The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports that the cathedral for the Diocese of West Tennessee is going through some belt tightening:
"There's a myth that the cathedral is crashing and burning, but it's not going under, it's not closing, and it's not for sale," Bishop Don Johnson said recently in an exclusive interview.Read it here.
At issue is an aging and shrinking congregation, resulting in diminished annual giving. And with fewer members, the
number of clergy and staffers needed to serve the congregation decreased.
From a peak membership of around 900 in the 1960s, St. Mary's now counts about 400 and averages 140 at weekly worship services. Half the congregation is age 60 and above and more than three-fourths are 50 and older.
To help cover expenses, the cathedral has dipped into its endowment fund, but that's not a sustainable solution.
"We made a conscious decision to be transparent about the financial condition of the cathedral in this parish and beyond. It must be able to address the needs of its Sunday worshipers as well as the hundreds who come here for special diocesan events," Johnson said. "Truth-telling is important, but it comes with a price. We've gone through the 'Let's get real' phase and now we're in the 'What's next' phase."
See, also, today's story in The Living Church about the closing of the cathedral in Diocese of Western Michigan.