Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Five Dollars and a Tank of Gas

There is an old saying around this part of South Carolina to explain why West Virginians seem to move here, and it goes something like this,
"That's about as far as you can git with five dollars and a tank of gas."
Before I get any angry comments, let me assure you that I'm just reporting what ex-West Virginians tell me.

The implication of the saying is that there were no jobs in West Virginia, the immigrants were poor or on the run, and that maybe West Virginia might not be the best place to settle if one were to consider reverse migration.

Traditionalist Episcopalians in Upper South Carolina might be labelled with a similar saying if they seek refuge in the lower half of the state (DSC) from Bishop Waldo's march towards the approval of same sex blessings in his diocese (EDUSC).

I can hear it now,
"Good riddance, that's about as far as they needed to get with a Bible and a tank of traditionalism." 
Until the Diocese of South Carolina starts planting missions here in Upper South Carolina, most of us will have to rely on a hundred dollars and a tank of gas to travel to the Holy City of Charleston once a year to recharge our batteries at the Mere Anglicanism conference which this year was on "Science, Faith, and Apologetics." A record number of attendees (photo album here) came from as far as Canada and California to worship and to hear the following speakers and their topics,

  • Dr. C. John “Jack” Collins “How Majestic Is Your Name in All the Earth!” and “Get Ready to Meet God!”
  • Professor John C. Lennox “God and Stephen Hawking: Much Ado about Nothing?” Professor Alvin Carl Plantinga “Science and Religion: Where the Conflict Really Lies” 
  • Dr. Stephen C. Meyer “Darwin’s Doubt” 
  • Dr. Denis Alexander “Human Evolution, Adam and Eve” 
  • Professor Michael J. Behe “The Edge of Evolution”
  • Dr. C. John “Jack” Collins 
  • Professor Peter John Kreeft “C.S. Lewis and Scientism”
  • Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali “Catching Up: Science and Christian Moral Thinking”
  • Professor John C. Lennox “Engaging with the Culture: The Challenge of Science, Faith and Christian Apologetics”
(The Anglican Curmudgeon's report can be found here)

Sadly, representation from the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina was virtually non-existent. It is almost as if there is an iron curtain dividing the state in half. Not that Bishop Waldo has ordered his clergy to not have anything to do with the Diocese of South Carolina, but there is the very real threat of being defrocked if they dare to teach, preach, or otherwise share the Gospel of Christ in one of DSC's churches (yes, this has already happened).

The real reason Upper South Carolinian clergy have erected an Episcopal Wall that they dare not cross is that they fear honest theological discussion, and that they abhor the mission of Mere Anglicanism which is,
 "Mere Anglicanism’s vision is for a reformed, renewed orthodox Anglicanism within North America. We recognize that to achieve a restored and faithful Anglicanism, many battles must be fought, many lessons learned. Seminaries must be re-made with faithful, godly deans and teachers. Orthodox Anglicans must be re-connected with one another and learn to work together strategically and tactically. Dioceses and parishes must develop the right conditions for re-growing believing, discipled Christians—including choosing the leadership of orthodox bishops and priests. Even our publications and media—magazines, websites, journals, curricula, devotional guides, and more—must communicate truth with clarity, beauty, and a passionate Gospel commitment.
Central to all of these efforts are educated, authentically discipled, active Anglicans—both lay and clergy—who are prepared and formed for leadership. And that is Mere Anglicanism’s purpose." (From here)
That language really drives revisionist bishops and clergy up a wall because they understand that they are the polar opposite of what Mere Anglicanism is hoping to produce.

What else could they be afraid of?


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Parish Budget Blues

This Sunday was the day for our annual parish meeting. Each year new vestry members are elected, committee reports are presented, the total number of bums in the pews is summarized, funerals, baptisms, and weddings are tallied, last year's budget is laid to rest, and the new budget is presented.

Today we were also presented with a "Strategic Plan" which said a lot of good things but said nothing about spreading the Gospel of Christ to an increasingly hostile world. Any plan that fails to bring in the great commission (Matthew 28:16-20) is destined to fail.

Last year's news was not good as attendance dropped 17.8% from 8,482 in 2012 to 6,970 in 2013. Baptized members dropped 22% from 454 to 353. Baptisms fell from 6 to 2. There were zero confirmations, zero reaffirmations, zero weddings, and 12 funerals in 2013. 2 people transferred in and 14 transferred out and 55 were moved to inactive status.

Despite this terrible news, the church was only $8,995 in the red for 2013 (out of a total budget of $442,910). I am not sure why people applauded when these numbers were presented. I guess it wasn't as bad as everyone thought it would be.

The budget for 2014 projects a $53,710 shortfall.

In 2009 this church made "draconian cuts" when faced with a  $621,137 budget and a similar projected shortfall.

This year, the people are asked to give more money.

Yet there is room for cuts to be made.

In the past, this parish has withheld its pledge to the diocese when we needed belt tightening.

The Bishop's current take is $40,000/yr.

That $40,000 gets you less than absolutely nothing. It gets you a "Task Force on Unity" which will only accelerate the decline in baptisms, confirmations, and marriages by allowing the blessing of same sex couplings to take place in the church. That money also helps feed 815 and its lawsuits against your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Back in 2009 I wrote the following about that remarkably prophetic annual parish meeting,
A recommendation from the floor was approved by a narrow margin for the vestry to send any end of the year surplus in 2009 to the diocese to make up for the "shortfall." I am aware that one person objected because they were afraid that the next Bishop of the EDUSC might try to lead the diocese towards SSBs and a new BCP. 

That next bishop turned out to be Bishop Waldo who is leading the diocese down that very path.

The Sunday Budget Blues are not unique to this time or place, so I am sticking with what I wrote in 2009,
"If you preach the Word of God, it will come." 
The corollary is also true,
"If you preach any other gospel, you will be left singing the Parish Budget Blues.
And how much does it cost to preach the Gospel of Christ?
"If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe betide me if I do not proclaim the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel..." (1 Corinthians 9)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Une Les Misérables Sainte Eucharistie at York Minster?

The following should make you think about why you attend a service of Holy Eucharist. Is it for entertainment, or is it about worship of God, or is it for love of Christ? Can the service engage in imagination through theatrics and still lead people to true repentance and regeneration?

"A communion service set to the music of Les Miserables will be held at York Minster at 7.30pm on Sunday 19th January. Led by Transcendence, a team which holds a regular Multimedia Eucharist at York Minster, this service will feature prayers and hymns set to the tunes from the famous musical." 
"The Revd Sue Wallace, who will be preaching at the service, helped found Transcendence with the Revd Jeremy Fletcher and a group from the Visions multimedia arts collective" (From the Diocese of York)
I fear that the large numbers attending this entertaining service will merely be engaged and not necessarily led to repentance and thanks for God's sacrifice, and they will not be back in equally large numbers the next week.

When I first encountered Les Misérables, it was as an assigned reading in French class back in High School. Later, I watched the 1935 film starring Fredric March, Charles Laughton,  and Cedric Hardwicke (which I highly recommend).

When the musical came out, I was not planning on watching it as I thought it was a stupid idea. Unfortunately, family pressures forced me to endure the movie once it was out on DVD. At the time, I wondered what Victor Hugo would think about the musical, but now I have to wonder what Hugo would think about the Misérables Eucharist.

Hugo was a "Rationalist" (human reason, or understanding, is the sole source and final test of all truth), and many of his works were banned by the Catholic Church as noted at the Patheos blog,

"...he became a non-practicing Catholic, and increasingly expressed anti-Catholic and anti-clerical views. He frequented Spiritism during his exile (where he participated also in many séances conducted by Madame Delphine de Girardin), and in later years settled into a Rationalist Deism similar to that espoused by Voltaire. A census-taker asked Hugo in 1872 if he was a Catholic, and he replied, 'No. A Freethinker'... 

...the frequency with which Hugo’s work appeared on the Church’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum (Hugo counted 740 attacks on Les Misérables in the Catholic press). On the deaths of his sons Charles and François-Victor, he insisted that they be buried without a crucifix or priest, and in his will made the same stipulation about his own death and funeral. The End of Satan and God (1886 and 1891 respectively, in which he represents Christianity as a griffin and Rationalism as an angel). 'Religions pass away, but God remains'” 

Since he was a rationalist, I suspect Victor Hugo might fit in well with the modern Church of England and with many in the Episcopal church, so I am forced to conclude that Hugo is both smiling and turning over in his grave over this most  recent attempt by the Church to become more relevant.

This conclusion was made through the use of rationalist thought and has therefore passed the final
test of truth.

If you are interested in an eye-witness account of the Les Mis Mass, go to LizClutterbuck

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Pewster Principle: A Possible Explanation for the Failure of the Episcopal Organization

The other day, speculation as to the possibility of an unprecedented second term for the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal church raised its ugly head on Facebook. Of course it sounds like a silly rumor. Why would any organization want to continue with a failing plan under a failing leader?

Of course this sort of thing happens all the time in governmental systems, but in the real world where people get paid for producing something of value, they get fired when they don't produce. Any organization that promotes incompetence eventually goes under.

There are only a couple of reasons why +KJS would be put up for a second term. The first would be that nobody else wants the job. I think this is next to impossible. I can think of a number of bishops who would give their left reproductive organ to wear the oven mitt miter. The other reason +KJS might get re-elected would be that the current P.B. is more desirous of the position than the others and has the power to hold the others at bay.

Is there any hope that a new Presiding Bishop would be less of a disaster than the current one? As one comment on the Facebook thread puts it,
"I think a bunch of naive moderates and traditionalists in our church are going to be shocked shocked shocked when her successor continues, by and large, the same sterling tradition of theological inanity, ignorance, ham-fisted handling of Holy Scripture, and bullying as KJS has."
I have to agree. After all, Bishop Schori follows on the heels of Bishop Griswold, so it looks like things tend to go from bad to worse in the Episcopal system.
You really have to wonder about an organization that elects a succession of poor leaders. I thought for a moment that the "Peter principle" is at work in the Episcopal organization, but then again I think maybe it is the "Dibert principle". For those of you not acquainted with those terms here is the skinny,
"The Peter Principle assumes that people are promoted because they are competent, and that the tasks higher up in the hierarchy require skills or talents they do not possess. It concludes that due to this, a competent employee will eventually be promoted to, and remain at, a position at which he or she is incompetent. In his book, The Peter Principle, Laurence J. Peter explains 'percussive sublimation', the act of kicking a person upstairs (i.e. promoting him to management) to get him out of the way of productive employees. 
The Dilbert principle, by contrast, assumes that hierarchy just serves as a means for removing the incompetent to "higher" positions where they will be unable to cause damage to the workflow, assuming that the upper echelons of an organization have little relevance to its actual production, and that the majority of real, productive work in a company is done by people lower in the power ladder. An earlier formulation of this effect was known as Putt's Law." From Wikipedia 
Okay, maybe we need another explanation,
Putt's Law: "Technology is dominated by two types of people:  those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand."
Putt's Corollary: "Every technical hierarchy, in time, develops a competence inversion." with incompetence being "flushed out of the lower levels" of a technocratic hierarchy, ensuring that technically competent people remain directly in charge of the actual technology while those without technical competence move into management. From Wikipedia too.
I think we need a new term to describe what happens in the Episcopal church because I believe the church has characteristics of a ponderous governmental organization, a failing private business, and an inverted technical hierarchy.

Like a governmental organization, the Episcopal church considers itself a non-profit, it attracts a large cadre of people not qualified for employment elsewhere, many of these are idolized by the folks who pay their meal ticket, and once elected or appointed they can go about saying things that make people feel happy, and they are are pretty much set for life.

Like a business, the Episcopal church has a certain amount of scut work to do like marrying, burying and baptizing, sermonizing, attending protests, gay pride parades, and other such important duties. People who are really good at the latter (the non-productive things) tend to be the ones who get moved up to the next level.

Like a technical hierarchy there are guys in the trenches who know how to fix things, but there are others who want to wear miters and carry croziers, or maybe they just look good in those crazy outfits, but they tend to get in the way of the real workers, so it is that those annoying, smarmy types are the ones who get promoted to Bishop, or they get jobs like "Canon of This, That, and the Other Thing."

Since new priests coming out of Episcopal seminaries have been hand selected by those already ensconced in the Episcopal organization, the bottom is being filled with persons full of "the same sterling tradition of theological inanity, ignorance, and ham-fisted handling of Holy Scripture" as those who have moved up in the ranks of the church.

Such an organization has to fail... doesn't it?

The only forces that can keep such a flawed system going are ignorance and money.

And where are those forces located?


The answer is, "the pewsitters."

Henceforth I will call this "The Pewster principle": Theological and Biblical ignorance in the pews pays for and promotes theological and Biblical ignorance in the pulpit, in the House of Bishops, and in the seminaries all of which serve to perpetuate theological and Biblical ignorance in the pews.

These pewsters carry as their motto the words of Walt Kelly,
"There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blast on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us." Walt Kelly
St. Paul hoped for more from his churches, and we are reminded in today's reading from 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 that the church is strong because of God's grace, and it should be enriched in knowledge and the testimony of Christ,

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus, for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
The fall from grace ain't pretty, but I am afraid that is where the Episcopal church finds itself today. The chances of a pew-roots movement showing up to reverse the Pewster principle are looking mighty slim.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Reflection on the Worship of a Crystal Ball

From Vanity Fair via Pinterest

You can tell how much someone really desires something by the lengths to which they will go in order to gain the object of their affection. Likewise, you can tell how little someone desires something by what it takes to get them to abandon the object of their affection. For instance, how many of us stay home on Sunday morning if it is snowing (in South Carolina in particular), or if we have out of town guests, or if the kids have an athletic practice or competition, or if some other distraction comes up to keep us away from church?

Would we still go to church if we had to endure what the crowds attending the annual New Year's celebration in New York City had to put up with just for the chance to watch their beloved crystal ball drop at midnight?

(Fox News) –  "The sea of horn-tooting, hat-wearing humanity that filled the Crossroads of the World was part celebration, part endurance sport because post-Sept. 11 security measures force spectators into pens at least 12 hours in advance, with no food, no warmth and no place to go to the bathroom."
If your parish hall had no bathroom, I suspect many an elderly gentleman would stay home on Sunday. I wonder where the people went when Jesus fed the five thousand? Did the disciples think to rent port-a-potties?

"'We've got adult diapers. We're wearing them right now,' said 14-year-old Amber Woods, who came with friends from the New York City's suburbs to experience the event for the first time." 
Great idea! I think preachers should hand these out on those Sundays when they know that their sermons will run long.

"'Every time I say, it's the last. But then I come back,' said Yasmina Merrir, a 42-year-old Washington, D.C., resident attending her fourth Times Square ball drop. In 2009, the cold was so bad, she got hypothermia. Her legs swelled up like balloons."
Now that is dedication, or love, or something beyond words. Just imagine such burning desire for worship from your fellow parishioners! They might even start some of those ancient spiritual practices such as,
"She was also fasting and not drinking anything to deal with the lack of restrooms. As for the cold, she recommends vigorous dancing for as long as you can stand on your feet."
Maybe we have been making things too warm and cozy at church on Sunday mornings. After all, if the central heating and air go out you can expect that people will howl. If NYC crowds are any indication of the human willingness to give things up for objects of desire, then why don't we see huge crowds at church on Sunday mornings? We should be able to tolerate the most dreadful of all sermons if we really cared about God. I can only assume that the reason we place church as a low priority is the age old problem of our failure to love God as we are meant to do:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." Matthew 22:37 (NKJV)
 Of course, when you are freezing cold, needing to pee, and there is nowhere to go, you might be excused from that commandment for a little while because as one attendee of the NYC crystal ball worship ceremony this year noted,
"At a point," she said, "your brain is not working anymore."
 Rather, when we are more desirous of earthly things than we are of the Lord, our brains are working quite well and in overtime... against Him.
"Seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness - Singly aim at this, that God, reigning in your heart, may fill it with the righteousness above described. And indeed whosoever seeks this first, will soon come to seek this only." Wesley's Notes for Matthew 6:33

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Yet Another Reason to Renounce Satan

Following up on my last post concerning the proposed changes in the CofE Baptismal Rite in which references to the Devil are eliminated, I found more evidence of the Devil's come back plans in this story from the AP,

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A satanic group unveiled designs Monday for a 7-foot-tall statue of Satan it wants to put at the Oklahoma state Capitol, where a Ten Commandments monument was placed in 2012.
The New York-based Satanic Temple formally submitted its application to a panel that oversees the Capitol grounds, including an artist's rendering that depicts Satan as Baphomet, a goat-headed figure with horns, wings and a long beard that's often used as a symbol of the occult. In the rendering, Satan is sitting in a pentagram-adorned throne with smiling children next to him.

"The monument has been designed to reflect the views of Satanists in Oklahoma City and beyond," temple spokesman Lucien Greaves said in a statement. "The statue will also have a functional purpose as a chair where people of all ages may sit on the lap of Satan for inspiration and contemplation."
I can see it now, the kiddies sitting on the horny old goat's lap and telling him what they want for Christmas.
On its website, the Satanic Temple explains that it "seeks to separate Religion from Superstition by acknowledging religious belief as a metaphorical framework with which we construct a narrative context for our goals and works.
Wait a second, I think I have heard that before. Was it Spong, or was it Borg?
"Satan stands as the ultimate icon for the selfless revolt against tyranny, free & rational inquiry, and the responsible pursuit of happiness," the website says.
In this case Satan sits, but in any case he represents the ultimate revolt against God.

I think it is safe to say that the satanic forces are attempting a comeback.

Where should we turn to help in combatting Baphomet and his minions?

Maybe we should look for advice from Holy Scripture.
"Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;" Ephesians 6:11-18 King James Version (KJV)

P.S. For those trying to match the Satanist's reasoning with the liberal theologian, check this one out,
  "But do virgin births, multiplying loaves and fish, and changing water into wine ever happen anywhere? If I became persuaded that they do, then I would entertain the possibility that the stories about Jesus reporting such events also contain history remembered. But what I cannot do as a historian is to say that Jesus could do such things even though nobody else has ever been able to. Thus I regard these as purely metaphorical narratives." - Marcus Borg Reading the Bible Again... for the First Time Taking the Bible Seriously But Not Literally 

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

The Devil is Dead

Years ago a parishioner at our church walked out on a sermon by one of our former priests when that priest said, "We no longer believe in a literal Devil." Needless to say, I was stunned by the priest's sermon, and after studying up on the subject, I concluded that only the Devil himself could be behind such a notion. I found that I could no longer trust that priest when he went through the motions of baptizing an infant, and he asked the parents,
"Do you renounce Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God?
I have since learned that revisionists use clever little mind tricks to hold two discordant beliefs together. One way is to play to the audience, to say the words they want to hear which will do less harm than to tell them what you really believe, or in other words, it is okay to tell a white lie to protect the spiritually and intellectually less advanced.

The Church of England must also be having this devilish problem (priests having to act hypocritically due to the prescribed liturgy), and they are considering doing something about it. No, they are not thinking about educating their clergy in the theology of Satan. It is much easier to change the language of the Baptismal Rite to accommodate the clergy. Reports in the media suggest that the language is being changed to accommodate the laity, but I suspect this is old fashioned dog-collar led revisionism at play.

The story from the Daily Mail sums it up and implicates the Archbishop himself in this scheme,
"Parents and godparents no longer have to ‘repent sins’ and ‘reject the devil’ during christenings after the Church of England rewrote the solemn ceremony.

In the original version, the vicar asks: ‘Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God?’  
Prompting the reply: ‘I reject them.’ They then ask: ‘Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour?’, with the answer: ‘I repent of them.’  
But under the divisive reforms, backed by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and already being practised in 1,000 parishes, parents and godparents are asked to ‘reject evil, and all its many forms, and all its empty promises’ – with no mention of the devil or sin.  
The new text, to be tested in a trial lasting until Easter, also drops the word ‘submit’ in the phrase ‘Do you submit to Christ as Lord?’ because it is thought to have become ‘problematical’, especially among women who object to the idea of submission." 

Just as I did several years ago, I have studied the issue, and my conclusion is the same as it was then.

Screwtape is rubbing his hands in glee. His devils have successfully carried out the biggest stunt they ever attempted. They have killed the Devil. To the collective mind of Man there is no more Devil. This accomplishment tops their earlier elimination of the concept of Sin.

The Devil is dead! Long live the king, ME!

"Hee, hee, hee..." - Screwtape.

H/t Vic the Vicar, Fr. Dale Matson

Addendum: Screwtape be damned. I made these additions to the Revised Revisionist Dictionary, Satan, Devil, devils.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Children's Church: The Controversy

This Sunday, our parish held its Epiphany pageant as part of the main church service. This gave the children of the church a chance to stay and participate in a way that is not part of our usual Sunday paractice.

At our church, the little ones are escorted out of the main worship service early on and do not return until after the readings from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Epistles, the Gospel lesson, the sermon, the Nicene Creed, the Prayers of the People, and the Confession of Sins. They return during "the Announcements" in time to take part in the Eucharist.

Possible benefits of such an arrangement might be the teaching of the Word in an age appropriate manner, the provision of a break from parenting so that adults might concentrate on hearing the Word, and of course the removal of squirming, fidgeting, distracting little people.

I was raised in a time before "Children's Church". Looking back on those times, I am thankful that this innovation was not a part of my upbringing. I learned our denomination's traditional hymns, the Creeds, the Lord's Prayer, the old Confession of Sins, and even though I could not follow most of what the Apostle Paul wrote, I believe enough things did work their way into my consciousness that I had a pretty solid foundation when it came time for my Confirmation. Another benefit was that I was taught how to sit still and how to appear to be paying attention even when I wasn't. I learned the language of the KJV of the Bible, and most of us would agree that exposing children to foreign languages at an early age is beneficial to their neurological development. In addition, I learned respect for others, and that corporate worship requires a child to give up the attention he/she typically demands.

The benefits of public worship beside one's parents cannot be underestimated, and I encourage people to consider keeping your children next to you and not to send them off to Children's Church.

Over at the Heildelblog this week, there was an interesting discussion on "The Mystery of Children's Church" which those of you with guts might want to join (I warn you that the discussion is not supportive of the mystery).

One comment enclosed the following video which may help those of you who support Children's Church understand where those of us who don't are coming from.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Canadian Anglican Churches For Sale: Fruit Ripe For the Picking?

This story from the National Post about a historic former Anglican church building being taken apart and shipped to Louisiana to become the home for a Southern Baptist congregation in Abita Springs caught my attention as I considered the future of the Episcopal church and its buildings. As one denomination declines, another grows, and I consider this to be evidence that God will provide for those who are faithful.
"For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. Matthew 25:29"
The article about the 200 year old timber frame building in Nova Scotia contains some interesting tidbits,
"Strangely, it was All Saints’ inscribed cornerstone date of 1814 that particularly stuck out for the Louisiana pastor, as it means that the church would have been completed just as British forces were massing for the Battle of New Orleans, the last major clash of the War of 1812 — and a decisive victory for Louisiana."
But the article ignores the theological waywardness of the Canadian Anglican Church as one of the underlying causes of church closures. Denominational decline is more likely to impact small churches first, but the article tends to blame "population change" as the cause of the decline.
"Previously located in the rural community of Granville Centre, in 2005 All Saints Church was one of seven rural Anglican churches that were selected for closure due to the province’s plummeting rural population."
In the Episcopal church denominational decline caused by theological waywardness is impacting smaller missions and small congregations. Other denominations build new churches or import buildings from Canada, but ask yourself, "How many new congregations have we planted?"
As far as our diocese goes in this neck of the woods the answer is a negative number, -1 (the closure of St. Matthias in 2011).
"Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." Matthew 7:16-20

h/t Opinionated Catholic for posting the link to the National Post story.