Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Church Insurance Company reports: Three Episcopal Churches close each month - church buildings falling into disrepair

The Episcopal Church Building Fund is apparently reading the writing on the wall. So if TEC can't afford what it all ready has (the Church Insurance Company is reporting that three congregations are closing their doors for good every month!), what in tarnation is it doing engaging in lawsuits for? Has the Diocese of Virginia considered if they can even afford the upkeep of the churches they are suing? The snow removal bills alone were a whopper!

From The Episcopal Church Building Fund:


As dioceses and parishes struggle with spiraling costs and shrinking budgets, our most significant physical assets - our buildings - are in serious disrepair. Crumbling buildings are in many cases the single biggest barrier to mission and ministry. According to the Church Insurance Company, every month more than three congregations close their doors for good.

This alarming situation threatens the health and life of the Episcopal Church. The raft of complex financial, pastoral, and historical issues surrounding our buildings has made this a problem easier to ignore than to address.

An upcoming symposium hosted by the Episcopal Church Building Fund will equip church leaders to solve this problem in ways that make both financial and pastoral sense, empowering the church to shift its focus to the vitality of its ministry.

The symposium will take place April 7, 2010 at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia. Register for the symposium or view the program description. Limited scholarship funds are available for travel and registration.

Speakers include church leaders who are confronting and negotiating these struggles in their own dioceses and communities, and who will share creative and successful models. Topics include how and why to face the reality that a parish or diocese is in decline; how environmentally sensitive attention to church buildings can save money; and Emergence church models that de-emphasize buildings.

The Building Fund is uniquely positioned to help dioceses to recast their physical assets by evaluating troubled situations, working with congregations on re-imagining their use of space, bringing them insight into collaborative initiatives, best practices, and a community-wide vision. The Building Fund is committed to good stewardship, sustainability, and results.

20 comments:

Northwest Bob said...

Dear BB,

Maybe reality will be the final arbiteur in church building disputes. How sweet it would be if revisionists ended up having to sell or rent to reasserters for financial reasons. Unfortunately, they would probably rather die than do this. Hope they choke on their empty buildings.

YIC, NW Bob

Anonymous said...

Maybe if TEC, and their gaggle of lawyers, could see it in their black souls to sell the buildings to exiting congregations, they might not be in such a bad position?

Andy said...

It would sem that TEC is beginning to posture itself as the post-church church

The Underground Pewster said...

The are a couple of things to note:

1. "Topics include how and why to face the reality that a parish or diocese is in decline;"

How to face the reality? Come on!
Why to face the reality? I can't believe they wrote this.

This implies that declining dioceses have not been facing reality. That I can believe.

2. "... and Emergence church models that de-emphasize buildings."

I think they meant "Emergent or emerging." In any case, it sounds like a strange way to rationalize failure.

robroy said...

The wages of sin is death. That apparently goes for a denomination as well as an individual.

Here is a solution for a church in Buffalo: Condominiumize it! (Is that a word?)

Have a blessed Lent, BB!

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

TEC is certainly not alone. Roman Catholic parishes are merging and closing as are congregations in other denominations. While North Americans have been slower than Europeans in pushing churches to the margins, it is happening here as well as the social status obtained by church membership has become negligible. The good news is that those who belong are more likely to take their faith seriously than those in previous generations.

robroy said...

"TEC is certainly not alone. Roman Catholic parishes are merging and closing as are congregations in other denominations..."

The RCC grew by 1.49%. The Episcopal denomination shrank by 2.8%. That is an enormous difference. Now, because of the clergy shortage, RCC is merging churches but that is an entirely different phenomenon.

"Oh, but all the denominations are declining." No, the liberal, "inclusive" denominations are getting hammered, and to the degree, they shift to the left, the degree they lose membership. What we see in the TEClub is that we have loss in membership but it is predominantly on the conservative side, hence it implies a further shift to the left, hence more losses.

The Underground Pewster said...

Fr. Weir wrote,

"The good news is that those who belong are more likely to take their faith seriously than those in previous generations."

It is comforting to know that we are so blessed. Please provide some evidence for that claim because I felt a sudden twinge of concern for my forefathers, but then again maybe you meant that the church has been so very effective in saving the non-believers that there are none left.

Anonymous said...

"Crumbling buildings are in many cases the single biggest barrier to mission and ministry"...

Bigger barriers than crumbling theology?

RalphM

Robbie said...

"Crumbling buildings are in many cases the single biggest barrier to mission and ministry."

Umm, I think they're missing the bigger picture.

Loiemom said...

This is a bit off topic, but Thank You BB for linking to the Turro Church Snow video in this post...when it first came to us I sent the link to my grown sons, now in their 40's, and their friend who was in the first grade with my eldest...Dawn lives 10 min north of Turro and your video brought us all closer for a moment, even sparked a reply from her re inches and puppies playing in the snow...thanks for keeping us all together in so many wonderful ways! Lois

A.S. said...

I actually agree with something Father Weir said. I don't really think cultural Christianity has much to do with Christianity. I think people do take their faith more seriously when it is a choice to join the church, rather than a cultural expectation. This difference was brought home to me when I spent some time in the south working with youth at a socially prominent episcopal church. There were several youth who were actively involved in the church, but really had no faith in Christ.
I view this as an opportunity. Teach the world, both those in the church and out of the church, about Jesus- introduce them to my Savior. In my experience it is easier to introduce people to Jesus who are outside the church, than to introduce him to those who are part of a church where they have never met Christ.

Dale Matson said...

"Speakers include church leaders who are confronting and negotiating these struggles in their own dioceses and communities, and who will share creative and successful models. Topics include how and why to face the reality that a parish or diocese is in decline; how environmentally sensitive attention to church buildings can save money; and Emergence church models that de-emphasize buildings."
Here's another suggestion: How to arrange the deck chairs.
If TEC adopts the Emergent church model (to which it's current leadership is attracted), it would be a shame.

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

As I understand it the growth of the Roman Catholic Church in the past decade has been largely due to new immigrants and not evangelization. It is true that a major reason for closings and mergers is the shortage of priests, but, at least in our area, there has also been declining membership and attendance. It has been going on for years and only recently has the Bishop made the painful decisions about mergers and closings.

Fr. Daniel Weir said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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Insurance Sacramento said...

Its a bit off topic, but thanks for linking to the Turro Church Snow video in this post...w

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