Anglican Samizdat

January 30, 2010

A shake-up is coming to the Diocese of Montreal

Filed under: Diocese of Montreal — David Jenkins @ 12:52 am

The Diocese of Montreal, having lost 45,000 members between 1981 and 2001, is dwindling in much the same way as the Diocese of BC.

A consultant has been hired to find out what can be done; her report says, among other things:

As is her wont, Myrlene Boken does not recommend the closing of any churches in the Diocese of Montreal, preferring to leave the final decision up to parishioners.

But she makes no bones about considering some churches more strategic than others. Her report divides the slightly under 100 churches in the diocese into five categories.

She considers 50 churches – a little more than half – to be in strategic locations and another dozen in “second-level locations” that “round out our coverage of the mission field” but, for example, would not be a priority for replacement if they burned down or needed major repairs.

Another eight are in “tertiary” locations, generally buried in residential neighbourhoods and often dating from the 1950s and 1960s. They often benefit from dedicated local members and leaders even today, so Ms. Boken’s suggestion that the diocese not devote important resources to them could be controversial.

There are 18 “final generation” churches, generally in rural areas and some of them almost “family chapels.” They have few prospects for the future but Ms. Boken thinks it would often cause unnecessary hard feelings to force them to close. (A few of these are already on the way to being wound up by local parishioners.) Finally, there are a half-dozen tourist sites in the Laurentians that she thinks can play a useful role with summer student placements.

Although Boken does not recommend the closing of any churches, she does seem to think that it would not be a bad thing if half of them burned down. And that, after all, is what you pay a consultant for: creative thinking.

As comic relief, in the same issue of the diocesan paper, Rev. Dr. Ian Douglas, a professor at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass. rambles on about “God’s mission in a changing world and church”, drawing on a Marxist political theorist for inspiration. His most profound insight is this:

In light of the new Pentecost, Christians in general, and Anglicans in particular, are beginning to ask ourselves: How much does the translatability of the Gospel and the missiological imperative of inculturation inform our worship and common life as Christians today?

Scarcely a day goes by without an Anglican acquaintance piously murmuring in my ear his concern about “missiological imperative of inculturation”.

With Professor Douglas helping to push them over the edge, I’m quite sure that the Diocese of Montreal will soon be following the example of the Diocese of BC and closing churches. Those that don’t burn down first.



  1. David, years ago I worked in prison ministries and met up with a number of people who, for a fee, answered that very need…..”what building? When does it need to disappear?” These people also contracted to break legs. It was an eye-opening education for me.Unfortunately, these people were not following the right leader and reaped their reward – not always in monetary gain!
    I prefer to watch God in action; reading His “biography-to-date” tells me about whole towns being destroyed by people walking around the outside 7 times, or, 300 hand-picked non-military types going against thousands – and winning. What an awesome Leader!

    Comment by Jennifer — January 30, 2010 @ 8:49 am

  2. I too know people with “connections” and I am sure any bishop worth his salt will have similar connections. That is if he/she has ministered to the people who really need help and is not a panderer to the country club set.
    And I would advise any insurance company to be very prudent in issuing policies to any declining diocese of failing denominations. But I guess I have seen too many insurance claim fires in my line of work and am a cynic.

    Comment by Gawk — January 30, 2010 @ 12:11 pm

  3. It’s not being cynical to express the reality of people in power and what they are capable of doing. Let’s face it, man is capable of all evil deeds. I would agree about the insurance companies!!

    Comment by Jennifer — January 30, 2010 @ 6:48 pm

  4. Failing denominations have the banks threatening to foreclose but what happens when the insurance companies wake up and realize they have a lot of expensive built heritage at high risk and either bump up the premiums sky high or actually refuse to insure these piles at all? If the banks are holding a diocese’s paper using uninsured churches as collateral they will call in the loans. (try getting a mortgage with no insurance)
    So in summation dioceses like B.C. Montreal, Quebec and Niagara are at substantial risk of failure from not only people fleeing the new religion they are spouting, but from the lack of affordable insurance or no insurance, foreclosure by the banks, outrageous heating costs, expensive capital repairs, arsonists and themselves. (Did I leave anything out like uninvited people coming to their services?)
    The whole house of cards must be swaying!

    Comment by Gawk — January 31, 2010 @ 10:19 am

  5. ,,,and the wolf said, “I’m gonna huff and puff and blow your house down!” Oh dear! No! No! Wrong book. Sorry. The story I wanted to read comes from the Good Book, not the Three Little Pigs. I want the story about the house built on the Rock so that the foundation would be solid. That’s the kind of building that gets insured because the people go there and seem to be able to “pay their dues”! (My apologies for the child-like wanderings of a worn-out warden.)

    Comment by Jennifer — January 31, 2010 @ 5:41 pm

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