Keith Ackerman asks Anglicans to rally round to support an embattled urban mission
December 7, 2017
Feast of St. Ambrose
Beloved in Christ,
I have received numerous questions about the recent break-ins at St. Timothy Church, where I have been serving since January 2012, at the request of my friend, the Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker, SSC, Bishop of Fort Worth. Many of you are aware that the priest and many of the people left St. Timothy’s on December 31, 2011, to become members of another Communion, and that since
2012 we have had massive rebuilding a restoration to do. All of the buildings were in disrepair, many items were missing, minimal security existed, and years of delayed maintenance had a profound effect. Since then the membership has grown, the parish is now home to two other ministries, and national events are occurring on the campus. Virtually every room, in
every usable building, has been remodeled and restored. When the organ escalated in the death process, a newer organ became available, and by virtue of the generosity of many friends outside the parish, and the generosity of our own members, we now have a fully functional organ. The three houses on the property that are unusable, are primarily unusable by virtue of several decades of neglect and then numerous break-ins, whereby all copper wiring, all furnaces, all plumbing and all appliances have been stolen. The break-ins are numerous, but generally successive, so if a break-in produces less than a $5000 loss with each incident, there is no insurance money forthcoming. For other “natural” disasters (which have occurred) it is a $10,000 deductible. Once we have recovered from each loss, we begin saving to make a repair or purchase a more sophisticated security system. Due to the generosity of others we have a security system and bars on the windows in our Parish House, but no cameras. As a result, when the electric meter was removed by vandals last month, and the wiring
removed, the alarm did not sound.
The Police have told us that we need security cameras that have lighting attached, but we simply cannot afford that. We have begged the City of Fort Worth not to tax our three unusable buildings – buildings we had hoped to restore – but to no avail. We receive notices from the City of Fort Worth, asking us to maintain our properties. If people would stop dumping their
garbage on our properties, and if vandals would not leave remnants of their thefts strewn on our property, we could comply.
Having two significant break-ins within 48-72 hours has been devastating. I am writing this letter, in part, to respond to a request from the Dean of the Deanery in which St. Timothy’s is located, who asked “What can we do?”.
Thus far we have had two irreplaceable High Altar Candle Sticks stolen, two Benediction Candelabra, the original Parish Chalice, three “boats” for incense, two silver cruets, a silver lavabo bowl, two vacuum cleaners, several silver trays for credence shelf items, and cleaning supplies. In addition to smashing two windows for access, vinyl siding on the ParishHouse has once again been ripped in an attempted to find wiring and plumbing. This is on the heels of over $20,000 damage in October to one of the three houses which we had hoped to restore. In addition, some lighting fixtures have been stolen or destroyed.
Obviously, with no money coming from the insurance company, we have two issues: replacing what has been stolen, and securing what we have. While we have a good security system but with no lights or cameras that contacts the security company, thieves know the long response time of the police, and so they simply work quickly. The Police response time last Saturday was nearly 9 hours. We also live in a neighborhood where the Wi Fi signals are very low, only one company offers service in the neighborhood, and I do most of my telephone calls standing outside by the bell tower, since the cell phone
coverage is very limited.
Finally, what we need is to find people who would be willing to do a Domestic Mission, whereby they would need not to go overseas, but rather come onto the campus (which as some of you know is a very large campus) and help to restore buildings so that they can be lived in and used. As one police officer said, “You need to have people living in those houses.” When
I took him inside the houses, he could see easily that no one can live in them due to the vandalism.
In the end – please pray. This is a very frightening experience, and people come to churches to escape the daily conflicts they have – not to encounter more. This parish will continue to grow, and it will bring in even more people to add to the remarkable kind and devoted parishioners already here.
Thank you for asking!!!!
Sincerely yours In Christ,
Bishop Keith L. Ackerman
The Rt. Rev Keith L. Ackerman, SSC, VIIIth Bishop of Quincy (ret)
Vicar, St. Timothy Church 4201 Mitchell Blvd. Fort Worth, Texas 76119