By David W. Virtue DD
July 18, 2016
The property loss last week by the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin after eight years of battling, has drawn to a close. The winner, at least on the surface, is The Episcopal Church. They were handed a cool $50 million worth of properties including investments, endowment portfolios, as well as a crown jewel of real estate: Evergreen Conference Center, by the California Supreme Court.
The court action let stand an April decision from the Fifth District Appellate Court in favor of the Episcopal Church. That court found that the late Bishop John-David Schofield and the diocesan convention had failed to comply with the Episcopal Church’s canons when attempting to transfer properties.
But the Episcopal diocese has not won the hearts of a single Anglican Christian. The Episcopal diocese draws a total average weekly Sunday attendance (ASA) of 925. The one Anglican Hispanic congregation built under the episcopacy of the evangelical catholic bishop Eric Menees, has close to 1,000 members.
That one congregation is bigger than the entire Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin!
The Episcopal Church (and this diocese) has no ability to create or sustain an Hispanic congregation of 950. None, zip, nada. They prefer to pour money into reconciliation gabfests, or try and manipulate Global South bishops to buy into pansexuality.
More than 90 percent of the congregations that had once comprised the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin severed their Episcopal ties and joined the Anglican Church in North America. Their weekly ASA is over 3,000!
The Episcopal diocese may have won a bunch of real estate, but that’s all. They have not and will not be able to make those parishes grow again. Period. In a few months, perhaps in a year or two, most of them will be on the chopping block, available for sale to imams for mosques or upstart evangelical congregations or saloons, Mrs. Jefferts Schori’s favorite choice. The Episcopal Church has no ability to draw Nones or pansexualists into their churches. Their rectors do not know how to do the hard work of making disciples for Christ, especially if all you are selling is a load of social bonhomie, anti-racism training and an ill-defined Jesus Movement à laMichael Curry.
The figures speak for themselves. The San Joaquin diocese has only 20 congregations, with three parishes above 100! Last year, the diocese saw 9 children baptized, received some 16 into its congregations and saw 14 marriages. Burials totaled 43! More than three above combined.
The deeper truth is that the Episcopal Church is dying, and so is this diocese. It cannot draw into its fold young people, and homosexuals/lesbians are not banging down the red doors to crawl into episcopal pews. In one diocese after another, churches are closing and buildings are going up for sale, even and including diocesan headquarters in prestigious dioceses and upscale real estate markets like Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
The most recent case in point is the former episcopal diocese of Quincy. After they lost their battle with the Anglicans there, they were so small they folded their tent and were absorbed into the Diocese of Chicago. That’s the future of TEC dioceses as they shrivel and wilt. The fancy episcopal word for it is…juncturing.
Those San Joaquin Anglicans are not without resources. Menees said he expects the Episcopal Church will not replant churches in many of the properties, but will sell them off instead. He’s probably right about that.
Meanwhile, his congregations will need to gear up, using backup plans they hoped to never need. They will be moving out, Menees said, and into other facilities that have agreed to take them as tenants.
Ministries will continue, Menees said, but outreach will be hampered as congregations move further away from the neighbors they have been serving. Among those bracing for the transition is St. James Cathedral in Fresno, where a Spanish-speaking community has swelled almost 20-fold from 50 in 2008 to 950 today.
Based on what this writer has observed and experienced, there is always another denomination that will come to the rescue of faithful believing Anglicans. In southern California, Rick Warren offered to open Saddleback to an Anglican congregation. Three years ago, outside Philadelphia, a group of us formed Christ Church Anglican on the mainline. We regularly draw 40 to 50 each Sunday. We meet in a beautiful Methodist church in Wayne, PA, that could easily pass as Anglican, with a central altar and full stained glass windows depicting scenes from Christ’s life. Our gracious hosts give it to us for a pittance, which includes office space for a rector and much more. We meet at 4pm. God is doing a new thing, He will not leave himself without a witness, even as all the churches around us cave into homosexual marriage and ditch the gospel in the name of inclusivity and diversity.
God always has a faithful remnant and, in this case, the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin will prove God true and faithful. They will continue to grow wherever they are planted, because God cannot lie. This remnant will go and grow…that is the promise of God.
TEC may win the properties, but God is not mocked; they will lose the war. They have already lost the battle for souls, and ACNA is gaining new souls every week in one jurisdiction after another.
Across the country, mainline churches are dying, hollowed out by decades of liberal teaching as they scream the platitudes of a social gospel now primped up by the dying embers of the sexual revolution, made over into full sodomite acceptance. God is doing a new thing, and, if you have eyes to see, you can see it. Renewal is going on. We are reaching the end of Christendom in America, and the old mainline denominations are withering on the vine. The sooner and quicker they die, the better.
American religion is simultaneously growing and in decline. Fewer people claim to be Christians, but churchgoers–those who regularly attend services–are holding steady in some segments, and thriving in others, says church missiologist Ed Stetzer. This is the case in San Joaquin.
As Winston Churchill famously said to Hitler’s Nazis, “This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps the end of the beginning.”