Sunday, November 15, 2009

San Diego wrent asunder

The latest court ruling has come in for two San Diego Anglican parishes, and — as with the recent run of news — the news was not good: both St. Anne’s (Oceanside) and Holy Trinity (Ocean Beach) have lost their cases at the Superior Court level. (Rev. Joe Rees, the new rector of St. Anne’s, issued a statement Friday, but I’ve seen no comment from Holy Trinity).

The San Diego paper has thus far ignored the story, but the Oceanside paper published a story Saturday. Former Anglican jleecbd has sympathy for the plight of these nearby parishes, but predicts — as consumers of the Anglican Fudge — they are merely deferring equally serious doctrinal issues down the road.

Bishop Mathes gloated by suggesting that the current occupants of the disputed buildings “come home,” knowing full well they won’t. He also claims to plan to rebuild the Oceanside parish as TEC outpost. However, there is no announced plan (nor any plausible plan) for reusing Holy Trinity, which — only 1.6 driving miles from All Souls (Point Loma) — has made a niche over the past 40 years by being traditional in contrast to all things trendy and progressive at All Souls.

I recall when Mathes was narrowly elected in November 2004 over Bishop Anthony Burton, the traditionalist candidate. Mathes was sold as a “moderate” but immediately began governing from the hard left. (Sound familiar, anyone). The shift from Bp. Hughes (a true moderate) to Mathes brought one of the most rapid exoduses of parishes from any TEC diocese over the past decade.

If you look at the Diocese of Western Anglicans (ACNA) congregations, six of the 22 parishes are from San Diego County — far out of proportion to the 3 million San Diegan’s share of the population of Southern California (19+ million) and Arizona (6.5 million). Not listed is St. Anne’s — I’m told that its former rector (Tony Baron) was not interested in joining ACNA, but the new rector was more open to the possibility.

Of these 7 San Diego Anglican parishes, five had already lost their buildings. No word on whether the two remaining parishes will be able to remain through Christmas in the buildings that loyal Christians paid to build and support over the past decades.

Meanwhile, the lead defendant in California — St. James Newport Beach — is continuing its case in Orange County Superior Court, despite losing a recent appeal to the US Supreme Court. (Perhaps they hope the court will recognize the legal absurdity of the TEC claim to be a hierarchical church.) No word on whether Holy Trinity (whose former warden was City Attorney of San Diego) plans to also appeal, but from Rev. Rees’ statement, it sounds like St. Anne’s plans to concede.

I’ve worshipped at three of the seven parishes, and so I know none of these decisions were ones made lightly. Instead, like parishes elsewhere in California, most (if not all) must work on building a new parish utilizing temporary facilities.

It’s possible that St. Anne’s has a favorable property alternative only a mile down the road. In 1994, fed up with the direction ECUSA was heading, St. Anne’s rector (Rev. Gary Heniser) quit the ECUSA to form Church of the Advent, a new parish of the Charismatic Episcopal Church. A few years ago, they acquired space at the old (but serviceable) Methodist church in Oceanside when that church moved across I-5 to bigger facilities. The CEC is more charismatic than Episcopal — not counted as “Anglican” by “San Diego Anglicans” — but the long ties between Father Heniser and his former flock might facilitate some sort of cooperation.

As a believer, even if all the remaining court cases go badly, I expect to see the successful rebirth of the Anglican faith in San Diego, Orange County, LA, the Central Valley and even pockets of the Bay Area. I fell sorry, however, for those in their 70s or 80s, whose last memories on this earth will be of the bitter court fights, dislocation, uncertainty and despair. Perhaps they will place their hopes in their children and grandchildren, who merely face challenges of money — not the risk of death or imprisonment in the early Christian church, or modern day China or Sudan.

1 comment:

SanDiegoAnglicans said...

David here from Holy Trinity. Thanks for your post.

Your last Par. about the older folks in these congregations is absolutely true. They seem to be taking this the hardest.

He who said, "foxes have holes..., but the son of man has no place to lay his head," never promised us a permanent home this side of Heaven. The Lord provides.