Thursday, March 08, 2012

Voice of America profiles Episcopal/Anglican division in Virginia

From here:

In northern Virginia, The Falls Church and six other breakaway churches - whose property is valued at $40 million - became the subject of a prolonged court battle.  In January, a Virginia judge ruled in favor of the Episcopal Church and The Falls Church congregation now has until April 30 to move out of the old church and the new additions.

"The buildings were built by us.  I had raised a lot of the money.  I remember when we burned the mortgage to pay for the most recent building that we had built," Yates says.  He says that the actions of the Episcopal leadership were "very hard to understand."

"No rector, no congregation, ever owns the property," says the Very Reverend Ian Markham, dean of the Virginia Theological Seminary, the largest Episcopal divinity school in the United States.

"Just because I am a deeply charismatic preacher and teacher inside a congregation, am I allowed to suddenly wake up one morning - having mesmerized my congregation - and say, 'Hey guys, let's take this parish hall and the church and everything else out of the Episcopal church?'  That's not our policy," says Markham.

The Episcopal Church may have won in court, but it has been losing in the pews.  Its membership has been declining, like that of many other mainline Protestant denominations, and two years ago it dipped below 2 million people for the first time.

Read it all here.


Kimberly said...

Well, that is an annoying article. They didn't interview anyone on the ACNA side of things. Bah.

RalphM said...

TEC is now aligned with the teachings of VTS: far left and proud of it!

Where will the graduates go? Bishops nationwide are recognizing there are a rapidly declining number of opportunities for new priests. Some have suspended their discernment processes completely.

RWK said...

Well, of course we're mesmerized, he believes we checked our brain at the door. Of course, if we used our brains we would come the same conclusion he has.

I appreciate John Yates' preaching, but quite honestly I have done more thinking at TFC than I ever did at other more mainline parishes.

"Mesmerized" in Falls Church said...

The video report I thought was very good. Certainly a stark comparison between shots of the packed TFC Sanctuary against the rusted Episcopal church sign and the snotty English schoolmarm running VTS.

ettu said...

Why Oh why do some people say they built a particular church when they were not even thought of by the generations that preceeded? How can we presume to speak for those long dead and whose beliefs and motives can only be roughly estimated today? Really find it hard to sympathize with such hubris - nevertheless I pray for only good things to come from this historic moment.

Anonymous said...

And how does TEC, which did not even exist when TFC was built, claim ownership? This is a situation where the grown children have gone to court to throw the parents out of the house.

(In this case, a house the children cannot afford to operate.)

Anonymous said...

In not all, but certainly some of the departing congregations it can be unequivocally stated that they built their physical churches - like Church of the Apostles in Fairfax. In the case of TFC, certainly a great portion of it was built by the vast majority of the current congregation.

Anonymous said...

The buildings WERE NOT built by the current occupants. The land was acquired long ago, and the buildings were built incrementally over 150 years.

The current occupants added to or supplemented an existing facility, like any other church congregation. This does not result in ownership of the entire facility.

Anonymous said...

Please read carefully 2:00, in the case of Church of the Apostles the church was new and the vast majority of the current congregation bought the existing property. In the case of TFC, it would not have been unreasonable to make the argument that the current congregation purchased the Southgate property, which ironically had been sold in the distant past to keep the church solvent and which is likely to be its fate again. The bulk of members of the current TFC-ACNA congregation also purchased a portion of the property used to build the new facilities.

I am just trying to point out that there were instances in which we did not need to speculate about about what long-dead ancestors would have wanted to get a sense of the will of the congregation. The congregation/purchasers were very much alive. And YES, such negotiations should have included the TEC-loyalists as well. My point simply is, it's not as black-and-white as it has been portrayed.

As we all know, TEC won, they get to keep everything. It's all academic now. I will have to and can live with that. I suspect in the long run TEC's victory will be pyrrhic.

Anonymous said...

In the case of the Falls Church property, I would suspect that the small episcopal group is really only interested in the historic church building, not the main sanctuary (which seats over a thousand) or the adjacent parking lot and strip mall turned into offices (both built/acquired in the last decade or two by donations pretty much made by the same people who are leaving). While those properties are potentially valuable, I have a hunch there would be a major zoning battle in that very small independently governed city to tear down/redevelop even the nonhistoric part of that property. The episcopal group will be stuck with it for some time. (Maybe they should ask the diocesan headquarters to move up to Northern Virginia from Richmond just to have someone in the space).

Anonymous said...

My guess, and this is just a guess as I do not have any inside contacts, is that TFC-ACNA will leave the property as soon as it is logistically possible. Given the amount of bad blood I would think it imprudent to live in the house of a landlord who is angry with you. Every time a doorknob breaks, a cup of coffee is spilled or the ceiling leaks it would be a battle.

Anonymous said...

I'm done.

I'm an Episcopalian. Always will be. And I love my church. I am glad my diocese won. But I also know and love folks in the departed congregations. We disagree, but we remain friends. The dialogue we have on these issues is tough, frank and clear. But we never just blast each other. And, honestly, we know that the other takes a dim view of each others leaders. Nevertheless, we remain friends.

But by God, I'm done with this sort of dialogue. It's like a time warp - it's 2006, or 05, or 03 all the time.

BabyBlue, I've read you for many years - since this all started. I wish you well, and I hope you and your church find your way to minister well.

But I'll not visit the Cafe again. It seems like the bread is stale, the ashtray full, and the cream for the coffee is suspect.

Peace be with you.

Anonymous said...

The VOA article is unhappily one-sided. I'm new to the departing TFC congregation, but I've neither sensed nor heard any anger toward the Episcopal congregation. It also fails to mention the ESL classes, community health clinic, projects overseas - the departing congregation is not a country-club and coffee or sherry congregation by a long chalk. And the good social works will continue. 10:35, I've probably not met you, but am sorry that you're leaving.
Et cum spiritu tuo

Unknown said...

Well, alas, there is no smoking at the Cafe, Anon 10:35 - perhaps you wondered across the river by mistake to the Other Cafe? We do serve pancakes and butterbeer and pies here, but sorry to say, no bread. It's a good idea, though. Nothing like the smell of bread baking - and may put us all in better moods.

Dialogue is in full swing, let he or she who has ears hear it. And yes, listening with the heart is key.