsts: Women Who Are Changing the World, features the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, 26th presiding bishop, as one of 46 profiled women.

Jefferts Schori was the bishop of Nevada when she was elected in June 2006. She was installed as presiding bishop in November of that year. Her term ended in November 2015 when current Presiding Bishop Michael Curry succeeded her.

She is now serving as assisting bishop in the Diocese of San Diego while that diocese discerns who to call as its next bishop.

The Time project, which debuted Sept. 7, uses the metaphor of the glass ceiling. “What a jagged image we use for women who achieve greatly, defining accomplishment in terms of the barrier rather than the triumph. There she is up where the air is thin, where men still outnumber women, but where the altitude is awesome,” the introduction says. “Our goal with Firsts is for every woman and girl to find someone whose presence in the highest reaches of success says to her that it is safe to climb, come on up, the view is spectacular.”

Diocese of Niagara: where are the bodies buried?

Under the cathedral parking lot, apparently.

They were buried in the 19th century and have lain there unmolested ever since. The diocese plans to dig them up to rescue them, as Dean Peter Wall put it, from “asphalt hell.” It has nothing to do with the revenue the diocese will collect from the multimillion dollar condos planned for the land. Nothing at all.

From here:

Nineteenth century records stored in a McMaster University library may bring the Niagara Anglican diocese much closer to identify the remains of hundreds of people buried under Hamilton’s Christ’s Church Cathedral parking lot.

“The church has actually kept very, very detailed records of who was interred in the cemetery like that,” said Myron Groover, a librarian of archives and rare books at McMaster. “And those records all still exist, and in fact, are preserved in multiple copies.”

The bodies, Groover says, were buried from 1832 to 1853. And if the diocese gets its way, the remains be exhumed and identified — all in order to make way for a multi-million dollar condo project.

On Wednesday, the Very Rev. Peter Wall told city councillors the Niagara Anglican diocese would like to identify and remove the bodies, now buried in “asphalt hell,” beneath the parking lot of the James Street North church.