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.

Diocese of Niagara surviving by selling land to developers

About 35 years ago, someone discovered that the foundations of the Diocese of Niagara’s Christ Church Cathedral were crumbling. Now, of course, the Christian foundation of the entire diocese has crumbled, leaving the building standing in apparent defiance of the spiritual ruin in which it finds itself.

The reason the physical building has survived is, in part, thanks to a friend of mine, now deceased, who owned a construction company which specialised in pumping a certain type of grout into rickety structures to reinforce them. The company was called Groundation; my friend had a particular liking for the hymn “How Firm a Foundation” and was always tickled when we sang it.

The diocese contracted Groundation to fix the cathedral’s foundations. Many years later, after the diocese sued St. Hilda’s, our building was demolished and the cathedral was still standing, I used to joke with my friend that he had done too good a job.

The church, like the rest of life, is replete with irony. Thirty years after propping up the tottering cathedral, the Diocese of Niagara has realised that, like many other Anglican dioceses, it no longer has the money to maintain its buildings. It is selling cathedral land, piecemeal, to raise cash: the rear parking lot will be the first to go.

From here:

Christ’s Church Cathedral on James Street North wants to partner with a developer on a multimillion-dollar plan for residential, community and commercial space in its back parking lot.

Aside from the cathedral and All Saints, the Anglican diocese is exploring partnerships with developers in Niagara, Guelph and Halton, says Rev. Bill Mous, a director with the diocese.

Diocese of Montreal needs $8 million to repair its cathedral

The diocese is launching into a fundraising campaign with all the energy that a church less preoccupied with the temporal might devote to the saving of souls. No matter, this is the interesting part:

The cathedral had no spire from then until 1940, when a new one of aluminum panels mounted on a steel structure replicated the previous stone spire. That structure lasted through 1987-88, when the whole cathedral was, for a time, on a concrete slab supported by piles during construction of a shopping mall underneath the cathedral.

The foundations of the cathedral are resting on an altar dedicated to the  consumer god of a decaying civilisation: a shopping mall.  A perfect metaphor for the Diocese and, indeed, the entire Western Anglican edifice.

Only in the Anglican Church of Canada: the porous-edge Cathedral and the transgender indie singer

Christ Church Cathedral in the Diocese of Montreal has developed porous edges. I had to curb my rejoicing at the news that the Cathedral is taking on water and will soon be a fitting metaphor for the church to which it belongs – a decrepit heap of rubble – because that’s not what having porous edges means in Anglican-speak.

The astute Rev. Rhonda Waters has concluded that up until now, people didn’t come to church because they couldn’t find the door; hence the attraction of a church with porous edges – we can all ooze through the walls.

To make this even more enticing, the Cathedral recently screened a musical documentary about “a transgender indie singer who grew up in a fundamentalist Christian home on the Canadian prairie.” It’s called My Prairie Home; other, less pastorally sensitive authors than I might have yielded to the temptation to replace the trailing “e” with a different vowel.

From here (page 3):

People are no longer familiar with churches and what goes on in them, quite the opposite in fact. As a result,we need to create edges that allow people to peek inside, to slip in and out at their own pace, to test our spaces and our communities without an invitation and without a commitment.


My Prairie Home, a porous-edge event designed not only to create an opportunity for people to check us out but maybe to surprise them as well. My Prairie Home is a musical documentary about Rae Spoon, a transgender indie singer who grew up in a fundamentalist Christian home on the Canadian prairie.

Diocese of New Westminster has Pride Day service

To coincide with Vancouver’s Pride Day, Christ Church Cathedral has a “Pride Day service”. It managed to draw 80 people this year – in a facility that will hold 600. So you can see by the numbers it is attracting how successful the Diocese of New Westminster has been in tapping in to the spiritual pulse of the nation.

And they even used the Book of Common Prayer.

From here:

For the past few years the 8am Celebration of Holy Communion from the Book of Common Prayer at Christ Church Cathedral on the first Sunday of August has been slightly modified and extended in order to mark Pride Day in the City of Vancouver.

On August 5th, 2012, close to 80 worshippers gathered in the sanctuary of the diocesan cathedral to participate in this annual celebration of Holy Eucharist on what was to be the hottest day of the year.

Prior to the singing of the opening hymn and the Collect, the Service of Light was celebrated.

Clergy, servers and lay representatives gathered around the Altar and in a brief yet moving liturgy 8 candles were lit signifying: light in the face of fear, light in the face of violence, light in an age of AIDS, hope, healing, courage, community and resurrection. At the beginning of the interactive Service of Light, the presider says these words, “The Lighting of a candle is a simple act yet becomes a powerful sign. For when we don’t have the words or don’t know how to pray, a small candle burning brightly expresses our prayer that is always with us –and becomes more powerful with each candle lit.”

Anglicans call for….. you’ll never guess


New Zealand’s Christ Church Cathedral was irreparably damaged by an earthquake and a diocesan synod motion proposes to knock it down and build “an inspirational cathedral on the current site to the glory of God”. The trouble is, the new structure will be made of inspirational cardboard.

Not everyone is happy about having a cardboard cathedral in the neighbourhood, so various clergy are proposing to have a conversation with the cardboardophobics. This invites a question: which will disintegrate first, the cardboard, institutional Anglicanism or the dialogue?

From here:

The Anglican Church will have a “comprehensive dialogue” with South Islanders on the future of Christ Church Cathedral.

About 300 clergy and lay representatives from the 71 parishes in the Anglican diocese met at a Christchurch synod on Saturday.

A motion was passed unanimously at the meeting to consult with people about the cathedral. The motion stated that the synod “undertakes a comprehensive dialogue process with the citizens of Christchurch, Canterbury, the West Coast and the city council towards determining the future of the city’s Anglican cathedral”.

The motion affirmed the decision that “Christ Church Cathedral will be deconstructed to a safe level”.

The Rev Mike Coleman proposed the section of the motion calling for dialogue.