Thursday, April 25, 2013

A High Quality Problem

Most parishes don't suffer from this problem. The reverse is more likely. But what do you do when you discover that courtesy of Queen Anne (r1702-1714), your parish's rainy day fund comes to around $2,000,000,000 give or take a little depending on market conditions?

For the record I am not opposed to a church having some money in the bank or even investments. Such is prudent stewardship. But $2 billion? That is very hard from my perspective to morally justify. If your “parish” has more money than most Wall Street hedge funds then you have a problem.

Of course we are talking about the Episcopal Organization here. So that adds all kinds of twists. The Democratic Party At Prayer is long on preaching egalitarianism and wealth redistribution but when it comes down to actually parting with any of their own silver plate they tend to get very testy as innumerable recent lawsuits have amply demonstrated. My guess is that even if the parish in question, already generally recognized as the richest of any denomination in the country, wanted to give a significant amount of that away, the pointy hats at 815 would put the breaks on any such move. At the rate things are going Ms. Schori may need that money to pay all their lawyers fees for the lawsuits she is filing against fleeing parishes and dioceses.

Somehow though I don't think that will be an issue. In a parish where the rector has a salary of $475,000 with a total annual compensation of around $1.3 million and who resides in a $5.5 million town house in tony SOHO, I just don't see a a couple of billion dollar checks going out anytime soon to the Salvation Army and Habitat For Humanity. Wealth redispution should only apply to the evil 1% who inhabit Wall Street.

Oh wait. Trinity Church is on Wall Street.

HT: T-19


Alice Linsley said...

You have to stop telling the truth, my friend!

Fr. Theodore Phillips said...

It grieves me to even appear to defend anything about the Episcopal sect these days (my own former delusion) and I may have to take to my couch of affliction after doing so. But I think we need to be a little more fair: Much of that $2 billion is not liquid "rainy day" cash. Much is assets. Could they do more with it? Yes. Could the Rector manage on a lower salary? Certainly (though one hopes he tithes!). But if they have owned the town-house rectory for a long time, it isn't their fault that it is worth multiple millions now (what decent house in lower Manhattan isn't?). It would be foolish to off-load it and have him move to Jersey City just for appearances, or to pay the astronomical rent that would be required for an apartment within striking distance of the church's campus.

To their credit, congregants and leaders are raising the issue of using more of their resources for outreach. So long as it isn't going to the NCC or other Marxist organizations, that sounds like a good sign. Even so, I note that they currently give $3 million in annual outreach -- that is not exactly a drop in the bucket, and few churches are able to do anything like it.

As one comment on the original article pointed out, Trinity has a long history (at least before it went to Clown "Masses" with horned helmets at the "altar") of doing an amazing amount of good out of its deep pockets. It funded the building of countless churches around the country and numerous other forms of outreach. Nowadays, I am not so sure that I would like to see them use their money to "spread the faith" that seems to predominate in their pews, though.

Whatever might be the case with their commercial property (and let us remember that once it is "gone" and the money spent, they will never have the income again for doing good works), it would not serve the poor to offload huge assets like the property or buildings of Trinity or St Paul's (worth immense amounts of money). St Paul's Chapel (where BTW our first President prayed before his inauguration - should they sell that?) played a major role in the aftermath of 9/11 as a shelter for emergency workers and a place of counseling and prayer in a time of horrible tragedy. That would not have been possible if they had sold it to some developer just to give away the money.

I am all for pointing out the current evils of the Episcopal sect and its vile leadership. But I am not sure the properties of Trinity are the best example. Their liturgy and preaching might be a better place at which to take aim...

Just a few thoughts from my monastic cell in the mountains.