Walking Together with Churches Which Have Left Property
By The Rev. Canon Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary
We have weathered the storm of litigation together, as the Body of Christ. We have partnered together in bearing the weight of the Diocesan defense and been largely and mercifully successful. Of the 54 congregations in this Diocese, all but eight have retained their historic properties and places of worship. And even in the midst of this long season of litigation, we have welcomed seven new congregations to our Diocesan family, with two more soon to come. This is what we exist to do as a Diocese; to grow the Kingdom of God.
In the new season that lies before us, this means working together as the Body of Christ in a new task: providing assistance in replanting these eight congregations required to leave their historic properties. This is the work of the newly created Jerusalem Fund. As the Body of Christ, our goal is to provide the resources to help them become effective and significant mission outposts in their communities as quickly as possible. As they are restored to health and strength as parishes, we will be made stronger as a Diocese. Together, we will be about the work of growing the Kingdom. Just as St. Paul collected funds from his many missionary congregations for support of the church in Jerusalem, so are we standing with our brothers and sisters in these congregations.
While all the congregations leaving their historic properties share the necessity of finding a new place of worship, their needs for today vary greatly. For some, the Providence of God has already been generous in providing temporary new homes (and possibly permanent ones). For others that provision is more complicated and costly. And for a few, the need to provide clergy housing with limited resources is a significant challenge.
Every circumstance is unique. But whether the need is for assistance with operating expenses, clergy housing, staffing support, ministry initiatives or worship resources, we don’t want limited funds to obstruct any parish in a vigorous recovery.
To that end we would like to raise $1,000,000 to be used exclusively for this initial work. To date, $250,000 has already been committed. We plan to raise the balance (and hopefully more) through generous individual donations from parishioners, through grant and foundation applications, through tithing from planned parish capital campaigns and through a planned Diocesan Ingathering scheduled for early in 2023. As this issue of the Jubilate Deo illustrates well, these congregations are already moving forward in faith and strength. The Jerusalem Fund has been created to provide the vehicle for the rest of the Diocese to come alongside them for this Kingdom work. Those ready to give generously today are urged to visit our Diocesan webpage for more information (or use the QR code below)
As the first work of The Jerusalem Fund, its governing board has already approved an initial disbursal of support to those congregations leaving their historic church homes. An encouragement gift of $10,000 is being provided to each to help with the immediate expenses of these transitions. Going forward, parishes will apply for additional grants to meet their specific needs and fulfill the vision for ministry to which God is now calling them. Because we do believe God is indeed calling them out, to lead the Diocese into new paths of ministry that will bless the entire Diocese.
For generations, the people of this Diocese have given generously for the building up of God’s Kingdom through His Church. Our places of worship and the ministries they support bear testimony to that historic faithfulness. Now, in this new season, we invite all who will join us in a new undertaking. We will plant and replant for a new generation and a fresh harvest. TOGETHER, we will launch a new season of growth for which many of us have long waited and looked forward expectantly. Please join us in this labor and give generously, as you feel led, for the expansion of God’s Kingdom in this time and place. We will do this, to the degree we are successful, together, as the Body of Christ in the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina.