Newark Bishop will not recommend closing more Episcopal churches

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It's not easy being the Episcopal bishop of Newark, where a third of diocesan churches have money problems, membership is declining, and the monster shadow of Jack Spongs 24-year tenure always hangs over you.

For Mark Beckwith, who on Monday celebrates his one-year anniversary as the dioceses 10th bishop, the financial troubles are likely to be around for a while. But tonight, at the annual diocesan convention at the Hilton Hotel in Parsippany, he signaled he would not recommend consolidating or closing urban churches, a prospect that has worried some in recent years.

Fifty years ago, he said in his address, Newark had 17 Episcopal churches. Today it has three. Jersey City had 12 in 1958, and three now. Paterson had five, and two now.

"I suppose an argument could be made that our three largest diocesan cities were over-churched 50 years ago, but I wouldn't make that case now," said Beckwith, 56. "We have had enough church consolidation in our cities."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry

Posted January 26, 2008 at 6:39 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. AnglicanFirst wrote:

Golly, the bishop has to say something.

Pretty soon there won’t be enough Episcopal Churches in the Diocese of Newark to justify it being a diocese.

January 26, 9:30 pm | [comment link]
2. Tom Roberts wrote:

Which part of Matthew 13:24-30 isn’t relevant?

January 26, 9:34 pm | [comment link]
3. Words Matter wrote:

Think about how bad it would be if Bishop Spong hadn’t gotten rid of all that traditional faith that was dying and then given birth to a new Christianity for a new world.

January 26, 9:53 pm | [comment link]
4. Statmann wrote:

From 1996 through 2002 Newark lost about 4 percent of its membership whereas from 2002 through 2006 Newark lost another 8 percent of its membership. From 1996 through 2002 Plate & Pledge increased about 26 percent which at least covered inflation plus a bit. But from 2002 though 2006 Plate & Pledge increased about 4 percent, woefully below inflation. About 50 percent of the parishes had Plate & Pledge levels of less than $100,000 making them highly dependent upon help from the diocese. There is little reason to believe that closures and mergers will not continue.  Statmann

January 26, 10:05 pm | [comment link]
5. The_Elves wrote:

Very helpful comment, Statmann, thanks!

January 26, 10:10 pm | [comment link]
6. TonyinCNY wrote:

The legacy of Spong dies on.

January 26, 11:06 pm | [comment link]
7. In Newark wrote:

In a way, I’m glad to see this, because until now the Diocese has been very hard on poor,urban parishes—either closing them, or using extraordinary pressure to force them to go along with the new agenda.  I do expect the latter to continue.  There is no haven for orthodoxy in a diocese where the bishop himself practices open communion, and where the “Civil Union Task Force”  has actually come out and said that clergy “won’t be required” to perform SSB’s.  The MDG Stations of the Cross, which have attracted so much attention recently, were actually introduced to my ex-parish last year.

January 26, 11:42 pm | [comment link]
8. Jeffersonian wrote:

The diocese of Newark reminds me of the guys who can’t figure out why their rowboat is sinking when they’ve drilled so many holes to let the water out already.

January 27, 12:02 am | [comment link]
9. Tom Roberts wrote:

3. ever seen how road kill grows after the flies get to it?

January 27, 12:32 am | [comment link]
10. Choir Stall wrote:

Behold, the future of the rest of the Church. Where is the investigation into the Diocese’s mismanagement and 815’s subsequent lack of intervention? As long as a liberal regime lays waste to the land it’s OK, I guess.

January 27, 9:42 pm | [comment link]
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