Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Wealthy Episcopal Organization: Storing Up for Themselves Treasure

This Sunday's lessons are largely about money, Heaven, and Hell.

1 Timothy 6:6-19
Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will bring about at the right time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.
Those are what we in the pews refer to as "You can't take it with you verses".  They seem to come around at about the time of year when church pledge drives are being planned.

While 1 Timothy presented a positive spin on things, Jesus takes the gloves off and sends the greedy rich to Hades,

Luke 16:19-31
‘There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.” But Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.” He said, “Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.” Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.” He said, “No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” ’

Episcopal priests either cringe or lick their lips when these readings come around on the lectionary cycle. Some will look down at their wealthy congo and try to dodge the grim facts that Jesus points out and during their sermons will focus on the positive aspect of generosity. Others will welcome the opportunity to rail against wage differences, the gap between the rich and the poor in America, and whatever else bugs them.

The Episcopal organization should not be too hard on the rich folks because it is the organization itself is riding on the backs of these folks who historically have proven their generosity by leaving legacies or creating endowments. The last time I looked, the Episcopal organization has an incredible treasure of  $355,969,542 in trust funds (see page 8 of the 2015 Trust Funds Report).

Many of those funds' proceeds are supposed to go for specific causes, and some of these are not advertised to the people in the pews.

It is enlightening to see that the bequest of Lucy Nichols of New Haven, CT from 1883 which has a 2015 market value of  $4,361 has its purpose specified to be used for,
"Income restricted to 'work among white people.'" (page 316)
And there is also Miss Margaret Ann Thompson, of Baltimore, MD whose gift from 1893 which has a 2015 market value $8,566 is supposed to be used,
"to aid weak parishes of the White population in the United States."
Dividends from these two are therefore available to 90% of American Episcopalians and their churches.

The trust funds also have some interesting international investments. For instance, on page 15 we find a $500,000 "Economic Justice Investment" with the Bank of Palestine.

The Bank of Palestine is no pal of mine with reports that,
"The Bank of Palestine Holds Accounts of Hamas-Affiliated Charitable Society 
"Every year during Ramadan the activity of the various charitable societies increases, including the Islamic societies affiliated with Hamas. During Ramadan the Palestinian media also call on the public to donate money. Hamas organ Al-Resala printed a notice from the Islamic Society, outlawed by Israel, with details for donating funds. The Islamic Society's bank account is in the Jabalia branch of the Bank of Palestine, number 91999 (, June 9, 2016). It was not the first time charitable societies affiliated with Hamas and outlawed by Israel deposited their funds in Bank of Palestine accounts.The Bank of Palestine is one of the largest banks operating in the PA. It was founded in 1960 and its head offices are in Ramallah. It was 54 branches throughout Judea and Samaria and 11 in the Gaza Strip. The chairman of the board is Hashim Shawa. Since 2005 the bank's shares have been traded on the Palestinian stock exchange. In 2014 its profits were reported as $40.2 million. At the end of 2014 it had $2.42 billion in deposits, up from $2.34 billion in 2013 (Bank of Palestine website, April 21, 2016)."
And what is the Islamic society in the Gaza Strip?
"Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, late Hamas spiritual leader founded the Islamic society in the Gaza Strip in late 1979 shortly after Camp David agreement signed between Israel and Egypt and the outbreak of Iran's Islamic Revolution.
The Islamic society started with social, cultural, religious, educational and sports activities, which were ignored by Israel considering the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as an enemy.
However, Yassin formed the first armed group, the Mujadidin Court, and huge amounts of weapons were discovered at Yasin's home in Gaza City by Israel." (Link here)

To be fair, the Bank of Palestine is doing some cleaning up of its act,
Bank of Palestine ends international money transfers 
And the bank has been taken to court by Hamas for not paying "taxes" so it may not be so bad after all.

But, I suspect that the Bank of Palestine can't guarantee that money one invests with them won't eventually find its way into the hands of the bad guys.

If the Episcopal church wants to support the social justice needs in Palestine, they should invest in the 50,000 or so Christians still living in that dangerous land.

For the love of money, don't send any more of your treasure to the Episcopal organization. They have plenty of stored up treasure.


  1. Pewster, what can we say? Richer than a trainload of Nazi gold. And that's just Trinity Wall Street.

    For me, the sad part of it all is that people gave their money for the Church and the work of the Gospel. A great chasm appears to be fixed between that and TEC.

  2. They are still looking for the Nazi gold, and people tune in to find out if they found it. We found Episcopal gold and nobody cares that they are keeping it buried in reports like this.

  3. Anonymous10:06 AM

    it seems to me that the wealth is based on monies from former times. How much is now being left as legacies or endowments to TEC?