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Letters to AO

EVERY WEEK WE PUBLISH a selection of letters we receive in response to something you've read at Anglicans Online. Stop by and have a look at what other AO readers are thinking.

Alas, we cannot publish every letter we receive. And we won't publish letters that are anonymous, hateful, illiterate, or otherwise in our judgment do not benefit the readers of Anglicans Online. We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.

We edit letters to conform with standard AO house style for punctuation, but we do not change, for example, American spelling to conform to English orthography. On occasion we'll gently edit letters that are too verbose in their original form. Email addresses are included when the authors give permission to do so.

If you'd like to write a letter of your own, click here.

Letters received during the week of 21 December 2003

Congratulations to the search committee

THE SEARCH COMMITTEE for the next Bishop of North Dakota's next Episcopal bishop is to be congratulated for deciding not to ask candidates whether they are homosexual - a matter utterly irrelevant to a candidate's fitness or otherwise for office.

Brian McKinlay
St. George's, South Woden
Canberra, A.C.T. Australia
22 December 2003

Christmas is a summer festival

YOU DON'T KNOW HOW GLADDENED the hearts of we antipodean hicks are when we actually see someone attempt to understand that here in Advent it has been 40 degrees Celsius (104 of the Fahrenheit type). That Christmas is a summer festival; and a little further ahead that for us, the mystery of Easter will not have spring flowers budding, and new life bursting but autumn leaves falling (or Fall leaves autumning!)and all that that entails.

It helps us remember that we ARE actually a part of the world into which Jesus is born, so often forgotten by you Northerners. It is not us who are parochial...but you.

Thanks for the lovely comparison.

Stephen Clark
St John's & All Hallows
Blackwood, Adelaide, South Australia
22 December 2003

THANK YOU FOR YOUR WORK, and most especially for recognising a southern hemisphere advent as well as a northern hemisphere one.

It was heartening!

Rev Paul Walton
Uniting Church in Australia
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
24 December 2003

How can I make a donation?

BLESSINGS AND LOVE TO YOU this blessed season. I am a 5 mo. missionary in Kenya affliated with EWM Global Missions. I returned home right before Thanksgiving with a heart that God had given peace to about what my own church would be doing at this time. I think we are going to be part of your community at some point and I am so relieved. I received your newsletter right before Christmas and want to send a small donation but must have thrown it out with the rest of the paper. Please send me another. God bless and thank you, Reenie

Gieselmann, Nancy [Reenie]
Church of the Ascension
1400 Kenesaw Ave. 31B, Knoxville, Tennessee 37919
27 December 2003

You can make an online donation on this web page, or you can contact us by email ( for instructions about sending a cheque by post. We have your email address, and we'll send you those instructions tomorrow.

A plea for money

BEFORE YOU READ ON - anyone wishing to help us out can send a donation to Christ Church Anglican, 38 Everett St., Belleville, Ontario - sign it, a friend of Christ Church. Please ensure you specicially designate any donation to our building fund. With the money in this fund, the Diocese can not immediately take 25% of funds raised, donations or offerings. Pleasse, read on!

Christ Church Anglican in Belleville, Ontario is at a crossroads which could see this beautiful, historical parish close in late 2004. It is no longer cost effective for the Diocese of Ontario and Canada. Unless present financial obligations are met the church, built in 1865,will be closed and it, and the land it sits on, will be sold to the highest bidder.

The members of this parish have overcome financial hurdles in the past. The bulk of the parishoner base have been members of this parish for forty or fifty years. They give selflessly of their time, regardless of the obstacles. Unfortunately, something always seems to hinder their attempts to move forward. Successes are met with disinterest on the part of the Bishop and the Diocese. Even surrounded by all this discouragement the parish has survived. Time, however, is not on their side.

Like many historical parishes, Christ Church Belleville was built on the sweat and hard labour of the community and its parishioners. They have remained open because of dedication and commitment of the parishioners. It seems preposterous to me that a representative of an Anglican Diocese (the Bishop), can ultimately step in and decide to close a parish - he will take this property and have it listed and put on the market.

How long should we blindly trust the decisions of the church's hierarchy. Decisions that drastically effect members of congregations are often made by those removed from the immediate problem or situation. More times than not, these decision makers are members of the clergy, unfamiliar with the pastoral as well as religious needs of the community that a specific church ministers to.

Parishes of every denomination across this country are closing at incredible rates partly because of diminishing members, which leads to decreases in weekly offerings and an inability to meet basic operating costs.

This, however, is not the major factor involved with the financial hardships facing historic Christ Church. The problem lies within the apportionment that is demanded by the Diocese.

As the Diocese will tell you, we are part of the Anglican Church of Canada and the rate that is established for each parish (25%) is utilized to operate the Diocese and its offshoots. In the case of the Anglican Diocese of Ontario, that rate is twenty-five per cent. In the past, no one has questioned the operations of the Diocese, how they have managed the business of the parish, or even how we have come to be. No one had asked for audited financial statements. Why would they? It is about faith.

At Christ Church Anglican in Belleville it has become a question of survival. If the Diocese were to grant the parish a two year window in which they would not be required to submit apportionments and would not be expected to repay them at a later date, with interest, the objective to return this parish to its previous active and respected place within the Christian community could be realized. We have been told that these monies are necessary to ensure that our clergy and their pensions are secure. Parishes continue to ask its members to contribute more - in the name of the work being done. Why are they being asked to fund those who, in their blindness and love affair with the past, work so assiduously against them? Apparently, it is the financially responsible thing to do.

Recently, Christ Church in Belleville, held their Annual Bazaar and Silent Auction. Shortly before the event, the local press, The Intelligencer, published a thorough article about the unfortunate fate of this parish and church. The support of the community for the bazaar was staggering and enabled the parish to quadruple the amount of monies normally made at these events. Both the public and the corporate community rallied around the effort to save this beautiful church and the faithful followers that are it's members.

A recent advertisement for the Ottawa 67's listed the Anglican Diocese as a sponsor. While I recognize that the money needs to be invested, I question at what cost. Close a church; sponsor a sport's team - it doesn't make sense. It is the clergy that holds the power to close the church. It is the clergy that holds the power to keep it open. But the die has been cast and it is no longer about fellowship and worship; it is about employment and real estate. Salaries and pensions will be made secure and safe by what seems to be, on the surface, a wise financial decision.

Betty Jane Burkitt
Christ Church Anglican
Belleville, Ontario, Canada
27 December 2003

Earlier letters

We launched our 'Letters to AO' section on 11 May 2003. All of our letters are in our archives.


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