What has happened to the New Baltimore Reformed Church?!?
What do you get when you take a 175-year old church and a solid core-congregation when the Reformed Church of America Regional Synod of Albany, Classis, made a poor decision to put a freshly baked female pastor in the pulpit. Inexperienced, ambitious, feminist, and stone-deaf when it came to hearing what the congregation leaders were saying, she just had to make changes. The New Baltimore Reformed Church went to hell in a handbasket and deteriorated from a vibrant local community to an emaciated skeleton of what it was.
The investment portfolio of the New Baltimore Reformed Church was remarkably healthy; that is, until the new pastor went on a remodeling and spending spree. It was pure shock when driving by the church to see a sign: “Save our church!” in front of the historic building. Save it from what? The damage was already done.
But there was plenty of time for pursuing politics and ambition. While the congregation that unwittingly gave her a contract to be pastor was hemorrhaging members there was plenty of time for Albany activities.
And you think that politics should stay out of the pulpit? Well think again, friends, it’s post-menopausal women in collars now! And they all have a feminist agenda. Forget Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. God created female and she was going to “have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (starting with New Baltimore Reformed Church). It was her way or the highway; most of the old congregation took the highway.
For months now, driving by the New Baltimore Reformed Chuch, it looks like no one cares to even change the sign…Yes, the opulent sign that is/was intended to announce to the public the events at the church has stagnated in pre-Christmas announcements, giving the impression to anyone driving by that the church might be closed. What would you think if you drove by on February 20, 2014 and saw the announcements for pre-Christmas events of 2013.
Almost two months later and the sign has not been changed. Not even to wish passers by a simple “Happy New Year 2014! Come on in!” No one in the New Baltimore Reformed Church congregation is left who cares enough even to update the sign. It’s obvious that the pastor has better things to do. What would they be, one wonders?
That sign sends a very resounding and clear message to everyone passing it on Route 144: Ghost Church!
Even the Christmas Nativity figures and crêche have been left out in the February snow drifts. No one seems to care that the Lenten season and Easter is just around the corner and the Nativity scene and its figures are rotting away in the February weather. It’s just money. But there’s plenty of time for Farmers Markets, and hanging out at Albany Medical Center, and playing pompous in Albany.
Read our response to a local resident’s comment on another local church gone satanic, Saint Patrick Roman Catholic in Ravena, New York. Read a specialist blog’s response to the resident at: Smoke of Satan…Again…Still!
The New Baltimore Reformed Church announcement board and the Nativity scene speak volumes about what has happened to the historic church and its congregation: Total Wanton Neglect! And no one in the Reformed Church of America hierarchy seems to notice, know or care. Shame on you! Shame on you Regional Synod of Albany, Albany Classis! But even greater shame on you, Susan Kerr, for neglecting your duties to the church and to the community.
But there’s plenty of time and money to leave stacks of fliers in the Post Office and elsewhere announcing a
Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper
March 4, 2014
4:30 p.m.– 7:00 p.m.
All You Can Eat
Donations will benefit the roof repair fund.
But still nothing on the announcements board in front of the church! Go figure!
Read our related, topical article at Where have all the mothers gone?
This article is in no way intended to bash a small treasure of a church that has suffered under the effects of poor leadership at the Regional Synod and local level, combined with unconventional and insensitive pastoring, if pastoring it can be called. Some individuals placed in such influential positions have other agendas and, if they are not closely monitored and regularly observed, they can be churchicidal. New Baltimore Reformed is just one of many examples that can be named.
Ravena’s Roman Catholic Church of St Patrick is another local casualty, although many might say it has a healthy congregation. Numbers don’t necessarily indicate health in a church congregation, nor does the fact of good attendance indicate anything close to a faith community. All it means is that something might be going on that speaks to the locals, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be spirituality or faith. Tony’s recent comment on Ravena’s St Pat’s and his impression of Fr James Kane there is right on target, and situation, as in our reply, is much, much worse than Tony has experienced. Kane and his various deacons are an absolute disaster. But this is endemic in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany and has been for decades. It has only gotten worse as bishop Howard Hubbard has gotten more and more tired, sicker and older. Hubbard was inexperienced when he was ordained bishop of Albany. Vatican II had just reached stateside. The Church was in a whirlwind of flux and all hell was breaking loose. The result was that Albany became notorious as one if not the most liberal RC dioceses in the country, and Hubbard achieved that dubious distinction, along with his long-time friend bishop Matthew H. Clark , in Rochester, now succeeded by bishop Salvatore R. Matano (who is hopefully of a more traditional, conservative spirit). Add to that the volatile mix of “liberated rabid nuns” who were leaving the schools and convents in droves, dropping the religious habits and getting some really bad habits to replace spirituality, and plunk a population of castrati priests who like being “friendly” and you get what we have today: hemorrhaging churches and disgruntled faithful.
Hubbard’s RC Diocese of Albany’s Pastoral Center, home of the diocesan administration and a cluster of small defensive fiefdoms catering to the various interests of the diocese, is jam-packed with female lay religious (nuns and wannabe nuns), misfit lay officers, and a bunch of ailing aging priests who are hanging on like barnacles on a ship. Jim Kane is one of them and there are plenty like him. What’s worse is that the former director of the deaconate, Frank Berning, went a step further by handpicking company boys to ordain as deacons. It’s an ignorant, arrogant men’s club. There are many examples of damaging decisions in the church and Jim Kane is only one. A very competent parish administrative officer at Ravena St Pat’s found she couldn’t work with Kane because he was so out of touch and demanding; she left to take a position at Athens’ St Pats. Another example at Ravena is a former catechist (instructed youth in the RC catechism) who had so much unresolved grief at the death of his wife, a father of two adolescent girls, and with loads of psychological baggage, guilt, etc. that he wanted to become a priest in later midlife. A successful veterinarian and company man, and general bishop’s asskisser, he was promised ordination. I know this man rather well and was shocked to learn that he was to be ordained, given his character and psychological flaws, but that’s the way it worked under former bishop Hubbard. But what can you expect when a parish is “led” by a “pastor” the likes of Jim Kane, who has the indifference to place a known adulterer, the scandalous “Dirty-hands Jerry” Deluca and Cathy Deluca in the position of lay liturgical readers, reading from the sacred Lectionary at Divine Liturgy?!?! And yet the congregation of St Pat’s don’t utter a squeak of outrage or protest!
Putting persons like angry, male-hating nuns in charge of many offices, placing “priests” like Kane and my vet friend in pastoral positions, not ensuring that these people have the skills to be good pastors, good preachers, good sounding boards for the community, and erecting rabid gatekeepers while losing control of the diocese is how it happened in Albany
We can only hope that Albany’s bishop-elect Edward B. Scharfenberger will pick up on the cues and clues and have the balls to take the bull by the horns and make the necesary course corrections for the Albany Diocese. It’s going to take extreme courage and perseverance given the opposition and rage that will almost certainly result but the diocese needs to be cleaned up completely in order to heal to health! Leave one malignant cell and your dead.
Another example, this one in Troy, is an example of how carelessness or downright desperation kills a vital parish. St Ann Maronite pariish in Watervliet (formerly in Troy), an Eastern rite parish in full communion with Rome, received a young Lebanese monk, recently ordained, hardly any parish experience, hardly any English proficiency, as pastor. He was left on his own and quickly assumed the role of spiritual tyrant and dictator. Little Fr George Bouchaya, appointed to St Ann’s as pastor by Brooklyn bishop Gregory Mansour, quickly polarized the parish, dividing the faithful into disgruntled groups. It was a time ripe for those petty power-grabbers under the surface to now surface and take over. The parish hemorrhaged important members, attracted disgruntled members from surrounding RC parishes that were being merged or closed, and who were not being spiritually fed by their Hubbardesque pastors. It was a disaster and continues to be a shadow of what it was simply because a bishop didn’t have the foresight or the awareness of what was going on, and was unwilling to accept the truth when informed by persons of good will.
So, who’s killing the church and creating the church of the living dead? You know already, so why ask?