Hallo again to all.
Its construction was begun by the first Bishop of Albany, William Croswell Doane, and it was the first cathedral attempted in the New World on the scale and majesty of those in the Old. At the time it made perfect sense to build a true cathedral in the centre of a city, so that it could dominate the landscape with its understated grandeur and draw to its services the many thousands who lived there.
Even with as generous a patron as JP Morgan, Bishop Doane ran out of money. The cathedral sat unfinished as Albany, like all cities founded in the last couple of centuries, dissolved itself to the suburbs. The partially built gothic masterpiece remains a visual surprise for those few people who get close enough to notice it.
Oddly, it was the Bishop of Albany's father, GW Doane (II New Jersey) who, in the early 1840s, conceived of the church-fundraising technique of passing a collection plate during the service. Hitherto in American churches, pew rents and pew auctions were the normal 'income stream'. Most European cathedrals that we have visited in the last decade ask you for money when you walk into the narthex and almost all of them have ongoing capital-improvement campaigns. To build artifacts to the glory of God requires money, and there has always been room for innovation in searching for it.
In the eight years that Anglicans Online has existed, almost all its funding has come from us. Even in the earliest days, when Tod Maffin was editor, we underwrote the expenses. Now we both edit, write, and underwrite. It seems bold to talk about money like this, but without money there is no cathedral, no church, no web site.
Earlier this year we tried to attach fundraising to our Vacancies Centre, but that didn't work as we hoped, for a simple reason: the people who read Anglicans Online are not usually the people who are in a position to advertise church vacancies. (More likely AO readers fill those vacancies.) So we decided last month to make the Vacancies Centre free, and we shall keep it that way.
Today we're launching another little experiment in fundraising: the Anglicans Online Shop. We have several AO-branded items on offer there, and hope to add more in the coming weeks. (We're working on gaiters.) Most of the goods are typical, at typical prices: t-shirts, mugs, and the like. We don't make them ourselves, of course, but the graphic designs are all ours.There is one item both audacious and experimental: you can buy a rather expensive mug and if you do, virtually all the price is a donation to Anglicans Online*.
It makes us blush slightly to talk about money, but every time we look at the Cathedral of All Saints in Albany we wish Bishop Doane had been more willing to talk about money. We can't pretend that our web site is in the same league as his majestic cathedral, but we would very much like it to be as permanent.
See you next week. Maybe with one of our new coffee mugs in your hand.
updated: 6 October 2002
*The Society of Archbishop Justus, publisher of Anglicans Online, is an Internal Revenue Service registered charity in the USA (501c3), so people in the States can deduct the contribution from their taxes.