Sunday worship service will be last in new church for St. Mark’s Episcopal in Michigan

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A victim of the struggling economy, the congregation at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Paw Paw, will gather Sunday, Sept. 25, for one last service from their church at 201 W. Michigan Ave.

The sermon, '"The Celebration of Promise," will focus on all the good things that have happened in this building,"' said The Very Rev. Rebecca Crise, who has served as St Mark's Church Rector for the past four years.

Just over six years ago, the congregation gathered to consecrate the site. Now, they prepare to leave the building.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

15 Comments
Posted September 26, 2011 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Cennydd13 wrote:

Well, they squelch all the rumors they want, but the fact is that they’re closing.  It isn’t just the economy, either, and we all know it.

September 26, 3:16 pm | [comment link]
2. David Keller wrote:

“Mother Rebecca”?  Please.

September 26, 3:41 pm | [comment link]
3. Sarah wrote:

It’s interesting.

When the parish built their new church building in 2005, they were at around 90 ASA.  Suddenly in 2007 their ASA plunged to around 65.  Suddenly 25-30 walked away, who knows why.

September 26, 3:48 pm | [comment link]
4. Eastern Anglican wrote:

#2 just thinking the same thing.  Did you know their priest was a woman?  If you forgot from the last sentence to this, the reporter reminds you that she’s “Mother”. 

I’ll give you one word for the failure in Paw Paw—“Mother”.  Paw Paw is still quite a conservative community and if the priest walked around calling herself mother, and insisting on this from others the church would not be attractive to the average Michigander.

September 26, 3:49 pm | [comment link]
5. Eastern Anglican wrote:

BTW my coment was not an argument about WO, but about a certain type that always have an axe to grind.

September 26, 3:58 pm | [comment link]
6. David Keller wrote:

#5—Me too.

September 26, 4:37 pm | [comment link]
7. Statmann wrote:

A sad story of a toxic asset.  Who ever was willing to lend them $1,200,000 with Plate & Pledge of about $100K??  Statmann

September 26, 4:39 pm | [comment link]
8. Cennydd13 wrote:

I’d question their sanity.

September 26, 4:44 pm | [comment link]
9. Jackson wrote:

Clerical Question - How is this rector a “Very Reverend”. I thought that was reserved for a senior priest?

September 26, 4:53 pm | [comment link]
10. wyclif wrote:

“Mother.” Gag me. Looks like some eyes need opening. And that bit about “rumors.” This doesn’t sound like a rumor to me, it sounds like a closing pure and simple.

More to the point, though, is what a parish in this financial condition was doing building a new edifice and running a capital campaign just six (!) years ago.

September 26, 5:00 pm | [comment link]
11. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) wrote:

#9, in some form or another, she must have been a dean of something, or is; say of the region of her diocese.  And, I believe, once titled, always titled; just as canons are always The Revd. Canon, once made as such—if one is interested in formal titles. 

In the past I worked in a seminary bookstore.  Regardless of denomination, would that more clergy were less impressed with their titles.  I can’t tell you how many times I got corrected if I accidentally used the wrong one.  And/or, the staff of this store was routinely condescended to, which all of us found funny, as there were 2 MDivs, one MS, one MBA and one MD working in there.  Different genre, but there’s a reason why a salesperson recently wrote a book called “Retail Hell”.  The behavior of the general public, even in the religious sphere, can truly be appalling, but I’ve digressed.

September 26, 5:04 pm | [comment link]
12. Already left wrote:

How many times can you say “mother” in one article - I count 10!!!

September 26, 6:17 pm | [comment link]
13. paradoxymoron wrote:

Rector’s Message
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
We have a unique relationship with dogs. Dogs are the only domesticated animal that truly understands what we say, can understand our emotions, and can predict by our movements what we will do next. Seems to me we have something to learn from dogs about our relationship with God.

http://stmarkspawpaw.org/newsletter.html

Hey, who needs priests, anyhow? I have a dog, who doesn’t expect me to tithe, or try to replace me on the deed.

September 26, 11:54 pm | [comment link]
14. Rob Eaton+ wrote:

Interesting.  The way I read the info over the last 7 years, the congregation actually defaulted LAST July/August, and now they are having their last service??  ENS and diocesan and local articles with much of the same text as this article were posted last year.
It also looks like a fairly moderate Episcopal Church with all the various trappings (and they don’t allow Holy Communion to be administered to the non-baptized - note: their former rector, Joseph Neiman sponsored an anti-open communion resolution at their diocesan convention in 2007).
Joseph Neiman, who also at one time was a member of the Cathedral board of operations, the same cathedral that had to be sold off, was the priest who handed over the mortgage, after the church was finally consecrated in 2005, having missed their 2001 goal.  The Living Church posted an article about Neiman and the congregation in 2005.  He got there in 1983 with ASA 20.  In 1988 a parishioner donated 3 acres.  The seed of something big got planted with that donation.  A capital consultant gave up believing the congregation could never come up with the $500,000 necessary for construction start-up and as collateral for the rest of the money they needed, $700,000.  Neiman pushed the congregation and through fundraisers scraped enought together.  So that’s where the money and the financing got put together.
  Rebecca came in 2007, after serving as a curate for two years in Waukegan, and at the same time PawPaw was losing ASA.  Cause and effect? or Rectorship post departures?  (Sarah - you know an ASA loss of 25 to 30 means another 20 to 30 or more people on top of that actually left the parish).  In any case, it obviously pulled the plug on their budgeted mortgage payments.
And the bishop who put Neiman into PawPaw in 1983?  The bishop prior to Gephart, Charles E. Bennison, Sr., father to the current bishop of Pennsylvania.
Neiman is the retired rector of PawPaw now.  BTW, he served as communications director for the diocese, as well as being the former editor of the Western Michigan Episcopalian.
It’s a story that doesn’t seem to quit.

September 27, 3:52 am | [comment link]
15. Sarah wrote:

Rob Eaton—what fascinating research.

Looks as if the parish made a dreadful decision in 2007 to their financial detriment, at least.

I will never cease to wonder at the decisions parish leadership make.  In spite of the fact that they spring from the congregation, they often don’t seem to understand the consequences of their decisions.  Surely someone on the “search committee” or vestry said “I don’t think Mother Rebecca will go over to well with our small congregation” only to be poo-pooed down.

September 27, 7:35 am | [comment link]
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