Saturday, October 31, 2009

Property rights and the vote of the People on the line - Savannah News editorial sides with parish

"Christ Church in Savannah has always been locally owned. The church has never received financial support from the national organization. Savannahians paid for the construction of the church and the payment of its clergy.

A vote of the church membership - in the wake of serious doctrinal issues reaching even the unequivocal divinity of Christ - resulted in the separation of the local congregation from the national group.

The Episcopal Church, with the help of Superior Court Judge Michael Karpf, has seized property it neither paid for nor maintained in more than 275 years."

-Edward Fulford of The Savannah News

Here's the entire editorial from the Savannah News:

Imagine 50 years after the inception of the fictional Cape Charles Reporter in the mid-1800s, the paper joined an association of like-minded journalists.

This American Journalists Association, through support of a sister group, the European Newspaper Guild, founds a series of newspapers across the country.

Strong local support enables the Reporter to act as a donor member of the AJA, fostering the creation of still more newspapers and subsidizing less financially stable ones.

While the founders of the Cape Charles paper retain ownership of the building and press, and the local community funds the staff payroll, the coastal town's journalists so believe in the value of an informed public, they are willing to share of their excess.

Now flash forward a century.

Over time, the Cape Charles leaders and a majority of the staff come to differ with the AJA on ethical standards and operational goals.

Remember, all this time, money has never flowed from the AJA to the Reporter. The Reporter has always financially supported the national organization.

But a basic rift occurs. The local paper clings to the ideal of an unbiased newsroom staff. The AJA decides there is nothing wrong with its news stories advocating a political agenda.

The Reporter's publisher, editors and half the staff decide to break away from the AJA in order to preserve their understanding of the journalist's role. Others of the staff adhere to the policy of the national organization.

One might think the national organization would then start a new paper for its faithful Cape Charles members, or shift them to existing papers it had started over the years.

What would be inconceivable would be for the AJA - who through a series of decisions had separated itself from its own long-held tradition and the policy of the Reporter - to suddenly claim ownership of the local paper's valuable, historic building and press. Most would think an attempt to oust the newspaper's operators from the property they held before even the formation of the AJA to be a greedy, spiteful action in light of a century of outgoing support the local paper granted the national group.

So here's the question: How can the actions of the Episcopal Church be seen any differently?

Christ Church in Savannah has always been locally owned. The church has never received financial support from the national organization. Savannahians paid for the construction of the church and the payment of its clergy.

A vote of the church membership - in the wake of serious doctrinal issues reaching even the unequivocal divinity of Christ - resulted in the separation of the local congregation from the national group.

The Episcopal Church, with the help of Superior Court Judge Michael Karpf, has seized property it neither paid for nor maintained in more than 275 years.

In any other circumstance, such an abrogation of the local congregation's property rights would not be tolerated. That the seizure was carried out by religious leaders who have strayed from ironclad biblical teaching makes the heavy-handed action by both church and state that much harder to countenance.

The local leaders who have clung to their longtime beliefs have decided to appeal. I wish them strength in their fight toward ultimate success.

Edward Fulford is an editorial writer for the Savannah Morning News. Read it all here.

24 comments:

Robert said...

Well read, and well said!

Tregonsee said...

As always, it is important to keep in mind that the law is about the law, not right and wrong, except by a happy coincidence.

Fr. Daniel Weir said...

It is also important to keep in mind that it was as an Episcopal parish that Christ Church prospered over the years, benefiting in both obvious and not so obvious ways from that.

Anonymous said...

BabyBlueOnline - the ultimate trick or treat blog.
The world is easier in black and white, I'll give you that.

Anonymous said...

Troll Alert!

Sheila Zonmimind said...

What's a troll alert?

Anonymous said...

Every critique of BabyBlue's slashing, sometimes ad hominem style of commentary is a troll?

Mr. Kettle, there's a call from Mr. Pot.

oldmiler said...

Besides the obvious failure of Mr. Fulford's analogy -- he could benefit from a lesson in Anglican polity --someone needs to remind him that Christ Church was always of some diocese, from London to South Carolina to Georgia and therefore never "locally owned."

Robert said...

Oldmiler, you seem to be saying that the Dennis Canon is merely a restatement of established law and custom. Can you give examples?

BabyBlue said...

Well, we did have that little war with Merry Olde England about this very thing, as you may recall.

bb

Anonymous said...

The Revolutionary War was about congregationlism, the Dennis Canon, and puritanism?

Anonymous said...

A troll is someone who posts a comment, usually off topic, and designed to bait hostile responses.

Anon #1's comment is a perfect example - attacks the blogger with no reference to the subject.

BabyBlue said...

The Episcopal Church has been acting as though the American Revolution never happened. Prior to the American Revolution, the Church of England was the Established Church. When it was disestablished in the Commonwealth of Virginia, it was stripped of many of it's "lordship" faculties and when it was reorganized as the Diocese of Virginia was limited in its scope, including the scope of the bishop.

TEC is a church of dioceses - not a top-down church. The Presiding Bishop is not an Archbishop BY DESIGN. The American Revolution was fought for many reasons and when the Church of England was reorganized in the new United States, it carried with it the American patriot spirit, and where it didn't it did not survive. The loyalists fled.

bb

BabyBlue said...

Okay, let's just watching the throwing of the cream pies, friends. Feel free to throw pancakes and even popcorn, but no cream pies. Hagrid's looking a bit cross. And it is Halloween so he can get that way.

bb

Lapinbizarre said...

And, in the interest of objective journalism, Mr Fulford's connection to Christ Church is ....?

Robert said...

MadRabbit, your one question adds two more: Is objectivity, as command of the facts, less the issue than where one worships? Yes, if he is a member that would certainly be a factor in his wanting to write, but it seems the facts he brought out were just as factual if he happens to have been a member at the Assemblies or the local synagogue. Also, what motive to this question about objective journalism besides "objective journalism?" Rhetorical questions have their place, but we need not supplant truth with rhetoric.

Lapinbizarre said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lapinbizarre said...

Muddy away, Robert. Now back to the question - what connection, if any, has Fulford to Christ Church?

BabyBlue said...

I am noticing that you all are trying to keep the comments - though honest and heartfelt - perhaps a bit kinder. Thank you!! I know these issues are tough and we feel things deeply, thank you for your efforts. God willing, we are all going to be stuck with each other for eternity.

Just saying. :-)

bb

Robert said...

Lapin B., I have never been to Christ Church, do not know Mr. Fulford, have actually not been to Savannah in for some time now. Why you think I would know him escapes me. What I wonder is whether his church affiliation bears any weight on the facts, and if you suggest that Christ Church, membership at Christ Church would mean he is mentally or morally impaired? As an Episcopalian, it hurts me deeply to see our National Office attacking Christians for the sake of Real Estate.

Lapinbizarre said...

You're welcome, BB. Was a bit crabby earlier (time change maybe? - doubt it). Try to remember one's manners when one is a guest.

Lapinbizarre said...

I never assumed that you know Mr Fulford, Robert, and did not, so far as I can see, imply that you do. My question was addressed to anyone visiting this site who might be able to answer it.

Robert said...

BB, it seems our Mr. Bunny was just asking for no apparent reason.

Allen said...

What's ALWAYS amazing in the comments of the pensioned-institionalists' comments is that they never speak of why the Big Tent falls in. How they are expecting to have a Church without people. How they just want the stuff and just don't have any answers as to why less than 1/2 of TEC shows up in the pews on Sunday, or why thriving churches like Christ Church can't stomach the dreck coming out as clergy leadership these days. It's funny how the law gets bounced around but the apostolic commission and the thriving of the saints just isn't as important. The end is always the same: expect nothing from us to keep people coming, but give us the dough and stuff to keep the illusions alive.

What a rotten public image fueled by hardened revisionist hearts. The media is NOT on the side of such a leader.