S. Clement’s Church, Philadelphia, which has long been called the hallmark of Anglo-Catholicism, has seen drastic changes lately in her life and worship. Unfortunately, it’s not an accidental or metamorphic change that’s been happening slowly over time, but rather, what appears to be a very strong-headed few who were never happy with the Anglo-Catholic traditions practiced at S. Clement’s and desired to change them from their first days stepping foot in the church rather than attending another parish that already offered what they were looking for.

At this, you might say just a few who share these views surely cannot make such broad changes in a parish who’s traditional roots run deep through the 150+ years in existence. And truly, you would be right in believing they will, in the end, fail and fail miserably. S. Clement’s has had many issues throughout her history in Philadelphia – fighting against bishops for their right to catholic worship, embattlements in court rooms, past rectors who attempted to destabilize the catholic traditions – and always seemed to come out of those times as a beacon for traditionalism and Anglo-Catholicism.

But when those very few slither into positions where they have access to all financial accounts and try to spend down endowments on frivolity while ignoring the spiritual needs of the parish, it’s time to step up and speak out. These are dark days at S. Clement’s, indeed.

But enough of the vague statements. No more hiding the dirty laundry so everything appears rosy and nice to guests. It’s time to air that dirty laundry to let everyone know what stinks behind that hallowed brownstone, and I’ve personally decided to take that step now. I’ve no intention of being malicious in any way. I merely want to reach out to the Clementines and the public in hopes that others who read this will know the truth, will pray with us, and will fight with us to preserve what is so precious to us. Don’t worry. I won’t over-burden you with everything in a single post (we’d be here for days if I wrote that much truth), so I’ll address particular instances, one at a time (so check back often).

I guess the very first truth to be told, is that of the firing of the Rector’s Warden, Dr. John Lilley. Contrary to the story the Rector had been spreading – that Dr. Lilley retired, or quit, or just left because he’d lost interest – he was, indeed, fired for standing up to the Rector to protect the endowment funds. Up until the time of his removal, Dr. Lilley had been selected as Rector’s Warden to numerous rectors; each succeeding Rector selecting him to be their trusted liaison between them and the laity, which Dr. Lilley did admirably for those many years. However, he was fired in a fit of rage in the parish office in front of the Head Server, simply because he opposed the Rector’s spending of endowments on a salary – a curate’s position which had been unfunded for the 2 prior years, and a position which really is not necessary for such a small parish at this time. The trusted position of Rector’s Warden was then appointed to the Rector’s dearest friend and consort, who now has full access to funds, endowments, property, etc.. I might also add at this point, that particular friend and consort was (and, at this writing, is currently) unemployed, and lives with a certain former Vestryman who’s personal design business has profited from work he does for the parish.

The Vestry has tried very hard to work with the Rector, his new warden, and the Property Chairman (another consort who lives with the Rector’s Warden and his partner, the former Vestryman with the personal design business), even trying to negotiate and meet their demands half-way, but to no avail. Every attempt was resisted and pushed aside by the Rector. He wanted what he wanted and would not be swayed from it one bit. For whatever reason, and at whatever cost, he had to have a Curate (almost to the point of an obsession). The fact remained, however, that the money was not (and is not) there for another position, even after the Rector attempted to raise the funds for the past year (having failed to raise even half the amount needed). Rather than letting it go and making the best of it, he and his consort continue to contact the corporation’s attorney in attempts to get around legal Vestry decisions, thus plunging the parish further into debt, then telling anyone who will listen to him that “the Vestry continues to run up attorney fees, even though they can’t pay for a curate.”

The next truth to be unveiled: the Hows and Whys the parish moves away from the use of the Anglo-Catholic traditions which are slowly being replace with … well, nothing.

To be continued…