Anglican Watch

Dire financial predictions swirl at St. Paul’s Dayton, as parish lurches towards closure

Dan McClain Episcopal priest

Several sources with direct knowledge of the underlying facts have told Anglican Watch that they believe St. Paul’s Dayton is lurching towards an existential financial crisis. The news comes after an already difficult year for the parish.

Earlier this year, the church was looking at a potential six-figure deficit. While steps have been taken to control expenses, sources predict a dismal pledge season.

Much of the problem is attributable to the departure, over the past two years, of a number of major donors, often over concerns about dynamics within the parish.

Things have gotten worse over the past several months. During that time, we’ve received multiple complaints from within the parish, including the recent spate of fabrications from the vestry and other insiders about the current issues with rector-elect Daniel McClain. Among the fabrications:

  1. That an investigation is required any time a Title IV complaint is made.
  2. That the previous Title IV complaint resulted in a complete investigation and an acquittal of Daniel McClain on charges of domestic abuse/violence. Both claims are lies.
  3. That the bishop forced a vote on McClain’s status as rector. The timing was specified in McClain’s letter of agreement.
  4. That Kate McClain had an incident of major mental illness while in Dayton. This is gossip, a fabrication, and an inappropriate topic of conversation. The latter is true both for Daniel McClain and parishioners. Moreover, the tenor of the conversation within the parish is disrespectful to the millions of Americans who do experience mental illness and who love them. Thus, it is an egregious violation of the baptismal covenant.

Moreover, the absence of spiritual and temporal leadership from the vestry in addressing these matters is proving troubling for many.

This ineffectual response extends to deferring maintenance, including addressing damage from water leaks in the building. This spells bad news for any church, for delayed maintenance ultimately results in exponentially increased repair costs — sometimes thousands of times higher than the cost of timely remediation.

Thus, the parish is living on borrowed time, even as unhealthy family systems prevent it from addressing root causes.

So what sort of decline in revenue are we looking at? We can’t say with certainty.

But our experience is that a 20 percent decrease is common in these situations. Indeed, many parishes in turmoil experience much higher rates of attrition, including sharp declines in the number of pledging units.

As to the outcome, we see no possible result other than loss of almost all lay positions. And we suspect that Daniel McClain will need to either depart or transition to part-time employment.

Solution-wise, we believe that Daniel McClain is a malevolent narcissist and thus toxic. Thus, the only thing that will save the parish at this point will be McClain’s departure, which will come either due to crumbling finances or the intervention of the diocese or the vestry.

If this does not happen, Anglican Watch predicts St. Paul’s will close within five years. The building will be sold, and remains in the columbarium returned to families.

So, members of St. Paul’s, we are sounding the alarm:

  1. Get with the program.
  2. Insist that the vestry quit being a rubber stamp.
  3. Ask the diocese for assistance.
  4. Be prepared to ask and answer tough questions.

And don’t be misled by silly claptrap about how your challenges are all the fault of Daniel’s wife or contrived by outsiders. It is imperative that you think carefully before you communicate, including making sure you are not spreading fabrications about how McClain was previously exonerated and other BS. And you need to address the source of these lies.

In other words, grow a spine. Quit being toxic.

St. Paul’s is teetering on the brink, with one foot on a banana peel and the other foot over its grave. The time to act is now.

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