Monday, April 2, 2012
The death of a parish...
At the parish's annual meeting on January 12, 2012, Dr. Michael Olgren, Chair of the Finance Committee, painted a dire financial picture of the parish stating that the parish would either have to close its doors in September or revert back to mission status without a significant increase in giving.
Grace Episcopal Church, once the strongest, largest, most successful, historically low church parish in the Diocese of Western Michigan with the highest diocesan pledge for years in a row, reduced its pledge to the diocese in 2010 prompting Bishop Robert R. Gepert to dissolve the vestry and appoint a new "leadership Team" until funds were restored. That now seems unlikely. Some parishioners believe the bishop wants the parish to collapse in order to get his hands on the nearly $2 million endowment.
All across the nation there are parishes in conflict, fighting over buildings, coveting financial assets, disputing the cause of it all, and intent upon laying blame everywhere except where it needs to be. How sad it is that while all this is happening, the work of the kingdom is lost and people fall from faith, disillusioned and betrayed by those whom they respected and trusted. I don't know who is to blame here. I am sure there is enough to pass around. But this kind of self-destruction makes it easy for the enemies of the kingdom. And that is a shame.