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Thursday, 6 August 2009

Sad Situation in Georgia

The Anglican Communion continues its implosion.
Christ Church, which started with a land grant from King George of England, finds itself embroiled in theological differences not unreminiscent of the 18th Century. ...

In 2007 the congregation, under its rector The Rev. Marc Robertson, voted with an 87 percent majority to leave the Diocese of Georgia and The Episcopal Church and come under the protection of the Anglican Province of Uganda until the orthodox realignment in North America crystallized.

As a result, The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia and TEC have sued Christ Church, trying to seize its funds and buildings, particularly the church on Johnson Square because of its symbolic significance as the "Mother Church of Georgia" and the pulpit of Wesley and Whitefield. Legal expenses from defending this platform for the Gospel have run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. ...
TEC and the Episcopal Diocese claim the property based on a church law, adopted in the 1970s, called the Dennis Canon, which says that all parishes hold their property in trust for the diocese.

Christ Church, however, was established in 1733, and asserts that it has legal title to its building and other property by the Crown grant prior to the existence of the Episcopal Church...

Today there is a shadow congregation composed of persons who want to remain in TEC and other former members of Christ Church. This shadow church was cobbled together by the Episcopal Bishop and others to assist in claiming the name and assets of the parish. The split has divided families and friends.

The situation is not dissimilar to that in the Diocese of Virginia where a number of parishes are in legal dispute over properties, many of which precede the formation of the Episcopal Church. So far, the orthodox, who maintain they are the rightful heirs both spiritually and ecclesiastically, are winning in the courts.
I don't pretend to understand the legal aspects of this, but for the civilian courts to be asked to adjudicate what is, essentially, a matter of a religious body's governance, cannot be a good thing.

I believe I recall at the height, or rather depth of the Catholic abuse cover-up scandal, legal machinations by some diocese or other, (perhaps more than one,) that an anti-Catholic might call jesuitical, insisting that oh no, that property we've always grasped with an iron fist?
No, not ours, that belongs to the parishes.
They just have to do exactly what we tell them to with it, and we can take it away from them at any time, etc.
The existence of the "shadow congregation" is the saddest thing of all, in my view.

4 comments:

Ms. C (Carleigh Bedell) said...

EX-Episcopalian here. I'm just going to shake my head at this news, again. The idea that there are shadow congregations and litigation pending sends me back to our own Diocese's bizarro meltdowns in the 90's. Thank you God, for getting me the heck out of there before I became a priest.

And, IMO, orthodoxy is not going to save the Episcopal church. Schism won't destroy it. There will always be those who want to do as they please while professing to do as He wants, and they will always need a structure in which to practice their willful choices.

"splendor without cost, supplication without surrender." (I quote myself, too, sometimes, it seems...) ;)

Scelata said...

"orthodoxy is not going to save the Episcopal church. Schism won't destroy it."

Since schism begat it, eh?

"EX-Episcopalian here.... Thank you God, for getting me the heck out of there before I became a priest."

I didn't know you were a convert. Isn't it interesting that so much of the "juice" in the Church comes from converts?
I had designs on being a priest, myself.
I am a cradle Catholic, but had a conversion experience when it suddenly hit me that much wiser, much holier men and women had given literally lifetimes of thought to the question of the proper matter for the Sacrament of Holy Orders, and if the Church though I wasn't it, it required an obscene amount of pride to disagree.

And I have an obscene amount of pride.
But having made an effort of the will to submit to what the Church teaches, even if I didn't understand it, (still don't "understand" it,) opened up so much to me, and opened me to so much...

(Save the Liturgy, Save the World)

Ms. C (Carleigh Bedell) said...

The journey has been the best, even at its most profound moments of personal sacrifice of will and pride and stupid I THINK I KNOW MORE THAN you do, which I DON'T, ever. Generally.

Humility came at a price, and is an ongoing challenge. The Catholic Church has to be approached with the idea that if something is God's will to be changed about it, you're in for at least a five hundred year wait, so...you'll probably need to pack some sandwiches when you go camp out with your picket signs at the Vatican.

I feel sad often for my good friends (and husband, mind you, Catholic, but SINGING at the Episcopal Cathedral because he can't STAND the music at any Catholic Church here in town) who I left behind.

Ms. C (Carleigh Bedell) said...

Um, a clarification...did not leave my husband behind, he's still here, he just goes to church there and the reasons have everything to do with a musician's deep need for texts and music worthy of God... I understand, I have just chosen to, as Aris put it one day... help "bail the Barque" myself rather than complain and jump ship.