The Diocese of Niagara’s cathedral is running out of money

There is a passage in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited where Charles is short of money and appeals to his father. This is his father’s reply:

“Well, I’m the worst person to come to for advice. I’ve never been ‘short’ as you so painfully call it. And yet what else could you say? Hard up? Penurious? Distressed? Embarrassed? Stony-broke?” (Snuffle.) “On the rocks? In Queer Street? Let us say you are in Queer Street and leave it at that.”

Let’s just say that the Diocese of Niagara is in Queer Street and leave it at that.

Except Peter Wall, the cathedral rector, has a vested interest in keeping the place and his job running a little longer.

It isn’t often I find myself in agreement with Wall, but one thing he said in the article below rings true: “God is not inside that building”. No indeed, he was driven out decades ago.

Wall’s solution to the steady exodus of Christians from the diocese is more innovation, in spite of the fact that innovation – a euphemism for excursions into radical heresy – is what drove the faithful out of the diocese in the first place.

Perhaps this is the real reason Bishop Michael Bird has quit. He wants to leave before all the money is gone.

In Hamilton, the Anglican Church is especially eager to capitalize on capitalist culture. It recently invested in a major renovation at Church of the Ascension, relocating the kitchen, offices and hall to the church proper, so it could sever or lease the rest of the 160-year-old Forest Avenue building. Ten blocks away, at Christ’s Church Cathedral on James North, plans for a new development are also under way.

“We can’t afford to maintain this place forever on the amount of money it’s costing us,” says the Very Rev. Peter Wall, the cathedral rector and dean of the Anglican Diocese of Niagara. “The only way we can do that is to do something that contributes to the sustainability of this place and allows us to have a greater impact on the community.”

Very Rev. Peter Wall, Cathedral Rector, Christ’s Church Cathedral

Since Wall arrived at the Cathedral in 1998, the number of Anglicans in the Hamilton area has declined more than 23 per cent. His church alone has lost about 50 families in the past 30 years.

Though Wall is mum on the details of the development, he says he’s committed to maintaining the integrity of the mid-19th century gothic cathedral — a soaring stone structure with heritage designation inside and out. Still, the church must innovate if it wants to survive.

“God is not inside that building,” he says. “We don’t have to tiptoe in and say, ‘where is he?’ and look under all the pews.

“That’s bad religion, that’s hocus-pocus, that’s nonsense. And that’s what killed the church.”

Damning Billy Graham with faint praise

In an age when Christianity and Christians are a preferred object of ridicule, it is almost unprecedented for the secular press to have nothing but good things to say about an evangelical Christian. That seems to be the case for Billy Graham, though, who died yesterday.

Criticism, as is so often the case, has come instead from an Anglican in the form of Michael Coren, an – in chronological order –  ex-Roman Catholic/ex-Evangelical/ex-Roman Catholic who has come to view the cosmos through pink tinted Anglican lenses. His main complaints about Billy Graham are that he regarded homosexual activity as sinful, his theology was not nebulous and flaccid, he held to 2000 years of tradition, he tempered experience with the Bible and was what Coren used to be: conservative.

In other words, he was too Christian.

From here:

Billy Graham brought countless people to a deep Christian faith, and to better lives; and unlike so many other high-profile evangelists, he was not financially corrupt or vainglorious. But his theology was rigid and conservative, and he was unable or unwilling to allow experience to temper his fierce resistance to the new and non-traditional. On issues of sexuality in particular, there are too many broken relationships, too much pain and suffering, too many suicide attempts, and children thrown out of parental Christian homes, for the complete man not to be exposed. He had so much influence, and knew so many world leaders, and could have done so much better. Rest in Peace sir, but let us pray that in the afterlife you think again.

Candidates jostling for the bishop’s job in the Diocese of Niagara

Since Michael Bird will resign in June this year, the diocese has to choose a new bishop.

The candidates are:

David Anderson
Susan Bell
David Burrows
Robert Fead
Robert Hurkmans
Stuart Pike
Martha Tatarnic

Are they all theologically liberal, you might be wondering?
Are there any Christians hiding amongst them?
Far be it from me to pass judgement but here are their answers to the question:

What is your view with regards to equal marriage and will you, as Niagara’s bishop, continue to authorize the current permissive pastoral practice in the lead up to General Synod 2019?

To save you time, their answers to the question of whether they will marry same-sex couples are:

David Anderson:    Yes
Susan Bell:               Yes
David Burrows:      Yes
Robert Fead:           Yes
Robert Hurkmans: Yes
Stuart Pike:              Yes
Martha Tatarnic:    Yes

If you had any doubts about the diocese’s dedication to diversity and inclusion, the conformity of these answers should settle them.

Interestingly, when St. Hilda’s congregation was ejected from its building and the diocese installed a Potemkin congregation to demonstrate to the courts how much it needed the place, Martha Tatarnic was the “priest in charge” – of the phony congregation; once firmly in diocesan clutches, the building was sold and demolished. Valuable experience for the new bishop’s job.

Churches for sale in the Diocese of New Westminster

The Diocese of New Westminster real-estate company is selling some more of its properties. The most expensive is St. Mark’s in Kitilano which they are hoping will fetch almost $12M. The one-time Christian denomination claims the money will be used for Anglican ministry, code for the panting hot pursuit of the latest cultural fad to assail the fevered imagination of its trendy clerics.

According to the diocese, the congregations are physically “moving elsewhere”, in much the same way as the diocese has, in relation to Christianity, theologically moved elsewhere.

At the last General Synod that I was unfortunate enough to attend, I remember one aggrieved soul bewailing the fact that the synod was being held on land stolen from its original Indigenous residents. The diocese makes much of its efforts to reconcile with the First People. I see no mention of giving back the land occupied by these churches, though; $12M is a lot of money, after all.

From here:

St. Mark’s Anglican Church, a 100-year-old facility in Kitsilano, one of B.C.’s most upscale areas, is up for sale at the steep price of $11,998,000.

Rev. Richard Leggett said Anglican churches in the Vancouver area are moving elsewhere due to, in part, the steep cost of housing.

Other Anglican properties up for sale include St. Margaret of Scotland in Burnaby and St. Monica’s in Horseshoe Bay.

“Housing prices in Vancouver have grown so rapidly and so high that the grandchildren of the grandparents who built the church are no longer living nearby,” said Leggett.

Diocese of Huron continues its Marriage Canon Newspeak

The diocesan paper reports:

Conversations on the Marriage Canon
The Diocese of Huron is in the midst of a consultation about the proposed changes to the Marriage Canon. The first of these consultations have taken place and several more are planned throughout the diocese.
As the diocesan Marriage Canon Task Force reports in this HCN edition, a question raised at some of the first deanery gatherings was, “Does our input matter?”, and related to that question there were comments such as, “It feels like the decision has already been made.”

For those who question the impartiality of the decision makers in the diocese, this image, accompanying the article, of diocesan leaders conspicuously marching across a rainbow crossing brandishing crosses and an umbrella should leave little doubt in any mind whose neurons are still firing:

Of course your input matters. As long as it supports same-sex marriage.

Of course the decision to marry same-sex couples hasn’t already been made. Yes, we may already be doing it but that doesn’t mean we have decided anything.

A bishop in a pussy hat

Here is the Diocese of New Westminster’s Bishop Melissa Skelton decked out in her pussy hat in preparation for the Women’s March, 2018.

Pussy hats are supposed to be pink but, in order, against all the odds, to maintain her dignity as a bishop, Skelton’s hat is purple.

For those who might be a little hazy of the purpose, meaning and etymology of pussy hats – sometimes referred to as pussyhats – we have, I’m afraid, to return to a regrettable remark made by Donald Trump during his presidential campaign, to wit:

You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.

A bishop wearing such a hat does so not just to protest Trump’s outrageous rise to power but, also, should she be unfortunate enough to encounter the reprobate, to lure him into reaching for the hat rather than the part of the anatomy that was the subject of Monologues performed in the Diocese of Niagara’s cathedral by the lady clergy of the diocese. Here they are brazenly appearing without their pussy hats:

Vagina Monologues performed by Diocese of Niagara clergy

What does any of this have to do with the Gospel, you may be wondering. The Project of Pussyhat explains it:

There have been critiques about Pussyhat Project and whether Pussyhats should be included in some of the 2018 women’s marches. Some feel that the pink color of the hat excludes people of color from the project. Some feel that the hat is a literal symbol of female anatomy, promoting Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminism (TERF). Thank you for speaking up with your criticisms. We hear you.

The founding principles of Pussyhat Project are inclusivity, compassion, creativity, personal connection, and open dialogue, all to further women’s rights and human rights. It is an exciting and ongoing process, and these criticisms are part of it.

We can all agree that the last thing any self-respecting Anglican bishop would promote would be “Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminism” and the first, “inclusivity, compassion, creativity, personal connection, and open dialogue”. That, more or less, is what the Western Anglican gospel has degenerated into.

I’m waiting for the first pussy hat mitre to make an appearance.

Archbishop John Privett to retire

Anglican Church of Canada bishops are fleeing their vocation faster than a dog runs from his own excrement. Privett joins bishops Michael Bird, Fred Hiltz, Colin Johnson, and Donald Phillips in their escape from the asylum.

Privett’s most recent accomplishment of note was to fire, for no particularly good reason that he was willing to identify, Jacob Worley, a conservative priest in the Diocese of Caledonia.

From here:

Dear Friends,

Many of you will know that in July, I was blessed to be able to take a 6 day silent retreat at St. Bueno’s Retreat Centre in Wales. It was for me a time of intentional discernment.  During the course of that retreat it became clear to me that the time had come for me to retire from my ministry as Archbishop of the Ecclesiastical Province and as Bishop of Kootenay. The only question that remained was the timing of the announcement and my retirement.  Before the summer was over, I knew that it would be this spring and had decided that I will retire as of May 31, 2018.  I have informed the senior Bishop of the Province, Bishop Larry Robertson, the Provincial House of Bishops and our Diocesan Council of my intention.

Diocese of Niagara performs another missional deconsecration

Niagara This Week reports, in what appears to be an accidental confluence of stories, that Violet the cat, found frozen and comatose is on the road to recovery and the Diocese of Niagara’s St. George’s Church has also been found frozen and comatose but, unlike Violet, is beyond hope and has been put out of its misery. Or words to that effect.

St. George’s, which has 225 years of history behind it, has been deemed unsustainable by diocesan viability enforcers and has been deconsecrated. Bishop Michael Bird was on hand to point out to the “aging membership” that the occasion, although “sombre”, was also a cause for “celebration” because the church, although now as dead as a doornail, had had a long innings. I expect that was a great comfort.

From here:

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE — With heavy hearts but cherished memories, the congregation that worshipped at a church in former village of Homer came together for the final time on Sunday.

St. George’s Anglican Church, which has a history dating back more than 225 years, held its final service. As with so many other small congregations, a dwindling and aging membership forced what for many was a painful decision to disestablish and return the deconsecrated church building to common usage.

The service was presided over by Diocese of Niagara Bishop Michael Bird, who acknowledged the sombre mood in the room but said this was also a time to celebrate a congregation with a long life. He implored everyone to think of how long it has been a home, a sanctuary and a place to come to know God, a place that has served as a backdrop to countless baptisms and weddings.

“Just imagine all the prayers that have been offered here, both spoken and silent,” he said.

Rev. Dorothy Hewlett, who also serves at Christ Church at Lakeshore and McNab roads, said the decision to close was a long time coming and was the right one to make.

An exodus of bishops from the Anglican Church of Canada

These are the bishops on their way out: Niagara’s Michael Bird; Toronto’s Colin Johnson; Primate Fred Hiltz; and now, Rupert’s Land’s Donald Phillips.

They are all liberal and heartily endorse same-sex marriage. Why have they all decided to leave now? Do they know something we don’t about the fate of the ACoC? Are they concerned that there is no future for them in the ACoC because they are all heterosexual? Have they reached that stage in life when ambition yields to the sad realisation that all the ecclesiastical mayhem that can possibly be inflicted on the Anglican Communion in one lifetime has already been wrought during their climb up the greasy clerical pole?

We may never know but at least it is satisfying to bid them adieu.

From here:

Diocese of Rupert’s Land Bishop Donald Phillips plans to retire in the fall after the election of a coadjutor bishop this June, saying that it’s important to “go out on a high note.”

Phillips, who is 63, says the decision was “more personal than diocesan,” coming as it did after his wife’s retirement last summer. “I’m thinking, 18, 18 and a half years—that’s a good long run.”

[……]

Moving forward, Phillips sees the challenge of maintaining stipendiary ordained ministry as pressing for the diocese of Rupert’s Land and the Anglican Church of Canada. “Increasingly now, we’re having parishes that can’t afford to close, but they can’t afford a full-time priest…the way that [clergy] are deployed will hopefully start to change.”

Rev Noah Njegovan receives 22-month conditional sentence

Noah Njegovan, son of Brandon’s Bishop Jim Njegovan, was sentenced today for stealing around $200,000 from the diocese. Njegovan won’t be going to jail.

The judge noted that “People no longer want to give them [the diocese] money because people no longer believe they are capable of managing their money.” Every cloud has a silver lining.

From here:

A Brandon judge has handed down a 22-month conditional sentence to a Manitoba priest who admitted to using a church credit card for almost $200,000 in private purchases.

Noah Njegovan was charged in 2015 with theft over $5,000 and fraud over $5,000. He pleaded guilty to the theft charge at Brandon Court of Queen’s Bench in December, while the fraud charge was stayed.

At the time of the offence, Njegovan was an archdeacon with the Anglican Diocese of Brandon and was in charge of finances and bookkeeping for the diocese. Court documents say he had access to the church’s credit card and online bank accounts.

“$192,000 from a church,” Justice John Menzies said in sentencing Njegovan Tuesday, taking a long pause. “An organization that preaches trust and giving the benefit of the doubt … pays for that.

“This is a horrible, horrible offence,” he added, calling Njegovan’s actions a huge breach of trust.