March 23, 2017

January 25, 2010

Leaving Home, Part I

Thursday January 8th, 2009 was a frigid day. I was working from home, watching the kids while Anne went out for coffee with a friend. At 3pm, exactly, I received an email from our lawyer entitled “Adverse Decision from the Judge”. I opened it and read…

“Here is the adverse decision from the judge on your case which was decided and filed earlier today. Please note the line on page 7 of the decision that “the Diocese is entitled to immediate possession thereof.” Based on this language, you do need to worry about a sheriff coming to your church door to change the locks to keep you and all of your people out…”

Not good.

It’s not that we’d been expecting a win—we really didn’t know what to expect—but we’d prayed from the very beginning that God would let us stay in our home and let Good Shepherd remain where she’d always been.

The old church building spring, 2008

In 2008, while the lawsuit raged, Good Shepherd grew and expanded significantly. We’d finally begun to have some impact in the neighborhood, drawing people to church through our soup kitchen and block parties. Our weekly bible studies were packed with new people and we were, shockingly to us, beginning to draw an increasing number of students from BU. We were still very small by objective standards—90 or so on average—but we’d been much much smaller. When I arrived at Good Shepherd in 2002, there were less than 50 people in the pews on any given Sunday. It had been a bumpy ride but by January 2009 Good Shepherd was healthier, younger, larger than she’d been in decades—and she was slowly, steadily, growing.

We hoped that this growth was, perhaps, a sign that God wanted us to stay where we were. We knew intellectually that losing was a very good possibility but while the potential for leaving was real, we hadn’t truly considered what losing would mean for us nor had we anticipated the emotional impact of it.

Anne got home about half-an hour later. As soon as she walked through the door, I told her, “We lost.” We stood there for a moment and then I let her read the email.

We decided to tell the kids right away.  The boys were both dressed as Spiderman (Aedan the Good Spiderman, Rowan the Bad One) as they often are. Emma had on an enormous princess dress. Gwendolyn had on a ballerina tutu was twirling around and around. We sat on the stairs and told them that we were going to have to move. Like all resiliant and clever children, they took it in stride. Only Emma really cried. They were as prepared as we were for this news—they’d been praying for months that God would change the bishop’s heart and we could keep our home.

Because the court order indicated that the diocese could take immediate possession we didn’t really have time to mourn and weep. We felt we needed to start packing that moment. (Two days later we would recieve an offer from the diocese—they would allow us to stay in the church and the rectory for two months in exchange for a rent of over $2000.00 per month. We did not accept this offer) but we didn’t really begin packing the house until the following Monday.

Our first job, starting Friday morning, was to pack up our offices at church and especially to gather our personal belongings, most especially our books, from all parts of the building (amazing how books wander all over the place).

The court order specified that everything owned by Good Shepherd now belonged to the Diocese of Central New York. We could remove our own personal stuff, but all of the things that had been a part and parcel of our community life for more than a century had to stay.

The 10th of January was a gray frozen day. The church was full of people coming to find their stuff or just to sit in the sanctuary, wander through the building, stand in the kitchen drinking coffee and talking about what to do next.

Parishioners arrive the gray Friday morning after everyone learned of our loss

The press arrived later in the day for interviews and to shoot footage of our departure

The image that stands out most in my memory of that day is that of one of our more stoic men standing in front of a plaque bearing his father’s name, tracing the inscription with his finger. It would have to stay.

We took these parting images as the day waned and we were coming closer to a final goodbye

We also prepared for our final service of worship in that place. Which brings up a critical point—we didn’t know where we would be the following Sunday. Much of the preparation for worship on Sunday the 12th of January was discussing options for Sunday the 19th. Was so and so’s living room big enough to accommodate 90 people at one time? What about the church on such and such street that has a gym? Would they let us rent it? Would anyone be able to figure out where it is? What about Sunday School? What about adult Christian Ed? What about bible studies…we have five of them every week. And what about the soup kitchen, the Shepherd’s Bowl? Next Thursday forty to fifty hungry people would make the trek from all parts of the city in horribly cold conditions hoping for and expecting the usual warm meal only to find a dark empty building. How would we feed them? Where would we feed them? How would they know where to go?

Meanwhile, we’d put the house completely on hold through the weekend. We didn’t clean or pack or do anything while we tried to deal with worship and location issues. We didn’t have time to think about where we’d live next until we’d sorted out where the church would be going.

Friday afternoon I called Pastor Hollinger of Conklin Ave. Baptist Church. Before I could say anything more than ‘Hello Pastor’ he asked where we were worshiping the next week and offered his sanctuary.

It turned out that our worship services were held at the same time as theirs. So, wanting to keep as many things as close to the same as possible, I started to gratefully waffle and back out. Pastor Hollinger pressed me and then offered up his gym instead—a heated gym with chairs, a table that could be used as an altar, and a huge kitchen so we could have the coffee hour and lunch. Oh, and classrooms for Sunday school.

Micah captured this photo while I was on the phone with pastor Hollinger

One day out and God had already provided a warm place to worship indefinitely. Now we’d at least be able to announce that services would go on as normal.

Before this the vestry estimated that we would be without our own space for at least a year and that during that time we should expect a 20 to 30 percent loss in attendance and membership. We were running at about 90 per Sunday at that point. We counted, optimistically, on about 60 to 70 stalwarts sticking with us the whole time.

As usual, we had visitors that Sunday morning. Two of them, a young couple, even ended up coming to the rectory during the week to help us pack and eventually they joined the church.

After Communion and the blessing, we stripped the altar, deconsecrated it, emptied the ambry (yes we had one), and blew out the tabernacle candle. Somehow the ash from the censor spilled out in a smear across the altar steps. The congregation left in silence.

Photos taken during the last service at Good Shepherd

Monday began the herculean work of packing up 6 years worth of stuff in the rectory. We never managed to sort through and rid ourselves of toys or anything in the time we lived in that house. It was always on the back burner, ‘We really need to have a garage sale!’ we would say every spring. But we never did. And, we’d been in the midst of post Christmas homeschooling when we got the news, which means we home school first and clean second. So when 10am rolled around on Monday morning and 4 people showed up to help pack, they began that work in less than ideal circumstances.

Everyday someone different took the kids away to play or do school. Parishioners would just show up when they had a free hour during the day and fill boxes. The head of the altar guild took all our laundry every day for two weeks and brought it back clean, ironed and folded. The pillars of the church, besides supplying endless boxes, carefully and methodically packed all the china and breakables. One man alone powered through the attic in one day, labeling boxes, carrying them down and stacking them for easy moving. Our two youth ministers (the former and the present) tackled the horror that was the basement. Every day and into the night late the people of Good Shepherd packed us up, box by box, book by book, toy by toy, amazed at the array of unrelenting knick knacks we possessed.

When we started packing Monday, as I said before, it was with no aim in view. We had no idea where we’d go. I imagined we would have to put everything in storage and find an apartment somewhere. We packed that whole day in a fog of unknowing. The children, thankfully, had no curiosity about what would happen next because I had nothing to tell them.

I wish Anne and I could say that we faithfully trusted and believed that God would provide a place for us to stay and that our minds were perfectly at peace…but that would be a lie. I was certain that it was God’s plan for us to face the worst. I’m quite an unfaithful pessimist about these things. There seem to be two life plans for Christians…the abundance/blessing plan and the death/suffering plan. I assume I am on the death and suffering plan—that God is crouching behind a corner waiting for things to go well in order to take everything away so that I can learn to trust in him alone. That’s a terribly sinful and unfaithful way to think—I know that—and not at all true about God but for some reason that’s where my mind goes when things seem to be taking a turn for the worst.

At the very least, my attitude and what happened over the next weeks and months next seriously undercuts the (whacked out) idea that God waits around for us to gin up “faith” meaning “positive thoughts” before he provides. There was no “naming” and “claiming” happening in the Kennedy household.

Tuesday mid-morning the phone rang. It was Msgr. Meaghar, former priest of St. Andrew’s Catholic Church now priest in charge of the merged parish of Sts. John and Andrew.

In November of 2008, the Catholic Diocese of Syracuse merged two large Binghamton parishes, St John the Evangelist and St. Andrew’s Catholic Church. The people and priest of St. Andrew’s were told to close their property and merge with St John’s which is located on Livingston street a block south of Good Shepherd’s location (which was on the Corner of Conklin and Livingston).

The former St. Andrew’s Catholic Church was only about a mile and a half down Conklin from Good Shepherd. Prior to the merger, before they had to leave their property behind, St. Andrew’s had been packed out every Sunday, filling their parking lot of more than 100 spaces, filling their Sanctuary which seats 400 (twice a Sunday), and filling their school building with Sunday School children. Before he had to move into St. John’s rectory, the priest at St. Andrew’s, Msgr Meaghar, lived in a relatively new four bedroom three bath rectory settled in the shadow of the St. Andrew’s sanctuary. When the two parishes merged St. Andrew’s property (rectory, sanctuary, school building, parking lot and storage facility) was left vacant.

That Tuesday morning, Msgr. Meaghar read in the Press and Sun that we lost our case and heard, I suppose from one of his parishioners who lived nearby, that we were moving out of the rectory.

When I answered the phone, I assumed, because he is a gracious and kind man, that he was calling to offer his condolences.

“I was wondering”,” he said, “do you and your family have a place to go?”

Not catching on, I did my duty despite my pessimism and mumbled and stammered on in pious tones about God providing.

“Well” he said, “We’re basically moved out of our rectory at St. Andrew’s. Would you like to move in?”

I don’t know why I didn’t see it coming but I didn’t and for a few seconds I couldn’t think of anything to say. Did he know what he was offering? Was he aware of what it would mean for the St. Andrew’s rectory for my entire family to move in even for a week? We had four kids. Does he know that?  I finally managed to say, “Well, we have a lot of stuff.”

“That’s ok,” he said, “you can stay as long as you need to and we’ll figure out the details later.” Before I could say a proper thank you, he’d arranged to hand off the key Wednesday afternoon.

The former St. Andrew’s rectory

So, by the grace of God, the generosity of neighboring churches and pastors, and the extraordinary efforts of the congregation, we were out of the church and house within a week. Far from jamming ourselves into a tiny apartment and worshiping in someone’s living room, we were settled seamlessly into a four bedroom three bathroom house with an enormous basement already set up to accommodate meetings and we had a large heated gym for worship. Vestry, meetings, bible studies, worship…nothing came to a halt or even paused.

That first Sunday we worshiped in the gym at Conklin Ave. Meanwhile, Msgr. Meaghar opened up the Sts John and Andrew’s parish kitchen and hall to the Soup Kitchen so, that Thursday, no meals were missed.

We were out of the old house by Friday. In fact, we slept in the new house Thursday night for the first time and made the final trips Friday and a little into Saturday. Thursday and Friday Anne stayed at the new house and tried to unpack essentials so that we could be clothed and in our right minds by Sunday.

And so ends the first week and part one of this series.

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No time here at the office to read..can not wait to get home to give this important story its due. Thank you Father Matt for showing us all the measure of God’s grace.

[1] Posted by Intercessor on 1-25-2010 at 03:55 PM · [top]

Great story of God’s faithfulness, and the journey of his people.

[2] Posted by Going Home on 1-25-2010 at 05:54 PM · [top]

God bless Good Shepherd, its priests, and also the Roman Catholics and Baptists!! 


[3] Posted by Anti-Harridan on 1-25-2010 at 07:53 PM · [top]

This is a fantastic read, Matt and Anne—thanks for writing it up!

I’m sure all of the really spiritual sounding parts come from Anne.

Interesting that you deconsecrated the building—a good move, I think.

Can’t wait to hear what happens next!  ; > )

[4] Posted by Sarah on 1-25-2010 at 09:44 PM · [top]

This is very encouraging, what God can do in our darkest hour! What a miracle! What a valuable lesson for all of us who are called to live this life of faith. I can’t wait to read what happens next.

[5] Posted by Josiah on 1-26-2010 at 03:13 AM · [top]

As I recall from last year, you put up a sign at the old church to tell the hungry where the new soup kitchen was.  And someone took down that sign.
This is a very important story to tell and you have done an excellent job.

[6] Posted by Capt. Father Warren on 1-26-2010 at 08:01 AM · [top]

I am so sorry for the circumstances, but in the fire seven times hotter than usual, the Lord often shows up, as He did for you. Not that the latter makes the former anymore justified, it still sucks how good faith talks turned into this, but redemption of any sort is sweet, putting our eyes on Him!

I echo the prayer for blessing to you, family, parish and the Baptist and Roman Catholics who shown such kindness.

[7] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 1-26-2010 at 08:07 AM · [top]

Others beside Matt and his congregation have suffered. Matt was fortunate to have Stand Firm as a platform from which he could tell the his story and the story of his congregation and gain the sympathy and support of those who frequent this website. On the other hand, others have been less fortunate and had not had such a platform and their stories and the stories of their congregations have gone untold. They have not enjoyed the sympathy and support of the folks at Stand Firm. As well as retelling Matt’s story and that of St. Andrew’s in more detail, why not also tell some of these other stories? They are the stories of Anglican Christians who too have experienced God’s grace, perhaps even more so since they have had to rely to a greater degree on that grace and not the help of friends on the Internet. Their stories would also be edifying.

[8] Posted by AnglicansAblaze on 1-26-2010 at 12:21 PM · [top]

Thanks Matt and Anne,
This story gives me particular things to pray for.

I never get tired of stories of the Lord reaching down with his big ole hand and saving us, in big ways and in small.

[9] Posted by heart on 1-26-2010 at 01:17 PM · [top]

RE: “Matt was fortunate to have Stand Firm as a platform . . . “

A fascinating way of describing it.  What about “Matt put in thousands of volunteer unpaid hours, sleepless nights, and stressful encounters for almost five years using his research, interviewing, writing, and investigative skills to provide a service for a startup blog that had almost no readers when it was founded, but grew to thousands of readers.”

It’s not as if StandFirm fell from the sky and was offered to a little known and untalented priest on a platter to serve as his “platform.”  In fact, I’ve been amazed at how little Matt has used this blog as his platform.  SF bloggers know all the gory details of Matt’s travails—SF readers very very little.  Many is the time I’ve wanted to blog some scandalous behavior of Matt’s former “leaders” and been called off.

Speaking personally, StandFirm has cost me many many hours and much work-money.  I do it because it uses my gifts, provides a product of value and as much excellence as I can muster to many who need it, and I believe God has called me to it.  Judging by Matt’s schedule, I’d say the same thing is probably true for him.  Certainly God has used StandFirm as a means of grace for me and others, I hope, and I am thankful.  Just as He provides countless other tools of grace to others who don’t deal much with the blogosphere.  Every hour that Matt spends blogging is an hour in which he does not do something else that, in crass material terms, might be more “profitable.”  Thankfully, Matt has chosen to focus in part on blogging.

RE: “On the other hand, others have been less fortunate and had not had such a platform and their stories and the stories of their congregations have gone untold. . . . why not also tell some of these other stories?”

Yes, because heaven knows StandFirm has not told the stories of suffering Anglicans—and indeed Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Lutherans, and RC’s—but has instead littered the blog with the suffering stories of Greg, Matt, Sarah, Jackie, and David.  What a pity that the countless donation drives and prayer drives and networking projects of other blogs could not be offered at StandFirm.  What a tragedy that when one scans oh, say . . . today’s blog offerings all one sees is a sea of Suffering Tales of SF Bloggers.

RE: “Their stories would also be edifying.”

I wholeheartedly agree.  There are thousands of stories of the suffering out there, which need to be told.  There are also countless stories of portly pompous abusive bishops, arrogant buffoonish canons to the ordinary, raving heresies, ridiculous education programs for parishes, canonical violations, miserable failures being spun to be “successes” by heretics, and on and on and on that cry out to be told. 

My recommendation is that those who have a heart to tell those stories should with all speed and alacrity acquire a domain name, investigate, dig, google, interview, write, and promote their blog, also creating a product of as much excellence and interest as possible so that more and more readers will come and view these blogs, so that those stories may be told by dint of again many hours of labor and toil and tedium, such that the world may know—rather than enjoining the bloggers at other blogs to “write faster and research harder” in their spare time.

One of the serious lacks still are the scores more of blogs that are needed for Anglicans to archive these stories and get them out to the world, and I sincerely hope that this will happen soon.  My hat’s off to those bloggers who are doing this kind of work.  Many many many more bloggers are needed.

[10] Posted by Sarah on 1-26-2010 at 01:38 PM · [top]

Fr. Matt, may God bless you and the people of Good Shepherd as you go forward - and bless the pastor and priest who reached out to you and made so much possible so quickly.

[11] Posted by oscewicee on 1-26-2010 at 02:03 PM · [top]

#8 What an odd response to Matt+‘s story. Yes, he has a platform on SFIF to share his personal story of how the LORD has been faithful where others may not have such a forum. Maybe it is up to us to ear that we may be edified or encourage other. I am perplexed by your logic in your post and wonder if maybe you have allowed past logical disagreements to move into other areas which is impairing “rejoicing with those rejoicing,” over Jesus’ faithfulness and kindness of other Christians.

[12] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 1-26-2010 at 02:11 PM · [top]

Hi AA,

I was hoping that our story might encourage those who are going through similar experiences and, most of all, that it would show how God provides for his people in all circumstances in ways that defy expectations.

[13] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 1-26-2010 at 02:16 PM · [top]

#8: Not to pile on, but I’m with Sarah & H6.6 on this one.  If there is a story to tell try: 

The entry cost of blogging is merely the sweat equity of writing the story.  Sure Matt, Sarah, Jackie, & Greg have built a ‘brand’ here.  Bully for them.  I bet if others blog honestly about their travails in pursuit of Anglican orthodoxy and that is made known to the SFIF folks, a link will quickly appear here.  As Sarah points out, that has been the practice in the past.

Peace, deep abiding peace,

[14] Posted by miserable sinner on 1-26-2010 at 03:03 PM · [top]

AA - (#8)

They are the stories of Anglican Christians who too have experienced God’s grace, perhaps even more so since they have had to rely to a greater degree on that grace and not the help of friends on the Internet.

You discount the possibility that SF may be an instrument of that grace?

[15] Posted by Positive Phototaxis on 1-26-2010 at 03:55 PM · [top]

AnglicansAblaze, it sounds like you may have woken up on the wrong side of the bed!  I sense that something else may be bothering you, and you have taken it out on this article. I know I am guilty of that sometimes.

I have no connection to this site, but I have read countless articles here about the journey of prosecuted congregations, both in and out of TEC.  Also, in reading the article, it appears that the providential assistance received by Father Kennedy and his congregation in finding a new place to worship seemed to have nothing to do with this “platform.”  Yet, he chooses to use this site to give God the glory.

You are right in that other exiting congregations have stories of suffering (well, at least what we in the US call “suffering”) and God’s faithfulness.  Should we not tell one story, because others may exist?  Of course not!

I loved this story, because it reminds all of us, once again, that God is faithful despite our fears. It is particularly revelant as most of us deal with financial challenges in these tough economic times.

The photographs of smiling children, and parents, in the midst of a most trying situation also reinforces something else, the indiscribable nature of God’s joy in the life of a Christian despite external circumstances.

Looking forward to Part II.

[16] Posted by Going Home on 1-26-2010 at 04:24 PM · [top]

Quote: “I was hoping that our story might encourage those who are going through similar experiences and, most of all, that it would show how God provides for his people in all circumstances in ways that defy expectations. “

I was indeed greatly encouraged by this story and my faith was strengthened. I live on the other side of the world (literally) and have not heard the details of this amazing story. I look forward to part 2. I hope this whole account gets published in book form someday so more people can be encouraged by it.

Thanks, Fr. Matt for this article!

[17] Posted by Josiah on 1-26-2010 at 05:46 PM · [top]

I wholeheartedly agree.  There are thousands of stories of the suffering out there, which need to be told.  There are also countless stories of portly pompous abusive bishops, arrogant buffoonish canons to the ordinary, raving heresies, ridiculous education programs for parishes, canonical violations, miserable failures being spun to be “successes” by heretics, and on and on and on that cry out to be told. 

Ah yes.  I remember as if it were yesterday.  A little birdy suggested to me that each diocese ought to have its own watchdog blog and ..

You know, AnglicansAblaze .. you could do that too, for your own diocese. 

I’ll say this - After starting my own blog, doing the work, finding the stories, networking to sources, networking to advertise the site, writing ad nuaseum, combatting depression, etc etc .. I’ll never look at sites like StandFirm the same way again.  Trust me, these guys are working their asses off.

[18] Posted by Elder Oyster on 1-26-2010 at 05:50 PM · [top]

Thank you, Frs. Matt and Anne for your extrodinary recall of details that could too soon be forgotten.  I would hope that every one of our parishioners will see this post.  There are so many newbies who need to know our story of God’s blessings.  But everyone here should know that, without your strength and guidance, we would probably have disbanded and gone our separate ways, floundering about who knows where.  It was your incredible strength of spirit that lifted our hearts to start anew. 

I know that others have suffered as we have as a parish and it could be a comfort to them to know that God DOES provide if you have faith in Him.  All they need is the stamina to stand firm in their faith and take the narrow path. 

It would have been easy to put our heads in the sand and stray from God’s devine word but you two gave us the strength and knowledge and never hid the true agenda of TEC.  That transparency of information let us to make the hardest decision we have ever made at Good Shepherd.  We have been members of GS for over 40 years and were crushed by the Decision but we survived and now are “flourishing”- not just “surviving.”

To those of you out there who are still fighting your battles. please know that God provides even in the bleakest of times.  Keep your faith strong.  C…..

[19] Posted by Just a Parishioner on 1-26-2010 at 09:52 PM · [top]

It is a wonderful story and a great encouragement.  God is good.  Hosea 11:10-11

[20] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 1-27-2010 at 06:48 AM · [top]

Thank you Matt+

Please do tell us more.

[21] Posted by MichaelA on 1-27-2010 at 06:50 AM · [top]

Wonderful story indeed.

[22] Posted by Newbie Anglican on 1-27-2010 at 09:53 AM · [top]

I find it interesting that so many people rushed to defend Matt and to attack me when I simply drew attention to the fact that he and St. Andrew’s enjoyed a great deal more media exposure than many other clergy and congregations who have suffered similar experiences and they benefited from this exposure and proposed that Stand Firm might also want to run some of their stories as well as Matt’s retelling of his and St. Andrew’s story in greater detail. There is no denying that Matt and St. Andrew’s did enjoy this exposure—in the local and national newspapers, television, and Stand Firm and elsewhere onthe Internet. Certainly, the plight of other clergy and congregations has received some coverage on Stand Firm but how often does Stand Firm run a story written by one of its correspondents on one of these clergy or congregations. It usually just posts what has appeared elsewhere on the Internet. I raised no objections to Matt’s retelling his story and that of St. Andrew’s in greater detail nor did I suggest that others would not benefit from reading it. What I did suggest is that the readers of Stand Firm might also like to read the stories of clergy and congregation who had not enjoyed the advantage of the media exposure that Matt and St. Andrews had enjoyed. I also noted that those clergy and congregations had to rely on God’s greater degree since they did not have access to the resources that Matt and St. Andrew’s had. I further noted that their stories would also build up the faith of the readers. Stand Firm is a widely read conservative Anglican web site and already has standing in the conservative Anglican community. The publishing of such stories on Stand Firm rather than a new web site or a web site with less readership would provide a great deal of encouragment to clergy and congregations facing similar circumstances. Stand Firm could also use its position as a popular conservative Anglican web site to mobilize support for clergy and congregations facing these circumstances.

[23] Posted by AnglicansAblaze on 1-27-2010 at 09:55 AM · [top]

Correction: “God’s grace to a greater degree” not “God’s greater degree.”

[24] Posted by AnglicansAblaze on 1-27-2010 at 09:57 AM · [top]

AA… I intend no offense, vut that reads as “spin” as much as “clarification”...

You said:

“They have not enjoyed the sympathy and support of the folks at Stand Firm” and that other abused parishes had more opportunity to experience God’s grace (clearly drawing a distinction between that grace and what “friends on the internet” participate in.

Please don’t be surprised when those with a great deal of sympathy for ALL such parishes find that difficult to accept.

[25] Posted by Positive Phototaxis on 1-27-2010 at 10:02 AM · [top]

RE: “Stand Firm might also want to run some of their stories as well as Matt’s retelling of his and St. Andrew’s story in greater detail.”

This has been done already in spades.

RE: “There is no denying that Matt and St. Andrew’s did enjoy this exposure—in the local and national newspapers, television, and Stand Firm and elsewhere onthe Internet.”

And many other parishes have enjoyed even greater exposure in the media than Matt’s church. 

RE: “What I did suggest is that the readers of Stand Firm might also like to read the stories of clergy and congregation who had not enjoyed the advantage of the media exposure that Matt and St. Andrews had enjoyed.”

Again—already done.

RE: “I also noted that those clergy and congregations had to rely on God’s greater degree since they did not have access to the resources that Matt and St. Andrew’s had.”

A simple theological error that others have already pointed out.  Relying on God often involves being sent resources by God, which would include StandFirm, other Internet support, the media, groups of friends, money, property, etc, etc.  All of it is “relying on God to provide” and He did and He does.  There is no distinction between “relying on God” and God’s providing resources.  And God provides.  Sometimes He provides the Internet.  Sometimes He provides other things.

RE: “The publishing of such stories on Stand Firm rather than a new web site or a web site with less readership would provide a great deal of encouragment to clergy and congregations facing similar circumstances.”

Again—already done in spades, over and over and over.

RE: “Stand Firm could also use its position as a popular conservative Anglican web site to mobilize support for clergy and congregations facing these circumstances.”

Already done—over and over and over again over the years.

Feel free, as I said above, to go start your own blog if you have particular stories that you feel that StandFirm has not publicized enough.

At this point, AA has taken the entire thread off topic to talk about how the bloggers at StandFirm need to fulfill AA’s priorities, rather than AA go out and fulfill his own priorities.

No further off-topic comments, please, from anyone.  This will be a good long series, and I’m loathe to have it rabbit trailing onto AA’s vision for a blog he is in no way responsible for or committed to by dint of his own hours of volunteer work—and I should add appears unwilling to go invest his own time in developing a similar blog with similar traffic.  If AA has suggestions of topics, he—and others too as they already do—are welcome to send Private Messages to bloggers with ideas.

[26] Posted by Sarah on 1-27-2010 at 10:18 AM · [top]

[comment deleted without prejudice—off topic; let’s move on]

[27] Posted by Positive Phototaxis on 1-27-2010 at 10:54 AM · [top]

No further off-topic comments, please, from anyone

Oops… My apologies Sarah. I should have read to the bottom before beginning a reply.

[28] Posted by Positive Phototaxis on 1-27-2010 at 10:57 AM · [top]

My only grumble is the suspense waiting for part 2 of this one story of God’s grace.

[29] Posted by Hosea6:6 on 1-27-2010 at 11:24 AM · [top]

Thank you, Matt, for sharing this story. I am fairly new to SF and so I didn’t know anything about this. I look forward to hearing more. I was very moved and inspired by your courage and God’s grace.

[30] Posted by KarenR on 1-27-2010 at 01:42 PM · [top]

Bless you Matt and Ann for “Standing Firm” and putting trust in our Lord Jesus Christ. Really look forward to follow-on articles of God’s demonstrated “GRACE” and your Congregations Epic journey.
Thanks Sarah for keeping thread in line. Blessings

[31] Posted by AnglicanRon on 1-27-2010 at 07:11 PM · [top]

Incredible timing.  God is good.

[32] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 1-27-2010 at 07:32 PM · [top]

Father Matt,
Given all the demands on your time in being forced to move both your church and family home, may God bless you for sharing your time and talents with us as well.  For you to accomplish so much, our Lord must have blessed you with truly amazing skills in time management in addition to your considerable gifts as a priest and preacher.
  It is a great tragedy of our times that so many priests, young and old, find themselves in similar straits. May our Lord strengthen you, and all the priests of His Church.

[33] Posted by tjmcmahon on 1-27-2010 at 08:04 PM · [top]

What a wonderful testimony and example of God’s sovereignty!
Isn’t God amazing how so often his plans and ways are exceedingly above what we can envisage or imagine?!?
In my life God has shown me again and again of how worth He is of our trust, devotion and our worship. For me the battle has been my emotions during those hard times. And it is during those times, I remember these words I was told by a Scottish brother in Christ,
“Sanctification never happens on just a Sunday!”
Thankyou again Matt, for your post. You are a great source of encouragement to me in my own ministry as a fellow Anglican minister.

[34] Posted by Joshua Bovis on 1-27-2010 at 09:23 PM · [top]

Father Matt,
Thanks for sharing this wonderful story of how God has provided for your church and your family.
I am curious as to what has happened to your former church building and rectory. Have they been sold by the diocese, are they standing vacant, are they being used, or?

[35] Posted by Janis on 1-28-2010 at 05:16 AM · [top]

We walked away from our gorgeous parish w/ 190 parishioners, 10 of the 12 Vestry members and no priest or property, not even a prayer book, into the priciest real estate market in Phoenix, AZ history,(before the downturn), and God provided access to an empty church on Sunday mornings, a godly and beloved priest who refused any payment, and every imaginable blessing He could bestow upon us. We did not miss a Sunday service in the departure.  2 years into our existence, we have a full time anointed rector, family minister, newly ordained associate priest, and organist and choir master. We are in the process of purchasing the previously unaffordable church property which went into default after purchase by developers, by raising $1.2 million in a capital campaign begun in June of 2009, in the midst of the worst economy since the Depression.  God blesses and provides for his faithful whether they have a platform at Stand Firm or not.  Our journey and the miracles of holy provision have been nothing short of biblical.  It has been a privilege to witness and share in God’s grace, mercy, and perfect supply. Our adult membership has increased by 55% and children by 141%. Stand Firm was an instrumental resource in educating and preparing our congregation for the decision to separate from a liberal diocese, formulate a plan for departure, and contributed to our success in establishing a faithful orthodox parish in the new diocese of Western Anglicans of the Anglican Church in North America.  Thanks be to God!!!
Wendy Pitha
Christ Church Anglican
Phoenix, AZ

[36] Posted by wportbello on 1-28-2010 at 05:55 PM · [top]

There are so many of us with stories of God’s grace to share.  Matt’s is remarkable and encouraging.  The one thing about people with Grace stories to share is that they enjoy hearing them and understand that one person’s amazing story of God’s grace adds to their own.  There is no jealousy or envy.  It is out of place. 

I look forward to part 2.

[37] Posted by Ed McNeill on 1-28-2010 at 07:43 PM · [top]

Wendy at #36,

Thank you for that very encouraging feed-back.

Posts like this and the article by Matt+ are very important so that we can all appreciate what is actually happening “on the ground”. You may not realise how encouraging it is for other faithful christians to hear these things.

Anglicans all over the world are undercutting the liberals; its a strategy that the apostate never suspected could work (because it essentially relies on the Lord being there and acting with power, which they don’t understand) and you are our leaders. You show us how it is done. Thank you again.

[38] Posted by MichaelA on 1-28-2010 at 07:57 PM · [top]

I’ve been wondering why Matt hadn’t told this amazing story earlier.  It’s a fantastic testimony to God’s incredible faithfulness (and resourcefulness).  I just love how God pulls off stunts like that, giving Matt and Anne a home significantly bigger than their growing family had before, and also providing a bigger church and parking lot than their old location that Good Shepherd had outgrown (I assume that will be covered in part 2).

But thanks also to Wendy (#36), for adding her likewise dramatic story of God’s abundant provision for Christ Church, Phoenix.  And though Fr. Ed McNeill (#37) didn’t give us his church’s story, he could’ve told a similarly inspiring story, showing the Lord working wonders in the Bay area of CA just as he has done in Binghamton, NY (and numerous other places around the country).

The hand of God is upon this movement in a humbling and thrilling way.  Serving Christ is truly a Great Adventure, although it’s often more difficult and stressful than we’d bargained for.  But what an exciting way to live!

BTW, I enjoyed the pictures too.  I look forward to reading the rest of the story.  Well done, Matt.

David Handy+

[39] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 1-29-2010 at 10:39 AM · [top]

I have enjoyed the bits & pieces of the Kennedy story that have been posted on SF over the past year and I am so pleased to see it posted as a coherent whole…with pictures yet!  I believe that, when God graces two people with the gift of story telling, brings them together as husband and wife, and blesses them with a story to tell, He intends for them to tell it to the best of their abilities.  I hope He intends for them to publish in book form.  If they do(that would be you, Matt and Anne), please notice that I am standing in line to purchase 5 copies.

If someone reading this post has been graced with the ability to recognize a good story and is inspired to collect some of the other stories of God’s miraculous provision in similar circumstances and publish them in an anthology, I’ll be standing in line to purchase multiple copies of that book also.

I thank God for all of you at SF for bringing this kind of good news to build up the faith of the faithful when it is so desperately needed.

Frances Scott

[40] Posted by Frances S Scott on 1-29-2010 at 03:15 PM · [top]

Thank you Sarah for your comments…couldn’t agree more.  and dear anne and matt God’s richest blessings upon you and your family and God’s anglican church in binghamton….Thank you so very much for sharing your story and the story of God’s faithfulness, abundance and love.  I am truly blessed and encouraged.  - ben+

[41] Posted by jamesw on 1-29-2010 at 04:11 PM · [top]

Fr. Matt,
What I’ve written below is intended as encouragement.

I’m one of those who suspects the next location is the furnace, lion’s den, or other location for purification.  And yet God sends the ram when that which is most precious is about to be sacrificed, makes 5+2 feed 5,000, and bids the storm be silent in my life too.

Do not overly berate yourself for expecting the furnace, faithful men have found themselves there, nor the lion’s den - Daniels sometimes preach to kings from pits.  We, like the three in furnace know or God is capable, and like Stephen know that He is not obligated.

There is no shame nor sin in not presuming upon the Holy One.

And it seems to me, that He honours in a special way those who, without expecting deliverance in this life, continue to serve Him.

[42] Posted by Bo on 1-29-2010 at 09:50 PM · [top]

It is important that you document this confiscation as you have.  In years to come, if they still exist, TEC will possibly deny that such transgressions against fellow Christians ever took place.  All of this is impossible to imagine and beyond any pale of decency.  TEC was clever, and legally secure, in structuring titles to church property but where is the equity in confiscating what you never paid for.  For the sake of heaven, those poor people faithfully gave their money, year in and year out, to buy property and build structures to worship in and TEC shows no grace, compassion or fairness in its actions.  Where does TEC stop?  Do they take cemeteries, as well as things given in the name of loved ones? 

Proverbs says, “all who go after ill-gotten gain;      it takes away the lives of those who get it.

Would not Jeremiah tell them as he told Jerusalem, “your adulteries and lustful neighings, your shameless prostitution! I have seen your detestable acts on the hills and in the fields. Woe to you, O Jerusalem!  How long will you be unclean?”

It seems that TEC lusts for everything unholy.  I want for a prophet of God to come on the scene but then I realize the the prophets are screaming from the scriptures to the very appetites and actions that characterize TEC.

As horrible as this is, the offended, faithful Anglicans should not take retribution because God will certainly justly repay.

[43] Posted by FollowerOfTheWay on 2-24-2010 at 04:17 PM · [top]

“Confiscating what you never paid for?”  I call it corporate theft on a grand scale!  I think this is what amounts to a hostile takeover ala the corporate world.

[44] Posted by cennydd13 on 8-27-2011 at 02:18 PM · [top]

Now let’s see if Schori and Company can come up with something to match this!

[45] Posted by cennydd13 on 10-9-2011 at 09:57 AM · [top]

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