Episcopal Diocese of Western New York forms new church

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One friend told her, “Run away and run quickly.”

But the Rev. Sarah E. Gordy decided not to retreat from the intriguing task of establishing a new Episcopal congregation in the church building of her youth — a sanctuary that a thriving congregation packed up and left slightly more than a month ago.

On Sunday, Gordy, an Episcopal priest, will celebrate her first liturgy as vicar of Holy Apostle Episcopal Church in the Town of Tonawanda.

The mission parish was created by the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York following last month’s departure of most members of the former St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, a large, conservative congregation that had been at odds for years with the direction of the national church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Departing ParishesTEC ParishesSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings

12 Comments
Posted January 26, 2009 at 8:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Irenaeus wrote:

“We’re not St. Bartholomew’s, and we’re not a restart of St. Bartholomew’s.We’re something completely different”

Better to be honest about it. And good to see the gracious response from Fr. Ward of St. Bartholomew’s.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Gordy said goodbye to her current congregation, Trinity Church on Delaware Avenue, perhaps the diocese’s most theologically progressive parish

How fitting that the progressives will now have their chance at this location. What happens next will be instructive—-all the more so in light of progressives’ claims about how ECUSA would grow if only it practice their sort of “inclusion” more wholeheartedly.

January 26, 11:14 am | [comment link]
2. Statmann wrote:

If history is any indicator, it is not very encouraging for rev. Gordy and her flock of four. The diocese lost 22 percent of its Members and 21 percent of its ASA from 2002 through 2007. And it also lost 7 percent of its Plate & Pledge plus 16 percent inflation. The one thing it has an abundance of is small churches (Plate & Pledge of less than $150,000). In 2007 it had a total of 53 out of its 63 churches. It is also an aging diocese with 200 Infant Baptisms and 306 Burials. It is kind of Rev. Ward to wish them well but I find it difficult to be optimistic.      Statmann

January 26, 3:06 pm | [comment link]
3. John316 wrote:

Statmann,
I note that the progressive parish that she is leaving, Trinity Buffalo, has bucked that trend and actually grown the last seven years.

January 26, 4:15 pm | [comment link]
4. Statmann wrote:

John316.  I note that from 2002 through 2007 Trinity parish has lost about 25 percent of its Members but gained about 10 percent in ASA. Its Plate & Pledge increased perhaps 1 percent which is far short of 16 percent inflation. But as a very wide generalization large parishes such as Trinity have fared fairly well for this time period. My comments were directed primarily to small parishes which have not fared well at all. Sadly, I see no reason to predict for them that the years ahead will be more kind.      Statmann

January 26, 5:56 pm | [comment link]
5. John316 wrote:

Statmann,
My observation is that churches that have good homilists in the pulpit have good attendance on Sundays.  As I travel around the country, I’ve visited many churches, and the best preachers always seem to be called by the biggest churches.  Joel Olsteen is an example.
As I travel, I note that the homiletic skills, rather than the theology of the preacher, appear to be reflected in the attendance.  I wish that I could say that I’ve observed throngs of crowds at Orthodox churches even though the preacher was a bore, or that I’ve visited Reappraising churches with electrifying preachers who never the less were shunned by worshippers who stayed away in droves, but what I’ve observed is that the churches that get big and stay big have great, electrifying preaching.

I’m saying that if the Rev. Gordy is a talented preacher, she will see an increase in attendance.

January 26, 6:14 pm | [comment link]
6. Statmann wrote:

John316 Your observations about great preaching are no doubt correct. Another obervation that I got from a fellow blogger has to do with (again) small churches. He/she called it a fatigue factor. I thought the observation to be worthy of plagarizing. Members of small parishes just plain wear out. Big parishes are more enjoyable as there are plenty of (other?) people to do the work. Also, in regards to Rev. Gordy, starting with 4 members, there is plenty of room to grow.    Statmann

January 26, 6:39 pm | [comment link]
7. paradoxymoron wrote:

I don’t think that it’s likely that she’ll pack them in.
Here’s her facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/people/Sare-Gordy/1110202287# (you have to be logged in to FB)
She’s a “fan” of Marcus Borg, who denies the divinity of Christ. (and KJS) and one of her friends is Louie Crew.  I couldn’t find the name of her husband, though.

January 26, 6:42 pm | [comment link]
8. yohanelejos wrote:

I ran across Sarah while she was in seminary. She was very much in tune with the liberal mainstream, and not married at the time.

January 26, 7:26 pm | [comment link]
9. John316 wrote:

I’m just saying that if she can “hold an audience”, they’ll get up and drive across town to hear her on Sunday morning.  If she can’t leave them wanting more, the church will fail. 

The same would be true of an Orthodox preacher in the same location.  I’ve sat through plenty of Orthodox sermons and seen it both ways.  Obama is another example of this.  His oratory style has much to do with his 80% approval rating don’t you think?

January 26, 7:48 pm | [comment link]
10. Statmann wrote:

John316 Including Obama into this subject has just moved us into messiah country. If Rev. Gordy is in that group, I will just toss in my hand and be quiet.    Statmann

January 26, 8:19 pm | [comment link]
11. libraryjim wrote:

John316,

I’d say his oratory style has everything to do with his approval rating.  As I have said before, one of my friends said she voted for Obama simply because “He sounds presidential. It’ll be nice to have someone in the office who sounds presidential again”. 

Too bad his style is to say nothing couched in very eloquent words. It would be better if he could be substantive in his speech and not just stylistic. Even his acceptance speech at the convention (hailed by many) was nothing more than clichés and quotations strung together.

As to preaching, you may be right. However, give me a priest and ministry team who believes in the Bible and in what the creeds profess over a good speaker who does not believe any day.

January 26, 9:06 pm | [comment link]
12. John316 wrote:

Well, returning to the subject, the church location won’t hurt her since the previous reasserting congregation grew strong there, and we won’t be able to blame theology for a failure, since we know that a TEC reappraising congregation has grown in this same city.  Much rides on her skills.

Statmann, I know too that congregational size has a bearing on success.  I have seen congregations struggle to get above an ASA of 140 and repeatedly fall back to ASA 80 because it is an easier number to manage.  Know too that roughly 10% of a congregation leaves every year due to natural causes that have nothing to do with the church such as death, divorce, disease, job change, etc.  So a decline of less than 10% means that they are attracting some new members, and any growth means that they are attracting more than 10%.  Tough to do once you get up to an ASA of around 100.

January 27, 12:29 am | [comment link]
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