It is true and the saga is quite sad. Christ the King Episcopal Church has been betrayed, perhaps by the National Church, but surely by the Diocese of San Joaquin, the Bishop David Rice and the Rector, Father Glenn Kanestrom, as well as the vestry of Christ the King.
In the interest of transparency, Christ the King has struggled with finances almost since its inception but the fact is we as a parish have always pulled together to make it through the rough spots. We have always made it through, with God's help.
In December of 2007 John David Schofield split the diocese and took about 3/4s of it to the Southern Cone. Lo and behold, there were about five parishes that fought tooth and nail and we stayed with the Episcopal Church. Those of us in those five parishes waited for what seemed about ever -- actually it was about 3 months -- to await someone or something that would help us. While parishes throughout the country came to our aid we received no word from the National Church. Finally, the National Church decided we in the San Joaquin Diocese were worth saving. They came to our rescue with promises of a brighter day! Kathrine Jeffers Schori visited us as well as many clergy from everywhere and the President of the House of Deputies. All the big wigs showed up! Euphoria was the general feel of the day as promises of a more supportive Episcopal Church! A more open church that welcomed everybody. We were all joyous! Though we were few we had fought a good fight and for that God rewarded us with an "angel".
From 2008 until last week I personally asked for a facilities plan and a mission plan both of which would be diocesan wide and hold funds in reserve for contingencies. I asked the Chancellor, I asked two Bishops, I asked the Rector of Christ the King. Never saw one, no one ever did one. How are we going to determine what to do with our property when each church is returned to the diocese? What are we going to be about without a diocesan wide plan to point us in the direction. I was also told (on more than one occasion) We could not possibly share "that information" audits for fear that it would be turned against us. Huh? I was told there was a sustainability plan. I asked the vestry, I asked the Bishop (4 times) I asked Fr. Kanestrom about 4 times. The Bishop finally relented and told me that Fr. Kanestrom will ask the Chair of the Standing Committee, whoever that is. See, the Standing Committee and the Diocesan Council do not have the members names listed on the website (or as far as I know nowhere else), but they have a sustainability plan. Really? Well to this date I have never seen one or had one put in my hands. Do we dare make the assumption that we don't have any of those because they would be turned against us in our lawsuits. Did I mention that our lawsuits on the issue of returning our lost property to our diocese has taken over years and we are still not done! What fun this is. When the Standing Committee submitted the Anglican Bishop from New Zealand's name for approval most of us had no idea that the search process was that far along. Now we have an Anglican bishop (at least he is real) and by his own admission has no idea what had happened in our diocese under the care of John David Schofield (bless his soul but here he is making decisions for all of the parishes.
Christ the King Parish, suffering from low pledges, over the last few years had entered into a verbal contract with the owner of a pre-K/daycare center for the use of our classroom. They fixed it up to the tune of $40,000.00 +/-. The day of reckoning comes and the full lease goes to our new Anglican Bishop and it appears he has refused to sign the lease. Why, well wait for this one -- it is a doosey!
Christ the King was to be closed and merged with one of the parishes that had left to go south and had been recovered through "negotiations". Yes, that is right, the Episcopal presence was being removed from Riverbank in favor of a breakaway parish that had to be sued before they would come home. Christ the King, one of only 4 or 5 parishes that stayed the course when everyone else was running around wondering what to do! And we did it by use of an Anglican Bishop and the help of a vestry that has absolutely no imagination, and a rector who seems to be weary of the struggle. And what are we to do about the Daycare Center.
Let me say, the vestry did no study, we do not know which of the facilities Saint Paul, Modesto or Christ The King, Riverbank has the greater cost/value (one has a mortgage payment but one has an incredible amount of repair work that needs to be done). The vestry could only offer two plans: 1, close our doors and move to St. Paul Modesto or not? Those were our two choices! Can you imagine that 8-12 people could not come up with one realistic second plan? Really, given our choices I can say that God must have missed a bunch of folks when she was passing out imagination. The two plans are presented by the vestry and the vestry told the parishioners that all the options had been compared against the "sustainability plan". Yep, you guessed it, the plan no one has a copy. No research and built on pure fabrication the issue went to a vote today. We had no formal meeting and no formal discussion prior to the vote.
Now, let's see what has changed since January 2008. The diocese has had three bishops (now on our third) and Bishop Rice admits that he had no idea of the history of any of the parishes as regards the the 6 or so years pre-split and no information regarding the experiences after the split. The diocese is quite frankly a million dollars in debt (2-3 conservatively) and while the national church has helped us a great deal it came with more strings attached that any one was ever initially told (at least out loud). We have a complete gag order on virtually everything that comes from the diocese as the Chancellor (the guy doing the lawsuits for the National Church) says if someone says something then the bad guys will leverage the information against us. The diocese has had secret meetings with the National Church Standing Committee and a main topic of discussion has been sustainability (whatever that means). If there was a discussion of what church was going to be shuttered, then under the promise of complete transparency the members of the diocese most affected by that should have input not just inside the diocese but at the National level.
Would it be too bold to suggest that nothing has changed but the names since December of 2007. The actions of the elite are the same as before 2008 however those who wanted to have power now have power. Now, as a point of information I came from another denomination over 40 years ago so that I would no longer subject myself or family to this type of "crap".
For those in Texas, and Pittsburgh and Quincy and wherever else, it is never to early to ask for financials, audits and plans early and apparently often.
We at Christ the King have been rewarded with "close the place". A place God brought us for the purpose of letting his light shine through us in Riverbank. A place where, those who are feeling disabled emotionally, physically, spiritually, could gather and be healed. My cheek feels slightly moist, wait, was that a kiss I just received?