Diocese of Montreal has an unsustainable deficit

Mainline denominations love to talk about sustainability. Usually, it relates to the church’s obsession with anthropogenic global warming, something that may not actually exist and, therefore, something that demands the full attention of pious clergy everywhere.

The Diocese of Montreal faces a real instance of sustainability – or, rather, unsustainability. Its deficit is unsustainable. Ultimately, that means the diocese itself is unsustainable; the only question is, will debt cause it to evaporate before it melts due to global warming?

From here:

Delegates to the annual diocesan synod approved a budget for 2017 with revenue of $2.08 million and expenses of $2.38 million, calling for a $300,856 operating loss, a little less than the $331,975 loss now forecast for this year.The operating losses were $529,482 in 2015 and $400,983 in 2014.
Diocesan treasurer Ron O’Connell told delegates, “Our diocese cannot sustain this rate of loss.”He said, “It’s very important that these things be addressed sooner than later, so that people understand that it’s time for action.” A number of parishes as well are facing threats to whether they can sustain themselves, he said, and some of them need assistance from the diocese in finding ways to “re-purpose” church buildings and other properties.
In addition to the operating losses, the diocese is shouldering special costs of establishing a new “church plant” in the former Church of St. James Apostle. The impact of these on diocesan funds is estimated at $200,000 in 2016 and the budget provides for another $200,000 in 2017. Mr. O’Connell said a further $100,000 is expected to be spent in 2018, following which collections from new worshippers at the church plant are forecast to move the plant into the black.
The 2017 budget approved by the synod includes some spending reductions. With the shift to publishing Anglican Montreal to four times a year rather than 10, beginning this fall, the newspaper is expected to cost the diocese $40,000 in 2016 instead of the $53,500 in the original 2016 budget, and $32,100 in the 2017 budget.
Also, spending on the French language ministry in Sorel, expected to cost $31,500 this year, is eliminated from the 2017 budget. Audited financial statements presented to the synod showed that the assets of the diocese declined to just under $14.1 million including $8.7 million in investments at the end of 2015 from $15.1 million including $11.1 million in investments at the end of 2014. After deducting liabilities, net assets declined to $11.3 million from $12.9 million.

Primate Fred Hiltz to preach at Queer Eucharist

Every month the Diocese of Toronto’s St. John’s West Anglican Church holds something it calls a Queer Eucharist where everyone, we are assured, will be welcome, although not necessarily comfortable.

September’s festivities will include Fred Hiltz explaining what happened during the same-sex marriage vote at general synod, including, apparently, “the call to holy manners” or how to dismember a church, desecrate the faith once delivered and pollute the Eucharist with concentrated folly distilled from the zeitgeist – politely.

This has been self-evident for so long it is scarcely worth pointing out. Nevertheless, here it is: the leader of the Anglican Church of Canada has thrown himself heart mind and soul into the ecclesiastical crusade to sanctify homosexual sex. He has no intention of turning back, repenting – a derisory notion no matter how fondly cherished by naïve conservatives – or relenting in leading the church’s ruinous mission to enshrine sexual anarchy in the catalogue of its canons.

There will be no turning back; the days of the Anglican Church of Canada being a Christian church are over.

HiltzQE

God has spoken to the liberals

John Clarke, the archdeacon of Prince Edward Island region believes that because the vote to approve same-sex marriage passed at general synod, its passing must be God’s will and the Holy Spirit must have guided the members of the synod to vote as they did.

That means God has been misleading every church synod for the last couple of millennia; he is still misleading the Roman Catholic church, the rascal.

I suppose it’s possible that, having thought one way for thousands of years, God has changed his mind and now thinks the opposite, convinced, perhaps, by the pious, saintly behaviour of those participating in gay Pride marches. Or maybe he just wants to be more relevant.

From here:

There are those who would argue that the church is not a democracy, but the Body of Christ in the world, with Jesus Christ as head. True; however, neither is our church a dictatorship. We have put into place reasonable and fair rules to help us collectively discern the will of God in the life of our church. There is no one person ruling the church. It is our collective responsibility to use Scripture, tradition and reason to help discern the will of God in our lives today. We have no option but to take seriously the idea that God’s Holy Spirit might be calling the church to a new thing—a new thing that is reflected in the overwhelming majority of prayerful, careful members who voted yes on the resolution to change the marriage canon.

Since God has clearly spoken, those who oppose homosexual marriage should grit their teeth, shut up and stop disrupting the unity of the church:

It is inappropriate, at this point, for people to oppose the action of General Synod regarding same-sex marriages. The responsibility now lies with those who voted “no” to honestly consider if, in fact, the Holy Spirit is leading our church in a new direction.

The odd thing about all this is that liberals have spent decades sneering at orthodox Christians – fundamentalists or fundies as they are fondly known amongst the dog collar elite – for claiming to hear from God. Now, all of a sudden, it is liberals who have a direct line to God – well, to some sort of god.

Diocese of Algoma approves closing 16 churches

That’s 16 churches out of total of 35, or 45%.

I think it’s fair to conclude that an organisation that closes 45% of its outlets is tottering on the brink of extinction.

Any business in this position would do the decent thing, declare bankruptcy and try something different. Not so in the Anglican Church of Canada: even though it uses business euphemisms – churches are rationalised rather than closed – its mouldering corpse continues to be propped up by bequests from dead Anglicans and the sale of buildings belonging to ejected congregations.

This excerpt is a rather sad testimony to the inevitable consequence of clergy promoting a parochial culture of loyalty to a denomination and building rather than to God:

According to a clergyperson within the deanery, who requested anonymity, the problem is exacerbated by an unwillingness among some parishioners to drive to a different congregation if their church is closed.

From here:

The Muskoka region in the diocese of Algoma is famous for its idyllic lakes, rocky shorelines, and—in Anglican circles—its rich history of missionary activity by the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE).

But following years of declining membership and ongoing disagreement among its clergy about how best to adjust to shifting patterns of religious affiliation and church attendance, the bishop and the diocesan executive committee have approved a set of recommendations for reorganization that, if adopted, will lead to the shuttering of 16 of the deanery’s 35 churches.

[…..]

Andrews said he did not believe the financial situation in Muskoka to be significantly different from that faced in other parts of the church, and stressed that the reorganization is more about ensuring that full-time ministry be maintained in as many places as possible.

A non-binary youth delegate to Synod

When I was a teenager I rebelled against my parents, society and just about anything that bore an aura of respectability. This found expression in anarchism, atheism, Bob Dylan, Jean-Paul Sartre, Henry Miller and indulgence in the usual variety of teenage-angst anodynes on offer in the ‘60s.

Still, as silly as it all sounds now, I don’t think we were as dismally humourless as today’s youth; and we didn’t need safe spaces.

Eventually I grew up.

In order to rebel today, teenagers like to proclaim a sexual identity that is at odds with their biology. In keeping with its neurotic compulsion to appear modern, relevant and trendy, the Anglican Church of Canada encourages them to do so.

Which brings me to this:

Note: Jordan Sandrock, the subject of this article, identifies as neither male nor female and has asked to be referred to in this article as “they” rather than as “he” or “she.”

Also, the term “queer,” though considered derogatory by some, is widely used to denote non-heterosexual people, often by non-heterosexual people themselves.

Jordan Sandrock isn’t able to say what was going through their head when, after hearing the first pronouncement on the same-sex marriage vote at General Synod, they rushed out of the conference room where the vote was held and collapsed in tears on the floor of the corridor outside.

“It was just so emotionally overwhelming that I can’t really remember,” they say.

[….]

Sandrock is now going into their second year of a degree in religious studies at the University of Ottawa. Asked about their career goals, they don’t hesitate.

“I’m hoping to be a priest,” they say, smiling broadly.

Perhaps Jordan will eventually grow up. In the meantime, she seems to me to be one rather sweet but very mixed up kid.

Here they are explaining queer and feminist theology:

What keeps conservative bishops in the Anglican Church of Canada? Part 2

A comment on my original post from an ACoC priest who claims to be orthodox prompted me to consider this further and, rather than cram my response into the comments, I thought I’d reply in a post. Here is the comment:

I keep hearing about the ACOC and the TEC in this pit of Apostasy and that conservatives staying for the money and pension . Well can’t speak for all conservatives but the ones I know are staying because they can preach the gospel without repercussions.

This is a common argument given by conservatives who remain in the Anglican Church of Canada. Between 2008 and 2010 I chatted with George Sumner, principal of Wycliffe college, John Bowen who taught evangelism at Wycliffe and Alan Hayes, professor of church history at Wycliffe. One way or the other, they all justified their continuing in the ACoC because they were still allowed to preach the Gospel.

The undercurrent here, of course, is the unstated follow-on, which begins: “in spite of”. I would claim in spite of the ACoC no longer being a Christian denomination. They would not have gone that far but, I think, all would concede that the ACoC had strayed from the Gospel.

However one characterises it, it is akin, to borrow an idea from Malcolm Muggeridge, to being a piano player playing hymns in a whorehouse in the hope that it might distract the clientele from the business at hand.

I think Messrs. Sumner, Bowen and Hayes were deceiving themselves.

The problem is this. Their continuing presence in the ACoC lends a legitimacy to the enterprise which it does not deserve. The fact that there are still some orthodox Christian priests in the denomination might lead the unwary to conclude that the denomination itself is still a Christian Church – an illusion it is desperate to maintain.

There is no polite or easy way to address or remedy the rot which is eating away at the ACoC. I recall a synod in my former diocese where a number of priests walked out over the decision to allow same-sex blessings (at the time, assurances were given that same-sex marriages would never happen). A liberal priest – a rather pompous and bombastic specimen, I might add – stood up, spluttering that, by walking out, the conservatives were declaring him not to be a Christian. Well, I know that was not their intention, but I think the histrionic cleric was on to something.

If our decision in this life for or against Christ is what determines our eternal destination, if, as C. S. Lewis said, we are all, every moment, helping each other to a place of either unending glory or horror, why persevere in belonging to an organisation that has not only lost sight of this but is actively encouraging its followers along the road to the wrong destination?

Justin Welby wants another Primates meeting

From here:

The Archbishop of Canterbury has quietly asked the primates of the Anglican Communion to reserve the week beginning Monday, October 2, 2017 for the next primates meeting. In an email sent by staffers at the Anglican Consultative Council to the primates and moderators of the church on 27 July 2016, the ACC stated that date had “been selected as the date for the next Primates’ Meeting. The meeting will take place in Canterbury. We will write with a formal letter of invitation in due course but I would be most grateful if you would now confirm this date in your diary.”

In the January 2016 Primates meeting, sanctions were imposed on TEC for authorising a liturgy for same-sex marriage. The Anglican Church of Canada managed to escape the sanctions because Fred Hiltz pointed out that the ACoC had not yet approved a change to the marriage canon. That changed in the July synod when the motion to amend the marriage canon passed; even though another vote has to be taken in 2019, some bishops are proceeding with same-sex marriages – they planned to do so even if the vote failed. Does this mean the same sanctions will be applied to the ACoC at the next Primates meeting?

Does it really make any difference one way or the other? Since the sanctions were completely ignored by TEC and by anyone who had any authority to impose them, including Justin Welby, the answer is “no”, the sanctions were an empty gesture designed to do nothing more than maintain a mirage of unity and reconciliation.

Conservative Primates who pressed for sanctions in January were bamboozled yet again; there was no good disagreement only good deceit – well executed liberal deceit, that is. It is time for the Primates to wash their hands of Canterbury’s conniving and formalise the division that has been eating away at he Anglican Communion for decades.

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.

ISIS compiles kill list from church directory

From here:

My wife and I live in *****, ********** just north of ******* We were contacted by the FBI this week. We are on a ISIS terrorist kill list and they wanted to inform us. So is my pastor. It appears a Muslim group is trolling the internet and getting church directories and posting names for anyone to kill. Quite frightening. I have talked to the ***** *** FBI Office numerous times now and they say they do not have suspects but this appears to be a new tactic. Be diligent but go about you[r] normal life. They advised that the threat could be low – but tell that to the widows of all the slain police officers nationwide.

As for Canada, the Anglican Church of Church of Canada probably has little to worry about: ISIS is targeting Christian Churches.