Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Continuing Diocese of Quincy

A Seven-Parish Diocese?

The continuing Episcopal Diocese of Quincy met in convention, after a bunch of others hied off to narrow-minded Anglican parts unknown. God bless those remaining Episcopalians!

According to a report from Episcopal Life Online this week:

The Peoria, Illinois-based continuing diocese of Quincy adopted a slightly reduced budget of about $140,000 at its 132nd annual synod gathering, Oct.17, according to Bishop John Buchanan. Bishop Christopher Epting served as keynote speaker at the gathering, held at St. Paul's Cathedral in Peoria. Quincy and other continuing dioceses are being aided in reorganizational efforts through a Church Pension Fund grant, Buchanan added. The current diocese includes seven congregations but, said, "There is a spirit of optimism and people are anxious to get on with the work of the church." [emphasis added]
Seven parishes?? I know the Diocese of Quincy was tiny even before Ackerman and his queens moved away. But does a "diocese" of 7 seven parishes stand any chance of surviving on its own? Does this make any sense? There are currently three dioceses in Illinois. The Diocese of Chicago has about 125 congregations, the Diocese of Springfield has 40 congregations, and the continuing Diocese of Quincy has seven.

I'm all for maintaining an Episcopal Church presence throughout the U.S., no matter what the dissidents do. But I must ask why anyone would maintain the overhead of a 7-parish diocese in western-central Illinois. With two other viable dioceses in Illinois, why try to maintain a separate diocese for Quincy?

The Diocese of Quincy abuts my Diocese of Missouri. I know several Episcopalians drove from their Illinois homes most Sunday mornings to attend church in the St. Louis area during the Ackerman Regime. I don't know them well enough to guess what they must be thinking.

But I'm thinking about the Episcopal Church in this day. And I have to ask why we would try to fund the overhead to maintain a diocesan office in Quincy, when it seems to me most of those seven parishes could find episcopal oversight from Chicago, Springfield, or Missouri.

Fight in court to argue that the assets of the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy rightfully belong to TEC? You bet! No question about that.

But in this new age, why not consider whether Quincy needs to be a separate diocese? Pittsburgh is considering whether it should reunite with the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania. Some are wondering about the various dioceses in Michigan. To me, it seems like a good time to consider which dioceses are viable and whether the old lines of demarcation make sense. After all, many of the diocesan boundaries were established when bishops had to ride on horseback over dirt lanes. Now that we have cars and interstate highways, do those old diocesan boundary lines make sense? I'm not sure. But I hope someone is asking those questions.

Mind you, I am merely asking the question. I hope some you in the affected dioceses will offer your comments here.


Blogger Ann said...

Seems nuts to me. Even Pittsburgh is exploring how to share overhead with other dioceses in their area. It is about power, methinks. If you merge - no more Deputies to General Convention - yes Quincy gets 4 lay and 4 cleric Deputies just like NY or LA.

10/22/2009 9:29 AM  
Blogger Malcolm+ said...

I think that it is incumbent upon all structures to discern how best they serve the Gospel. That said, it is easier (in both good and bad ways) to ask those wuestions from te outside.

At our last General Synod in Canada, there was discussion of our diocesan structures, including some folk from southern Ontario opining about why there were three dioceses in Saskatchewan. Imagine, if you will, someone from New York City opining about the number of dioceses in Missouri.

It is a sensitive issue, however real. Certainly there should be questions asked about a diocese with only seven parishes. But we can't ignore the particular circumstances of Quincy, where the current seven may well regrow and regain much of what was lost.

(And, as a trivial side note, the current Dean of Qu'Appelle was previously Dean of Quebec. There is only one more diocese beginning with a Q.)

10/23/2009 4:50 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks for you comments.

Remember, I concluded my post with: "Mind you, I am merely asking the question. I hope some you in the affected dioceses will offer your comments here."

I do not presume to tell Quincy what to do. Nor would I tell any other diocese what to do. I'm not that arrogant. But I hope these hard questions are being asked in all dioceses ... as they confront the high overhead costs we all must cover to maintain a diocese.

No argument from me, Ann or Malcolm. I just hope people will ask the questions. I don't presume to provide the answers.

10/23/2009 9:38 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

It is my understanding of canon that only GC can fold diocese, just as only GC can create them. (Schismatics please note.)

So for a while at least we have to act as though there is a diocese of Quincy. Given the completely unwelcoming and homophobic attitude in Springfield I should guess that the best bet would be for Quincy to either merge with Chicago or your diocese. But that is something for them to discern. If it costs a bit for them to have that time, recovering from the lace and loony administration they shed, it is probably money well spent.


10/26/2009 12:35 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

I agree, Jim. As I said earlier, I just hope people will ask the questions. I don't presume to provide the answers. I would allow them as much time as they need.

10/28/2009 10:22 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home