From The Living Church:
One of the largest congregations in The Episcopal Church, St. Andrew’s Church of Mt. Pleasant, S.C., may by December become one of the largest congregations to renounce its Episcopal ties.
On Oct. 11, St. Andrew’s will begin a 40 Days of Discernment program to discuss whether it should sever ties with The Episcopal Church. The congregation will vote on Dec. 9-16, after spending a week in prayer and fasting.
The Rev. Steve Wood, rector of St. Andrew’s since 2000, wrote to all members of the parish on September 4 to announce the program. The letter included the signatures of 36 other congregational leaders, including all current staff and nine senior wardens whose service dates back to 1989.
“Since 2003 I have felt compromised by continued association with a denomination that I consider to be apostate,” Fr. Wood told The Living Church.
He said he does not know of any significant group in St. Andrew’s that wants to remain affiliated with The Episcopal Church. When he interviewed to become rector, Fr. Wood said, both the search committee and the vestry asked if he was open to separation from The Episcopal Church.
Fr. Wood's predecessor was the Rev. Terrell Glenn, who is now a bishop of the Anglican Church in the Americas and rector of AMiA’s mother church, All Saints’, Pawleys Island, S.C.
“We’re going into this with as open a mind as we can,” Fr. Wood said. “There's a little risk in there. You never know what God might say.”
On its most recent parochial report, St. Andrew’s listed 2,698 baptized members, 2,520 members in good standing and an average Sunday attendance of 1,515. Fr. Wood says another 500 to 700 people are active givers who will not join the church formally because of its affiliation with The Episcopal Church.
Fr. Wood was one of three nominees when the diocese elected the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence as its 14th bishop in September 2006. Fr. Wood said he gave advance notice of the program to Bishop Lawrence, and will keep lines of communication open.
Fr. Wood said the founding of the Anglican Church in North America was a significant factor in the church's decision to begin the 40 Days of Discernment program.
“We have a home port we can sail into now,” he said.
Fr. Wood praised the 40 Days of Discernment curriculum because sections of it reflect the writing style of the Rev. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church in Virginia.
“The material has a very Yatesian feel to it,” he said. “It's gentle, straightforward and non-accusatory. The material itself will be very appropriate for the people of St. Andrew’s.”
Read it all here.
MONDAY NIGHT UDPATE: What crisis? Looks like it's time to post this one, off Dylan's latest album. There's nothing to worry about cause it's all good.
A slight correction to the article: The writer notes 9 former senior wardens dating back to 1989 signed the document. Actually, that should be 12: Mike Hughes, Sr. Warden 2008 & 2009 is listed under the current vestry section; George Brewer, Sr. Warden 1992 & 1993 is currently serving on the vestry and is listed there, and Lewis Middleton, Sr. Warden, 1997 is on staff and listed there.
As much as I appreciated the language of the letter itself, the number of Sr. Warden's dating back 21 years is perhaps the most impressive and weighty dimension of this invitation. Clearly, there is very strong lay leadership to join the strong clergy leadership - and all shaped by a common vision.
Oh, St. Andrew's...
You're going to get sued, and you're going to lose. Don't follow the Yates model. Abandon the property and move on. The cost will be lower, in every sense.
BBO, Please stop the misinformation. Your title states, "One of the largest Episcopal congregations in the United States takes steps to sever ties with The Episcopal Church." There is NO canonical method available for an Episcopal congregation to sever ties with a Diocese or a Church. The ONLY means available is for individual members to transfer membership to another parish or non-episcopal congregation or just to leave! Which is exactly what Rev. Wood and his minions should do. Set down the keys and walk away. If there is any severing it would be the act of a Diocese in convention.
One of the principle reasons this movement continues as it does is the mistaken impression that clergy pass along to the laity -- in the case of St. Andrew's, the wardens have helped -- that the parish and its property is something like their possession to be conveyed to some purer clime.
One wonders what other errors in thinking the clergy -- and a senior warden or two -- have provided to mislead the people.
“The material has a very Yatesian feel to it,” he said. “It's gentle, straightforward and non-accusatory."
Has he read the "40 Days of Discernment" material?
Has he heard the Yates sermon comparing TEC to African kings who rape little boys? (I have.)
A lot of these events are indeed clergy led. In the larger Northern Virginia parishes, the clergy and vestry choreographed the exodus for quite some time and in great detail before herding the lambs out the door. As oldmiller indicates, however, not a lot of planning is necessary - one just leaves and finds a more spiritually congenial home. I think much of the plotting has to do with efforts to take control of real property and assets. I am hoping that Bishop Lawrence lowers the boom on these people quickly and more effectively than Bishop Lee did in Virginia. It is almost criminal to allow the good people in the pews to have any illusions that they can leave and stay at the same time.
Interesting group's come into the cafe this morning.
Once again, we have to correct the facts in Virginia. Bishop Lee participated not only in creating the Protocol for Departing Congregations in the Diocese of Virginia - his own chancellor wrote the darn thing - but also participated himself and authorized the Standing Committee to participate in my own parish's 40 Days of Discernment. Bishop Lee's video is available on the 40 Days of Discernment website. Let's just remember that, okay?
Is it now criminal for thousands to vote according to the laws of a state? Is that what this is coming to?
Bisho Lee should have sued Truro the day they changed their corporate documents. His patience was commendable. And fruitless, given the unrelenting pressure to leave by the clergy (mostly wanna be but unelectable as bishops). The protocol hymn you sing is tired and worn. It was never approved by the bodies that needed to approve it. It was a dead letter. And the fact that Bishop Lee had a five minute part in it is akin to the fifteen minutes diocesan reps were given at the departing churches the day before the vote. Hardly equal air time.
That is past, but is also prologue. Whether Lawrence sues or not, rest assured the PB will. And should.
I think the reason you find an "interesting crowd" in your blog is because folks have had enough of your nonsensical spouting of preplanned, well lawyered and consultant driven propaganda. But I don't know that - I just think it may be the case, BabyBlue.
"we have to correct the facts in Virginia"
You do a lot of things to the facts on this blog, BB, few of which can properly be termed "correct"ing. As with the Protocol.
The Protocol was, at a minimum, half Diocese written and half CANA folks written. In retrospect, I think it's clear that they were operating on two different frequencies: the Diocese was writing for what might be the foundation for settlement talks, and the CANA folks were writing for what their lawyers could use as evidence.
Bishop Lee's role in the Protocol was limited to appointing the committee and saying "Thanks for the report. I'll pass it on to the Standing Committee and Executive Board" (where, as NC points out, it died a hasty death, even before Beers and the PB came along to put the final nail in its coffin). Not to mention, of course, that the CANA Congregations followed the Protocol only so far as it would help with their lawsuits.
By turning on a Diocese that did extraordinary things to accommodate them for years, the CANA Congregations insured that the only bishops who will ever be so tolerant in the future are those, like +Lawrence, who are entirely in the CANA theological camp anyway. Congratulations on that, BB.
Means, "South of Broad", as is old Charleston, Downtown.
I'm a South of Broad Episcopalian.
To presume that those in NoVA were lambs following blindly shows you to be getting your information third handedly. We were all very well informed as to the reasons and the possible range of outcomes.
Had my church not voted to leave, I would no longer be there and I suspect that a majority of the congregation would be gone as well.
You are free to dislike us - please just don't insult our intelligence.
THANK GOD for you, sir!!
I have always wanted to have a house like yours, so I will be taking up residency in your home between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Of course, I will assume no part of the upkeep of your home, nor its liabilities. I'll help to keep it clean. My uber-irritating and unChristian habits will probably get on your last nerve after about 5 years at which time you are free to leave the keys on the table and just leave.
So says the LUDICROUS Dennis Canon which claimed what was never claimed before that day.
The tide is definitely against believing that such theft is not theft.
I forgot to add that I hope that you allow sex outside of marriage since that will be the new House Rule for your home, and I fully expect your acceptance and eventual blessing of that private activity. Some of the cookie jar money will go to perform abortions, so I am relying on you to not object. If this isn't acceptable you might want to leave a bit earlier if you can't keep quiet about it.
BTW: I snore.
No, DavidH, the Protocol was written by the Bishop's and Diocese of Virginia's own chancellor, Russ Palmore (of Troutman Sanders) in consultation with the Bishop's personally appointed "Special Committee" which included a representative (the rector of The Falls Church) from the group of 20+ rectors and vicars who met in an unprecedented summit with Bishop Lee at Truro in September 2005. Russ Palmore was appointed by the Bishop to chair the Special Committee. The Special Committee included the former chair of the Standing Committee (and candidate for Bishop of Virginia) and chair of the Diocese of Virginia's Reconciliation Commission which identified that the Diocese of Virginia was in a Level 5 Conflict, as well as the former Chancellor of the Diocese of Virginia and a Trustee of Truro Church.
BB, please check your facts before posting. There were 6 members of the Special Committee. All were appointed by Bishop Lee. 3 represented the Diocese (Palmore, Caroline Parkinson, and Andrew Merrow) and 3 represented the TFC/Truro faction (John Yates, Tom Yates, and Hugo Blankinship). The people on both sides had significant credentials.
Regarding who wrote what, we can presume drafts were exchanged. There is no public testimony about authorship, as far as I can recall. But it is fanciful at best and a distortion at worst to think that Palmore wrote some of the things in that report.
Subsequent events make very clear, I think, that the TFC / Truro people dealt with the Special Committee report in accordance with what their lawyers wanted (just like a number of other things they did with the Diocese over their last few years, including the Reconciliation Commission). When it came time to go to court, they had all the things they'd planted in those reports. What's more, anything Bishop Lee and the Diocese had done for them over the years (i.e. not making an issue of non-contribution, appointing a few successive commissions and committees, appointing others for episcopal visits), they turned around and used against the Diocese. Successful in a legal sense? So far. Open, honest, and appropriate treatment of those who treated them well? Hardly.
But let's get back to the point here. I presume your commenting detour into beating your usual dead horses means you have no comment / response to my first post above.
To me, TRURO, FALLS CHURCH, etc., etc., etc. have spoken. The Dennis Canon to legalize denominational theft & grab of parish property just goes to show that TEC isn't at all about people, a big tent, toleration, or any such thing. It's about power. Apparently it's OK to lose 10s of thousands of members just so long as the sorry bunch who run this Church get propped up in their "me agenda" by the sales of the property of others who tried and failed to stay loyal to a Church run by highly questionable people.
Again, for those of you "for" such "canonical" theft from parishes, I put you on notice now that I lay claim on your home.
If THAT is ludicrous, then so is a questionable Dennis Canon, whose paper trail was suspiciously vague, and whose operation has yet to be in line with state laws.
So BabyBlue, I guess you made some panicky calls to your faithful?
Allen - keep drinking th koolade.
RalphM - what's wrong with you? Have you no sense of decency?
You people are jackals.
Except for BabyBlue. She brays like a walrus.
The Lakeland Two says...
BB, you apparently hit yet another nerve. You've had this same conversation so many times we've lost count! Seems like their responses are boiler plate or copy and paste.
I find it just simply amazing that democracy is tossed out the window unless it's in their favor. Double standard.
Anon at 6:47 pm made me laugh. Has the nerve to chew RalphM out about decency yet is insulting to everyone. Then insults you their host (or maybe the walrus...I haven't heard BB sing! ;-) )
Jackals? Wow. Anon, you might want to look at what Jesus had to say about doing what you just did. Then take a good look in the mirror and ask how that pleased God.
Oh, we didn't get any calls. We just showed up.
Thanks again, BB, for what you do. Nothing is more apparent than what I was taught and what these people were taught are night and day.
I believe that's what I said in the post above, DavidH - six members were appointed by Bishop Lee following the meeting of over 20 rectors/associate rectors and vicars at Truro in Sept. 2005:
(1)Russ Palmore was appointed by the Bishop to chair the Special Committee. The Special Committee "included a representative (2)(the rector of The Falls Church) (3)former chair of the Standing Committee (and candidate for Bishop of Virginia) and (4)chair of the Diocese of Virginia's Reconciliation Commission" as well as the (5)former Chancellor of the Diocese of Virginia and a (6)Trustee of Truro Church.
I count six people appointed by Bishop Lee to his own "Special Committee" (or what he referred to at first as the "get on with it" committee). I think I was clear there. I don't understand why you say I should check my facts before posting since that is what I posted?
We still seem to have some denial going on that it was the Chancellor of the Diocese of Virginia who wrote the Protocol in consultation with the Special Committee. He would consult with the members until the language was agreed to, but he actually wrote it.
One of the earlier proposals would be that a 16th Region in the Diocese of Virginia would be created with a bishop appointed for oversight. But that didn't make it and when All Saints Dale City voted to separate in the spring of 2006, it was the first test of the protocol before it reached its final form. However, at that time Frank Griswold was still Presiding Bishop and held the view that these were diocesan matters.
Bishop Lee's role in the committee was not "limited to appointing the committee and saying "Thanks for the report. I'll pass it on to the Standing Committee and Executive Board." In fact, he attended at least one of the Special Committee meetings. The Special Committee was created in response to the rectors meeting at Truro in Sept. 2005. It was during the Hope & Future Conference in Pittsburgh in Oct/Nov. of 2005 that Bishop Lee announced his appointments.
Remember, I had just finished my second term as president of the Diocese of Virginia Region VII in 2005. I attended the 2005 Diocesan Council as a delegate representing Region VII.
The point of the whole thing was to "remain in as close a communion as possible." That had been the charge and one that I embraced. I had and continue to have no desire to divorce or start a new denomination. This is a separation, not a divorce. But since we are at a document Level Five Conflict, it seems to me that until we can re-establish trust we will not be able to take any steps forward. The crisis continues, it shows no signs of abating.
Let's unpack your comments, BB.
First, the idea that the Special Committee was anything other than a meeting of two sides in conflict, with a sheen of civility (quickly lost when CANA churches went to court and enraged the rest of the Diocese), is an implication you lay down that should not be picked up by anyone reading your comments.
Whether Russ Palmore drafted the protocol doesn't matter. What matters is that drafts were exchanged, and they were reviewed by CANA lawyers one can be sure. And so what if Palmore drafted it? What does that matter? It was up to the Executive Board and Standing Committee to approve it. The Executive Board "received" it (which you initially, incorrectly reported as the Executive Board having "adopted" or "approved" it). The Standing Committee declined to adopt it.
All Saints, Dale City may have been a test from their point of view, but the Standing Committee rewrote the deal, word on the street has it. And they found Guernsey as having abandoned the communion of the church shortly later. The PB had nothing to do with that.
This is a separation? That's why your crew sought to go to court and use a statute to take diocesan property away? That doesn't sound like a "separation" but the way to start a war. And that you did.
That you continued to serve as president of a region while you were part of the planning to separate says much about your integrity.
You want to re-establish trust? Leave the Diocese alone. The broader leadership of the Diocese is tired of having you trash the church, especially when you are on the outside, throwing rocks in. Quit calling people names, as you have several times on this blog.
And there is no crisis. You've left. The Diocese is forced to try to retain (rightfully) its property. The case is in appeals - a decision will come, one way or the other. The Diocese is moving on and done with you.
Yell crisis, fire up your folks. It's your right. But I think you could spend more time writing about the positive things your new church is doing in mission rather than either hammer at the Episcopal Church and the Diocese or announce governance changes in your coalition as a way to demonstrate momentum. Mission matters, not the stuff you announce as big events.
Thanks for letting me write. God bless.
It was not bb that took this thread away from the original story, but rather the first Anon posting that brought in the VA conflicts. bb did nothing more than respond to accusations.
When DioVA and TEC cease their litigation, I personally will have nothing more to say other than to wish them peace to contemplate their role in the Church universal.
Anon 2112: I think the litigation will end promptly once the departing parishioners abandon efforts to retain the property. The involvement of the Diocese and the TEC is defensive and reacts to those efforts. No one disputes that BB and others should be able to leave if they wish to do so. My first post ("the first Anon", as you phrase it) was drawing parallels between this particular parish in South Carolina and the situation that occurred in Virginia a couple of years ago. I think it closely parallel and not too much of a departure from the import of the post. My hope is that Bishop Lawrence shows more strength and clarity than did Bishop Lee (whom I admire as a gentle Christian) and makes clear to the parishioners at St. Andrews that this is a very high risk action that will not be countenanced at the Diocesan level. I am in no position (and I find it not particularly relevant) to engage with BB on the ins and outs of the Virginia experience re who did what when. The ultimate point in Virginia is that the Standing Committee did not approve any kind of buy-out. Anyone can leave. Any group can leave and found a new church. Just don't grab stuff on your way out. I would work with and financially support any of my former co-parishioners who felt they need to establish a separate church. I have no particular disagreement with them theologically. But their lust for stuff and their lack of sensitivity for those who did not leave at the old place is offensive.
Sorry I missed your signature at the end of your first post. In VA, ownership hinges strongly on who paid for the property in question. Implied trusts are not recognized.
It's in the courts. Let's hope justice is served.
Johnson McKay, you have timeline all mixed up - remember, Bishop Lee's Special Committee was created in 2005. It met regular for a year - a year. It was created when Frank Griswald was still the Presiding Bishop and the Diocese of Virginia enjoyed an autonomy that was lost with the elevation of Katharine Jefferts Schori to PB.
Of course it matters that Russ Palmore drafted the Protocol - he carried with him the authority of the Bishop of Virginia and the Diocese of Virginia as the chancellor. This is Virginia. He wasn't some hired hack, he was the bishop and the Standing Committee's closest legal advisor. Wouldn't you trust him?
Yes, I have written that the Standing Committee received the report. They attempted to amending but Bishop Lee pleaded with them that they take as is - this again was BEFORE Bishop Schori was seated as the PB.
No, the Standing Committee did not rewrite the deal for All Saints to separate with their property - their new property and to be free to remain on their current property until their new church is built. It was a joint effort and a test case for how we would take the next steps if our parishes did indeed vote to separate from The Episcopal Church.
Again, Russ Palmore was deeply involved and at that time was not only the chancellor of the Diocese of Virginia but also served as an elected member of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church. Again, however, Bishop Schori had not even been elected yet as General Convention had not yet convened when the All Saints agreement was made.
Again, the CANA churches did not go to court. The votes were expected. Bishop Lee instituted his Property Committee, as was expected after the votes were taken. There had been a lot of negotiation all ready on whether the churches would pool together to negotiate the property issues or if each church would negotiate individually. It was finally decided that the bishop would appoint his negotiators to the Property Committee and then each of the parishes that had voted to separate would elect two representatives. In the case of my parish, our two representatives had just been elected with David Booth Beers entered the diocese from the new Presiding Bishop's office in Manhattan.
When I finished my second term as president of Region VII, the Bishop's Special Committee had only met a few times and there was still great hope that we would find some resolution, including the possibility that the Diocese of Virginia would create a 16th Region with a bishop appointed for oversight of that region which would be made up of churches that were in crisis. I had finished my final term by leading a year long study of the Reconciliation Comission's report, with each council being devoted to exploring the findings of that report. I don't know of any other region that studied the Reconciliation Commission's report - in fact, I don't know of any other organization in the diocese that studied it. Our study included hearing presentations from commission members, from the chair (who would go on to serve on the Special Committee), and from the Professor of Church History from Virginia Theological Seminary. It was very serious. Let's just make that clear.
There was indeed a crisis, as Bishop Lee heard himself, personally, when he went to Truro in the fall of 2005 and met with over 20 rectors, associate rectors and vicars who were in crisis. He followed that meeting by meeting with the Vestry of Truro Church and heard close up and personal more of the crisis we were experiencing in our parish over the actions of General Convention 2003. He heard the appeal and this led to his decision to create the Special Committee that sought how we could remain in as close a communion as possible. It was with that vision and a year's worth of meetings that Russ Palmore wrote the final draft of the Protocol for departing congregations.
The congregations who voted filed their votes - as was expected - with the state, as the law required. However, since we thought we were going into negotiations (and we actually believed we all ready owned the property so there was no need to take additional steps) we did not take any other action. We did not transfer property, we did not file any lawsuits, we merely filed the results of our votes which were called petitions.
I cannot begin to describe to you the shock that this was all lost in a matter of days in January 2007. It was Katharine Jefferts Schori who actually filed the first lawsuits against nearly 200 people, followed a few days later by the Diocese of Virginia filing separate lawsuits against the same nearly 200 people. It was the Circuit Court that decided to take up the petitions first and set the lawsuits aside, after strongly suggesting that TEC and DoV withdrawn the personal suits against the 200 people, which they did, but with prejudice, which means they could sue all those people again.
As it stands, all the churches in Virginia remain in their property. I would say these churches have moved on, Truro's just bought a new organ to be installed in its main church with money raised completely from the generosity of the people in the pews this summer. There certainly a sense that we are moving on. Truro is taking part in the Fairfax City's Fall for the Book celebration this coming weekend. Yes, we're moving on.
But nothing is resolved. The hope we had to remain in as a close a communion possible seems to be pipe dream. Bishop Lee seems to have given up hope, moving as far from Virginia he can and still remain in the continental United States.
The crisis remains - it is spreading through the Anglican Communion. The actions of General Convention this summer made things worse, as we see in the actions being taken by our sister church in South Carolina. To take a dismissive tone, to wave the hand and say, "there's no crisis" is an amazing stance of denial, don't you think? The public statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury himself illustrates that he is envisioning a two-tiered Anglican Communion and it will be very interesting to see who finally ends up at the table.
PS We are known to write about Bob Dylan around here from time to time, you know. ;-) But as Dylan might say, "it's all good." In fact, it might be time to add that song to this post.
Whomever wishes that there is no crisis outside of BB's Northern Virginia need only look at our pews at another parish here in southwestern Virginia.
We've tracked our bishop's voting decisions and activities and have found him nearly impossible to tolerate in quiet politeness anymore.
Not only did Neff Powell vote for Gene Robinson, but he voted for SSBs, developing SSB liturgies, for Thew Forrester, and now this Summer he voted to allow bishops to have "generous discretion" to change the meaning of marriage from the Prayer Book definition.
Just when we were contemplating that blow out came the Summer 2009 edition of Planned Parenthood's newsletter. There he is....painting the inside of an abortion clinic in Roanoke, Virginia.
Nope. No crisis. ...if you're blind and duped.
Ralph = a lot of people paid for the properties in question. Not sure how one would sort that out. A vote per dollar donated? In older parishes those who paid go back a couple of centuries. In any event, I have not heard it suggested that the legal issue of ownership in Virginia will be decided on any basis that resembles toting up dollars paid by those who depart against those who did not.
BB: under Virginia law, the petitions filed by departing parishioners were filed for the purpose of claiming title to the property. But for that purpose and effect, they would not have been filed. Once filed with the courts, we, sigh, were off on a litigation track that continues to this day. Not sure what all the other play-by-play has to do with anything. It seemed very predictable early in 2007, well before any of the parish votes, that efforts to take control of property by departing groups would lead to contention, particularly in the larger, more historic parishes. I personally feel that the Diocese handled it far too ambiguously and should have been sending sterner signals, but I also feel that folks leaving should have had the wisdom and decency to leave. to leave. I felt that way at the time so, in my case at least, this is not 20/20 hindsight. I suspect that had a those departing groups left in late 2007, there is a chance that at least Truro would have been in a good position to negotiate access to the former property after some months had passed on terms that would be far superior to the utter waste of litigation that has afflicted all concerned and without the moral and ethical taint that has attended what should have been a noble stand taken on principle.
BB is right on all this. There were negotiations and an understanding with the bishop and chancellor, evidenced by the protocol - you can look it up - that the property issues would be settled, undoubtedly with a large payment. Truro, TFC and the parishes in question were all proceeding to leave on that basis. No one had to approve the protocol but the bishop - not the standing committee. The standing committee was only required to pass on the sale of the property. That is what the protocol says, which is not surprising since it was written by the bishop's chancellor. It is not ambiguous. Go read it. And read the canons and see what the bishop's and the standing committee's respective authority are.
Then things changed. I don't know why the diocese reneged, it just did. Lee in his deposition said that what was different was that there was a new sheriff in town, Schori - again, you can look it up. Or maybe the revisionists just took charge in the standing committe and decided to punish those evangelicals and to back out of the deal. Maybe Lee was just stringing the orthodox along, hoping to kick the can down the road, and when instead people took him at his word and acted on it, he bailed out.
I don't know why supporters of the diocese feel they need to deny that the bishop, the chancellor and even the standing committee were aware of all of this all along and then simply reneged on the deal. It sounds like Blutto in Animal House: "you [screwed] up - you trusted us!"
Pretty sad comment on the decline of the diocese of Virginia to be practicing and defending such dishonesty, but there is the state of the episcopal church.
And also the initial filing of the votes in the court by the parishes was allowed by the diocese under the standstill agreement, it was no surprise - again, you can look it up.
I've never expected to have a role in the continuing decisions of any church to which I've donated $$ in the past. I'm assuming you are not seriously suggesting it should be otherwise.
These are God's properties and we can do only what we feel led to do after prayerful consideration. Decisions belong to those who are members of the church at the time the question is called.
To allow those who have supported the church in the past (but are no olonger members) a voice in decisions, churches could follow a corporate model and issue common stock for all contributions. That would be interesting.
No Ralph. I'm certainly not suggesting that at all. I was responding to your earlier comment that we can determine ownership by toting up who paid for what. That principle might work with some equity and justice in a context where we have a very new church, a church whose members are all active continuing participants and contributors, and who all (complete unanimity) decide to change their affiliations (particularly if it is a non-hierarchical church, like some of these stand-alone, non-denominational churches). But that situation doesn't really exist very frequently. In Virginia, we have some very old churches where elements have elected to depart (sometimes in overwhelming numbers - and issue that reflects on process, not something that I will digress into here), and some have elected not to depart. The ones who depart can't really be claiming the property because it is "God's Property" as you suggest in your 0950 comment, because there is no objective way to determine that God has granted them trusteeship over his property at the expense of those who do not elect to leave. If the test of God's ownership is the view "those who are members of the church at the time the question is called" this does not account for the fact that there have been various views on the advisability of separation from the previous denomination. You might say that God's Will will be reflected by the larger number of votes, but that sounds much more like a secular notion of governance, than a window on God's Mind. There have been many instances in Christian history where correct theology has been a decidedly minority view (often with disastrous physical consequences for the minority).
I know I am a bit of broken record on this, but the wiser, more ethically coherent course on this strikes me as being that those who wish to leave (for whatever reason, from lofty to base) should leave. Build a new church, not a new kitchen for a lawyer.
BTW, the corporate model you mention is at least a little bit relevant to the discussion. I've discussed this situation with a number of my observant Jewish friends. After a certain amount of good-natured ribbing about how nasty Christians can be about other Christians, they offer up the fact (I assume it to be a fact) that synagogues are often owned corporately, by something akin to shares. When someone or a group of someones leave, they just redeem their holdings and move on. I'm willing to be corrected on this last point - I have not verified it, but it seems relevant to your last point.
Broken record indeed. Leave and leave the property because that's what suits the new TEC.
Those of us objecting are the old TEC. We really are the stayers. Keeping the old traditions.
On some level, Scout, yep, we should just leave and shake the dirt off our sandals. Yet, why should those keeping the faith as received HAVE to leave the buildings THEY built and maintain?
Scout, you are personally affected, as you said. But why is it that TEC can go off on this new thing - with majority votes that don't necessarily correspond to reality nationwide, yet you want to preserve the building for a handful? This didn't happen overnight but was by strategy and design. Votes taken over the years said no, and no again. No was never taken as a final answer. Now that strategy has a majority, the minority must leave? And where the minority is majority leave the building behind?
It is an inconsistent view.
And keeping it does build the lawyers the new kitchen and the boat and the plane. If you feel so strongly about that, why don't you bend? Why must it be the conservatives that must bend every single time?
If you feel so strongly and like what you're worshiping so much these days, how about you go build the new church for the new thing? Do what you want others to do.
9:56 AM directly above was a comment delivered to you from ...
The Lakeland Two.
Scout at 11:29 PM:
While we may not be able to tally up who paid what over the years, we can, with certainty in my church, establish that DioVA paid essentially nothing. TEC (national) paid absolutely nothing. These are the parties that are suing to take possession of the buildings, and they have no proof of ownership save a canon that may have been passed.
Regarding buying land and building a new church: Good idea if you are in an area where there is buildable land. Not the case in my church. Regardless of who wins, the VA churches will never again be viable TEC churches. There are simply not enough on the losing side of the departure vote to support the buildings.
TL@: I not only "like what I'm worshipping", I love what (Whom) I'm worshipping. My relationship with God has matured significantly in recent years, despite all these earthly distractions.
As for the rest of your post, I couldn't make hide nor hair out of it.
The Lakeland Two says...
Very simply, Scout, your view is insconsistent. The only view you have is TEC to win. Period. If TEC's the majority, then you support TEC. If TEC is in the minority, you support TEC. And you don't give a hoot for the former majority, now a minority of dissenters who have dissented through the years. Keep the church open for a minority of even one of the new thing, even if it can't support the facilities. And everyone else can just go ... but leave the property. And don't even think about trying to negotiate...it goes to the ONE in TEC. Unless, of course, it is the minority in control like the dioceses of San Joaquin, etc. Fork it all over to TEC. If you can't understand that, it's because your view is insconsistent and illogical.
Last part wasn't that hard to understand. Why don't you go build a new church for your form of worship instead of demanding the rest of us hand you ours.
I am doing that, TL2, but what you call "ours" is as much mine as yours.
I do care about the voting majority. I share many of their views. I just don't share their ethics. Had they left and gone to worship in a gymnasium, I might have gone with them. I was repulsed, however, by their insistence that they leave and stay at the same time. Frankly, I don't think it has much to do with majority/minority dynamics. The process was so cooked that a lot of people decided just to vote for whomever they thought would keep their mitts on the building. And I have no idea what it means "to win" in this context. Everyone loses.
The Lakeland Two says...
That everyone is losers is something we agree with you on, Scout. We understand your situation. Unfortuanately, it is the "democratic" process theat got TEC where it is. We feel that process was cooked and abused. You are the minority where you are and it's not an easy place.
However, with lawsuits in place - which are not biblical - you have the hope of getting the building back. That's a form of keeping the mitts on the building, isn't it? But what would concern me is the spiritual warfare effects over that property at that point. To me it would be a hallow victory. Us l2 personally would give you the building. Because of what Jesus said. If you/whoever want the cloak, here's my tunic, too. I'll work on forgiving whoever for wanting it that badly.
Where we are, when the time comes - and it will, TEC will get the building, the diocese. Those who have left the diocese have mostly left without property. That's after all the years of being told that we didn't have to worry about it when I was a kid, a teen, a young adult. Yes, I feel we were lied to. That is where my anger comes from.
I've watched the church outside of my parish (and I've been a part of several across the US) warp into something I just don't recognize from what I received. I watched what was in one diocese in California in the '80s take over and erode by political process. It is not a good progression. If you stay in it long enough, you will eventually see it yourself because it is not on a Christ-based track. Then you will see why those who have left fought so hard. That's why some of us still fight - for those who don't see or won't see. Because there are spiritual truths that are not being taught in the new TEC.
That is why I challenge your words at times, Scout. You and I both know there are others who are coming here for information they don't and/or won't get in their pews. That is one of the reasons several posters are angry at BabyBlue. They want her to shut up so there isn't a place to learn. That's why several bishops slam the blogs - because information is freely passed.
We thank God for BabyBlue, StandFirm, MCJ, T19, Brad Drell, VOL, etc. Because they are giving us what our priests in the pew didn't and don't - truth and information. It's a two-sided coin: if you know enough you can fight; if you know too much you just might leave. There is a reason why TEC is shrinking in numbers exceeding the death of old members.
Happened to be passing back by and can't let some of these whoppers go by (perhaps because there's something to be said for beating your head against a wall).
RalphM wrote: "In VA, ownership hinges strongly on who paid for the property in question. Implied trusts are not recognized."
Actually, no. The payment point has been discussed above, but actually the latter statement is even more clearly wrong. Implied trusts are allowed ... for everyone but supercongregational religious groups.
BB, as usual, has a variety of misstatements and errors:
"we did not file any lawsuits, we merely filed the results of our votes which were called petitions"
Demonstrably false. Each congregation filed a report, which contains the reasons for and results of your vote. Each congregation also filed a petition, which seeks court action enabling the congregation to take the property. At this point, it's clear that you're either beyond rationality on this point or deliberately seeking to mislead.
"It was Katharine Jefferts Schori who actually filed the first lawsuits against nearly 200 people, followed a few days later by the Diocese of Virginia filing separate lawsuits against the same nearly 200 people."
Seriously, check the facts. You've said this before, and even accepting your delusion that the CANA folks' "petitions" aren't lawsuits, you have the chronology wrong. The Diocese filed before TEC.
"It was the Circuit Court that decided to take up the petitions first and set the lawsuits aside"
By agreement of everyone concerned and because it was logical, given that 57-9 was also asserted as a defense in each of the lawsuits against the congregations.
And a later commenter: "There were negotiations and an understanding with the bishop and chancellor, evidenced by the protocol - you can look it up - that the property issues would be settled, undoubtedly with a large payment"
BB should disagree on the negotiations -- she's wrote before that things died before negotiations even got started. An understanding, evidenced by the protocol? Badly wrong.
"we can, with certainty in my church, establish that DioVA paid essentially nothing"
Ahh, the unspecific, undocumented assertion "with certainty". Tres helpful. And "essentially nothing"? Is that like kinda pregnant?
No, we filed petitions that recorded our votes. We did not take the next step since we thought were going to negotiations with the bishop. We had a choice to take the next step, but we didn't do it.
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