11/19/2011

What goes 'round comes 'round ...and so for Bishop Lawrence..

The Bishop of South Carolina, Mark Lawrence, continues to be an enigma. His understanding of the polity behind the polity (that is the unwritten matters of power and policy, as opposed to the surface duties and responsibilities outlined in the Canons) is either a brilliant but minority read of his episcopal office or the Machiavellian work of a bishop up to no good, for purposes that lie far from the good of The Episcopal Church or both.


This week we have another instance of the enigma in practice. Bishop Lawrence as apparently notified every parish that as far as the Diocese of South Carolina is concerned, whatever the rights to parish property held or understood to be held by the Diocese on behalf of The Episcopal Church, the Diocese considers the parish to have total deed rights in itself.  A group,"South Carolina Episcopalians" believes this action is part of a longer set of actions of "rebellion." It is certainly a move to a congregational church polity. 


Over on David Anderson's American Anglican Council  the act is viewed as a brave effort. He asks,


"Why would Bishop Lawrence and the diocesan leadership take such a step? I believe it was out of a desire to preserve the legacy of the gospel in the parishes, as well as to keep the parishes together with the diocese as the means by which the good news of Jesus could be proclaimed. (The fact is that without such deeds some individual parishioners and particular churches would not feel protected from potential threats). 


 You and I both know that both the diocese and the bishop are under growing pressure from the national church leadership.  We also know that exactly those leaders will countenance all sorts of ruinous teaching of Christian doctrine and life, but suddenly when it comes to questions of property they insist that their new line (which is out of step with Episcopal polity and history) be toed."


Bishop Anderson seems to believe that Bishop Mark Lawrence will by this action "preserve the legacy of the gospel in the parishes (whatever that means) and will "keep the parishes together with the diocese," all of which sounds mild, until one considers two possible outcomes:


(i) A number of parishes might leave The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina. Apparently people are being taught to mistrust the "national church" and consider it the enemy, so it might be most of the parishes are so inclined. Bishop Lawrence simply stays with the remainder and allows the parishes to wander off to ACNA or AMiA land.  In which case some will believe that Lawrence has betrayed the remnant minority who stay, but have to leave their parishes. He can maintain that for principle he allowed the parishes to go and he remains with the remnant, a suffering servant until the end.  Or,


(ii) The parishes leave, all going to one venue or another - all to ACNA or all to AMiA- and the bishop then resigns his office, leaves too and rejoins them on the other side.  In this case he resigns his office in TEC, fully acknowledging that the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina continues as part of TEC. However, that doesn't mean much because the Diocese is now simply a shell and its population a small percentage of its former size is without either parishes or parish support.


Then Bishop Lawrence simply organizes the parishes that "went over" and they become a diocese in ACNA or AMiA or whatever. But the end is that the parishes, the property, the clergy, and a good bit of the basic support for the diocese are then landed in a different place. In which case Bishop Lawrence is again the Bishop of a diocese in an "orthodox" synod of some sort. 


Those who believe the Bishop is up to no good believe the second outcome is the more likely.


Bishop Lawrence has indicated that he is not leaving The Episcopal Church. In the past I have wanted to take him at his word. But I now suspect that is so only so long as there is a functioning Episcopal Church diocese. When through his own actions - like this one - he contributes to the demise of the Diocese, he is preparing a way by which his move out of TEC will no longer be about his abandoning the Communion of this church but rather about his no longer having a functional diocese in TEC, and a call elsewhere. 


We won't know which outcome  (or perhaps some other) will transpire. But if there is a "smoking gun" that indicates that a scenario something like outcome (ii) is in the offing, and if it can be traced to Bishop Lawrence, then he is subject to examination by his fellow bishops as to whether or not he has abandoned the communion of this Church by conduct clearly calculated to destroying the Diocese as it currently exists so that it can be reconstituted in ACNA or AMiA or some other off-shore drilling company, with him as the resigned bishop, now un-resigned in new quarters.


"What goes round, comes round." If the parishes are indeed voluntarily part of the Diocese and can leave and take their marbles with them, they may just do so, and then the bishop has a choice to either go after them into new lands or stay, but either way he will never again be able to be sure of the people and parishes he is with. And in particular, if he follows the parishes that leave, what if they don't like him and his little ways? They can cut and run again and again. They may run from the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, but they may from the next better thing as well, and who knows if they will always love Bishop Lawrence and accept him as their Father in God?  Why should they? 


They have cast their nets in the world of congregational polity, where every parish can choose its niche in whatever synod it wishes, the bishop be damned.  


This is a mess and likely to get messier. 


98 comments:

  1. Have you considered yet another possibility, that this is a form of "poison pill" directed against the "hostile takeover artists" at 815?

    Rob

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  2. I wonder, Mark, whether some elements of the puzzle you speak to here are hidden from sight. Specifically, what if +Mark is walking the very fine line of episcopal leadership between the Charybdis of parish after parish threatening to leave and the Scylla of his honest intention not to leave TEC (himself) or to lead the diocese to leave TEC?

    Could South Carolina itself or TEC itself stand the cost of litigation if a majority of parishes decided to leave TEC and to seek to take their property with them?

    In short: you could be right. But +Mark could be right: this is the narrow way he must take to maintain even minimal but real links with TEC.

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  3. Priscilla Cardinale19/11/11 7:18 PM

    My guess is this is some kind of scheme cooked up by the usual actors in Orthodoxyland to circumvent the legal process. They are anticipating having to go to court over ownership of the properties (but they don’t plan to leave! Right. . .) and they will fling these notices around saying: “See, we are not holding these properties in trust for TEC -- they are all independently owned parishes!”

    They’ve probably got the inside scoop from some in the SC judiciary since many of them are ultra rightwing conservatives themselves. Sad mess all around. Pity they don’t have the courage and character to just leave outright, as the small, disgruntled minority has already done.

    Each leaving has been a learning experience for the rest though and Albany, Central Florida, and whatever other groups are planning to follow will watch this closely and modify their own schemes accordingly.

    It’s what happened after San Joaquin and Pittsburgh. They aren’t happy that they are losing the vast majority of the property dispute cases even in politically friendly territory. Where is Jesus in all this?

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  4. It will not take litigation involving up to 76 parishes (believe this is the number in the diocese). Just one. I wonder if this move is not posited in part on the hope that the SC Supreme Court will extend its Pawleys Island ruling to TEC churches as a whole. Should it do so, the case will almost certainly go to the US Supremes, as the ruling would run counter to decisions in every other state where cases have gone to trial.

    Re Pawleys Island and, by extension, AMiA, did you notice the recent curious resignation from AMiA of Bishop Terrell Glenn?

    South Carolina Episcopalians website is worth checking on Mark Lawrenc e's latest action, which will very probably strengthen the complaint against him recently referred to Bishop Henderson's committee.

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  5. Priscilla Cardinale19/11/11 8:15 PM

    Thank you, Lapin for your knowledge of the situation.

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  6. if +Mark is walking the very fine line of episcopal leadership between the Charybdis of parish after parish threatening to leave and the Scylla of his honest intention not to leave TEC (himself) or to lead the diocese to leave TEC?

    Peter, are you familiar w/ the ancient scam "3-Card Monty"? (variously known as the Shell Game)

    The basics are this. The player (aka "the mark", or target of scam) observes a game-of-chance being played.

    It seems like an easy game to play and WIN. After all, when the mark approached s/he observed someone winning w/o any difficulty at all!

    What the mark doesn't know, of course, is that the dealer and "Winning Player" are in collusion. The "win" here is an ACT, *designed* to give an impression of easy victory.

    I humbly suggest that (x)Lawrence is the dealer, and "the Charybdis of parish after parish threatening to leave" is the partner-in-crime. They don't REALLY want to leave (x)Lawrence as their bishop, they just want to give that impression on Lawrence's behalf, w/ the mark those whom Rob so colorfully calls "the 'hostile takeover artists' at 815" (in reality, the faithful of the Episcopal Church).

    Well, I obviously haven't fallen for the scam. My hunch is that few Episcopalians will. To ALL the Imago Dei, we're as gentle as doves---with those whom would defraud us (inc. those whom have forgotten who gave them their miters), we're as wise as serpents!

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  7. It could be a shell game, JCF. I did say that Mark could be right.

    A further thought has struck me: it could also be (to continue the sporting metaphor) a defensive ploy: suppose +Mark is removed by canonical process (as may happen??) and the diocese cannot have a bishop of their choosing, or have to have a bishop not of their choosing, then each parish is in a better position to remain attached to their property than beforehand, should they be without a leader or with a leader they do not wish to work with.

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  8. The quit claims unquestionably run counter to TEC's current canons and are invalid, short of SC's Supremes ruling that TEC is not hiererachical. At which point the case would almost certainly go up to Washington.

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  9. It's anything but certain that the US Supreme Court would accept any of the various church property cases throughout the US. The court accepts only about 1% of the petitions it receives each term. And while conflicting decisions among the various federal appeals courts is considered grounds for review, conflicting decisions among the states isn't. The party seeking review (whether TEC, the diocese, or the departing group) would probably have to raise some First Amendment issue. And the Supremes would have to decide it's important enough for them to hear.

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  10. So the fact that the SC Supreme Court seemed to say that the Pawley’s Island case was unique and found in favor of the abandoners based upon their quit deed would seem to indicate that using the strategy of secretly issuing quit deeds to all parishes in the diocese guarantees that they will be able to walk, property and all and the bishop is too clever by half.

    I wish them well. Perhaps I’m old-fashioned but ill-gotten gains carry their own associations of guilt and defensiveness and secrecy and I predict that if the SC parishes follow this path they will never rest and they will be troubled by their covert actions for a long time to come.

    I pray for all involved.

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  11. "Ill-gotten gains" would need explaining to me (please)!

    While details vary a little, generally parishes are evolving communities of people who in their history have raised funds to buy land, build buildings and subsequently from time to time raise further funds for major additions, refurbishments, etc; while also through time paying the power bills and costs of repair and maintenance.

    If a parish then also secures claim-free title deeds to that property it is quite unclear to me how that might then be described as "ill-gotten gains", a phrase I associate with thieves, pirates and frauds.

    Wht might be a better claim to "ill-gotten gains" could be the case when an institution gains the title to property, forces the regular users of the property to leave, puts the property up for sale and pockets the proceeds. But I would prefer not to use that phrase because it is associated with thieves, pirates and frauds and I am sure such an institution was acting legally in the sequence outlined above.

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  12. Peter, I’m not much for euphemisms. Around the USA parish after parish that left TEC has lost their battle to retain their property when they leave. In SC a single case was decided in favor of the parish because the former bishop had issued them a quit deed.

    The court seemed to take pains to point out that this was a unique case because of that quit deed and should not be construed as precedent setting. And then it comes out this past week that the current bishop has secretly been issuing quit deeds to all the neo-orthodox parishes since the court decision.

    You can parse and spin this any way you want and refuse to call the neo-orthodox anything resembling dishonest and go to great pains to defend them. I will not. It is as clear as day to me that they are planning to use this underhanded tactic to leave en masse with TEC property in hand. Fine. Let them go and take the property.

    But Peter you will never convince me that they are doing the right thing, that they are acting Christ-like, that they are being honest, transparent, and above-board, making them beyond reproach because I don’t see that at all. And I’m surprised that you are willing to. Another case of the ends justifying the means and choosing the lesser of two evils in their worldview I suppose.

    Still choosing evil though, in book.

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  13. In my book. Sorry!

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  14. "evil" is a very strong description of parishes seeking title to that which they have fund-raised for, paid maintenance etc.

    I myself would not go so far as to use "evil" to describe an institution that will not sell its assets to fellow Christians sharing a descriptor such as "Anglican" but will sell them to another church or even another religion, or even let them lie around fallow working out what to do while the people who used to worship there use the local school hall. No, I think "evil" is a very strong term to use of Christians trying to work out what to do about their buildings in the best interests of the people they believe those buildings belong to!

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  15. Peter, I have no expectation but that you will defend the neo-orthodox no matter what they do. Agreed? As to your charge of TEC refusing to sell the properties that is totally made up. They don’t want to buy them because they don’t believe that TEC has any right to them under any circumstance.

    You ignore the remnant of the faithful Episcopalians whom also have ideas as to the best use of the buildings that they too helped build, pay for, and maintain. They don’t count here?

    But the neo-orthodox rarely offer to buy the buildings or, if they do, they offer a ridiculous price. They simply take the buildings, property, silver and all.

    And if stealing from TEC isn’t evil because of Gene Robinson then I’m curious as to your interpretation of what is evil -- is it anything liberal or TEC while everything neo-orthodox and conservative is good? Is it OK for neo-orthodox to commit any sin as long as it is against liberals?

    I haven’t even mentioned the well-documented lying about the Presiding Bishop and TEC and the war-like language used by the bishop of SC regarding TEC.

    Bearing false witness? What exactly can neo-orthodox do wrong that won’t receive a pass? Anything outside of being faithful to TEC, its constitution and canons? If what SC is doing is OK why are they doing it secretly and undercover and then announcing it after the fact? Sorry, that just doesn’t pass the smell test.

    I know you are not that kind of person and I respect you and your work for the church but I will not ignore what I see as a great wrong and pretend it is OK because I sympathize with the wrongdoers. We’ve too much of that already in the church in my opinion.

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  16. Real estate disputes in the US are primarily a matter of state law. Since property law varies somewhat from state to state, it's not surprising that the courts in some states (I believe a majority of those considering the issue, so far), the courts have ruled in favor of TEC and the TEC diocese, while in SC, the state supreme court has ruled in favor of a local congregation. That decision was based, in part, on a quitclaim that the diocese gave to the parish in 1903. But the court's opinion also makes it clear that the Dennis Canon, by itself, is not sufficient to create a trust in favor TEC or the diocese. The court stated that it is axiomatic that a person must have title to property in order to declare that it is held in trust for the benefit of another person.

    This doesn't mean that TEC and/or the diocese would never be able to prove that they have a legal or beneficial interest in the property of a parish. It does mean that they're probably going to need something besides the Dennis Canon to do it.

    I agree with Peter Carrell that talk about "theft" and "ill-gotten gains" is not particularly helpful. What we are talking about are good-faith disputes over title to real estate. Until these disputes are resolved (through either the courts or a settlement between the parties), it's premature to call either side thieves. It also makes any future rapprochement that much more difficult.

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  17. Brian,
    I am offering a critique of language used in respect of property issues. I am not here making comment on aspersions, accusations and the like brought against people such as PB Jefferts Schori. I have read a number of those over the year and do not want to defend the indefensible.

    I agree that it is difficult to work out what to do when (say) 80% of a parish want to leave TEC and 20% want to stay. Someone is going to be hurt. Whether the resolution of such difficult matters deserves the term "evil" is something I do not agree with you on.

    Perhaps there is no example of a TEC diocese ever refusing to sell a property to a departing congregation. I had formed a different impression.

    As for SC gearing up to leave TEC? That remains speculation. No one has brought forward evidence to support that speculation (that I am aware of). Again, is 'evil' a fair term to use while in the speculative stage?

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  18. So Peter and Paul, SC bishop can call TEC apostate, godless, and on and on but the burden is on me to avoid loaded terms such as "the lesser of two evils" because it makes raproachment difficult? I see that I am expected to operate under a different set of rules. Fair enough. The lesser of two unsavory choices -- how's that?

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  19. Whatever may be the final word in civil courts about the Denis Canon, it seems to me that it is part of the discipline of TEC to which Bp Lawrence promised to conform. Now it appears that he has violated that promise by acting to circumvent the Denis Canon. I might characterize his actions as civil disobedience, but civil disobedience includes a willingness to suffer the legal consequences of the act. In this case, while it might not be deposition or even suspension, I think the House of Bishops cannot ignore the violation.

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  20. What we are talking about are good-faith disputes over title to real estate.

    Paul Powers, come now. To think that 'good faith' is operating in South Carolina is a stretch too far for me. How am I to think 'good faith' is a part of this dispute with evidence of the vast amount of vitriol against the Episcopal Church that has issued forth from Bp. Lawrence and others in the diocese?

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  21. Decision (six to one) of the Georgia Supreme Court in the Christ Church, Savanna case. Issued this morning. Ht The Lead.

    “[T]he Dennis Canon adopted in 1979 merely codified in explicit terms a trust relationship that has been implicit in the relationship between local parishes and dioceses since the founding of [Episcopal Church] in 1789.”); Episcopal Church Cases, 198 P3d 66, 81-81 (Cal. 2009) (“Moreover, [the Dennis Canon] is consistent with earlier enacted canons that, although not using the word ‘trust,’ impose substantial limitations on the local parish’s use of church property and give the higher church authorities substantial authority over that property.”

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  22. Hi Brian,
    Use whatever term you like to respond to what you find disagreeable and objectionable about the language used by +Lawrence against TEC. I am objecting to language you have used in respect of properties and the attempts by parishes to remain in the buildings they have fund-raised and given for, and spent time and energy on maintaining. Legally they may be operating in a misguided manner not understanding the implications of the Dennis Canon and so forth (well, at least in those states where the DC is recognised), but I would be surprised if people were acting evilly in seeking to remain in the buildings they are used to worshipping in.

    My point about speculation that +Lawrence is organising the Diocese of SC to leave TEC is that it is a strong judgement call to talk about a speculative possibility in respect of evil.

    The comments you draw attention to are not speculative: they have been made. I am not going to object to the judgement you draw about that for which you have hard evidence.

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  23. Peter, thank you for your thoughtful, measured response. I appreciate you!

    May God have mercy on the Diocese of SC and TEC and all God’s creation.

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  24. It can most honestly and certainly be called just as it is, theft. Court decision after court decision has proven that Episcopal Church property is held in trust for The Episcopal Church. Everyone involved has known this fact for years. The canons concerning this were not written yesterday.

    I do not buy the "fund-raised and given for" arguement about ownership, either. The parishes who seek to leave and take the property knew and were aware of how the rules worked when they "fund-raised" and "gave" for the building to be built.

    I have worked, fund-raised, and given to several churches in my lifetime, and I never expected to take away one thin dime when I moved on from any of them. To have had any expectations otherwise would have made my "gifts" into "purchases" (at best) or "loans" (at worst).

    To turn around now and try to leave with the property and claim righteousness in doing so not only makes "thieves" an accurate and appropriate description, but disingenuous ones at that.

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  25. Why does The Episcopal Church seem incapable of defending itself against its obvious enemies? Given Mark Lawrence’s history—he should never have been made a bishop—it is perverse to assume that his motives are pure. (See “No Consents: A Crucial Test for The Episcopal Church” and “Waldo on Lawrence.”)

    Lawrence’s latest move is a variation of the tactic that got Bob Duncan sued by Calvary Church in 2003. (How different the church would look if Frank Griswold had been as prescient as Harold Lewis!) Is the presiding bishop, her chancellor, and Executive Council incapable of learning from recent history?

    Lawrence’s action is a clear violation of Episcopal Church canons, and he should be charged, inhibited, and deposed as soon as possible.

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  26. Actually, Mimi, I was talking about good faith on both sides with respect to the various property disputes, not with respect to intemperate comments that people hurl at one another.

    In SC there is a good faith dispute over the extent that the state supreme court has eviscerated the Dennis Canon. Some, including myself, read the opinion as pretty much eviscerating the Dennis canon in SC. Others read it as saying that it does not apply in the All Saints Wacammaw case, but that it may in other cases. We really won't know unless and until another property case winds its way to the SC Supreme Court. That will require one of the parishes with a quitclaim to try to leave TEC. Has that happened since the All Saints case? Besides, the quitclaims don't prevent TEC from suing withdrawing parishes if it wants.

    But be of good cheer. So far, other state supreme courts have not followed SC's example (although an intermediate appeals court in Baton Rouge used similar reasoning recently in a case involving a local Presbyterian church and the PCUSA).

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  27. The testing in court of the Denis Canon can be seen as a legitimate strategy for parishes, but for the Bishop or any other cleric to be party to such a strategy is a violation of the promise made at ordination. I think the fear that Bp Lawrence would not enforce the Denis Canon was one reason why the PB had an attorney working in the diocese.

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  28. "Lawrence’s action is a clear violation of Episcopal Church canons, and he should be charged, inhibited, and deposed as soon as possible."

    I am genuinely curious where this sort of logic goes. Things are rough sledding in terms of basic viability in the new rump diocese of Pittsburgh.

    In the Diocese of SC it would be authentic scorched earth. Big historical churches virtually emptied overnight.

    Mr Deimel, how do you see the new TEC denomination in 4 years time (assuming the courts in, e.g., LA, TX, SC were to declare local congregations in those states the 'property of a national church'). Are we supposed to have in mind a denomination of about 1M, with a strict line-hierarchy and a new constitution that gives legality to this? Many strong conservative dioceses only 30% of what they were, if that. 35% of the present dioceses already not viable long-term.

    How do you make this new TEC denomination actually work?

    Or is the first thing one ceases to worry about when one believes they are guardians of the new orthodoxy financial viability? Look at Christ Church in Savannah, and compare it with St Philips or St Michaels in Charleston. Who is going to attend these churches and the 50 others in the Diocese of SC which just empty out?

    Msgr

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  29. Paul, I'm all for negotiating property disputes out of court, so long as those who leave the Episcopal Church acknowledge that the property belongs to the church.

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  30. Again, let me ask in all sincerity.

    Grandmere, have you ever been to one of the historic churches in SC? Or in Philadelphia, or Savannah, or Boston?

    Let's choose a church in a liberal diocese, Church of the Advent in Boston; or St Thomas Fifth Avenue, or St Bartholomew's.

    If you attended those churches as a visitor and said, 'this is such a lovely church, and aren't we fortunate the 'national church' owns it' people would look at you in disbelief.

    St Philips in Charleston is a lovely church, full on Sundays, doing great mission and outreach. I suspect there isn't a person in that church who would say, 'this church is the property of 815 Second Avenue.' They might say, 'this church is in the Diocese of SC' but even then not conclude it was owned by them.

    Now you can pronounce all this wrong. But isn't this the problem? You are striving to overturn the most basic presumptions of 99% of the worshippers in these churches.

    Can you do this by the hard edge of Law. Well, I suppose, but with huge collateral damage and emptied churches.
    Msgr

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  31. Dear Msgr,

    I don't need to travel around the country and ask the members of historic churches who owns their church. I visit a historic 167 year old church nearly every Sunday. I love our beautiful old building to the point that I've wondered if my attachment is a form of idolatry. Our congregation has spent a ton of money on restoration and upkeep of the church. Emotions aside, the fact is that our congregation and our diocese hold the building in trust for the Episcopal Church. That is the fact.

    In all sincerity....

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  32. “…how do you see the new TEC denomination in 4 years time (assuming the courts in, e.g., LA, TX, SC were to declare local congregations in those states the 'property of a national church'). Are we supposed to have in mind a denomination of about 1M…already not viable long-term…How do you make…TEC denomination actually work?.. Who is going to attend these churches and the 50 others in the Diocese of SC which just empty out?”--Msgr

    Perhaps we learn to live with quality and not quantity. Maybe we recycle many of the buildings. Perhaps we will sell many of the less historic properties (either to the schismatics, or to non-profit developers for affordable and senior housing for the economically disadvantaged in SC), while we concentrate the remaining loyal members in TEC’s historic buildings. We could also take a page from NYC’s Church of the Holy Apostles, and transform some properties into soup kitchens, homeless shelters, etc. as well as retaining them for Sunday worship. It’s not difficult if one has a bit of imagination (and a bit of faith, too!) By doing so we would prepare the way for the future growth of TEC as well. It’s not rocket science, my friend.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

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  33. The "new TEC denomination"? Actually, it's been around since 1789. ACNA, AMiA, etc. for, what, five years now? That sounds like "new" to me.

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  34. That may be true of your opinion of your church, Grandmere.

    It is decidely NOT the view of most people who worship in these churches. For them the idea of a 'national church' holding their property is a johnny come lately idea.

    Which of course it is.

    Kurt -- you can call it 'quality' -- is it viable?

    Msgr

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  35. It is decidely NOT the view of most people who worship in these churches.

    Well, msgr, that IS the view of most of the courts in the land, the Supreme Court of SC being the exception.

    Are you an Episcopalian?

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  36. “Kurt -- you can call it 'quality' -- is it viable?”

    That remains to be seen, doesn’t it? But, I would think so.

    Perhaps the loyal TEC remnant, reinforced by in-migration (SC, if anything, has a good, warm climate beloved by many Yankee retirees!) can support a dozen or so parishes. Certainly we could, at the very least, save TEC’s historic parishes, e.g. St. Andrew’s Church, Drayton Hall 1706; St. James Church, Goose Creek 1711; St. Helena’s Church, Beaufort 1724; Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant 1724; Strawberry Chapel, Cordsville 1725; Prince George’s Church, Winyah, Georgetown 1742; St. Michael’s Church, Charleston 1752; Pompion Hill Chapel, Huger 1763; St. Stephen’s Church, St. Stephen 1767; 10. James, Church, Santee 1768; St. David’s Church, Cheraw 1770 ; etc. Other properties could be sold or re-developed as I outlined.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

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  37. Grandmere -- of course you can introduce a legal reality that is the law in many states. That is not at issue.

    What is at issue is perception and reality. It is massively counter-intuitive for the average churchgoer at major parishes in SC to think their buildings are the property of 815 Second Avenue. And why would they think that?

    The point is, if for some reason TEC were to 'win' (!) in the Diocese of SC, those historical churches would simply be empty monuments.

    Christ Church Savannah is a good case in point. 87% voted to leave. The diocese will simply have to sell the church or transfer diocesan headquarters there and sell the Cathedral on the open market.

    You can call this legal and maybe a good outcome -- I doubt it will transpire in SC -- but it is a public scandal and a tragedy.

    This is what comes of pretending diversity but in fact bringing in a new religion that others will not accept.

    Kurt -- I have worshipped in a good number of these parishes. Take Prince George Winyah. It is simply unthinkable that this historical parish would end up as property of the NY national church. If it did, the 150 familes now attending, with the graveyard full of relatives, would simply evacuate, leaving the property to be sold. The idea that this historical church does not belong to the Diocese and the church members is like saying the sea is yellow.

    Charleston South of Broad is already full of Yankees. St Michaels is full on Sunday mornings, and it would not survive without the present ethos and mission as retained in the Diocese.

    Yes, you could get 20 families out of 400 to stay. But the plant is not viable on those terms. Same with St Philips.

    Let's just agree that a TEC legal victory -- which thank goodness is not likely to happen -- would kill the Diocese and the churches.

    Msgr

    Msgr

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  38. The idea of The Episcopal Church holding property in trust is decidedly not a recent idea. It has always been the understanding. The Dennis Canon was passed when the courts began to demand an explicit, not merely an implied, trust on behalf of the church.

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  39. “Yes, you could get 20 families out of 400 to stay. But the plant is not viable on those terms. Same with St Philips.”

    So you say, numbers-wise. Fine, then we will re-define the “terms” and hold the historic TEC buildings for better times. Museum buildings, if necessary, can be interim measures. Perhaps twenty years from now we can put them back to parish use for a more progressive generation of SC residents.

    “Let's just agree that a TEC legal victory -- which thank goodness is not likely to happen -- would kill the Diocese and the churches.”

    No, I don’t agree. A TEC legal victory would be quite problematic for schismatics, but that’s not my problem. I am not opposed to selling non-historic properties to those who leave TEC. I am opposed to these properties being stolen by religious reactionaries.

    “Charleston South of Broad is already full of Yankees. St Michaels is full on Sunday mornings, and it would not survive without the present ethos and mission as retained in the Diocese.”

    Perhaps they don’t have the right kind of Yankees. I’m thinking of progressive Yankee retirees, shipped in from all over, to populate affordable senior retirement centers paid for by selling off non-historic TEC properties. Sounds like a viable option to me.

    Kurt Hill
    Brooklyn, NY

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  40. to Msgr... I am a 35 year Episcopalian in a 59 year old body.... and I have known for years that "we" don't own the buildings... that we don't do more teaching of this, is a mystery... probably part of our fund raising dysfunction, oh, I mean, pledging strategy. Our strength (IMO) in our structure is diminished when we can't talk about it enough to defend it at the parish level.
    Lynn

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  41. addendum...by structure I mean the heirarchy of the church structure.

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  42. Yeah, that will work. Problem solved.

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  43. As Lionel just noted, the national church and the diocese holding trust rights over local church property is hardly a new thing. The Georgia Supreme Court opinion in the Christ Church, Savannah case that came down yesterday reviews the history of this trust relationship in detail and concludes on this point (pp. 41-42):

    "In other words, like the highest courts of other states, we view the Dennis Canon as making explicit that which had always been implicit in the discipline of the Episcopal Church (and the Church of England before it), as shown in the documents setting forth, in legally cognizable and non-religious terms, the property-related rules and the relative authority of Christ Church, the Georgia Diocese, and the Episcopal Church, as well as the parties' understanding of them as revealed by their course of conduct. See, e.g., Rector, Wardens & Vestrymen of Trinity-Saint Michael's Parish, Inc. v. Episcopal Church in Diocese of Conn., 620 A.2d 1280, 1292 (1993) ("[T]he Dennis Canon adopted in 1979 merely codified in explicit terms a trust relationship that has been implicit in the relationship between local parishes and dioceses since the founding of [Episcopal Church] in 1789."); Episcopal Church Cases, 198 P3d 66, 81-81 (Cal. 2009) ("Moreover, [the Dennis Canon] is consistent with earlier enacted canons that, although not using the word 'trust,' impose substantial limitations on the local parish’s use of church property and give the higher church authorities substantial authority over that property.")."

    And:

    "In the end, it is fair to say, as the trial court did, that Christ Church

    'can no more shrug off the trust, than the National Church could unilaterally impose it. The trust has historical roots going back to the English church and the founding of the Episcopal church in this country. Christ Church got the benefit of its bargain with the National Church for many years. The National Church has the right to insist on its part of the bargain as well.'"

    We have all been operating under these rules for a long, long time. The people who want to leave the Church don't have the right to change the rules at this point or to take the property with them. As the Georgia Supreme Court noted (p. 42):

    "[The schismatic group] and the dissent characterize this dispute as the Episcopal Church trying to take Christ Church's property. We disagree with that view of the record and the law. The First Amendment allows [the schismatic group] and its members to leave the Episcopal Church and worship as they please, like all other Americans, but it does not allow them to take with them property that has for generations been accumulated and held by a constituent church of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America."

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  44. Anyone who has taken the time to do the slightest amount of research on this subject can come to no honest conclusion save that of the fact that local church property is held in trust for the Diocese, and the Diocese is a creature of the larger Episcopal Church.

    Episcopal Church property (and Roman Catholic church property) is held in trust for the diocese.
    Presbyterian (USA) properties are held in trust for the Presbytery, United Methodist church property is held in trust for the Conference in which it is part. This is not a new idea. It has been the reality for many years.

    I find it hard to believe that there are a great number of Episcopalians in any diocese who do not know how this works. I can only speak for my parish, and can safely say that the chance of any of our Communicants being ignorant of the answer to the question at hand are slim to none.

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  45. I am a B&B South Carolina (DoSC) Episcopalian. Five generations of my family are buried in the churchyard which surrounds the parish church of my baptism, confirmation, wedding, children’s baptism, funerals of beloved family and friends.

    As this parish turned slowly and deliberately from the Episcopal Church, I fought loudly and obnoxiously for that not to happen. My efforts were futile. A priest of the parish told me with utter frustration that she was concerned about my memory because I kept repeating myself, saying the same things about the parish, the diocese, and TEC and my desire to keep an Episcopal Church in our area. The invitation to live into my ‘threat’ to leave the parish was palpable in that message, although carefully not stated outright. I realized at that time that the only person my speaking out was impacting was me and that was not a good thing. Not good at all.

    So, after over 50 years of serving as keeper of children’s chapel, EYC president, president of ECW, Sunday school teacher, EFM-er, DOCC facilitator, staff director of Christian education, chair of adult Christian Education commission, initiator of parish neighborhood pastoral visitors committee, and vestry member…after a life lived in this parish of my roots, I transferred to an unabashed and loyal Episcopal parish nearby.

    That was five years ago. While the new parish is truly wonderful and while I have other ministries now in another place, I believe the parish of my roots was stolen from me. I still miss this parish of my birth and growing up into the faith, although it has so changed theologically, pastorally and liturgically and is hardly recognizable as an Episcopal church. Their website does not include any obvious reference to its being an Episcopal parish, and this church certainly lives into that Episcopal ‘void’. Many former leaders of this parish (yes many!) have stayed even though they are relegated metaphorically to the back pews, even though their voices are silenced, even though their hearts are broken, even though new lay leaders do not know their names. Average Sunday Attendance in this parish has remained stable for ten years. New members do come but they do not stay, no matter how many ‘user friendly’ services that welcome newcomers are offered. This parish is in deep debt. Perhaps the parish is thriving but I cannot see the evidence of that from this distance.

    I have known for a very long time that an Episcopal parish holds title to the property in trust for the diocese which in turn holds it in trust for the Episcopal Church. This is simply what the Canons have implied since early in the formation of the Episcopal Church, then later (1979) have stated in the written word. It just is what is. No amount of verbiating will change that fact of Episcopal Church polity.

    So, why is it meet and right for a faithful Episcopalian to be turned out of this parish home? Why is it meet and right that a parishioner of a different denomination (Anglican) is given the property that has belonged to the Episcopal parish/diocese/Church since the days of land grants? I do not think it is. At all. I think it is very wrong. And, I know there is and will be loss and grief on all sides of this travesty…and that God’s children are suffering, regardless of theological position taken on the continuum. This is hard.

    Let us pray for one another, even as we love and serve the same Lord, Jesus Christ. Let each one of us and all of us remember that a church is a people called out to worship and serve God in Christ Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Let us pray that, as we do that, we can re-member Christ’s body, especially in South Carolina.

    I am praying that South Carolina will once more manifest, without condition or exclusion, the radical hospitality of Christ Jesus, who stretched out his arms of love on the hard wood of the Cross so that all might come within his saving embrace. Let us so love.

    The Episcopal Church welcomes absolutely everyone.
    Kirby

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  46. Kirby, thank you for your eloquent and poignant comment. Thanks for the story of your loss. You and your family belonged to the Episcopal Church, and your church was taken away from you. I am so sorry.

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  47. We are still Episcopalians and have transferred to another Episcopal parish 45 minutes away. Didn't mean to imply otherwise. I am an unabashed Episcopalian and can be no other. I tried. Thanks, Grandmere Mimi.

    Kirby

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  48. Kirby, my understanding was that you remained Episcopalian. I would like permission to post your entire comment on my blog. If you want to have a look at my blog, Wounded Bird, here's the link.

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  49. Grandmere Mimi,
    Let's hold off on that.

    Thanks.
    Kirby

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  50. Ginga Wilder and Grandmere Mimi: Thanks for the great civility of your interchange. I try to moderate comments with a light hand (although some have deemed me heavy handed indeed), and sometimes I get discouraged about the possibility of people connecting in a conversation thread in any way but a shouting match. On those occasions I think about simply giving up on this thing. Then you come along and I think, "OK...this is better." And it is better.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

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  51. I aim for civility, but, more often than I like, I miss the mark.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, Mark, and to all.

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  52. St Michael's, St Philip's & Prince George, Winyah, will not be empty if they "end up as property of the NY national church" (which, BTW, they already are). "Few men are so disinterested as to prefer to live in discomfort under a government which they hold to be right rather than in comfort under one which they hold to be wrong.‎"

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  53. Would you judge that you represent something on the order of 10% of the diocese of SC? Meaning of course that 90% would be driven out with empty churches remaining and the faithful put under the boot of a new regime? Are they wrong and to be ousted and you right? Ths is sadly the present gambit. Join up to new TEC teaching or be driven out.

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  54. Thanks for allowing my story to be posted on your blog. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too, Mark+.

    Kirby

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  55. Christopher (P.)22/11/11 10:20 PM

    I want to point out the loaded nature of some of the comments, which, to my thinking come out as anti-Yankee, even anti-urban. Does it need multiple repetitions that the church offices are in New York, even New York City, even 2nd Avenue? Come on! The National Church may have corporate headquarters there, but the Church is still identified as General Convention--with Bishops, and Deputies from all over the country, and outside the U.S. as well. That's who owns the real property of the chuch, not the PB or the corporate structures, who work at the behest of Convention.

    The pain shown here is repeated in many other contexts, including, though not to the same extent, my own. It comes from being a church that prizes not only diversity, but also integrity and conscience, and is publically committed to reconciliation. This makes the pain of rupture even more difficult to bear.

    Finally, I find myself utterly unable to fathom the expressions "under the boot" "regime" "driven out" "ousted" etc. Sheer incomprehension, given my own experience. That is, the vehemence seems disproportionate.

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  56. Anonymous,
    I believe Episcopal churches are committed to faithfulness to the Canons and Constitution of the Episcopal Church. I do not think guestimated numbers of who will stay and who will go has anything to do with keeping that commitment. I'm going to follow this thread from the sidelines now because I do not want to parse with increasing passion the oft parsed talking points of this situation. That will solve nothing for the DoSC.

    Kirby

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  57. "Episcopal Church property (and Roman Catholic church property) is held in trust for the diocese.
    Presbyterian (USA) properties are held in trust for the Presbytery, United Methodist church property is held in trust for the Conference in which it is part. This is not a new idea. It has been the reality for many years."

    But not necessarily in South Carolina after the All Saints Waccamaw decision. We really won't know for sure until one or more church property disputes work their way up to the SC Supreme Court.

    And perhaps not in Louisiana, where the First Circuit Court of Appeals held this past September that that a trust provision in the Presybeterian Church US's Book of Order did not create trust in favor of the local presbytery. Of course this is just an intermediate court of appeals and it's possible that if given the opportunity, the Louisiana Supreme Court would reverse it.

    Fortunately, there don't appear to be any lawsuits involving parishes in Louisiana, but that's something Grandmère Mimi may know more about.

    By the way, Mimi, I'm in generally in favor of churches settling almost any property dispute under terms that are acceptable to all parties. The problem with requiring the departing members to acknowledge that TEC owns the property is that if they really believed that, they wouldn't have tried to hang on to the property. If they don't believe that, then it seems to show a certain lack of integrity for them to say they do just to get their bowl of pottage.

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  58. The only boot I see, Anon, is on the foot of the existing reactionary-ghetto diocesan regime.

    Recent Segregationist history outlines a likely scenario. In 1965, St. John's, Savannah, daughter church of Christ Church, voted 785 to 75 (starting to sound familiar?) to secede from PECUSA rather than integrate and admit African-Americans to worship. They were led by their rector Ernest Risley, quoted in a contemporary issue of "Time" as stating "I believe that integration is contrary to God's will".

    Five years later, under a new rector, the congregation returned to the Episcopal fold, where, Christ Church's current antics notwithstanding, it remains.

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  59. I am disturbed by the total lack of gratitude among conservatives for the many blessed gifts they have received by being in the Episcopal Church. I start with the Book of Common Prayer and move quickly to our great Hymnal. These did not come from any one diocese much less an individual parish. I love my parish, but I would leave tomorrow if it believed it were free to ignore the Prayer Book and Hymnal and make up its own liturgy. It is marvelous that I can go into an Episcopal Church in New York, Texas, or Nebraska and find our common liturgy and worship. I wish those who are so hostile and who are so outraged at the perceived inconvenience of being part of the Episcopal Church would at least acknowledge the many great things that have come from our National Church. A little more humility would seem to be in order along with a little less attitude of "I built my parish on my own without any benefit from being in the Episcopal Church".

    Bob Button

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  60. Thanks you Paul Powers.

    Msgr

    PS--I also wager Texas will go the way of Neutral Principles and dismiss Dennis Canon trust insinuations.

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  61. Bob in Dallas

    Obviously the Book of Common Prayer is a Communion legacy bequeathed by the Church of England.

    What any new TEC prayerbook may in time become is anyone's guess.

    But the BCP is decidely NOT a TEC invention, and to the degree that it is, it is something other than the Common Prayer of Anglicans worldwide. Thank goodness that for now that is not so.

    Msgr

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  62. "I also wager Texas will go the way of Neutral Principles and dismiss Dennis Canon trust insinuations."

    The case involving Church of the Good Shepherd in San Angelo, Texas is pending before the Texas Supreme Court.

    Based on "neutral principles," both the trial court and the intermediate Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the national church and the Episcopal Diocese.

    You never can be sure what a court will do but, based on the history of this case and on what the vast majority of other state supreme courts have done, I wouldn't wager the family farm that the Texas Supreme Court is going to reverse and rule in favor of the schismatics.

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  63. Christopher (P.)23/11/11 6:35 PM

    Msgr--

    The American BCP is different from the BCPs--for there are many--of the different constituent churches of the Communion. The U.S. divergence from England happened in 1790 or so, but the Scottish Episcopal Church was using a distinctly different book from England's, formally since 1764. So the churches that form the Communion have never had a single Prayer Book, but rather a series of prayer books that mostly relate "genetically" to the English model--which itself had multiple parents. Each church brings its theology, interests, and experiences to bear on the expression of its prayer. Our BCP has mostly our church to thank for its unique form--but stands on the shoulders of 2,000 years of Christian worship.

    And on that historical note: a happy Thanksgiving to all!

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  64. Although I have done s survey, I think most of the congregations in the various traditionalist groups are using material from either the 1928 or 1979 BCPs. I think that Arbp Duncan did say that he thought the 1662 ought to be the standard, but as I recall that was a statement about BCP theology and not about which book to use. Perhaps he hope for an ACNA book that is more in line with 1662.

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  65. My previous post should have begun: Although I have not done a survey....

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  66. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  67. Christopher--thank you for stating the obvious. The BCP is not some special TEC bequest. And to the degree it might become so, more the pity. A 'BCP' with a same-sex marriage rite or 'open communion' would cease to have family resemblance with the logic and trajectory of 1979 and the rest of the Communion. Happy Thanksgiving to you as well, and to those worried about the ongoing worship of Anglicana.

    Primrose -- Judge Chupp in FW has not sounded very keen on the idea of a 'national' trust. You have conflated diocese and national church in your comments. Dioceses are very likely 'hierarchical'. Which is why Dallas and SC have agreed to negotiate over churches wanting to leave (and several others, including NJ). This has nothing to do with a 'national church' interest -- a view held by Frank Griswold, but altered in VA by the current PB and now the very costly position of the 'national church.'

    Msgr

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  68. By the way, having worshipped in Anglican churches throughout the world, does anyone know:

    Is TEC the only province in the Anglican Communion that declared its earlier BCP otiose, and required it be set aside?

    I do not believe that has happened in any other region of the vast 80 Million Communion. One can still use the 1662 and earlier BCPs in places like Scotland, Canada, and all over Africa.

    Msgr

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  69. Growing up in an Episcopal parish in the 1950s I would have trouble finding any parishioner who thought that we owned the building. It was ours to use as long as we were part of the Episcopal Church. Our neighbors at First Congregational could leave their denomination, but we weren't Congregationalists.

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  70. Re the BCP - check the allowed liturgies of the Church of England (Anglican enough for you, maybe?) for starters. The alternative Communion services from the 2000 Book of Common Worship can be found at this link.

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  71. What is your point, Rabbit? I worshipped for many years in the CofE and know their liturgies. The only legal liturgical rites are 1662. The others are ASB (alternative service books). They have not declared their former BCPs otiose and not to be used. I think only TEC has done that.

    Fr Weir. So, you believed growing up that your local parish was owned by the national church?

    BTW, the General Convention has not authorized law suits, money for them, audits of them, trienniel assessments of them, etc.

    This happens out of 815 and The PB's Chancellor.

    Let's recall it was Justice Blackmun (that's how recently all this has been so) who pointed out to TEC that they really did not own all the property and that the idea of an 'implied trust' would probably not get the job done.

    Happy Thanksgiving

    Msgr

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  72. Msgr, yes the members of that parish understood that the property belonged to the Episcopal Church and did not even consider the possibility that the congregation could vote to leave the Episcopal Church and keep the property. If by your use of "National Church" you are asking if we thought it belonged to some corporation in New York that wasn't us, we would have been puzzled that anyone would think of the Episcopal Church in that way.
    Had Parliament authorized the CofE's 1928 BCP, I think the 1662 would not have been authorized for regular use. As to the declaring of the 1928 BCP otiose, that is not at all true. To have considered it as having no useful effect or futile would have implied that the worship of the previous decades was a waste. I still love the 1928 BCP and have used it - with permission - for special parish events.

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  73. It's my understanding that with the Bishop's permission a congregation may use the 1928 BCP. In Fort Worth, Bishop Iker and his predecessors have given such permission to St. Andrew's Fort Worth. I believe Bishop Ohl has also given permission to those parishioners who consider themselves to be under his jurisdiction.

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  74. You do not have to 'ask permission' to use a former BCP in any region except TEC. And to have to 'ask' means the answer may be No. What an odd theology of time!

    As for the legal suits to claim property. These are indeed made in the name of a national church at 815 and a hierarchy leading to the PB.

    This is what makes your memory of your local parish and the reality after Frank Griswold's tenure so different. Griswold did not believe the 'Episcopal Church' existed apart from the diocese. So he had no interest in interfering in the negotiations of a Diocesan and a parish.

    The present PB and her Chancellor changed all that.

    Msgr

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  75. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  76. "I worshipped for many years in the CofE and know their liturgies." And you'll know how extremely rare correct use of the 1662 Book's text and rubrics - virtually unknown for at least two generations - is, particularly where the Communion service is concerned.

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  77. Rabbit--and the significance of that for TECdom is what?

    Someone on this thread made worship in a BCP tradition a special gift to parishes and dioceses by TEC! One that was being scorned by suggestions of a non-line-hierarchy polity!

    That is false, misleading, and in fact the opposite of the reality. As many note, so called-schismatics in conservative dioceses are not seeking to split from the BCP legacy. They judge it under threat, and that should be uncontroversial. Hence their retention of the tradition and rejection of new rites for SS marriage, etc. ad anti-BCP.

    Msgr

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  78. The child Samuel back in the Temple, perhaps?

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  79. On further consideration, I think references to the CofE in discussions of the affairs of other churches of the Communion are not helpful. The CofE is an anomaly, being the Established Church in England. It has an official BCP which I suspect is rarely used for celse rations of the Eucharist in parish churches. The rest of the churches of the Communion have been free to adopt BCPs that they think are appropriate in their contexts. The CofE has had to be content with rites - often very good ones - that are not part of its BCP.

    A question, which need be answered: Msgr, to what church do you belong? That information would help me put your comments in context. As is obvious, I am an easily identifiable cleric in TEC.

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  80. I am an Anglican and have served in various provinces of the Communion, including TEC.

    That's all I wish to say. I find Preludium pretty much a closed shop of 'new TEC' proponents, or, unfriendly territory for a traditional Episcopalians/Anglicans.

    Msgr

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  81. I don't know about other dioceses, but in the ACNA Diocese of Fort Worth, the Bishop's permission is required to use any prayer book other than the 1979 BCP in public worship.

    Even if permission isn't actually required in other dioceses, it seems to me that it would desirable to seek it from the bishop, as chief pastor of the diocese. And yes, if you seek permission, you have to be prepared for the possibility that the answer will be no.

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  82. I find Preludium pretty much a closed shop of 'new TEC' proponents, or, unfriendly territory for a traditional Episcopalians/Anglicans.

    Obvious, of course, as you are not permitted to slip in a word edgewise here. Not meaning any offense, but you gave me a laugh with that comment, msgr.

    With Daniel Weir, I see it as loss that we cannot know from which church you speak.

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  83. Msgr, thanks for answering. I have found somewhat curious that people who have left the Episcopal Church give any energy to commenting about it. As to Preludium being unfriendly territory, I can only say that you have been treated with greater respect than I have been in comments on BabyBlue and the Anglican Curmudgeon - not I should add by the owners of those blogs but by visitors. I think the level of civility is generally pretty good and if you feel abused you can take the option I took with those other blogs. I don't comment there anymore.

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  84. I have not left TEC. I will not leave unless driven out. If and when SS marriage is a rite in the new 'BCP' my conscience would not allow me to perform it and I remain of the strong opinion that a Bishop who will not permit the rite will be disciplined for canonical violation. It will become the requirement for each diocese. I have disagreed with your view that the matter will devolve to individual priestly discretion. The battle will not be fought there but at the diocesan level.

    The tit for tat argument about who is worse is wordly thinking and not Christian ethics.

    Msgr

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  85. I congratulate Msgr on being to turn every observation to his advantage. I wait for the acknowledgement that all have sinned.

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  86. msgr, I did not know TEC had monsignors. Are you in TEC, but not of TEC? No matter; sincere thanks for answering my question.

    This comment thread is quite long, thanks to Mark's gracious hospitality, and I will add no further to its length.

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  87. Pretty obvious, given the point scoring, the polemical style and the ongoing total coyness about himself, that we're dealing with Samuel Redivivus.

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  88. What a pathetic, sad little threesome. Grandmother, Rabbit and Fr Weir. I have no idea who Samuel is. You ask me who I am. I tell you. Then you rally your parochial TECdom and get condescending. Why? Because you want your way and you want there to be no fallout. Well, fallout there is and will be.

    Pitiful. Your little cabal.

    Msgr

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  89. "Pitiful. Your little cabal."

    MSGR, Why then do you continue to read what you must consider the drivel of such a cabal, let alone comment? No one who has commented here deserves to be referred to in such a way. Please apologize and change your ways or find a better use of your time. Or is it your intent to drive away the readers of this blog?

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  90. My "parochial TECdom", Sammy? I am, FWIW & unlike yourself, Anglican.

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  91. Rabbit--OK, if you say so, you are Anglican, I'm not, let the land of bizarre continue. How very odd. Msgr

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  92. Msgr, having implied -at least - that people with your convictions were not treated with respect here, you resort to insulting people who have treated you with a fair amount of courtesy. Forbearance is one thing, but ignoring rude behavior is never a good idea. Feel free to say whatever you want you the Episcopal Church, but don't you dare say anything negative about Grandmere.

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  93. Let's recall it was Justice Blackmun (that's how recently all this has been so) who pointed out to TEC that they really did not own all the property and that the idea of an 'implied trust' would probably not get the job done.

    A curious twist, but not an interpretation of a fair reading of the decision.

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  94. What Justice Blackmon suggested is that a denomination could create a trust for its benefit by amending its constitution. The soundness of that suggestion depends on the laws of the state where the property is located.

    Off topic: this Thanksgiving my family and I were especially grateful for Brother David's suggestion last year to add jalapeños to the cranberry sauce. :-)

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  95. Msgr...let it go. Long ago this particular thread moved from having something to do with Bishop Lawrence's actions and their meaning and has become a strange venue for other battles.

    You have not helped. I have left your comments on because otherwise most of the other comments would have no meaning, being reactions to yours.

    Tolerance is however growing less and less useful in the face of several highly questionable statements proclaimed as if they were facts.

    If you have a blog point us there. If you don't think of starting one. But it is time to stop sucking all the air out of this particular room.

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  96. Well, we wouldn't want a blog to be...a blog? now would we. Of course there is give and take over basic facts. Thank goodness Paul Powers and Peter Carrell keep everyone closer to facts. I feel insulted to have people keep drilling me over issues unrelated to the topic. I said who I was as asked and then nothing came of it except, 'you are Samuel' and then person who asked that I say who I was dropped the topic and Grandmere then avoided reading my comment that I was in TEC and so we got a nice tangle of irrelevance. Then the blog host comes in to defend his friends and calls me the cause of the fracas! Brilliant. Let it go? You bet. Enjoy your company.

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  97. Back to Mark Lawrence. I think - as someone must already have pointed out, but there's so much to plough through - that the business of the quit claims makes it more likely that he will be vulnerable to charges from Dorsey Henderson's committee. Should the quit claim business make it successfully through the South Carolina courts, it will create a situation in which every parish in two dioceses might effectively be a free agent. Also open, on the basis of a 50%+ majority, to hostile takeover - simpler and far cheaper to kite your followers onto a suitable existing congregation than to be put to the expense of purchasing or building a new church. A potential recipe for schismatic anarchy.

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OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
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Rule: PLEASE DO NOT SIGN OFF AS ANONYMOUS: BEGIN OR END THE MESSAGE WITH A NAME - ANY NAME. ANONYMOUS commentary will be cut.