Thursday, July 12, 2007

Elizabeth Kaeton

In a recent post, we revealed that part of the proceeds from the sale of Church of the Advent had provided a house for Elizabeth Kaeton, then the Oasis Missioner. Rev. Kaeton has gone on to great prominence in the left wing of the church, and is now the President of the Standing Commission of the Diocese. She also has a blog called Telling Secrets, and recently used it to launch a vicious attack on another Episcopal priest, the Rev. Anne Kennedy, in the Diocese of Central New York.

Full coverage of the story, which we recommend to our readers, can be found at Stand Firm , and more succinctly at The Midwest Conservative Journal under the title "Derangement." We suggest you take the time to follow the posts, where there are a good number of insightful comments.

In her various updates, Kaeton+ has rewritten the incident so that she, rather than Anne Kennedy, appears as the victim. This further manipulation and blame-shifting only adds to Kaeton's original offense. Yet, Blakeney believes that there is a sense in which Kaeton+ is a victim; she is a victim of the unChristian teachings of this Diocese.

According to her own account, Elizabeth Kaeton, who was a married mother with children, shattered her family because she was in love with another married mother of children. The two are still partners many years later; we will certainly not dispute their strong affection for each other. The fact remains, however, that this partnership was founded on a double adultery which destroyed forever the secure life of two men and at least four children. This was a very, very grave sin--just as it would be if Kaeton+ had left her husband for another man.

By ordaining Kaeton as a priest, and celebrating a lesbian partnership based on two shattered marriages, this Diocese proclaimed that we can abandon our crosses by the road, ignore Christ's call to repent, and happily follow the devices and desires of our own hearts. It seems that for Kaeton+, her wrath has become just another part of herself to be celebrated and indulged in.
She appears to be completely unaware of the destructiveness and darkness of her anger--and why should she be, when the Diocese calls it light?

Sinner, this Lord is still the same
Still waiting to forgive
Seek, then, His cleansing, saving blood
Believe, obey and live.

---G.W. Doane, second Episcopal Bishop of New Jersey

Thursday, July 5, 2007

A Response to Mr. Badger

Stand Firm was good enough to post our article on Church of the Advent. A vestryman from Hudson County weighed in, defending the closure of the church. While we don't want to get into an endless argument with him, there are a few points we feel we must answer.

First, the gentleman objects: Note the past tense. Spong retired what, six, seven years ago? Spong’s SUCCESSOR retired this year. Does your correspondent have nothing to do but live in the past? Let him be assured that Blakeney lives very much in the present. We invite him to look at the earlier posts on the blog--and to pay attention to those that are to come.

Next, he informs us that the Diocese poured enormous amounts of money into reviving and sustaining All Saints in Hoboken, and Grace Van Vorst in Jersey City. What he neglects to mention is that All Saints is an outspoken proponent of the GLBT agenda. Grace Van Vorst has not been shy in that regard, either. If Mr. badger 539 knows of a place where the Diocese also poured money into a traditional parish that was failing, we urge him to let us know.

Interestingly, Mr. Badger brings up the infamous closure of St. John's in Jersey City, blaming it on its origins as a segregated white parish. Perhaps Mr. Badger can explain why this was still relevant in the 1990's, especially since the last rector of the church was a black activist, Rev. Robert Castle. St. John's is, in fact, a stunning example of poor diocesan stewardship. We confess that we don't know whether it was sustainable as a congregation, but we do know that Diocese's treatment of the property has been a notable disgrace.

St. John's was once known as "the millionaire's church", and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is also on New Jersey's list of the "Ten Most Endangered Historic Sites." After the parish was closed, Bishop Spong removed its full suite of Tiffany windows, and sold them to a Japanese collector. The windows were not replaced with ordinary glass, the church was vandalized,and many of its valuable decorations removed. Many years after Spong's retirement, the government of Jersey City was still pleading with the Diocese to secure the windows and doors, and fix the leaky roof. So far as we know, the structure is still endangered; perhaps Mr. Badger can fill us in on its current state of repair, and Diocesan efforts (if any) to sell a building they clearly have no use for.

While Mr. Badger talks about population shifts, Blakeney wonders about a church which has to pull out of urban areas because it has nothing to offer the poor who live there. We wonder doubly, since Newark always prides itself on its commitment to social justice. According to Louie Crew's invaluable 1996 report on ethnic parishes in the Diocese, at least two of the parishes which Bishop Spong later closed were about 50% black . (St. Stephen's and St. Matthew's).

We do agree that sometimes there are good reasons for closing parishes. We finally found a parishoner from the Church of the Ascension (the other Bloomfield parish that was closed.) Apparently, that parish had been torn for years by a low church-high church conflict, and really was unsustainable. Survivors of Church of the Advent, on the other hand, always speak of their former church with great love.

There may well have been good sense in selling off the unused part of the Advent property to help fund the move to Diocesan headquarters. But selling the smaller secton that this tradtional parish still needed, in order to house the Oasis missioner-- maybe even Mr. Badger can see the cruel irony.

Monday, June 25, 2007

1997 --An Advent Story

Just north and west of Newark lies the town of Bloomfield. From its beginnings as a Presbyterian settlement in the 18th century, Bloomfield was always a hard working place that rewarded its inhabitants with a decent, but unpretentious standard of living. According to the last census, about 70% of the employed residents work at low-level management and white collar jobs, with another 18% doing blue collar work.

In 1997, the Diocese decided to close two of Bloomfield's three Episcopal Churches. Blakeney hasn't been able to learn anything about one of them (Ascension) , but has come across some interesting facts about The Church of the Advent, on William Street. Advent was founded in the first half of the 19th century, and was housed in an unusual clapboard church which sat on a rather large piece of property. During the baby-boom years, the congregation expanded and built a seperate, modern church on the rest of the property. Under Bishop Spong, the traditionally minded congregation shrank, and retreated to the original church building.

Even this vestige of tradtionalism had to be wiped out. While the parish was more than willing for the diocese to sell off the larger part of the property, the Diocese insisted that the old building had to be put up for sale,too. The parish was declared extinct, and sold to an evangelical church.

The proceeds from the sale were $531,000. Almost one-third of this amount was used to buy a house for the "Oasis Missioner". Oasis is the GLBT ministry of the diocese; at that time the missioner was Elizabeth Kaeton, one of the most radical priests in ECUSA. Most of the remaining money was used to help construction costs at the Diocese's new headquarters.

The happy part of this story is that the evangelical church seems to be flourishing in the newer part of the Advent property. However, it appears that the old building the Diocese refused to spare, is still standing empty.

Monday, June 18, 2007

An Observation from a friend

Remember that more people probably kept silent than yelled 'Crucify Him' on Good Friday.

It's time to speak.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

They only gave us a week.....

Blakeney has received an additional, chilling detail to the story of Trinity Church in Montclair.
The parish had been borrowing money from the diocese in order to remain open, so the diocese did have the right to the parish down. However, according to an active parishoner, the Diocese gave the parish exactly one week's notice.

If this person's account is correct, the Diocese planned to simply shut the parish down, without any attempt to memorialize it or continue its ministries. The parish was a strong and faithful supporter of the North Porch, a shelter for battered women and their children, which is a charity of the Diocese, in company with several other Protestant churches.

We hope that other Trinity parishoners can corroborate this story, or provide more details. We can absolutely confirm that the whole thing occurred with indecent haste, and that the Diocese insisted on inventing a new procedure, in order to avoid a formal merger.

The current occupant of the former parish is Petra Baptist Church, who had previously rented the sanctuary from Trinity. We have been told, however, that the Diocese is planning to sell the building to a commercial developer. We'll be watching this one.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Confession of Silence

Karen B. is one of the many workers in vineyard of Anglican renewal. A missionary in Africa, Karen also helps run a wonderful prayer blog called Lent and Beyond.

It seems that that Karen grew up in our Diocese, and attended St. Peter's Church in Essex Fells. Yet even this valiant lady felt silenced while she lived here. She writes today, in a post at Stand Firm:
Blakeney is SO right about the tendency towards silence in Newark. If I’d stayed there, I’m quite convinced I would have left without making waves or taking a very visible stand. When in Newark, I did at one point write my rector with some concerns, and I seem to also recall writing a letter to the editor of the Voice following Spong’s publication of his 12 theses. (But the letter wasn’t published...)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


The Bishop of SouthEast Florida has a new theory about why ECUSA membership has declined so much over the years.:

He says : But they forget to mention that the main exodus from our denomination was not because of Prayer Book changes or the ordination of women or the acceptance of gays and lesbians, but it was mainly due to the departure of white persons who refused to worship next to a black person who had dared to enter into their beloved homogeneous, culturally friendly environment through cracks that were being made by our clergy and laity to end segregation and discrimination.

Some of you may wonder how he could argue that a church where everyone was enlightened enough to joyfully accept every new innovation, was also a church where most people were so backward and racist that they wouldn't sit in the same pews as people with darker skins. The answer lies in Newark.

Newark is cutting-edge, the home of Episcopal innovation. Newark requires an exceptionally large group of active laity --even lay readers -- to take mandatory anti-racism training. But Newark also loves to kill mostly black parishes where people tend to adhere to traditional faith, and don't have the means to fight back.

In 2005, Rev. William Guthrie, the rector of one of the Diocese's larger black parishes (Christ Church, East Orange) , wrote a letter to the Bishop and Presiding Bishop, about how much the black Episcopal community felt alienated by ECUSA's obsession with the gay & lesbian agenda.
Courageously, Rev. Guthrie allowed the letter to be published on a widely read conservative site, Titus One Nine. In part, Guthrie said:

After the widely publicized decisions of the 2003 General Convention, we lost five stalwart families (who could no longer walk with us because of these decisions) at Christ Church, East Orange. The giving that year in terms of the stewardship campaign and the every member canvass plummeted by $20,000 as people voted with their feet and their pocketbooks regarding the general direction in which ECUSA is moving.

Christ Church, East Orange seems to be OK--at least for now. But just a few miles away lie the corpses of what, just a year or two ago, were three integrated, black majority parishes, who favored traditional worship.

The first to go was St. Mark's in West Orange. One of the oldest parishes in the diocese, St. Mark's had a large building badly in need of repair, but with an endowment that would cover the expenses. Because they were only allowed to draw on the income, the parish went to court in order to change the terms. In the meantime, the diocese loaned the parish money for repairs, but at some point, it tired of the arrangement, closed the parish, sold the building (built 1827) --and of course, pocketed the remaining endowment.

Less than two years later, the Diocese closed two mostly black High Church parishes. All Saints was in Orange, one mile east of St. Mark's, while Trinity Montclair was just over 3 miles to the west. All Saints was shut down in October 2006; Trinity followed in February 2007. The diocese could, logically, have merged these two similar parishes. Had it thought ahead (and had that endowment not been so tempting!) three parishes could have been merged. The sanctuary at St. Mark's was more than big enough, and the proceeds from selling the other buildings would have paid for a lot of repairs.

Here's what the Dicoese did instead-- First, All Saints was merged with Holy Innocents in West Orange, a small, affluent, liberal parish that had spent years under a feminist rector, recently retired. Shortly after the merger, it was announced that the combined parishes had chosen a partnered lesbian as their interim.

In the meantime, Trinity was put through an " innovative, informal merger" with Christ Church,Bloomfield/ Glen Ridge. The Christ Church-Trinity connection actually makes some sense. They are near each other, they are both traditional, and have complementary demographics. Christ Church has a huge sanctuary, but no rector, and no money to pay one. Trinty had a much beloved rector from Nigeria or Uganda; its property was small, but in a good location and the income from the proceeds would have paid a rector's salary for many years.

Would have paid--for the Diocese insisted that the merger be kept "informal." Thus, Trinity was declared extinct, the Diocese will pocket the proceeds, Trinity's rector has had to leave the Diocese to find work, and the combined Christ Church/Trinity parish remain in the iron grip of a very clever, very revisionist interim. The traditionalist chair of the search committee was barred from making a report to the Vestry and resigned in frustration. The current search committee chair has a several-generations long connection to the parish, and does not believe the Nicene Creed.