In San Diego St. Mary’s Episcopal Church to Close Sunday After More Than 50 Years

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After first opening its doors in 1960, St. Mary's Episcopal Church will hold its last services Sunday.

The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, who have supported the church financially for decades, said they can no longer afford to do so.

About 10 to 15 families regally attend, said Rev. Peter Tagdulang, who served as the church's leader since March 2009.

"Their hearts are bleeding right now with the closure," Tagulang said. "It's a very sad thing."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry

7 Comments
Posted February 26, 2011 at 1:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Branford wrote:

No mention is made of the money the diocese spent to sue the numerous churches who left the Diocese of San Diego over the past several years. So now the diocese is left with some church buildings with few to no parishioners - and San Diego was hurting already with low finances before the law suits - so the situation means, unfortunately, that smaller churches like this may lose their diocesan support.

February 26, 4:30 pm | [comment link]
2. APB wrote:

“... regally attend…”  One would expect nothing less from Episcopalians than being regal.  wink

Sorry, and this is sad, but I couldn’t stop myself.

February 26, 5:41 pm | [comment link]
3. Sidney wrote:

The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, who have supported the church financially

This and the ‘regally attend’ above in #2 are great examples of the pathetic writing skills with which students graduate from college these days.

February 26, 8:09 pm | [comment link]
4. Neal in Dallas wrote:

So, is it Fr. “Tagdulang” or “Tagulang?” Sigh.

Yes, this is sad, but it is the wave of the future for more and more Episcopal churches. As median attendance of our churches continues to decline, as health care costs increase, as churches have to provide health care for more employees who work less than full-time, it will take more people to support a full-time priest; and we will see more part-time positions filled by retired clergy. As seminary costs continue to increase ahead of inflation—this is not a dig at seminaries, this is true for all higher education—clergy are simply not able to afford to serve these smaller churches.

Of course, there are some alternatives to closing.  Newspaper accounts such as this don’t usually tell what really has gone on between the bishop’s office and the congregation. The diocese might have given them a three-year plan for ending support. Because of the need for weekly Eucharist (now whether going to weekly Eucharist was really a positive thing for the Episcopal Church is a topic that I’d love to discuss some time) the congregation needs a priest rather than a lay pastor.  Maybe there was a retired priest in the area that might have pastored them for awhile, although most retired priests I know don’t want long-term commitments; many want ony short-term supply work.

February 26, 9:00 pm | [comment link]
5. KevinBabb wrote:

@Neal in Dallas:  One example of the Law of Unintended Consequences may be the financial costs imposed on small congregations when the framers of the 1979 Prayer Book decided to emphasize the Eucharist as the modal form of weekly congregational worship. Another deleterious effect on the worship life of many congregations…the neglect of the daily offices, particularly the canticles contained in MP. Too often, small congregations see MP as a “consolation prize” for those Sundays when the offices of a Priest cannot be obtained.  I would encourage clergy to consider MP as ante-Communion at least occasionally, so that its beauty and theological significance are not lost or over-looked.

February 27, 3:57 am | [comment link]
6. MichaelA wrote:

These are no doubt all valid comments on costs that a parish may face. But in the end, all costs may be met by income.

So where is the income? That ultimately comes from committed parishioners. The problem we are seeing in many parts of the Episcopal Church is that committed parishioners are not there. They are leaving, or they are dying off and not being replaced.

Without income, the costs will overwhelm any parish, and the detail of those costs really doesn’t matter. 

Truly it was written: “Without vision, the people perish”. PB of TEC and many diocesan bishops of TEC fail to offer real vision, thus they are unable to gain or keep committed parishioners. And without committed parishioners, parishes will continue to die, like this one.

February 27, 5:18 am | [comment link]
7. Rob Eaton+ wrote:

I know what Neal is asking about, regarding consequences of reliance upon a sacramental minister.  Title IX was all about trying to fill in the gaps caused by the Eucharistic priority.  Too true is pragmatic comments re: “need income? go get some”, no matter how removed from whatever reality on the ground in the congregation.
But I would counter that even when Morning Prayer was the norm 3 Sundays of the month, the goal of a congregation was still to have a full time presbyter.  Parish status and diocesan stature were the underlying motivations, and such stature has always been a part of Episcopalianism.  But given today’s economics, perhaps we do need a discussion revisiting Lay Readers (oops .... Licensed Worship Leaders).
As well, there have always been closures and mergers for varieties of reasons in the life of the Church.  The PB and the consequences of disdain for biblical doctrine can’t be blamed for EVERY closure over the history of the Church.  Thus it is in fact worth finding out what the issues might have been and learn from mistakes (if any).

March 1, 5:03 am | [comment link]
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