Arizona Bishop: ‘Very Temporary’ Cuts Mean Sacrifices

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A challenging local economy and financial hardship at several large parishes have led to budget cuts for the Diocese of Arizona.

“We are all aware that 2008 will be an economically challenging time for many people,” said Bishop Kirk Stevan Smith of Arizona in an email message. “I am sure that people’s anxiety about their financial situation may adversely affect their support of their local church, and that in turn, affects the income of the diocese.”

In addition to the challenging economy, Bishop Smith said several large parishes of the diocese have requested a reduction of their assessment.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship

23 Comments
Posted February 29, 2008 at 6:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. robroy wrote:

Here is the graph of the Diocese of Arizona (down, down, down).

Here is the graph of the total population of Arizona (up, up, up - second in the country in growth).

For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

February 29, 7:44 pm | [comment link]
2. Intercessor wrote:

There are other parishes which will also face cuts, although for entirely different reasons. In all cases, the cuts should be very temporary.”

Perhaps the good Bishop has not heard that the faithful are leaving in droves. Reap what you have sown Bishop.
Intercessor

February 29, 8:35 pm | [comment link]
3. wportbello wrote:

Last Nov. 18, 2007, posted here on T19, and published in the local newspaper re: the departure of parishioners from Christ Church of the Ascension,

Bishop Kirk Smith, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona, disputes those numbers, saying it was a “small group of about 75 people out of a 1,000-member parish” who left in what he calls a “drastic step.”

Perhaps Bp. Smith would like to amend his spin to the press.

February 29, 9:56 pm | [comment link]
4. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

As someone whose home church in Richmond is linked with Uganda, I note with joy that those who departed Christ Church of the Ascension, Paradise Valley in order to form Christ Anglican Church (Phoenix area) have affiliated with the Anglican Church of Uganda.  They just published their first parish newsletter in February and it’s worth checking out; it’s very impressive I think.  They have certainly hit the ground running.  For example, unlike many new churches starting out, they already have an average of 25 kids in Sunday School each week.

And robroy (#1), I don’t know how you so often manage to be one of the first to jump on a thread like this and to post links giving the relevant stats for parish or diocesan decline versus the general population growth in the area, but you have just done it again.  Bravo! 

And speaking of the statistics, yes, isn’t it remarkable that in the 2nd fastest growing state in the country, TEC is losing people at a signficant rate?  It looks like the Diocese of Arizona lost over 1500 people in ASA from 2002 on, while the state grew by about 1.5 million during the same period.  Hmmm.  Sounds like reverse alchemy, turning gold to lead and base metals.  Quite a feat.

David Handy+
Keep an eye on Christ Anglican, Phoenix.  It looks like it will be a winner.

February 29, 10:21 pm | [comment link]
5. Choir Stall wrote:

Do you mean to say that the Church is dying out in an expanding population like Arizona? Could it be that somebody forgot the Great Commission and replaced it with the Great Debate?

February 29, 10:52 pm | [comment link]
6. robroy wrote:

It is interesting that Christ Church was one of the handful of churches that was successful as a DEPO church under Steenson (until he swam the Tiber). The website of the new and improved parish under the good and godly oversight by Bp Guernsey and ABp Orombi is found here. You can find the newsletter that Father Handy mentions there. Imagine being free of Katherine Jefferts Schori, Gene Robinson, Chane, Bruno,...! It is hard not be jealous.

Wportello’s quote of Bp Smith is interesting. The (TEc) parish’s statistics are found here. It appears that even though it was a DEPO church under Steenson, they were contributing to the diocese of Arizona in a big way.

This jibes with William Witt’s experience with another Bp Smith who said that the Connecticut Six churches could get DEPO oversight IF they met their full assessment, a devil’s bargain. Was the Arizona Episcopal church required to meet the same bargain?

The loss of the eensy-weensy noisy minority apparently made a big dent in the finances of the church.

March 1, 1:38 am | [comment link]
7. Chris wrote:

“very temporary” - hmmm, that leaves a lot room for interpretation, now doesn’t it?
I am reminded of a line from the movie “Fletch” - well, we’re in a bit of a gray area on that.  [Response] How gray?  A: Charcoal?

March 1, 9:34 am | [comment link]
8. robroy wrote:

Chris, that goes to show that even the worst of comedies will have a few good lines. Of course, in a really bad comedy (such as “Fletch”), those few lines constitute the entire movie preview.

March 1, 10:15 am | [comment link]
9. Cennydd wrote:

“Temporary” often becomes “permanent” in my experience.

March 1, 11:39 am | [comment link]
10. Intercessor wrote:

#9 Cennydd…Boy isn’t that the truth. Just list all the “temporary” taxes that somehow never really expire. Fortunately for the Bishop of Arizona he is in the real estate and foreclosure business so maintaining needy parishoners is just overhead for him to trim.
Intercessor

March 1, 12:21 pm | [comment link]
11. TLDillon wrote:

I guss empty property with no real revenue coming is better i teh eyes of TEc and her bishops. It is after all liquidable unlike parishioners!

March 1, 12:58 pm | [comment link]
12. Irenaeus wrote:

“‘Very Temporary’ Cuts Mean Sacrifices”

All Is Well®—-or will be well momentarily.

March 1, 1:08 pm | [comment link]
13. Frances Scott wrote:

Whenever I see “plate & pledge” figures graphed I always wonder how that would compare with inflation, or cost of living, or net income figures graphed for the same period.  I suspect that the gap would be widening one.

March 1, 1:53 pm | [comment link]
14. KevinBabb wrote:

“When a substantial number of parishioners departed in the fall to align with an African bishop, they took with them a large chunk of pledged income.”  Bp. Smith

Folks, that is a fascinating perspective, worthy of Teddy Kennedy, in a (more) secular context. The pledge income that the departing parishioners “took with them” was, of course, THEIR PLEDGES.  To read My Lord Arizona’s words, you get the idea that those prospective (or anticipated) pledges were vested property of the TEC pledges, and/or of DioArizona, maliciously purloined by orthodox miscreants.  It has taken a short period of time to go from:

You may leave, but your buildings are ours; please leave the keys in the Narthex as you go” to

You may leave, but the pledges that you were, presumably going to make had you stayed, are ours; please leave direct deposit instructions, duly executed, on the credence table.”

My Lord Arizona:  Those departed parishioners didn’t take any pledges from your diocese…they simply aren’t giving any money to you.

March 1, 2:03 pm | [comment link]
15. TLDillon wrote:

What is most fascinating to me is that these parishoners who left walked away and started their own church, aligned themselves with a godly AB and Province and are growing. Yet, the church they left that ascribes to TEc’s “New Thing Theology” is declining! What? Why isn’t God blessing that “New Thing” He is supposedly doing?

March 1, 2:08 pm | [comment link]
16. physician without health wrote:

Does anyone know of a Southern Cone church in Tucson?

March 1, 2:17 pm | [comment link]
17. Intercessor wrote:

ODC, let’s not forget the Lord Arizona (kudos KB) has graciously sacrificed his scheduled salary increase he earned eviserating the orthodox parishoners. Gosh I guess all he left is his soul…uh nevermind it seems that has been forfeited as well.
Shalom,
Intercessor

March 1, 2:21 pm | [comment link]
18. KevinBabb wrote:

Intercessor, I appreciate your kind words, but I was sincere, and meant to be respectful of the episcopal office, in using the phrase, “My Lord (name of cure).”  In such settings as diocesan conventions, I have used it in addressing my own bishop, +Keith Ackerman, and ++Duncan.  It’s an Anglo-Catholic thing, though maybe a little antiquated.

March 1, 2:30 pm | [comment link]
19. KevinBabb wrote:

My own Bishop being +Peter Beckwith (My Lord Springfield).

March 1, 2:30 pm | [comment link]
20. robroy wrote:

Frances (#13), there is an inflation adjustment calculator here. I guestimated the plate and pledge incomes from the graphs in 2001 to 2006 and the amount is keeping up with inflation almost exactly. That is good if you have shrinking rosters. It is a remarkable feat to shrink the diocese in the second fasting growing state only topped by Katherine Jefferts Schori who shrank the diocese of Nevada’s (the #1 fastest growing state) by ~10% in her relative short tenure as bishop of that diocese. Now, the current bishop has been there only since 2004.

I found an interesting aside about Arizona during my web crawlings. They have a partnership with the diocese of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and I saw a picture of Bp Smith with the newly elected ABp of Tanzania. Definitely pours rain on my hope that the new ABp would hold a hard line against the apostates (a hope that Chris Seitz didn’t want to begrudge me from holding). The picture is found in Bp Smith’s 2007 powerpoint presentation here. Note that I don’t want to take the discussion off-topic but to point out the tangled web of the oxymoronic Anglicanism “Communion”.

March 1, 3:02 pm | [comment link]
21. wportbello wrote:

As a former vestry member of Christ Church of the Ascension and a founding member of Christ Church Anglican, I would like to provide a little background.

I found an interesting aside about Arizona during my web crawlings. They have a partnership with the diocese of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and I saw a picture of Bp Smith with the newly elected ABp of Tanzania.

It was Christ Church of the Ascension, before the “small group” departure, that had agreed under the DEPO agreement to direct funds to Bp Mokiwa to satisfy apportionment demands from the diocese.  It was a concession made by the Bp. of AZ to placate those orthodox whose portion dollars were going to the diocese.  At Bp. Mokiwa’s last visit to the diocese in 2006, he was hosted by Christ Church of the Ascension under the leadership of Fr. Ken Semon.  All of our experience with the new Archbishop of Tanzania affirms that he is a stalwart for orthodoxy.  Acknowledging our failed flesh, may we all pray for Valentine Mokiwa.  Pray that he will be faithful to the Lord and not be subverted by polity and influence.  Pray for godly wisdom, discernment, and humility.

March 1, 3:47 pm | [comment link]
22. robroy wrote:

Thanks for the info, wportbello. I heartened to hear it. However, my question would be, if the parishes apportionment monies were already going to Bp Mokiwa, why would it matter to the diocese if they were no longer available? Bp Smith stated that the amount lost to the diocese accounted for more than half of their projected deficit.

March 1, 4:39 pm | [comment link]
23. wportbello wrote:

It is hard to say. The DEPO agreement was cancelled as soon as the new vestry at Christ Church of the Ascension was seated after 9 vestry members of the 12 departed.  One would think that the old diocesan assessment rules were applicable.  It might also be a matter of convenience to ascribe all the diocesan financial woes to those who left and took their treasure with them.  It is a handy scapegoat.  There are faithful who remain in the AZ diocese of TEc who must be withholding their pledging, too, I suspect.

March 1, 8:39 pm | [comment link]
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