Delaware Cathedral to close

The Cathedral Church of St. John in Wilimington, Delaware, has voted to close after a request for ongoing funding from the Diocese to meet their shortfall was turned down.

Delaware online reports:

The Cathedral Church of St. John, a grand old granite church at 10 Concord Ave. that was started in Wilmington more than 150 years ago by Alexis Irenee du Pont and others, will close in July.

The decision was announced last Sunday following worship. This week, a letter was mailed to the cathedral’s 120 members.

“We have fought long and hard and have done everything possible to continue our worshipping congregation here at St. John’s, but reality says it is time to close,” wardens Tom Angell and Deborah Layton wrote in the letter.

It’s a decision that was not entirely a surprise, in that only special bequests have kept the church going, given that money from the congregation has fallen short each month by several thousand dollars.

A letter from the vestry posted on the Cathedral’s web-site says, in part:

The Cathedral has been on the verge of closing several times over the last five years as it has used up its reserves. During that period, several committees and working groups from the Cathedral and Diocese have looked at options and ideas for bringing in additional funds. The Cathedral has also reduced expenses dramatically in an effort to balance its budget.

Last year a proposal was presented to the Bishop and Council requesting assistance for the next five years to give the Cathedral additional time to resolve its membership and financial issues. In June, Bishop Wayne Wright reported to leaders of the Cathedral, Cathedral Community Services, and Cathedral Choir School (CCS) that the Diocese had turned down the request and would not provide any funds because, in order to do so, it would have to cease funding other programs already in place within the Diocese. The Bishop offered to be in dialogue with us and asked for a response to his letter, which was shared with the congregation in June.

The Cathedral Choir School and Cathedral Community Services have been an integral part of the proposal and discussions about ways to share in the expenses of the Cathedral and their respective programs. While CCS may be able to contribute some funds going forward, the Choir School does not have sufficient funds to contribute toward expenses of the building.

The Vestry and leaders of CCS and the Choir School have met numerous times since receiving the Bishop’s letter and, in August, the Bishop requested a meeting to determine the status of the Cathedral’s next steps.

After discussion with the Bishop and a close examination of the resources for the Cathedral — pledges, reserves, CCS contribution — on September 20, 2011 the Vestry recommended that the Cathedral close its operation at the end of the Brandywine Village Day Camp session in July 2012. The Choir School board will be actively seeking a new location for continuation of its vital program of music training, mentoring and support for young people.

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