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An update and a note of thanks from Good Shepherd

Thursday, January 29, 2009 • 6:37 am


Dear Friends,

Just a brief update on our status and note of thanks. There are no words fit to express my gratitude for your outpouring of love, prayer, and support (financially and otherwise) for my congregation and my family. Anne and I and the vestry and people of Good Shepherd thank you for everything you have done and are doing.

I sent the following brief letter to the congregation last week. I’m posting it here so that those who have supported us will have a sense for where things stand. You can also see photos of the transition time here and here and pictures of the various places we’ve worshiped and studied together here. Here’s the letter:

Dear Good Shepherd,

What an amazing week. I know intellectually that God provides and I have experienced that provision in the past, but nothing quite like what has happened in the last two weeks. The Sunday before last we were without a place to worship, the Shepherd’s Bowl was without a place to serve meals, and my family was without a place to live. Then, out of the blue, Msgr. Meagher called to offer the former St. Andrew’s rectory, his parish offered to host the Shepherd’s Bowl, and Pastor Hollinger and the Conklin Avenue Baptist church offered their gym and classrooms for [the then upcoming (ed.)] Sunday morning.

Saturday [the Saturday before last (ed.)], Msgr. Meaghar called, again out of the blue, and offered the former sanctuary of St. Andrew’s to us for this coming Sunday. We confirmed the arrangements this Monday.

What strikes me about his call, on top of his sheer kindness and generosity, is that I had planned, prayed, and was worried about calling and asking him for the very thing he offered.

What generous neighbors we have on the Southside and what an amazing God we serve. His mercies and grace have been poured out on us.

“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, ‘The LORD has done great things for them.’ The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad” (Psalm 126:1-3)

There is still much to be done and, I am sure, much to sacrifice. The capital campaign needs many more contributions in order to make a good down payment offer for a purchase of property. We’ve lost many items we use for worship. We may well lose the Branan bequest (which is currently frozen). Given those needs along with regular salaries, insurance, any rent and utilities we pay at our present location, we are basically living month to month.

If, moreover, we stay in this neighborhood for any length of time, there is a lot of work to be done. The people of the Saratoga Apartment housing projects, within sight of St. Andrew’s, need help with food and clothes. And, more than that, judging by the high crime-rate, many of them need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We are living on the edge. These are the times that James tells us produce godly endurance and character (James 1:2-4). Every day we experience his grace. Every day we are thrust into circumstances that demand courage, trust, love and obedience.

Meanwhile, God is faithful. He has and will give us everything we need. Our task is not to lose heart, not to shrink back, but give ourselves to this great work to which we have been called.

In Christ,
Matt

One last thing. The experience of the last few weeks has convinced me of the need for a permanent ministry to aid the many congregations that have had to leave property and assets. There needs to be a central fund of some kind to provide financial assistance to parishes that have lost or have had to walk away from everything and an organized system to collect necessary liturgical and office supplies. I am not sure how to go about setting something like that up but I will be looking into possibilities as soon as I can come up for air here. Perhaps, in the meantime, people who do know might provide some advice.

I will return soon to writing regularly for Stand Firm but for the next few weeks I’ve got to devote my full attention to Good Shepherd.


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Comments:

We are seeing clergy from other denominations coming to assist congregations like Good Shepherd and the ones in California, where Rick Warren offered Saddleback Church facilities. This is a reminder that the Body of Christ is much larger than TEC! These congregations may not be as much “on their own” as we feared.

[1] Posted by from South Florida on 01-29-2009 at 07:20 AM • top

Yes South Florida, the help offered has been a true picture of the universality of the Body of Christ. We’ve been helped by other denominations in ways I’m not even at liberty to reveal…

[2] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 01-29-2009 at 08:08 AM • top

Still, we can’t wait for larger organizations to take the initiative, and should try to offer what help we can.

[3] Posted by mari on 01-29-2009 at 08:12 AM • top

Absolutely Mari, despite the interdenominational help, we are in great need and I know other congregations are as well.

[4] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 01-29-2009 at 08:14 AM • top

Thanks for the report, Matt+.

[5] Posted by Newbie Anglican on 01-29-2009 at 09:10 AM • top

Real ecumenism in action.

So much for TEC and their Big Welcoming Tent Full of Diversity.  A more narrow-minded group I’d be hard put to find.

[6] Posted by st. anonymous on 01-29-2009 at 09:55 AM • top

Thanks Matt+
It is good to hear those in trials sing His praises.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. ”

[7] Posted by Bo on 01-29-2009 at 10:18 AM • top

May God shower his blessings, provision, joy and peace on Msgr. Meaghar and his flock.  What a visible evidence of the grace of God working through the Body.

[8] Posted by Cathy_Lou on 01-29-2009 at 10:33 AM • top

Fr. Matt,
I do not want to sound prophetic but last night I was moved by “curiosity” to Google up your church to see what progress you had made and voila here is your article the next morning! What a wonderful path you and your church is on. There were no photos of St Andrews that I could find last night but I see that you have interior shots in today’s thread.Could you also post some exterior shots as well? Also does your new home have the facilities to continue your soup kitchen ministry? Bless you all for your faith in the Almighty!
Intercessor

[9] Posted by Intercessor on 01-29-2009 at 10:53 AM • top

Fr. Matt,

I seem to recall my rector, Fr. Don Curran, and I both saying to you in earlier threads that God will provide for you and the folks of Good Shepherd just as he did for us when we left Grace Ep. and became Christ the King.  Looks like He did.  smile  I am sitting here holding back the tears stinging my eyes at how awesome He truly is and how He is Jehovah Jireh!  God bless all of you as you continue this part of God’s journey for you.

[10] Posted by Florida Anglican [Support Israel] on 01-29-2009 at 11:39 AM • top

Hi Intercessor,

I do not have any photos of the exterior…I’ll try to find some online. It is a very large complex…a school, large parking-lot, sanctuary and rectory. We are, at this point, simply staying here as guests with gratitude to Msgr Meagher. There are facilities here which would be capable of continuing the soup kitchen…but again, we are guests without any formal arrangements.

[11] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 01-29-2009 at 11:43 AM • top

One last thing. The experience of the last few weeks has convinced me of the need for a permanent ministry to aid the many congregations that have had to leave property and assets. There needs to be a central fund of some kind to provide financial assistance to parishes that have lost or have had to walk away from everything and an organized system to collect necessary liturgical and office supplies. I am not sure how to go about setting something like that up but I will be looking into possibilities as soon as I can come up for air here. Perhaps, in the meantime, people who do know might provide some advice.

4 California parishes are about to experience what Good Shepherd is experiencing.  Their battle has been going on for several years.  Not only has there been tremendous money spent on the effort, people are beginning to weary and depart.  The new Rector of St. James Anglican, Newport Beach, Fr. Richard Crocker, arrived with his family and household goods from VA the week the CA Supreme Court decision was handed down against the churches.  Our Phoenix parish departed with nothing, nary a prayer book or chalice.  We are anticipating the fate that awaits our fellow Western Anglican parishes and are readying ourselves for what assistance we might supply in goods and support.  I know that our leadership is keenly interested in participating in such a program as Matt suggests.

Like Matt’s testimony, the outpouring of God’s holy provision through many avenues and partners was nothing short of biblical magnitude.  Thanks be to God!  Consider the number of churches which have departed with no fanfare or public notice.  May we stand as one!

[12] Posted by wportbello on 01-29-2009 at 11:44 AM • top

Hi Matt,
Please post a link so that we can know how to contribute to the capital campaign for the down payment on a new church.

[13] Posted by perpetuaofcarthage on 01-29-2009 at 12:15 PM • top

We have recently split from our church, All Saints in Fort Worth. There is a great deal that needs to be done but I will be documenting everything, so that others can use what we have done as a blue print of what they need to do. We are starting from scratch but we have the beenfit of a Diocese and our Bishop to help us. Please pray for all those churches in TEC that maybe faced with the possibility of leaving their churches and their fellow parishioners.

[14] Posted by martin5 on 01-29-2009 at 12:26 PM • top

Can’t thank you enough 1928 PB Loyalist… 

Here is a letter I wrote to our congregation on Sunday…you will find the information there.
http://binghamtongoodshepherd.blogspot.com/2009/01/letter-to-congregationpassed-out-this.html

[15] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 01-29-2009 at 12:33 PM • top

Matt+,
Operation Pass Along, a ministry of Hillspeak, 805 CR 102, Eureka springs, AR 72632, can probably help you.  When we left our building and walked away with nothing, I wrote to them and they sent us a big box of Hymnal 1982’s and later, when I asked, they sent us another big box of Hymnal 1940’s.  They charge nothing but postage. 
They have prayerbooks and some liturgical supplies as well, I believe.

[16] Posted by evan miller on 01-29-2009 at 12:33 PM • top

Martin5 - that would be a blessing to others in similar circumstances. When we pulled out (from Alabama Diocese) to start St. Josephs last Dec. we had nothing .... not even a collection plate, luckily someone gave us one at my ordination in Jan.

It has been amazing how well you can be received, and then poorly from other denominations. We were welcomed, as the Holy Spirit lead us to a small Nazarene Church that allows us to use their space, their Pastor has been incredible. When we would be able to have a place of our own is in the Lord’s hands.

So keeping a list would be valuable - at least you have the support of a diocese….
Blessings to all that have helped so many, in so many places.

+Ed
http://www.stjosephtrussville.org

[17] Posted by MrEd on 01-29-2009 at 07:32 PM • top

+Ed,
I have been documenting churches that have either split or completley left their Diocese since 2003. (just over 300 now with the 3 Dioceses that have recently left)  I only have two listed for Alabama - Christ the Redeemer, and Church of the Ascension. Did you all leave, or did you split?

[18] Posted by martin5 on 01-29-2009 at 07:53 PM • top

Fr. Matt,
  I feel somewhat of what you and your parishioners are going through.  Our former parish(Tomball, TX) supposedly was to make a deal with the bishop(Wimberly) with the help of the Canon of the Ordinary at the time(now the Bishop Co-Adjutor) Andy Doyle.  Our rector, who was trying to get a deal to buy the old church outright, was railroaded by Doyle, and then was outright refused by Wimberly.  Our rector, along with the Assistant Rector, were told they had to sign a letter of allegiance to the Episcopal Church.  Our clergy knew better, and refused.  Our last day in the church was 04/20/2008.  It was very hard, because we had just finished building a brand spanking new parish hall.  We left, with 85% of the congregation.  We met the next Sunday at a local Junior High School.  There were over 500 people there to worship!  We almost had to turn people away!  Our offerings were also amazing!  Anyway, what does this have to do with your situation?  God will direct you if you pray earnestly, and listen to His voice.  Our rector felt as if he had no choice.  We had to live in the desert for a period, but now….. we have a building, and GOD IS GOOD!  Fr. Matt, God will lead you in every turn, and I am persuaded that God will show you the way to go.  God bless you and your congregation.

Erik Cowand
St. Timothy’s Anglican Church
Spring, TX

[19] Posted by AquinasOnSteroids on 01-29-2009 at 08:41 PM • top

Martin, technically you could say it was a split. Many are still at Holy Cross clinging yet for awhile. I was the Senior Warden there for two years, had worhsipped there for over 17 years. It was difficult to leave - but easy to follow Christ and The Spirit has led us. We are I would say 8 - 10% of the ASA of that Parish at the moment - but we have only been meeting for 3 weeks now.

[20] Posted by MrEd on 01-29-2009 at 08:49 PM • top

We are experiencing some of the same feelings. We have parishioners who have been going to All Saints for decades and some of us for only a few years. Ours is laity led which makes things a bit difficult at the moment, but also very exciting. We will have an interim priest starting at our second service. We are truly blessed. I will keep you in my prayers and add you to my list.
By the way, I like you website!

[21] Posted by martin5 on 01-29-2009 at 09:25 PM • top

As a parishioner of GS, I can easily say that even though we have left with virtualy nothing to start over, there is a sense of a weight being lifted off our backs.  We are finally free of the oppression and stress of not knowing what was going to happen to us.  We are really free!

[22] Posted by Just a Parishioner on 01-29-2009 at 10:01 PM • top

Martin5, Have you checked out St. Bartholomew’s Anglican in Tonawanda, New York? They were in the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York.  Rather than put up a fight with the bishop, they walked away. Fr. Art Ward is the rector. The church bought a Jewish synagogue that had been put up for sale.  The bishop said he would continue the ministry at the former building, now known as Holy Apostles. There were two people at the first meeting with the bishop. The replacement priest is a woman. Her Christmas sermon was a lulu. Fr. Ward has nothing to fear!

[23] Posted by hellcat on 01-29-2009 at 10:06 PM • top

Fr. Clancy Nixon would be another rich source at church planting. He planted a church under Bishop Lee, but felt called by the Lord to leave the Episcopal diocese. The Anglican church is the second church that he has started from scratch!  They have a great website.
What a blessing to read about Fr. Matt. Fear not, God will restore and redeem the losses they have suffered.

[24] Posted by hellcat on 01-29-2009 at 10:17 PM • top

I do believe and there is a picture of her somewhere onthe ENS, I think. Anyway, she is starting with 4 parishioners and is optimistic that she can grow the church! It made the news! If she hits 8, she can she say double the membership ...

[25] Posted by martin5 on 01-29-2009 at 10:28 PM • top

Sorry this not about Good Shepherd but here the link to the story: http://www.buffalonews.com/cityregion/story/560277.html

[26] Posted by martin5 on 01-29-2009 at 10:32 PM • top

Fr. Nixon was an attorney with a law firm in Washington D.C.  He left his practice to become a priest.  He is truly a humble servant for the Lord. Here is his website:


http://www.holyspiritanglican.org/Default.aspx

[27] Posted by hellcat on 01-29-2009 at 10:32 PM • top

Gang, I think an organization to help departing parishes with the physical needs of starting over would be a great asset.  You all have the spiritual strength to take a stand and leave Sodom, but you need expertise in the nuts and bolts of developing the new physical needs to have a visible place in the community.  Something like Habitat for Humanity would be good.  There could be pannels of experts on legal, architectural, financil, real estate, marketing,etc. would be so useful.  It would not be run by a bunch of preachers, but experts in the business side of ministry.  If the insiders want to stay and fight, then if they would send their tithes and offerings to the physical ministry of the refuges so 815, RCRC, MGD couldn’t get any of their money should really give it a stream of money and would encourage other business and outside Christians to have a way to see a good investment opportunity.  You could call it the Movement Development Grant (MDG!)  If this could be developed, it would show the world that the orthodox really had effective leadership.  As for the hardware of liturgy, you might set up a network of antique dealers to be on the look out for chalices, copes, etc.  I’ve seen these off and on in shops and flea markets.  Many non-TEC churches might have in the “attics” some hand me downs. Maybe a google type website listing of this could be started.  This will be interesting to watch. IMHO

[28] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 01-29-2009 at 10:36 PM • top

Great idea number 28!
One thing I would like to see from those who had to leave, is a list of the “things no one could have thought to think about before they left.”

—A potential CA refugee

[29] Posted by kristiflea on 01-29-2009 at 11:17 PM • top

There is a wonderful success story over at VirtueOnline, on All Souls, Jacksonville, Florida, which shows how quickly God can bless a church which wants to truly follow Him. All Souls were helped by other churches and seem to have found an ideal plot of land to buy and build on. The one bittersweet note, perhaps, is that TEC (of course) can find no use for the church building they forced All Souls to leave. It now stands empty and for sale. No buyers.

When several of us help found St. Thomas of Canterbury Anglican Church (Pearland Texas, still there, and now REC) back in the 1980s, the Baptists sold us the land next to them at a very reasonable price, and the Pearland Methodists gave us their old Chapel for free, which we moved (with great difficulty, temporarily minus its steeple, and after much paperwork) about 8 miles up the road. Truly an ecumenical effort. BTW, a rough rule of thumb: If 10 people will tithe, you can afford (barely) a priest. If 10 more tithe, down payment on some land after a couple of years, and if 10 more tithe, one can begin to think about a (modest) building, perhaps to later be the Sunday School. This is not at all an impossible bar to jump.

[30] Posted by richard reed on 01-30-2009 at 01:25 AM • top

RICHARD REED,  that is so true and also so encouraging.  Besides, there is nothing like following Jesus where ever he leads.  After all the early church went two hundred years with nothing but houses to meet in.  Thirty tithers should do it.  Unfortunately, in any organization only ten percent are the ones who do all the work so you really need about three hundred to get the thirty.  But, at start up and new work, the ones who are there are mostly all serious.  KTF

[31] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 01-30-2009 at 12:56 PM • top

I remember the week I left TEC I couldn’t sleep at night because I felt suddenly so unfettered.  And my dreams were all about floating.

Fr. Kennedy, I knew that once you shook off that burden the joy would come.  How absolutely thrilling to hear about the body of Christ coming together to help a sister church stand firm in faith.

[32] Posted by GoodMissMurphy on 01-30-2009 at 07:48 PM • top

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