We read occasionally of a father who walks away from his family.  A guy who just sticks around for the glory of saying he has proven himself with a woman and showing off the resulting children.  Sometimes he leaves because of gang-related commitments.  Sometimes it’s because of drug- or alcohol-related illness.  Sometimes he is sent to prison.

Last week Churchmouse Campanologist covered grave misdeeds on the part of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops.  Some of these concerned a loss of money and closing churches.  Others a coverup of where the contributions of the faithful were going.  All this shows that some of the bishops of both churches are not worthy of their mitres and their shepherd’s croziers.  They should have the good conscience to turn these in and retire.  God is uninterested in their stature among their fellow men.  He is interested in how these chaps further His mission on Earth — the Great Commission.  They seem to have forgotten the verses of Matthew 28:18-21 (NIV):

Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’

I speak of the Catholic CHD, the Anglican gay agenda, dwindling congregations, closing churches and the total disregard of both denominations to … preach the Word of God.

On November 12, I featured a post called ‘Anglican’s the name, downsizing’s the game’.  Although this concerns an Anglican church, St Paul’s, in Craig y Don, a Welsh resort (Llandudno) which I have never visited, its story stayed with me for a long time.  I have seen it happen all too often in the Catholic Church. 

Allow me to preface what I am about to say by means of describing what has happened in the medium-size American city (pop. 150,000) where my great-grandparents settled from Europe and my grandparents and parents were born, lived, breathed and had their being.  One street over from my father’s family home were two Catholic churches a block away from each other. Each accommodated two different sets of immigrants.  If you find that a bit precious for your tastes, please be aware that each ‘community’ was responsible for independently contributing and constructing the churches and their accompanying schools. A mile further along were two more Catholic churches and schools, for two more immigrant groups.  Again, each community was responsible for funding and building them.  I attended two of those schools and, depending on Mass times, all four churches when I was growing up.  One school closed and the other remained open for a while. (The other two had closed before I was born.) Of the churches, two of the four have closed. One of the closed churches is now a mosque.  The other two are shadows of their former glorious selves.  Out of curiosity I recently checked the website for the two churches which are open.  I couldn’t believe the change to the altars;  they must have sold the marble statues.  Cheap green curtains cover the gaps.  It’s an ungodly sight to behold. Yes, I partially blame this on the CHD funds going to secular organisations.  No, I won’t recant that.  

Over the past year I have read similar stories in other cities, particularly Cleveland, Ohio, and the smaller Allentown, Pennsylvania. I have visited both and known people from both. These were proud cities with proud families and elegant churches.  And now?  Spiritual ghost towns.  How is it that the Roman Catholic Church could not have seen fit to keep some of these churches open?  It doesn’t matter that the ‘founding families’, as modest as they were, no longer live there.  New families do.  Yet, the dioceses concerned have bolted the doors. 

The bishops are our spiritual leaders locally.  They are our shepherds.  They are our ‘fathers’, in a sense.  They are there to protect us and defend us, the faithful, from harm and destruction.  Yet, what do we see?  Closed doors.  These guys have no idea of the strain and the hardship that went into building these structures and schools.  I don’t know how one writes to a diocese and says, ‘Hey, we’re building a church for X [country]’s immigrants and can we get an order of nuns in to teach grades 1 – 8 and three priests, please?’  Even to word the letter, they would have exercised painstaking precision and credibility.  But, it would seem, a church is no different from an office building or a strip mall — it fulfils its purpose and then has to go.

Now, we read about the former Church of Wales, the Anglican Church, in the Diocese of Asaph.  Let’s go back to St Paul’s in Craig y Don, Llandudno, of last Thursday’s post.  This appears to be the only Anglican church serving the centre of this popular resort.  Before it is demolished to make way for a block of flats, let’s have a look at the interior and a description of what used to be their usual services here

Recently, 39 elderly congregants were told they were being turfed out. They were welcome to go to the Christian Science Hall for services.  Nice one.  However, just four years ago:

All the banners on display [for the Flower and Banner Festival], which are just a small selection of banners that we have, were all made ‘in house’ by our Parish Banner group who meet weekly to work on new banners to enhance our buildings and our worship. The floral displays, likewise, are all created by people from the four churches of our parish. We are grateful to God for the talents of so many people.

The theme of the 2005 festival was … Through the Year with the Christian Church:

Entering through the west doors one cannot but be impressed by the sheer size and beauty of the interior as one’s eyes area drawn to the great east window of Christ in Majesty. 

Let’s have a look at that window and the interior:

St Pauls Llandudno East Window

So, this impressive edifice is to be razed for a block of flats?  I cannot blame the congregation for walking out on the Sunday of the announcement without stopping for free coffee.  I’ll include pictures below showing how the parish made their church a home through the Christian year:

Advent display:

 St Pauls Llandudno Advent

Christmas, where their website says:

Christmas needs no explanation. Yet many forget the reason for Christmas – the birth of a baby in a stable at Bethlehem. This baby IS God made Man.
Today many billions of pounds are spent on presents and food and the message of the Christ-Child is sometimes forgotten.

Yes, like their church, sadly …

St Pauls Craig y Don Llandudno Xmas

Epiphany:

We celebrate on January 6th the coming of the Wise Men, Magi, Kings, to the Christ-Child.  This festival of Epiphany is also called the “Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles”.
At the manger the Wise Men offer their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh,  reminding us that we are called to offer our gifts to Christ. The wise men travelled great distances to worship this newborn king and to present their gifts.
We, however, are reluctant to ‘travel’ to the church which is just down the road, to worship the King of Heaven.

Maybe that last sentence holds the key to the closure.  But, why? 

St Paul's Church Craig y Don Epiphany

Then, there is St Paul’s St Francis of Assisi chapel:

This part of the church is dedicated to St Francis of Assisi. The furniture in this area was once in the chapel of Ty’r Brodyr, an Anglican Franciscan House which served the parish and North Wales for 10 years. The items are on ‘loan’ to the church and will be returned to the Society of St Francis should they decide to open another house here in North Wales. The statue of St Francis prior to being at the Franciscan House was in the Chapel of the Anglican Chaplaincy at UCNW Bangor [Wales].

St Paul's Church Craig y Don St Francis

Then, we have a close-up of the main altar and the choir stalls:

St Paul's Church Craig y Don main altar

Who in their right mind would want to demolish this church?  And, whilst I acknowledge that Anglican vicars have more freedom than clergy of other denominations, it would seem only right that Bishop Geoffrey Cameron investigate what is going on in this beautiful parish in the middle of a resort town.  Has he interviewed the vicar?  Has he ensured that the Bible and Anglican doctrine is being preached and practiced?  Has he provided constructive and fruitful guidance? Surely, Bishop Cameron must be able to do something other than to criticise the Pope.

Please note — if you want to add constructive comments to this post, I’m all for it, but anything on the order of ‘It’s God’s plan’ or ‘Money’s too tight to mention’ will be disallowed.  Remember, nothing is impossible with God.

Now, I have searched but have found no eleventh-hour appeal to save St Paul’s Craig y Don, Llandudno.  If you know of one and can share details, please leave a comment.  Thank you!