When did recognizing that when the overwhelming majority of American citizens vote according to the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia that should not be considered "a good idea for governance of the state?"Pull up a chair and join us!
In Virginia the former Established Church should not get preferential treatment because it was once the Established Church of Virginia, indeed it was The Church of Virginia. The people had no say.
A primary principle of our form of government is the free vote. The churches that separated voted their conscience and thousands - thousands - voted to separate, a vote that has been now recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is this vote that is being opposed by the Episcopal Church.
But they can't oppose the vote openly - it would be a PR disaster. When they took the depositions of those who were in charge of the voting procedures, it became clear that if they got anywhere near challenging the vote it would be a PR disaster. These are regular American citizens exercising their freedom to vote.
As for the property, what matters is what is on the deeds. We do not have implied trusts in Virginia - what matters is what is on the deeds.
The Diocese of Virginia does indeed own property - it does - and the Bishop's name is on the deeds as it should be. Bishop Lee didn't and Bishop Johnston won't own the property himself, he holds it in trust for the Diocese. If the Diocese wanted to hold in trust the local parish properties (and in fact, the bishop's name is on the deeds of some parish properties in Virginia!), then he should have done it! But as we were reminded in court, the diocese recognized that there would be a massive revolt if they even attempted it. Why? Because the parishes understood - and continue to understand - that they hold title to their own property.
That became abundantly clear when Christ Church Alexandria heard the rumor (a rumor so strong, Pohick Church heard it too) that the bishop was going to require them to transfer their deeds to him - the swiftness of calming down and reassuring the parish that this was not indeed the case was something I saw with my own eyes.
To assume that the Episcopal Church can simply reclaim hierarchical powers that it had when it was the Established Church of Virginia is ludicrous. A truly hierarchical church like the Roman Catholic Church in Virginia has correctly observed the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Roman Catholic property is held in trust by the Roman Catholic Bishop. Open the books - you'll see his name.
What's at stake here is whether the people have the freedom to vote, that the vote won't be taken away from them when the outcome doesn't suit the Episcopal Church and whether we can trust what is entrusted on the deeds to actually MEAN what they say.
Maybe that's why it's called a Trust.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Conversation continues on the Episcopal Church's appeal to nullify votes in the Commonwealth of Virginia that didn't go their way
Grab a chai and catch up on the conversation on the topic Virginia Supreme Court agrees to hear The Episcopal Church appeals on Virginia law 57-9 underway here. My latest post there is this:
Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)
What is crystal clear is this is not about a particular person, or a group of persons, or even a majority of persons, who wanted to "leave the church and take the stuff with them." Such a comment is ludicrous and irrelevant. These are ancient (to U.S. standards) congregations with ancient holdings who are protecting their ancient faith.
Granted, the Virginia congregations that predate the Episcopal Church are different. I do not know if, as in the case of most congregations, they banned together to form a diocese and that diocese (then con-terminus with the commonwealth) petitioned the Episcopal Church for admission. The sequence of these events, given 57-9 may be relevant, but the concern I have is that Va. 57-9 essentially requires that churches organize as congregations and the statute imposing a restraint on churches that wish to organize in a hierarchical manner. I believe that, at its core, 57-9 inhibits a church from choosing its form of governance. I don't know the process in Va. Would the Commonwealth atty become involved in the appeal as the question at hand, at least in part, is defense of the Va statute or, should the CANA churches prevail, the Commonwealth only become involved should an appeal be made to SCOTUS and cert. granted? BBlue makes, I think, a good argument in referencing the deeds, but, I believe, and I'm only operating from memory here and will accept correction, Jones v. Wolf maintained that other documents, such as a church's constitution articles, canons, etc. should be examined even if a neutral principles theory is adopted?
Sigh. What nonsense.
First, let's stop with the "congregations that predate TEC" hooey. There is only one of them -- The Falls Church -- and it only qualifies if you ignore the fact that it died out for at least 30-40 years, got restarted with diocesan assistance, and later became an established Anglican congregation again by petitioning for acceptance into the Diocese subject to the Diocese's canons (which included provisions regarding property as early as 1787).
Second, as Scout has pointed out on the other thread, this is not about whether majority rule is a good thing in secular government, or even generally. It is not about the "freedom to vote" being "taken away." (Last I checked, there was no God-given right to control churches by votes, and it is your side that's been making fun of running TEC by majority rule. Come on in, the irony's refreshing.)
This appeal is about whether Virginia may continue to discriminate against non-local religious groups, whether a relic of a statute inconsistent with other statutes and recent case law (to say nothing of constitutional law) can survive, and whether a state may decide to impose a rule that local majorities trump diocesan majorities in churches whose rules provide to the contrary.
Third, your theory about the depositions and voting procedures is just that, a theory. You don't know why the other side acts as it does (something you've demonstrated time and time again on this blog), and there are many other rational reasons why the Diocese and TEC would have abandoned the voting procedural issues -- even if there were irregularities, which there certainly were.
Fourth, I find it particularly interesting that you mention rumors about Christ Church and Pohick, given that the CANA folks, including you, bear significant responsibility for such rumors (along with your other efforts in 2008 designed to impugn and denigrate the folks at Christ Church when it looked like they may assist the Diocese in the litigation).
Finally, what is ludicrous is that you actually believe that there's any effort to "reclaim hierarchical powers" of an established church. And that you suggest that Virginia church property law is all about the name on the deeds. Your lawyers clearly didn't tell you that -- because any lawyer could tell you that's flat out wrong (at least prior to this litigation).
Also funny (or sad) is that you write about the power and sanctity of deeds and then ignore the deeds and parts of deeds that don't favor you. Like Church of the Word, whose name is not on their deed (the Diocese's is). Like St. Stephen's, whose name is not on their 1874 deed.
And you ignore that Truro, in 1934 and again in 1974, signed instruments in which the rector and vestry (among other things) "relinquish[ed] all claim to any right of disposing of the said building" and "certif[ied] ... that said building and ground are secured from danger of alienation from those who profess and practice the Doctrine, Discipline, and Worship of [the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America]".
BB, you took the vestry oath. You and your cohorts at Truro knew the rules. But clearly the Diocese was wrong to trust that you meant it. Ironic that you're so big on trust now.
I don't supposed it comes through how heartbreaking this all is.
Too much to read and comment on all this sturm und drang - all I know - as we all know or eventually learn from experience - is that crying does not change reality - also punishing others for their perceived trangresions is just petty and downright mean - TEC has the right and the obligation to go thru the court system - let the better argument win and the loser go on with blessings but without the illicit prperty.
I've thought about it overnight and I don't really have much to add to the comment I left on the earlier thread. I still am a little puzzled as to the central point of BB's comment, now transferred to this post.
I guess I would only add that IF the Commonwealth is going to be the controller of how church property is divided when folks leave a parish, and IF, as BB suggests, majority rule should take title, a number of incidences go with those propositions. First of all, the vote and the process leading to the vote must be scrupulously fair and probably has to be subject to state control and supervision. In at least a couple of the Northern Virginia dioceses (I can't speak to all, I am only directly familiar with Truro and the Falls Church), the process was completely one-sided and reflected vestry/clergy determinations far in advance to "lead the parish out." There was a frog-in-the-stewpot choreography to the whole thing where the Diocese and the national church were subjected to obloquy from the pulpits over a period of years, the internal structures of church governance were bent toward eventual departure, propaganda videos were made, diocesan funds withheld, etc. etc, ad infinitum. Because the clergy and vestries were well on board long before the vote, there was no objectively neutral process of discernment that gave equal time and equal exposure to other points of view. The parish rolls were culled carefully with the effect, if not the purpose (I'm not sure it wasn't the purpose) of lowering the majority threshhold to a number far lower that promotional figures of church membership had touted in years prior to 2003. Guest preachers touting the evils of the national church were brought through in significant numbers. Projections that the departers would be able to keep the property were blithely dispensed. At the end of the process, one did not have to have strong views on the controversy of the day (VGR or same sex blessings) to assume that if one wanted to continue worshipping at the same place one had worshipped for many years, the easy vote was YES. If state law drives that process, the State government has to keep the process from looking like some third-world tinpot dictatorship voting scheme.
But, frankly, as a political conservative, I don't much care for the Commonwealth (or any other level of government) having that kind of power or authority. I think this statute is very much a made-to-purpose concoction of cranky Confederates who were still smarting about northern interference in Old Dominion life. I don't think it works well here and now. I further think churches (not parishes) should be able to do this as they want without the state interfering.
And, finally, I keep coming back to my hypothetical about proper moral and ethical behavior of people who leave a church. I respect the fact that there may be circumstances where continued worship at a given church becomes intolerable for any number of reasons. When that happens, leave. If there is an underlying theological point, make that point on the way out the door and find or establish a church where you feel you can better witness for that position. But don't take things from the people who have a different viewpoint, either about the underlying point or about the wisdom of splitting the church. Just leave. No one will fault you for that, and most would respect you.
The CANA/ACNA group has fouled and diminished itself with this property stuff. It could have projected a very pure message theologically. That message is still there, but it is compromised by the multiple and varied efforts around the country to cling to buildings and parishioners who often go with the buildings.
Rolin: Judging from the demographics of those who voted to stay at my parish, as opposed to those who voted to leave, I think the stayers are more ancient than the departers. I know I certainly push that number up in a statistically significant way.
I give thanks for the faithfulness to Christ and inspiring witness of Truro, Falls Church and the others in ADV. Bless you all - we are rooting for you
I had not been aware how ugly the vote to leave apparently was..... other observations?? Prejudices seem to have been there before the vote?
ettu: "ugly" is probably not the mot juste. But there was a long process of acclimatization, at least in some of the parishes, to the idea of leaving and the presentation was extremely one-sided. My point in mentioning it here is only to respond to BB's comment/post about the merits of the peculiar Virginia law and to suggest that, if we are to be enamored of a state law that puts church titles into the hands of a majority vote, then it is incumbent upon the state to make sure the process is fair and objective. Once we start talking about the state controlling the process of expressing the majority will in a church setting, we are way off in a land where most Americans (and probably most Christians) would be very uncomfortable.
Lakeland Two says....
Irony hits in many ways. The majority vote system is OK if it plays well to the liberal side. It doesn't matter how many times the conservative side said no. Just keep bringing it up for a vote until you wear down the other side or until you've stacked the deck enough the vote goes your way.
Yet, if a majority vote plays out in a way the liberals don't like... head to court. Don't pay attention to what Christ said about it. Just cherry-pick today what applies in your favor and recherry-pick tomorrow without consistency.
So the irony to us is that it's OK to make the conservatives suffer - in hopes of wiping them out, but the liberals don't want a moment of inconvenience. What's Christian about that?
I asked Scout specifically what he would fight for - not what he would walk away from. Scout's accusations of thievery of the church silver add nothing to the discussion, but only add strife.
We ask everyone - What are you willing to lay your life down for - something that has a value that goes beyond the physical. Perhaps if you were to filter the situation through that lens instead of property value you might begin to understand why the fight here is more than property.
To the conservatives - it's Christ Himself. To the liberals it's brand protection and the agenda. We have yet to see TEC show Christ's love and mercy to the conservatives. To us that speaks volumes.
Lakeland Two says...
Another point for the future - perhaps churches need to sit down and write up what the statement of faith and beliefs are. If you are willing to sign on, then that's it. If you aren't, there's the door. If you find can't adhere to the core beliefs later on - you are free to leave.
What's in the 1928 BCP was what we signed on for when our family joined in 1964. While we didn't like the changes that have come down the pike, we could support the Articles of Faith and the like in the 1979 BCP. There are many people who feel the same way. We said stop! What TEC stands for now is in opposition of many biblical core beliefs.
That's why we see the Covenant as significant. Having to adhere to a structure is not something that many of the liberal element of TEC want to do. Accountability has consequences. TEC often reminds us of a two-year old who has just learned the word "no".
"We ask everyone - What are you willing to lay your life down for - something that has a value that goes beyond the physical. Perhaps if you were to filter the situation through that lens instead of property value you might begin to understand why the fight here is more than property."
My father laid his life down to save 2 people - one of whom he did not know - he would also have never taken title to something that was not his. We disagree about what belongs to this generation and what belongs to the "ages". Only the courts can decide - in this life at least. I am sure both sides will persevere regardless of any judgement but regret the childishness of those who think they - and they alone - can decide for all of us. Beware of handing you mind over to a covenant decided by only one small segment of one relatively inconsequential generation - and do not be so proud of your own times that you are sure you can speak for those who have gone before and those who will follow.
ettu - only the courts can decide... that is counter to the very nature of Christ as it is written.
If what you choose as your direction is so blessed by God, why is there such a need to drag it into the courts in order to secure it?
Two thousand years are thrown away in a heartbeat. Perhaps you should follow your own advice. Jesus driving out the moneychangers...are you saying He was wrong not to adopt what had come into vogue. Interesting concept.
Oops - last comment was by the Lakeland Two.
Also, TEC may have national legal right to go to court, it does not have Christ's permission to do so.
L2 - Not sure I disagree with any of the generalities you set forth in your last two comments, but I don't see quite how they affect the property issue. There are people of faith and good will on both sides of the human sexuality issue (or however one describes the current sources of discord). I haven't accused anyone of "thievery" , but have asked the question of how one navigates from the hypothetical of an individual leaving a church for any reason, from the banal to the profound, and his right to take property on so doing, to the situation where a larger number of people decide to leave. I have not seen a coherent answer to that from you or from anyone else.
As to what I would "fight" for, I'm not sure of the relevance of that question either. I suppose I would "fight" or advocate for freedom to worship and for keeping governments out of church business. I assume virtually all Christians would. But I don't see this as a "fight". I see it as a quarrel and a reflection of the infinite human tendency to allow differences to force us apart from God and to divide us in our worship.
Scout, as an outsider I hesitate to chime in again, but I cannot allow two of your points to stand unchallenged.
First, when you speak of an "individual" who would "leave" and "take the property with them" you are using the very definition of thievery, and claiming disingenuously that you are speaking of a "hypothetical" makes it no less defamatory in this context.
Second, your very use of the word "individual" is both irrelevant and misleading. Perhaps you have been badly wronged by what has transpired, but attributing fault to a simple "individual" misstates the case. If you were wronged, it was by your leader, by your leadership, by your vestry, and by a duly constituted majority vote of the congregation of which you were a part.
While you are entitled to your protest and to your minority report, likening your opponents to individual thieves is both false and defamatory.
Scout, I would agree with your statement: "if we are to be enamored of a state law that puts church titles into the hands of a majority vote, then it is incumbent upon the state to make sure the process is fair and objective.." That is exactly what 57-9 is intended to assure.
It is, unfortunately, necessary for local parishes to have a means to defend themeselves against rogue church officials in positions of power. 57-9 and VA's prohibition against implied trusts help to protect those parishes.
The presentation was extremely one-sided? Once again, facts wrong. We asked Bishop Lee to come and address the congregation. It was his decision - to not come and instead he sent us DVDs to circulate and to upload online his presentation. To this day, I don't know why he didn't come - maybe he didn't take it seriously, I don't know. I uploaded is presentation as well at my YouTube Channel which you see here:
I think he does a find job making his case. In addition, as the vote neared, the President of the Standing Committee came and addressed the parish between services on a Sunday morning so we could get as large a crowd as possible. He brought another member of the Standing Committee with him and together they made another comprehensive presentation. They were received with respect and people asked them questions.
In addition to that, the Vestry met with the President of the Standing Committee along with the other member of the Standing Committee for a time of conversation and discussion as well, which again was marked with honesty but with respect.
In addition to that, we had small groups where everyone who wanted to participate in the process could join and ask questions, we had a Vestry Table on Sunday mornings through the entire discernment (and longer) inviting Truro members to come and ask questions, encouraging it.
We did everything we could think of so that we would get all the facts. I think this process was as open as humanly possible and at least Truro led to us staying together even with those who voted to remain Episcopalian. The Diocese was not able to create a Shadow Congregation - we tried as hard as we could to have as open a process as we could.
It was important to me personally because I took the vote very seriously - the vote was according to the canons of the Diocese of Virginia as well as the laws of the Commonwealth. Though I felt strongly about the issues that divided us, I too wanted to seek discernment about whether it was correct for us to separate. I wept through many a Vestry meeting as my fellow Vestry members can attest. I wasn't alone in my tears.
"To assume that the Episcopal Church can simply reclaim hierarchical powers that it had when it was the Established Church of Virginia is ludicrous."
BB, I think you nailed it. I think it sheds new light behind the motives of 815 and Mayo House. It has nothing to do with "preservation" or "protection", its about retribution and punishment, pure and simple.
If, in fact, only Falls Church predated and if, as DavidH suggests, it was without operation for 30-40 years before an infusion of funds from TEC, and, accustomed as I am to DavidH's factual accuracy in such matters.... it would seem that the CANA arguments are in deed compromised. As stated on the other thread, again I question what were the congregations told by those "assisting" in their discernment? Were they honestly told that they would be fracturing with TEC? Were they told that their attorneys would argue that they now belonged to a "branch" of the Anglican Communion headed by +Akinola vs. the "branch" headed by the Archbishop of Canterbury? Does anyone know the answer to this question? EmilyH
Do you honestly view those in the departing congregations as too stupid to have asked the questions you raise?
All the departing congregations knew they were voting on whether to leave TEC, and they knew where they were going before the votes were taken.
The last time I checked, Nigeria was a member of the Anglican Communion. The trial transcripts are available to you should you wish to base your assertioons on facts.
Actually Ralph, I've read them and I have read the arguments made by the CANA attys. They argued as I stated they did, two branches, one led out of Nigeria and one out of Canterbury. For the argument to work, a "division" had to take place. They argued that the congregations had joined the Nigerian branch. EmilyH
Please present evidence of your assertion made above.
The following is from Judge Bellows letter opinion of April 3, 2008 in which he found in favor of the CANA congregations.
"The second two definitions of "attachment" in the modern dictionary are most applicable in the present context. The parties concede that the CANA Congregations were attached to the Diocese and ECUSA for purposes of 579(A). And, certainly, the CANA Congregations were in an association with the Anglican Communion through their former affiliation with ECUSA, as there is abundant evidence in the record, as set forth by this Court previously in the "Background" section of this letter opinion, that the individual congregations viewed themselves both as Episcopalians and members of the Anglican Communion. As they grew increasingly disillusioned with ECUSA and the Diocese, it is clear that the CANA Congregations sought a way to preserve their ties with the Anglican Communion, while avoiding what they considered to be the misguided policies of the leadership of ECUSA and the Diocese. When the CANA Congregations voted to depart, they did not affiliate with the Roman Catholic Church, the Presbyterian Church, or the Methodist Church. Rather, they affiliated with a religious body to which they viewed themselves as already "attached" and "in communion" with, through their common affiliation as Anglicans, specifically, the Church of Nigeria, the largest province within the Anglican Communion.78
Likewise, the record reflects that the CANA Congregations were bound by personal ties of "affection or sympathy" with the Anglican Communion as members of ECUSA prior to disaffiliation, and are still bound by personal ties of "affection or sympathy" with the Anglican Communion as members of the Church of Nigeria."
As I recall, the AOC is one of the Instruments of Communion and from the judge's findings it is clear that the CANA lawyers were not arguing that Nigeria and Canturbury were two separate branches of the AC.
All rulings of the court can be found at:
No, no - I don't know what you read, EmilyH, but it's not the arguments that were made in court in Virginia. That is completely false about the branches being Canterbury and Nigeria. It's the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia that has divided. Remembr - it's the Episcopal Church that is in crisis.
Nigeria and Canterbury are in communion with each other. Two branches come out Canterbury - one is the Church of Nigeria and the other is The Episcopal Church. There are many other branches from Canterbury. The parishes in Virginia that voted to separate voted to leave once branch and join another, both in communion with Canterbury. The parishes voted to separate from one branch and join another - both are in communion with Canterbury. Let's just be clear what was argued in court - okay?
To make that case in point about the division worsening, it's clear that The Episcopal Church is now not recognizing the jurisdiction of other branches of the Anglican Communion - branches in communion with Canterbury. There is full-blown division going on in The Episcopal Church. Everyone knows that. It's no secret. Every time another lawsuit is filed, we have another indication that the Episcopal Church is in division.
Even Canterbury knows that - calling for "two-tier" communion and making way for ACNA to join. It's up to TEC whether it's going to stay in full communion or not. Now we have the Diocese of South Carolina considering withdrawing from the councils of the Episcopal Church. What more evidence do we need. We've all ready had four dioceses sever ties and also join another branch in the Communion. That TEC is upset is understandable, but doesn't change what's actually happening on the ground. The membership numbers themselves indicate the exodus underway. Judge Bellows saw that, recognized what it took for thousands to vote to separate and join another branch. We wanted to remain Anglican. The Episcopal Church left us. Even N.T. Wright now recognizes what is happening. And guess what - so does Rowan Williams. The "two-tier" communion is his idea.
On my comments regarding CANA attorney's arguments respecting the branches of the Anglican communion,
I regret that it has taken me a bit of time to relocate my source and I have only identified a portion but I provide the following: The Post Trial Brief # 1 pp. 50-55. In its discussion of the Registrar Yisa's testimony, it reminds the Court of the 2005 changes in the Church of Nigeria's constitution at TR 590-91. The brief states: “The primary and immediate purpose of these amendments (which included the removal of any reference to Canterbury) was to redefine the legal relationships between the Church of Nigeria and TEC and between the Church of Nigeria and the Anglican provinces.” pg. 51. Pg. 55 seems to be particularly on point: “As a result of these recent changes, the Anglican Communion is now divided into two 'branches' ---Those that relate to all provinces that relate to the See of Canterbury and those that relate only to those who are understood as adhering to the historic faith, doctrine and discipline of the Anglican Communion. The Church of Nigeria with which the CANA Congregations have affiliated, is the principal leader of this new branch. TR 363-64, 372-374 (Minns); TR 639-40 (Yisa)” [My recollection is that it was Minns' testimony that specifically identified +Akinola as the leader of the Nigerian branch but I don't have access to the transcripts and would be happy to be corrected if wrong.] EmilyH
There are many branches and they all branch from Canterbury. There is a larger division occurring in the Anglican Communion as parishes and dioceses and provinces realign as well - this is true in the Church of England itself. But this continues to change - the Communion Partners themselves are re-examining exactly what sort of commitment they will continue to have in TEC. They currently seem to be on a trajectory that they will remain in TEC, but will not go to any more councils of the church, including General Convention. It will be interesting to see how Schori take it when bishops stop showing up for HoB meetings or dioceses don't show up for General Convention. They just don't show.
The Communion is in fact fragmenting and Rowan Williams himself mused that this may be the last Lambeth Conference of its kind for a long time, looking to do smaller gatherings more often instead.
The fact remains that CANA branched off of The Episcopal Church as well, as the Episcopal Church branched off of the Church of England and the Church of Scotland. All were done under pressure and duress and not with the full cooperation of all the parties. For example, the Church of England had to go through a process to recognize the Episcopal Church and the Archbishop of Canterbury did not automatically receive all the dioceses and parishes into the fold - in fact, he rejected a slew of parishes in New England since they did not hold to the doctrine of Trinity (and thus, birthed the Unitarians). But England was also still in a somewhat hostile place to the victorious continentalists and so the first Episcopalians had to go to Scotland to get their first bishops.
But we would stll say that TEC is a branch of the Church of England and to a certain extent the Church of Scotland. In addition, it is a branch of the Anglican Communion.
Nigeria is similar - it is a branch of the Church of England, a branch of the Anglican Communion. CANA, it's missionary diocese, is branch of the Episcopal Church, a branch of The Diocese of Virginia, a branch of the Church of Nigeria. Through it's membership in the Church of Nigeria it is a branch of the Anglican Communion.
Remember, branches belong in a tree. A branch needs more branches to keep it alive and healthy. We all identify that we all come from the Mother Church - the Church of England. That is our denomination as Anglicans.
It appears you have a story to tell and will not be dissuaded by mere facts.
Read the Letter Opinion of Judge Bellows. It cites the testimony of Yisa and quotes from it frequently. I provided the link in a prior post.
As part of the vote to separate, all the churches voted as to where they would affiliate. This affiliation was important in that it kept us connected to the Anglican Communion. If that had not been important, we could have become a loose association of community churches using an Anglican liturgy.
I was there. You were not.
The structure selected was selected with a view of fitting into the Virginia "division statute." To the extent Emily implies that the average parishioner voting on secession of the Virginia parishes from the Episcopal Church was unaware of these organizational intricacies, particularly as they relate to the relation of Truro and the Falls Church to the Nigerian Church, think she is absolutely correct. Of course, the reason these structures were selected was so that there would be a supportable argument for asserting a claim to property over the claims of those who did not leave.
As a final note on this which may have become far too detailed. Yes, I did review Judge Bellows' decision very carefully. He had considered two elements in regard to his definition of "division" as it related to the Anglican Communion. (He also bought the idea that it was a church but for the purpose of 57-9, "religious society" His two areas were a division, which he clearly saw exemplified by the primates' meetings, the breaking os ome provinces with TEC etc. and "The second portion of the definition which involves separation and formation of a alternate polity, ...satisfied by the Church of Nigeria's historic alteration of it constitution which allowed for the formation of CANA...this alternate of its constitution also altered the Church of Nigeria's relationship with the rest of the Anglican Communion stating that the Church of Nigeria considered itself only affiliated with those that adhered to the historic faith, doctrine etc. of the Anglican Communion rather than simply all provinces that relate to the see of Canterbury" (See opinion pp82-83) The irony is that, although Bishop Bellows may have agreed that CANA now belonged to the new branch as, the one headed by Nigeria and CANA maintained its relationship with the Communion (at least the Nigerian "branch") when Nigeria removed from its constitution any reference of Canterbury, it certainly did alter its relationship to a Canterbury led Communion. Again, following Baby Blue's reference to the "tree"..a common historical tree but, a different branch. For a split to happen, the branches had to be different and, Judge Bellows added more legally cognizable evidence of a new polity.
ultimately, what is important to people concerned with the ecclesiological relationship of their congregation, diocese etc., is not likely to be a decision on it by a rendered by the civil court but by the church. That, in the final analysis is the issue. If the comment above is correct, no the CANA congregations did not know that, although the CofN had a relationship now with Canterbury, they might not in the future...nor were they probably informed that the CofN was one of the proponents of the 2005 "Road to Lambeth" document etc. In parallels in the San Joaquin diocese are fairly obvious. The congregations were assured that they would maintain their contact with a Canterbury led communion via Southern Cone. In both cases, as evidenced by the invitations to Lambeth, that was not the case. For some, assurance of a connection to Canterbury at the time of leaving and in the future may have been irrelevant, but if, as in the case of San Joaquin, congregations were so assured or not told the real implications of their vote, for the sake of winning the court cases and holding on to the property and are now left in a "new" branch led by someone else, this seems to me, at the very least, a questionable tactic and the "votes" obtained under somewhat questionable method.
I admit to being somewhat sensitive to this kind of thing. My spouse was a member of a vestry where the revision of the church's articles was being proposed to revert back to those a hundred years ago. The proposal was suggested on the basis that the revision would place the church more in line with state law etc. My husband asked me to read the two sets and tell him how they compared and what possible reasons would make sense to make the change. I did and two things popped out.. revert if you're trying to get rid of the Rector (a faction was) and revertion would effectively cut the parish off from the diocese and TEC (This was also on the agenda) It was of course a lawyer who proposed these revisions. A meeting of the congregation was called and the potential impact of the proposed changes clarified.
Post a Comment