Sunday, June 18, 2017

Holy Nativity, Payson, AZ

In some ways, Holy Nativity, Payson is a refreshing change from BVM Ottawa and Incarnation Orlando. Its website is comprehensive and attractive, although the News page carries no mention of the new pastor.

The exterior is quite attractive, although I've seen TEC churches in Arizona where the architects seem to have had greater latitude to incorporate the scenic context.

I also get the feeling that the current pastor has had a greater sense of stewardship of the property, and things don't seem quite so threadbare as they do in Ottawa and Orlando. Here is the interior:

Indeed, though, the interior is hard to distinguish from a Baptist parish. I don't see icons or stations of the cross, though they may be out of frame.

I had a brief exchange with my regular correspondent over my reservations about OCSP interiors, and I replied with this to illustrate what I mean.

This is our former TEC parish, St Thomas the Apostle Hollywood. Certainly someone can object that I'm comparing apples to oranges, TEC has always had the resources to build something like this, while all but a handful of OCSP parishes are operating on a shoestring.

My reply is that this is precisely the problem. At its founding, the bishop named the parish St Thomas because he was doubtful of its prospects, but by 1930, it had erected the basic interior we see. By the early 1980s it had entered a period of decline, but a strong rector, Fr Carroll Barbour, initiated a period of renewal that has been continued by his successor. What's visible is not something that has just been passed down; it's taken considerable sustained effort to bring it to this point.

The OCSP is something of a bait-and-switch, selling the Precious Treasures of the Anglican Spiritual Patrimony and giving the buyer First Baptist instead, at least architecturally, and often not even that.

It brings to mind a recent post by Fr Z, where he says

Dear readers, parishes are not the sole responsibility of bishops and priests. They are your responsibility too.

. . . . Parishes have bills. If you want a parish, you have to pay the bills. The bills don’t pay themselves. Magic wands don’t create money from thin air. You have to be involved with “time, treasure and talent”.

Holy Nativity is not even self-sufficient, since its pastor must rely on a pension. I would say that for the OCSP to survive, much less grow, Houston is going to have to put much more stress on contributions, both monetary and in kind, from membership, but it certainly doesn't help that the clergy fosters an atmosphere of complacency and self-congratulation. Nor is it a coincidence that the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society seems to think that shabby churches like the one in Ottawa are just the thing.