It’s been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly while expecting a different result. And while that may be true, the Episcopal church has a new, improved definition:
- Doing the same thing over and over.
- Having it fail.
- Declaring the result a stunning success.
At a recent meeting held in the four-star Graduate Hotel in Providence, where rooms start at $294 a night, the church’s Executive Committee focused on perceptions of abundance in the church versus scarcity.
Among the claims of abundance are that the church is not losing money as fast as it is losing members — while conveniently avoiding the fact that, when adjusted for inflation, giving has begun to decline for the first time in years.
And while Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was absent due to health issues, House of Deputies president Ayala Harris pointed out that most dioceses have resumed paying full assessments to the national church post-pandemic. But 15 percent of a smaller number still equals less revenue, so that reference point is of limited value.
Attendees also noted signs that, while there are signs of a looming shortage of clergy, second-career priests are offsetting the decline in younger postulants.
That absence of younger postulants is surprising, as 10 percent of all parishes and missions in the church have closed since 2010, so one would surmise there are more than a few free-range clergy.
Compounding that situation is that about half of all clergy will retire within the next ten years.
As to membership, 21.05% of all church members have left in the last ten years, and the rate of decline is accelerating, according to numbers from the national church.
And while Harris pointed out that the church has the resources to expand into communities lacking an Episcopal presence, she identified no plans to make this happen.
Moreover, the money will be frittered away on overhead if the church remains true to form, including clinging to the ridiculous, antiquated, and wildly energy-inefficient headquarters in New York.
And looking around, nothing has changed. Anglican Watch recently sent information on a case of abuse to Harris, and true to form we didn’t get the courtesy of a response. Meanwhile, corrupt Todd Ousley claims he “didn’t receive” a Title IV complaint about bishop George Sumner. How convenient. And bad witch Glenda Curry continues to ignore not one but two child sex abusers in her diocese. And for the record, we don’t believe Ousley for a red hot minute.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Similarly, funerals now outnumber weddings two to one in the church. The fugitive chair of the Haitian standing committee remains on the lam, even as he conducts meetings via Zoom. And clergy discipline remains a circular firing squad:
- The Title IV case against Douglas Anderson in Massachusetts won’t even go to trial until next year at the earliest, despite irrefutable evidence that he perjured himself in prior proceedings.
- The Title IV case against David Halt at St. James in Texarkana is going nowhere and has been mishandled at every turn. Meanwhile, the lazy sack of scum is doing the absolute minimum to get by, even as he prattles on about love.
- Bishop George Sumner is bullying LatinX churches in Dallas and approving of retaliation for opposing the sexual harassment of women.
- Paula Clark in Chicago ignores our request to act like a Christian and address the diocese’s appalling behavior towards David Duggan.
- Our perennial favorite, the Rev. Bill Allport, accused of embezzling from a previous parish and drinking himself silly while on the job, is still there. And if those weren’t bad enough, what we’ve seen suggests he’s a bully of the first order and a liar as well.
- The Diocese of Virginia is looking into issues with perjuring priest Bob Malm but doing so at a pace suggesting all involved may die of old age before there’s any resolution.
- Susan Goff, Shannon Johnston, Alan Gates, and a bunch of other corrupt derelicts still linger around the denomination.
- And, for the record, if and when these situations blow up — as in Allport causes a fatal crash while DUI or the pedophile in Alabama assaults a child, plaintiffs’ counsel is welcome to call. We will produce documents, including who knew what when, the utter lack of a response, and more. We’ll testify on the stand, we’ll name names, and we’ll bring additional witnesses. And don’t worry about deposing us—we’ll gladly sit for a two or three-day deposition, anywhere you want.
But more importantly, we see the church’s favorite antic at play, which is looking at symptoms versus root causes. We all agree that the church is losing members, but no one asks why.
Why do people, liberal and conservative alike, pack their bags and go? How do they see the church now? Would they ever want to come back? What lessons should we take from this ongoing stampede toward the exit door?
An old saying in business is that your former customers are those most likely to be your repeat customers. So why not go for the low-hanging fruit and ask, “What would it take for you to come back? How can we reconcile?”
Of course, that would be too easy for the Episcopal Church as it holes up in four-star hotels to babble inconclusively about the future.
As an aside, those who think the denomination is democratic need to ask, “How many people do I know who can take five days off to hole up in a four-star hotel?”
Come to think of it, why doesn’t the executive committee walk the walk and bring the church to places with no Episcopal presence? Nothing like leaving the four-star digs for an afternoon, heading to the local slum, and handing out baby food, diapers, and other essentials. Especially with the church now less than 20 years away from collapse, it might just be time to stop meeting and start doing.
Oh wait. The agenda is full and it’s just a five-day meeting. We won’t have time for that sort of nonsense.