The Episcopal Church will make sure that any property it sells is not intended for use by parishes that plan to affiliate with other Anglican provinces, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said Sept. 30 on a visit to Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.
Asked if she were satisfied with the agreement by the Diocese of the Rio Grande to sell St. Clement Pro-Cathedral in El Paso, Texas, to the congregation, Bishop Schori said she had recommended two stipulations.
“I’ve told them that my two concerns are that the congregation not set up as another part of the Anglican Communion and that there is some reasonable assurance that it’s a fair sale,” she said.
Bishop Jefferts Schori spoke to reporters before appearing on Grace Cathedral’s Forum, a weekly program, broadcast on the Internet. Bishop Jefferts Schori appeared on the program with the Bishop of California, the Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus. She also preached at the 11 a.m. service.
The issue of control over property is becoming an increasing concern as parishes disaffected by The Episcopal Church's stance on homosexuality and other matters affiliate with more conservative bishops in other provinces.
Bishop Jefferts Schori’s concerns evidently have not been written into the sale agreement. Bishop Jefferts Schori said she has made herself clear to Bishop Jeffrey Steenson and the diocese, but that it’s “too soon to get a response.”
She said she has also made it clear that The Episcopal Church would scrutinize any sale of church property with the same concerns in mind.
”If a building is sold to a congregation, The Episcopal Church as a whole is not so concerned if it’s going to be a community church,” she said, although there must be assurances that stewardship was addressed and that the building was sold at fair market value. “But if a congregation purports to set up as another part of the Anglican Communion, we are concerned about that.”
Bishop Jefferts Schori attended the Rio Grande clergy conference Sept. 26, shortly after Bishop Steenson announced that he would resign and become a Roman Catholic. On Sept. 16, the parish of the Pro-Cathedral Church of St. Clement voted overwhelmingly to leave The Episcopal Church. Earlier the parish negotiated an agreement to buy the church property from the diocese for $2 million.
BB NOTE: In the Diocese of Virginia the Bishop has his name on some of the deeds (they are listed in the Report from Annual Council), but not on the deeds of every parish in Virginia. KJS assumes she has the authority to tell Diocesan bishops what to do (for on the properties that have their names on the deed it is their authority that counts in a court of law, not some person who's job is supposed to be to "preside" and not be a prelate - but TEC is turning 815 into a prelate's office, that's got to go over with a thud in Virginia, even with the properties the bishop does have his name on). But there are many properties that are in the name of the local parish - as is custom in Virginia, not only for the properties that predate the diocese (as in The Falls Church) but in the properties where the lands were given to the local parish, not to New York. Again, I wonder how local diocesan bishops are stomaching this grab for power where there has never been such a grab - not even from Frank Griswold who made it quite clear that property was a diocesan issue, not 815. This is the work of the lawyers, that seem to be running things at 815 now. Bishop Moore and Bishop Meade must be shaking their heads in heaven.