It’s Advent, so in true surly Anglican Watch fashion, we’re calling BS on the Washington National Cathedral for its policy on” free” worship services this Christmastide.
To be clear, we ardently support efforts by the church to promote financial stability.
Far too many Episcopal churches, schools, dioceses, and other entities act like Episcopalians of yore—wealthy and entitled, with a sign in front that falsely claims “the Episcopal Church welcomes you.” (Just don’t sit in Mrs. Battleaxe’s pew if you do manage to figure out which door is the entrance, and you might actually be allowed to worship with God’s Frozen Chosen.)
But it’s also sneaky and a move of questionable integrity to claim that services are “free,” while inviting those who get tickets to cover non-existent ticket costs. In fact, the phrase that comes to mind is “bait and switch.”
The Cathedral uses tix.com for its ticketing system. The maximum cost per ticket is $1.50 each, plus a small credit card processing fee.
Thus, the Cathedral indeed is selling tickets to services with its request for a $7.00 “donation” to cover “processing fees,” which maintaining the fig leaf that services are “free.”
We also have first-hand experience with his wife Melissa Hollerith, and her unethical behavior while serving on the disciplinary board of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia—all while teaching ethics at St. Albans.
Moreover, much like perjuring priest Bob Malm, Melissa is a Yale alum With a Bad Case of Decorative Caps. And several of Melissa’s comments about us have made their way back to us, and let’s just say she is member of the Episcopal Church Club.
Melissa is not a Christian.
Oh, and while we’re on a tear, the Cathedral, despite its glorious trappings, often does things poorly. That includes how it handles liturgy, its behavior towards donors, and more. (At one time, a member of our staff tried repeatedly to establish the Cathedral as a beneficiary under their will, only to be ignored. Needless to say, that provision never made it into their estate plans, probably for the best.)
Nor are we fans of tinkering with the liturgy, as happens at the Cathedral. One of the critical tenets of Anglicanism is that the church serves as a big tent for varying religious beliefs, united by the ancient creeds and a common liturgy. Thus, our position is that changes should be minimal, stick as closely as possible to the Book of Common Prayer, and be approved by the bishop.
Meanwhile, we need to recall that all are welcome, not just those who think like us or vote like us. The Episcopal Church is not merely a place of worship for elderly liberal Democrats.
Returning to the specifics of the National Cathedral, given that it only has 423 worshippers on an average Sunday, Randy Hollerith and Mariann Budde would be well-advised to focus less on sneak-selling tickets and more on the reasons people aren’t interested in worshipping at the Cathedral.
Meanwhile, to paraphrase Maya Angelou:
It’s important to believe people the second time they show you who they are. That’s because they know themselves far better than you do.
Randy Hollerith, here’s looking at you.