We can also see the fine hand of Christopher Wells, the new head of TLC, in an editorial on the whole matter of Christians suing Christians. The editorial points out an interesting reality, "... the Dennis Canon accurately describes the relationship between a congregation and a diocese, at least within a church that strives, however imperfectly, for catholic order. Conservatives cannot afford to play a semantic game that salutes catholic order as a concept (as in the Anglican Communion’s nascent covenant) but rejects it in daily practice because expensive property is at stake."
There is much good to be said for the tone and thoughtfulness of this editorial. Read it.
I too believe that court adjudication is not the best we as Christians can do. Sometimes it appears it is all we can do. Once Church courts no longer carry civil consequences (and that went out with the rise of the modern State), the only recourse at times is to civil courts. I believe that Paul's comment about Christians suing Christians (1 Cor 6:7-8) was likely about the unseemly matter of taking the faith community's own problems out of the community. Sometimes Paul sounds like a rabbi giving moral judgment and instruction for remedy very much as a religious judge would. We don't have those any more and so away we go to civil court.
I wish it were otherwise.
One possible screen for determining whether or not to get involved in a suit concerning property might be to be clear about the missionary purpose, vision and cost of such an undertaking. I don't mean the dollar cost, but the cost to missionary life. If there was a way for negotiation to take place it would be possible for all parties to look at the issues of mission.
The trouble is, of course, that when people leave The Episcopal Church and take the keys and determine that they, and not those who stayed, call the shots on use of property and its ownership, they have preempted any such conversation. Provided those leaving and those staying are up for working it out as opposed to declaring the matter over by coup, there are possibilities for other solutions.
So, we wait for the Supreme Court, for reconciliation and renewal, and pray for mission to continue and grow.