Thursday, January 31, 2013
Even sad duties bring relief when they are accomplished. Today was already set aside on the calendar for Archdeacon Denney and me to travel to Paris (not that Paris, but the one you can drive to from Springfield) and deconsecrate St Andrew's Church. The mission was dissolved and worship ceased there during Advent of 2011, there being only two regular communicants remaining, and we recently received a purchase offer on the building. (Not what we might have gotten for it some years ago, but a fair price in today's market.) My predecessor nine times removed, Bishop George Seymour, took title to the land sometime in the 1880s. The original church was razed and the current one built in 1966. As recently as the 1990s the congregation had parish status. But rural Illinois has not exactly boomed, even during boom times, and St Andrew's was never one of the larger churches in town. So it just dwindled away. We can ask ourselves a lot of "what if ...?" questions, but what happened happened, and doing what we have now done was the most prudent action for us to take. So Fr Denney and I, with the help of the buyer and a couple of her associates, moved the altar (which is from the original church) out of the chancel and into the bed of the borrowed pickup we had driven over from Springfield. We boxed up a few items of archival value, and a small assortment of vestments. Then we drove over to the local Rural King Farm Supply store to buy a tarp, some bungee cords, and a couple of plastic totes. Then we went back to the church and prayed the brief liturgy for the secularization of a consecrated building. It was the second time I have done this, and it felt like I was presiding at an execution, audibly "rescinding the sentence of consecration" that had been just as audibly pronounced by Bishop Chambers in 1966. After securing our load in the bed of the truck, and grabbing a fast food lunch, we appeared at a local bank for the closing. We turned over the keys to a very happy buyer--an auctioneer who will use it as her place fo business--and walked out with a check. The Bishop of Springfield relinquished title to property that the Bishop of Springfield has received some 130 years earlier. The funds will be invested until we can once again deploy them in service to the apostolic mission of the Church.