"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Gone snooping...

I don't watch the Episcopal news much anymore. It's not something that I need to know, and more often than not it just gets me needlessly indignant or depressed. I pay attention to big stuff, the things that come my way without my looking for it, because I have friends who are touched by what the Episcopal Church does, but I don't go looking.

Except, once in a while, like an old wound you just have to keep checking out, I hit the diocesan website for the local Episcopal diocese (Pittsburgh, TEC). I know most of the players over there, love a lot of them, and care about what they are doing. Sometimes it's compassion, sometimes morbid fascination, but every three or four months I make a snoop of their website, take in the news, read the documents.

So I find things.

Like the TEC diocese's proposed 2011 budget, in which a record $400,000 is being set aside for legal expenses next year, almost a third or their total expected expenses. Legal expenses will rate almost $150,000 more of the expected expenses than will "Congregatoinal Mission." This strikes me as poor stewardship, but I guess if the traffic will bear the use of their funds this way, there isn't anything to stop them.

Legal expenses for the past three years and 2011 will total over 1.3 million dollars... I can't imagine that a decision in their favor will result in them getting their money's worth, especially when utilities and maintenance on empty buildings will be factored in. Most of our properties are albatrosses... but I guess, if it makes them happy to pay lawyers, who am I to stop them?

Most of the folks left behind in Pittsburgh-TEC are believers, dear folks who just happen to be loyal to a fault to an institution that isn't loyal to them. But TEC itself, nationwide, is a wasteland. I'd much rather see them throw their funds at lawyers than use the money in attempts to spread their poison.

For me, lawsuits have become a background hum. Easily ignored unless someone suddenly changes the volume. Granted I'm not in charge of a congregation. I stand to lose nothing, so maybe for others it is a more pressing issue. But maybe, just maybe, there is something to be said for keeping the other side occupied with treasure which moth and rust destroy and thieves may break in and steal.

Source for financial information: http://www.episcopalpgh.org/wp-content/uploads/file/2010DioConv/Section%20B-20100913.pdf (PDF, page B-1)

6 comments:

  1. Tara, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts. They triggered in me the challenge to think through how I feel about TEC, the faux diocese of Pittsburgh and the many folks over there I still care about. I check their website a couple times a month. I check Lionel Diemel's blog about once a week.

    TEC for me is more and more just an image in the rearview mirror. I am glad that Plano has joined our diocese.

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  2. I guess it takes lawyers, judges, courts to address legal questions, and certainly the resolution of the appeal of Judge James's order related to the 2005 Calvary v. Diocese stipulation will end up being expensive for all those engaged. I think we all knew from the beginning that the division would inevitably raise the question of "who now is the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh," as legal identity has continued since 1867. The moral answer to the question is, "both, and neither," but obviously there are assets and liabilities and corporate duties that will require a settling of the question one way or the other. My own hope and prayer is that when we get through Act the First, here, and get the diocesan identity questions resolved, the more specific, where-the-rubber-hits-the-road concerns (per your haunting and sad vision of "empty buildings") may be addressed with charity and in the context of our long and continuing history of Christian friendship. And with a view to finding resolutions that will honor Christ and be a good witness to the gospel in the communities we serve. Probably that won't be one-size-fits-all, as situations are different. But that doesn't mean we can't do our best to make the best out of the mess we're in. We all knew from the mid-2000's onward that this was going to be hard and expensive, and we were right at least in that "foreknowledge."

    So, just to say, thank you. I do appreciate your prayers for us and our ministry, and you and all our friends in the Anglican Diocese continue much in mine. I was also glad, per David's note, to see that Christ, Plano, had made the decision to move into ACNA. I'm sure many blessings will flow in both directions as a result of that.

    And, finally, will continue to think of you as your Redlegs play through the post-season. They have a tough row to hoe. However it turns out, though, they and their fans can certainly be proud of a remarkable season.

    Bruce Robison

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  3. Bruce, in my opinion it should take nothing more than a pot of strong coffee and a couple of hours of Christian charity to settle all this. If it were up to you and me and all of us who once called ourselves a team, I'm sure that's all that would be needed. But of course there's more than just us, as you point out.

    I'm really pleased to see both "sides" posting comments to my remarks here. Nothing could please me more.

    Except, maybe, a Reds world series... anyway, after ten years of losses, just showing up for the post-season is awesome. And if Cincy can do it, so can Pittsburgh, well, eventually. :)

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  4. Bruce and Tara
    Just so you know. Me and my vestryman Scott Kleinschnits were born and rasied in Philly.

    Let's go Phillies

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  5. Wait a minute... Did David just put that on MY blog??? *shock and horror!* Go Reds!

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  6. Tara, I totally agree. It would only take a little "coffee and conversation" among Christian friends. I pray that we can get to that table.

    And just a side triangular note to the rector of Bethel Park: David, as you know your Scott Kleinschnitz is one of the finest young Christian men you could have in leadership. His lovely Lydia served a distinguished term on our Vestry (during part of which time Scott was deployed in Iraq), and was a great gift to me and to all of us at St. Andrew's--and I'm delighted to hear that he's sharing his gifts in this way with you. And it's certainly looking good for the Phillies!

    BruceR

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