Comments: Virginia: ADVA reacts to Friday's court hearing

"the claims filed by the Virginia churches [i.e., schismatic congregations] under the Virginia Division Statute preempt the property claims of The Episcopal Church and the Diocese"

As if!

Lord have mercy!

Posted by JCF at Tuesday, 14 August 2007 at 12:25am BST

They may take pleasure in declaring their maintenance of communion with the "worldwide Anglican Church", but their ideas are certainly not Anglican. Their concept of the Church is that it is congregational and subject to the civil law. This comes as no surpirse considering the makeup of these congragations, etc. but why are bunch of recent converts allowed to split the Church? Didn't Paul say something about not letting recent converts have too much power, lest their enthusiasm lead them, and everyone else, astray? And does the phrase "strengthening the Family" give anyone else the willies?

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 14 August 2007 at 1:48pm BST

Ford - you start by mentioning the comfort that the TEC "rebels" take from being very much part of the worldwide Anglican family.....and then contradict yourself saying they are "recent converts" etc etc

The point is exactly that those in TEC who cannot any longer tolerate the direction being taken by the liberal leadership of TEC are part of the global Anglican family.....they have not caused any global divisions, they are not hard to deal with, no emergency Primates' meetings have been necessary because of their behaviour, they are widely respected around the Anglican world for their love and faithfulness.......maybe your words should be aimed at the liberal TEC leadership rather than the faithful Anglicans who want to be in communion with most of the AC and who are upholding agreed AC positions??

Who is breaking up the family, Ford??
Could it be those who ignored the ABC & the Primates in 03 and who are soon to defy this year's attempt at reconciliatoin in the Tanzania Communique??

Posted by NP at Tuesday, 14 August 2007 at 5:17pm BST

NP needs to learn how to read. Ford said they take pleasure in declaring not they take pleasure in being.

If these schismatics are so closely tied into the Anglican Communion, how come their bishops are excluded from Lambeth?

I think you need a big slice of reality pie. You're starting to believe the rightwing propaganda.

Posted by Priscilla Ballou at Tuesday, 14 August 2007 at 8:03pm BST

Ford:

Where did all of this "recent convert" talk come from? Just curious.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Tuesday, 14 August 2007 at 8:05pm BST

Part 1 of 2

Regarding "the claims filed by the Virginia churches [i.e., schismatic
congregations] under the Virginia Division Statute preempt the property
claims of The Episcopal Church and the Diocese": Most reasserter blogs and comments I have seen seem to think that the court ruled that the
Division Statute *does* apply, and that the court will be proceeding on that basis.

This is outright untrue.

However, one reasserter has provided the following sober and accurate description of what the court actually *did* decide, and how the court will proceed from this point forward:

"The court decided to address as the first issue on the merits the applicability of the Virginia "Division Statute,", Virginia Code
§57-9. That law gives a congregation, in the event of a "division" in the larger church or religious society to which it is attached, the
right to determine which branch of the church or society it wishes to belong. Judge Bellows has scheduled an evidentiary hearing beginning on
November 19 to address the applicability of the Division Statute, with a pre-trial schedule that includes briefs and a hearing in mid-September
on the question of the proper scope of the November 19 hearing. If the court rules in favor of our churches and finds that the Division Statute applies, the court will then turn to the claims of TEC and the Diocese that that the Division Statute violates the Constitution. If the court concludes that the Division Statute is unconstitutional, it will then turn to the common laws claims that TEC and the Diocese assert in their complaints, claiming that they have trust and contract rights to our churches' property."

http://uncledino.bloghorn.com/278

(Continued...)

Posted by Viriato da Silva at Tuesday, 14 August 2007 at 8:59pm BST

Part 2 of 2

In other words, it remains unsettled (and imo, unlikely) whether the Division Statute will be found to apply at all -- in which case, and especially given the court's decision that it *will* consider the Constitution and Canons of
the Episcopal Church, the reasserters' case is severely undermined, like a sand castle washing out to sea.

I wish the reasserters would start better understanding the legal hurdles their case faces, but I suspect the Virginia congregations have been sold a bill of goods by their wishful-thinking vicars and bishops and primates (oh my!) and by their overly creative, too-cute-by-half attorneys.

Btw, the Division Statute can be found here:

http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+coh+57-9+501454

As you can see, what level of dissent rises to the level of a "division" (not within the "congregation" but within the "church or religious society" overall), thereby triggering this statute, is left undefined.

However, an attempted amendment several years ago shows that even if this statute is constitutional in the first place (which it may not be, as it seems to be more of a "Schism Protection Act" than a "Division Act"), it may not apply here, because the attempt to make the division be seen at the diocese level, rather than the overall "church or religious society" level, was defeated -- and if it was *originally* intended to cover a split at the diocese level (or below!), such an amendment would not have been necessary.

Indeed, the amendment's rejection shows that the
legislature does *not* intend the "division" to be as analyzed at the diocesan level or below.

And surely, approx. 5% of all Episcopalians
nationwide exiting or wanting to exit TEC does not a denominational "division" make.

It is also notable that the judge set the decision on the Division Statute's applicability to be a *non-jury* trial.

In other words, the judge will decide it himself, which minimizes the likelihood that appeals to raw emotion over law will win the day -- and therefore increases the likelihood that the judge will find the Virginia congregations' dissent and exit, or even that of all such conservative Episcopalians nationwide) into a supposedly "pure" Anglican stream, simply does not rise to being a "division" in the Episcopal Church, at least not within the intended scope of the statute.

Posted by Viriato da Silva at Tuesday, 14 August 2007 at 9:03pm BST

Just to clarify why I wrote the following: ". . . even if this statute is constitutional in the first place (which it may not be, as it seems to be more of a "Schism Protection Act" than a "Division Act")":

In denominations in which the very structure of the church as hierarchical is based on theology, any overriding of that church's theology in order to guarantee legal rights of exit by congregations, taking property with them, necessarily means intervention in the internal affairs of the denomination without heeding -- in fact, in violation of -- that denomination's theology.

This would, arguably, violate the First Amendment to the US Constitution, permitting free exercise of religion. It would be telling churches that are hierarchical based on theology that, no, at the end of the day, if there is dissent on any issue, the law will transform you, against your own theology, into a congregationalist entity.

Posted by Viriato da Silva at Tuesday, 14 August 2007 at 9:54pm BST

V. da Silva - It would appear that CANA's participation in Common Cause would be an attempt to establish that there has been a split in TEC that just now is being formalized. However, how do they get around the fact that vote was taken before the "branch" was formed?

And I agree - I think many pew sitters were sold a bill of goods that they were entitled to the property and it was just a matter of filing the petition.

Posted by C.B. at Tuesday, 14 August 2007 at 10:21pm BST

Yikes. I need to learn to read better, it appears; the quotation from the blog of "Uncle Dino" that I give above is actually dated back in *May*, after a settlement conference with the judge.

But it does fit with what I had heard and read in direct accounts, i.e., that the Division Statute's applicability would still not be decided by the judge until the November hearing, which is confirmed by other sources, such as this:

"Before those claims proceed to trial, a hearing has been scheduled by the court for later this year whether or not the claims filed by the Virginia churches under the Virginia Division Statute preempt the property claims of The Episcopal Church and the diocese, ADV vice chairman Jim Oakes said in a letter Friday."

http://www.christianpost.com/article/20070813/28882_Va._Episcopal_Property_Battle_Still_Far_from_Over.htm (dated 13 Aug. 2007)

By the way, the above article further states:

"Also, the court dismissed claims of the Virginia Diocese that the conservative congregation committed a trespass by holding onto property."

This description omits the important qualification that the dismissal was without prejudice, i.e., it can be filed anew. From what I read elsewhere, there was a procedural defect in the trespass claim, but nothing to bar it being corrected and lodged again.

And importantly, it also notes that "The court denied the claims of the breakaway congregations that the court should not consider the denomination's Constitution and Canons (church laws) in deciding property disputes."

Posted by Viriato da Silva at Tuesday, 14 August 2007 at 11:56pm BST

>> what level of dissent rises to the level of a "division" (not within the "congregation" but within the "church or religious society" overall), thereby triggering this statute, is left undefined. <<

And this is what will likely prove to be the statute's undoing. Judges deciding what level of religious disagreement is "division" and what level is merely "disagreement" is exactly the kind of entanglement in religious affairs that the First Amendment was intended to disallow. The statute can't possibly survive constitutional analysis.

Posted by ruidh at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 2:26am BST

“The plea in bar argued that vestry members are immune from suit for actions taken in an official capacity as volunteers…”

“official” capacity as volunteers” Wow, these people have no idea what they are up to.

“Since football season is about to begin, I can’t help but use a couple of analogies…”

No sense of tact either.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 6:09am BST

Priscilla....you are another one in denial....those you call "schismatics" are clearly very much in step with most of the AC....and if you look at TEC bishops, I think you will find +Duncan and +Iker are certainly invited to Lambeth you know! (VGR is not)

-the people you call "schismatics" are not the focus of the Windsor Report or the Tanzania Communique...are they? Thanks for wanting to deal with reality....maybe you should look at what the ABC has actually done rather than what you wish he had done in the last few years!

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 8:53am BST

NP
You do agree that Martyn Minns, the bishop most closely associated with ADVA and CANA, the subject of this article, has not been invited to Lambeth?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 9:01am BST

Yes Simon...but I was making the point that TEC bishops (eg Duncan) who are not so different and give support to Minns are invited....they may be labelled "schismatic" too but they are invited.

It was no surprise that CANA and AMIA bishops were not invited (even if ++Akinola is going to fight for his brother bishops...and probably win as usual). Trying to make out that not inviting bishops that ++Carey did not invite to 1998 is a big deal is not that convincing. The bigger surprises, that some people round here want to ignore, were that VGR, an elected TEC bishop as we are often told) was not invited and the ABC reserves the right to disinvite others.

My reply was related to the "schismatic" tag being handed out round here......just to point out that TEC's "schismatic" is just a mainstream Anglican in the rest of the / CofE

Posted by NP at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 9:25am BST

Surely no one takes any credit from these legal actions. "I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother goes to law against another—and this in front of unbelievers!"

Or maybe the apostle didn't mean this, modern, sort of legal action. Maybe he only had in mind 'bad' going to court against believers, not the good kind. Perhaps we have a better understanding of legal action in the 21st century than he did in the 1st.

Posted by John Richardson at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 9:26am BST

"Where did all of this "recent convert" talk come from? Just curious."

This was detailed in a Washington Post news story some time ago, and refers particularly to The Falls Church and Truro. I think the article may be archived in the depths of TA but am not sure. Itis a fact that many who voted to leave TEC had never bothered to be confirmed in it.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 11:13am BST

"The bigger surprises, that some people round here want to ignore, were that VGR, an elected TEC bishop as we are often told) was not invited "

Not at all surprising, actually. Validly elected does not mean "not controversial". Discretion is the better part of valour, after all.

Steven,
My understanding is that a fair number of the congregants in these churches are not Anglican, but Methodists, Baptists, etc. I'm sorry, I can't right now document this. It has been stated many times on TA, however, and never challenged. Indeed, going by what I remember, the "recent converts" was inaccurate. They are not converts at all, as I remember, remaining Methodists, Baptists, etc. I believe there WAS documentation given several months ago. All the same, perhaps I should shut up about it if I can't prove it now.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 12:17pm BST

Simon:

RE: Recent Converts

Can you provide a link or reference for the article Cynthia mentions?

Steven

PS-If they are recent converts, this is interesting data. On the other hand, if the folks voting are not members, how are they allowed to vote? I'd like to see this cleared up. Maybe someone can clarify. /s

Posted by Steven at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 2:14pm BST

Ford - "At least two-thirds of the worshipers are Methodists, Presbyterians or Baptists, and there is no pressure on them to be confirmed as Episcopalians, said the Rev. Rick Wright, associate rector."

As reported in the Washington Post

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/03/AR2007010301952_pf.html

Posted by C.B. at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 2:24pm BST

"Itis a fact that many who voted to leave TEC had never bothered to be confirmed in it."

Confirmation is one way to enter the Episcopal Church, but not the only. Those already confirmed in other churches (with which TEC is in full communion and/or which have the historic episcopate) cannot be re-confirmed, and so are formally "received." In addition, those baptized in other churches but not yet confirmed (at least, not in a form recognized by TEC) can be received into TEC as members, with confirmation presumably to follow at a later date.

"On the other hand, if the folks voting are not members, how are they allowed to vote?"

From what has been reported, at least the major dissident congregations -- The Falls Church and Truro -- permit individuals to join as members of the congregation, regardless of membership in TEC.

This is not 100% unusual; although I am an Episcopalian, and a member of a TEC parish, I also hold an associate membership in a United Methodist congregation, but am not a member of the UMC. However, as an *associate* member, my voting privileges are limited to "local" matters, and I believe I am ineligible to serve on that congregation's governing board.

I am told that, at TFC and Truro et al., no such *associate* membership restrictions applied, and the congregations deemed their non-TEC members to be full and equal members of the congregation alongside the actual members of TEC. I.e., full voting privileges, no restrictions on vestry service, etc.

Thus, if the foregoing is all true, then the vote to secede would have been skewed by being "stacked" with non-Episcopalians, and while the invalidity of their votes seems clear under TEC's canons and those of the Virginia Diocese, I wager that any judge would likely consider it invalid in determining whether a denominational "division" in fact existed.

This is what I have read in previous reports, and been told by people I believe in a position to know, but I'll add the disclaimer that this, like any hearsay, ought to be confirmed (no pun intended) before attributed as definite fact.

Posted by Viriato da Silva at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 2:56pm BST

Further to the previous posts regarding actual "membership in TEC" versus being simply permitted to vote in an Episcopal parish election, I can make reference to several of the parishes in which I have been a member over the past thirty-one years of my post-RC adult life.

If I correctly recall the election requirements of most (if not all) of the four parishes in which I have been a member, it was only necessary that I be a recorded contributor and that I be a communicant (frequency sometimes specified) in order to vote.

In order to be elected to the vestry, I needed to be a recorded member of TEC, and my letters of transfer achieved that in each case, sometimes a few years after actually departing my previous parish.

In order to be elected a warden of the parish, I needed to be a confirmed Episcopalian; in my case, as one poster noted about the process, I was simply received into TEC since I had been confirmed in the RC church.

So, yes, a parish election could easily be "loaded," whether by intent or by happenstance, by non-Episcopalian Christians of any number of stripes and biases, whose only criteria for being a communicant would have been that they were validly baptized Christians.

For those who might suggest that the probability of loading a parish vote was unlikely, I think that you really need a lesson in the pursuits of the James Dobson/Karl Rove approach to democracy.

I don't personally know whether it occurred in some, or most, or all of the separatist congregations in Virginia, but I suspect that it did. It certainly fits the US radical right play book perfectly.

Posted by Jerry Hannon at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 4:02pm BST

Remember, the Episcopal Church initiated "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You" campaign - emphasizes that the Communion Table welcomed all baptized Christians (unlike the Roman Catholics). The emphasis then was on baptism, not confirmation (which has always been the case in Virginia where, for the first two hundred years of the church there was no bishop and so Morning Prayer was observed for Sunday mornings and there were no confirmations). The Church emphasises that to be a member, one needs to be baptized and to take communion at least three times a year - canon law deems this sufficient to be a "communicant."

To hold an office in the church and to designate how many delegates are sent to Annual Council, one must be a confirmed Episcopalian. But membership does not require confirmation - and that is canon law, my friends.

bb

Posted by BabyBlue at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 4:08pm BST

Hmmm ... on the other hand, perhaps "real" church members are not really what is defined in "canon law" and, like the recent election of the Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of Virginia, "canon law" is, in practice, guidelines - which can be followed or overlooked depending on the circumstances. Or could it be that some canon law is more equal than others? It may be that The Episcopal Church, in practice, follows the same standards regarding canon law as it does biblical theology.

Currently there is a movement now underway in the Episcopal Church to move away from baptism as a requirement for receiving communion (and where we get the word "communicant" or to "be in communion."). If non-baptized people are now welcome at the Communion Table at the Episcopal Church, then the membership is open to any who have "a faith" - what ever that faith may be (see recent news from Seattle, Washington, to see how this was applied there to even the clergy).

But as this practice is contrary to "canon law" - may we now assume that "canon law" is not law after all, but, indeed, guidelines - to be followed or not followed "as may be best for us"?

Why would there be such an outcry here about members of the churches in Northern Virginia who have came into the Anglican Communion through the "inclusive" welcome of The Episcopal Church?

Am I reading this correct that some fear that the churches in Northern Virginia were somehow "less pure" because they had Protestants and Catholics in their memberships? Is that like being "Muggle Born?"

Or can we then, perhaps, infer that some are more "included" then others, and some canon law is more equal than others?

bb

Posted by BabyBlue at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 5:14pm BST

The three parishes I've been affiliated with in Maryland-all various degrees theologically left of center these days- welcome all baptized (in the name of the Trinity)to receive communion. The parish by-laws of each determine who is eligible to vote on church matters and are similar to one another: confirmed/received Episcopalian with letters of transfer on record if applicable, and communicant in good standing having taken communion no fewer than three times in the past year. Each year prior to the annual meeting the register is posted with the eligible members' names listed. If your name is not listed it is expected you will not vote at the meeting. Participate in the discussion, yes. Vote, no.

Posted by Edward of Baltimore at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 5:30pm BST

bb,
We are part of the Anglican Tradition. There is nothing wrong in an absolute sense with any of the other traditions. But, how can one call one'sself a mamber of a group if one does not share the ethos of that group? What would be your position of I brought a bunch of Orthodox, RC, and Old Catholic people to Falls Church, and they, while declining to become Anglicans, started demanding a full smells and bells Solemn High Mass every Sunday, a statue of Our Lady of Walsingham to be carried in procession on her feast day, Benediction once a month, and started a Rosary Group. Then, not being able to force the rest of the diocese to go along with them, they "leave" the Anglican Church which they still have refused to join, AND try to take the Church building with them because their spiritual ancestors in that parish would have wanted such obviously Catholic practices, and furthermore, the rest of you are faithless "reassessors" because you don't agree? It's not about canon law. If I am not a Baptist, I have no business trying to subvert a Baptist congregation and split the Baptist church if they don't agree with me. As to communion for the non-baptised, well, I have issues with that as well. What's your point?

"even the clergy"

One clergyperson, I believe, and she is getting out of parish ministry. Hardly a headlong rush to Hell on a handbar.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 5:38pm BST

bb: "Am I reading this correct that some fear that the churches in Northern Virginia were somehow "less pure" (your words/your emphasis) because they had Protestants and Catholics in their memberships? Is that like being "Muggle Born?""

Not at all. The point I believe others were making is it appears those, particularly at Truro Church, that voted to walk away from the Episcopal Church were Christians of more Congregational type backgrounds than Anglican, which I'm sure you would agree would have an effect on their understanding of church polity.

Your introduction of the "less pure" canard is nearly inflammatory, my friend.

Posted by Edward of Baltimore at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 5:48pm BST

For them what don't know, our erstwhile BabyBlue is a member of one of those breakaway "Anglican District of Virginia" churches which is attempting to walk off with Episcopal Church property.

Simply being assoc with the ADV is all well and good (the attempt to abscond with Episcopal Church property notwithstanding), but she is *not* a neutral, disinterested observer or reporter...

Posted by David H. at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 7:47pm BST

"The emphasis then was on baptism, not confirmation (which has always been the case in Virginia where, for the first two hundred years of the church there was no bishop and so Morning Prayer was observed for Sunday mornings and there were no confirmations)."

I, for one, am getting real tired of the VA CANA apologists pushing this "things are different here" canard. You're in the highly-mobile *Washington DC suburbs* for heaven's sake: I doubt a higher percentage of your, um, congregants are second-generation (or longer) *there*, than are MOST other faithful-to-their-bishop Episcopalians, all around the USA.

It's building up your CANA congregations w/ Presbyterian and Baptist and Pentecostal neocons---while driving the *Episcopalians* out---that has made you different. Not some special "Ancient Virginia Ecclesiology"! >:-/

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 7:49pm BST

Various speculations printed here about imagined irregularities in the voting processes of the CANA parishes are completely unfounded, and contrary to the facts. When the "division statute" issue is later addressed by the court, this is exactly the sort of thing that will be examined--and the parishes knew that full well before the voting occurred. Even if they had no interest in doing right for the sake of doing right, their enlightened self-interest would have required them to prepare to have their voting processes put under a microscope--and they will survive that scrutiny.

To address a few of the speculations given here and in prior posts--

+ No, non-Episcopalians who had never been registered under the canons were NOT permitted to vote. Even long-time attenders from non-Episcopal backgrounds (who would certainly have voted to leave TEC) were kept from voting because they did not qualify.

+ Under the Virginia and TEC canons, confirmation is NOT a prerequisite to voting. If the parishes had restricted the vote to "confirmed communicants," it would have been in clear violation of the canons.

+ Yes, minority members opposed to disaffiliating from TEC were encouraged to vote. (How would you recognize and bar them even if you wanted to?)

+ No, the vote was not participated in by only a small fraction of the parish membership. Rather, an enormous percentage of eligible members showed up. Anyone familiar with church life knows that the typical church roll includes many who are not there on a typical Sunday. But those who voted in favor of disaffiliating from TEC constituted more than a majority of the entire membership (and constituted 90+% of those who voted).

+ No, the parish rolls could not have been altered to exclude dissidents and control the outcome. Someone who requested a ballot, and claimed to be an eligible member, but whose name did not appear on the parish rolls, was given a ballot anyway and allowed to vote provisionally. The provisional ballots were and are kept sealed. It turns out that there were so few of them that they would not affect the outcome under any scenario.

Prepare to read NOTHING about these issues when the "division statute" hearing takes place. TEC and the Diocese of Virginia will conclude (if they haven't already) that this would be a dead-end for them, and would only vindicate the CANA parishes' voting process.

Posted by DGus at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 8:15pm BST

Hmmm. Well, I was merely interested to know whether the votes were "legal"--and, it appears that they would be for most general purposes in most TEC churches.

Should a higher or different standard apply on a question of this type, so that even more stringent eligibility criteria are applied in order to vote to leave TEC? This is a good question, and certainly presents an arguable point. Unfortunately, it is apparently not a question that has a direct answer in cannon law (as no one would normally assume a need for rules governing such a situation, or the desirability of such legislation).

Consequently, this is another question that may end up in the courts. Still, if the vote satisfied the normal requirements (and absent some definite evidence to the contrary) I can't see any basis for accusations of "loading" or that the vote was not a valid vote of the congregation even if one doesn't like the criteria for membership and voting.

This doesn't mean that the congregation is, in fact, entitled to keep the church property--just that the vote has prima facie validity as a vote of the congregation until some court says otherwise. So, back to square one.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 9:09pm BST

John (Richardson) - just out of interest, does that mean that if I turn up in Ugley, break into your house, nick a load of your stuff and disappear back to Cornwall with it, you won't prosecute me? Or if I write a long and spitefully untrue article about you and publish it in my parish magazine and syndicate it to your local press, you wont sue? Your understanding of the text being that no Christian should seek redress against another in court under *any circumstance?

Posted by JBE at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 9:26pm BST

This from a commenter at SF today on whether or not being a member of the AC played a part in the vote for Falls Church to leave TEC.

"You see, since TFC is aggressively evangelical a large portion of our congregation are either new Christians or persons from other denominations...so it was just not an issue."

Posted by C.B. at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 10:26pm BST

How unbelievable! If only the VA congregations would give TEC those buildings then TEC could do what it does best: manage empty buildings that serve as museums to a dead faith.

But just out of curiosity, remind me why TEC should have the rights to property they did not purchase, and to buildings they did not build, in order to put in those buildings people they do not have? And I'm not talking canonically, but morally.

Indeed, if 815's litigious actions were not punitive but missional, as they claim, wouldn't it be better for the kingdom to allow a congregation in a building to continue to worship in that space and to propagate the faith - especially if that congregation still defined itself as Anglican - rather than force the vast majority of the congregation out on to the streets only to replace them with a few persons (who will likely come from another parish) for mere appearance's sake?

Winning a lawsuit will do nothing for the kingdom and it only makes TEC look more and more like a wolf in sheep's clothes.

Posted by Joe at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 10:37pm BST

The early Christian church didn't wait on permission from the synagogues, nor did they oust the existing Jews from them. (Although unfortunately the promise of gentle peace and an end to tyranny was later lost and much worse was to be done).

Souls have been fudging numbers and "pruning" so that parishes or dioceses have "appropriate" leadership and members. There is a disgusting CIA(?) term called "plausible deniability". One strategy that has been going on for years has been conducting themselves in such a way as to drive out unsuitables but leave no evidence that they bullied or harassed parishioners.

One of my strategies in recent months has been getting some examples of these cultist souls to articulate in a non-editable public forum what has been said in kitchens and bible studies for decades. You can see by some of the dialogues on TA exactly the kinds of conversations and pressures that have been placed on parishioners who aspire to peace and reverence.

In my last parish there was a missionary training week and one event included a mens fishing trip. One of the missionaries had caught a nice little fish and then this big squid proceeded to take chunks out of this little fish. My then husband told the missionary to keep egging on the squid and he snuck up behind the squid with a net. It was a large squid and the guys enjoyed eating it.

A photo story was prepared with the parable commenting that sometimes God uses a little fish as bait to draw in a bigger predator. God wants to catch not just the little fish, but also large squid.

Further, God is sick of having potential parishioners mauled or driven away by cruel theology. Richard Dawkins' writings appeal to those who have been brutalised by churches. It is displeasing to have God's name associated with conduct which is an anathema to both Jesus and Torah teaching and principles.

Let the squid keep playing their games. God never sets snares unless there is something to be caught.

It's up to the leadership to decide if they want cruel cultists to create a repressive anti-reformation stranglehold over the communion, or if they want to continue broad tent reformations consistent with God's Tikkun Olam desires. One way ends with death and stagnation, the other offers hope and grown.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 11:47pm BST

It never occurred to me that the vote did not meet the requirements for a vote under the Canons. But I do wonder whether the judge would at all be interested in how over a fairly short period of time a group that is new to being Episcopalians can decide to take property that has been in the Episcopal Church for generations and give it to themselves. Is that the intent of the statute? If so, I doubt that it is Constitutional.

Posted by C.B. at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 3:20am BST

Although I am not a member of Truro, my husband is and I took part with him in the 40 Days of Discernment that preceeded the vote. I know some of the vestry members personally.

I am certain that at Truro only members (confirmed Episcopalians) were voting. Truro took great pains to insure that every member who voted was, in fact, a member of the church. They wanted to insure that, in the event of any contest, the vote could be shown to be proper.

My husband transfered his membership from the Episcopal church we attended before we moved to this area. It was discovered that they had transfered the wrong membership (our adult son was transfered instead - only the suffix of the name is different) and there was some scrambling done to make certain that the proper name was there, someone who was not attending Truro was not listed, etc.

Truro spend weeks before the vote going over and over the membership lists to make certain that they were correct and complete.

Please remember that membership list is different from a mailing list, which may go to anyone, or a list of people attending, or people who participate in various activities and ministries (who may CALL themselves members but not be bonefide members).

Posted by Anam Cara at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 11:53am BST

JBE, I think your example qualifies for what used to be termed on Perry Mason, "Incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial." For starters, it would be a criminal case, these are civil cases. What exempts them from the Apostolic condemnation?

Posted by John Richardson at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 1:54pm BST

For local (Falls Church) coverage, see http://www.fcnp.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1678&Itemid=33

Posted by Steve L at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 2:29pm BST

Cheryl:

"Cruel cultists"?

Hmmm. I've been called worse I suppose, and I'm fairly thick-skinned anyhow. Still, for the sake of all the others who you are very inaccurately stereotyping and condemning, you might want to tone down your rhetoric.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 4:35pm BST

C.B. -- The short answer to your pondering if a judge would look other variables is "No." Civil judges like neat tidy things, and the canons are objective with even a process to modify them, to some sort of subjective standard that not clearly defined.

It's kind of like saying the Tim Kane is not really a governor, because we found evidence that a significant number of Marylanders moved into the state and registered to vote in the time the law required. The Commonwealth of Virginia is still under US Department of Justice oversight from poor subjective discriminatory practices of the "Jim Crow" days. If Virginia desired to change residency requirements from thirty days to a year there is a legislative process to do that.

The canons and constitution are objective things the judge can look at and decide who is a member or not. Saying one person's opinion has greater weight because they're baptized as the forth generation verses this convert who formerly was at Fourth Presbyterian who only been with us two years is a purely social construct. Civil judges tend to shy away from social norms for they're extremely difficult to define.

Posted by Kevin at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 4:59pm BST

I'm just trying to find out what you think, John. First of all, you start by saying that Christians shouldn't take each other to court. Now you appear to be qualifying that. Christians shouldn't take each other to court except in criminal circumstances. That's fine. Doesn't look especially Biblical - which I think was part of the original point - but fine. I don't think I will be chancing my arm in Ugley just yet.

Posted by JBE at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 6:00pm BST

What of CofE v Sony?(Civil litigation). Did Church lawyers need to check whether Sony executives were Christians before threatening legal action?

Posted by Hugh of Lincoln at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 8:28pm BST

jBE:

RE: Clarification on Criminal vs. Civil cases

Criminal cases are different from civil cases. Criminal cases are brought by (and "belong to") the state and federal governments in the U.S., not individuals.

A criminal victim or the victim's representative may be asked by the officers of the government whether they want to press charges (i.e., want the government to move forward against the perpetrator), but ultimately the bringing of such charges is a matter for decision by the appropriate officers of the state or federal government as it is the criminal laws of the state and/or the U.S. that have been violated. And, it is primarily those laws and the interests of the government in preserving good order and punishing crime that are being vindicated via a criminal action.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 9:32pm BST

Steven

Dawkins complaints against cruel theologians and their hypocrisy are valid. There was a saying after the Holocaust that if you were not against evil, then you are for it.

If souls go to a church every week that insults souls from the pulpit, if they witness and collude in shunning the "unrepentant", if they undertake or assist others to molest the vulnerable then they are cruel cultists. Molestation does not have to be only physical, it can also be emotional, psychological or spiritual.

What recent history has shown us is that some dioceses are aware of transgressions within their midst, turn a blind eye, shuffle and groom to "keep up appearances".

I love the TV series "Keeping Up Appearances". Those around wince at the overt plays. What has happened is souls have been quiet in the face of more sophisticated cliquism.

If you know of souls who have come to your parish and being abused and done nothing to rebuke the perpetrators or to refer the soul to a safer environment or sought to create an environment where the basic sanctity of all souls is honored, then you are a cruel cultists.

The walls of holy temples are to contain no stones that have been struck by metal or burnt by fire. That is to say that God does not want any temple built with violence, nor does God want any temple to contain chaff.

Thus any who enter into a temple are to be considered to contain a holy spark. Their clothes might be filthy, their history appalling, their social status dismal; but they still contain a holy spark. Jeremiah 17:27 If you do not honor the Sabbath and refrain from placing burdens upon souls (including psychological or emotional guilt tripping and accusations) then God "will kindle an unquenchable fire in the gates of Jerusalem that will consume" the corrupt priests and complacent parishioners. See also Matthew 3:12 or Luke 3:17

If you have personally never slandered another soul, if you have never refused communion to someone, if you have never struck a soul -physically, financially, or metaphysically, if you have never refused to recognise the holy spark moving in another soul (no matter how seemingly unlikely) then these complaints do not apply to you. There is no need for you to respond or take on these concerns.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 10:01pm BST

Ugley and Cornwall are both in the UK. If I robbed John's house and he told the police he didn't want to press charges, they wouldn't - not even pour encourager les autres.

Anyway, I thought it was liberals that were supposed to obfuscate with irrelevant technical detail?

Posted by JBE at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 10:08pm BST

Kevin - The Canons say expressly that the church can not alienate property without the permission of the bishop. If the effect of the State statute is to over ride the Canons there must be a permissible state interest for statute to withstand Constitutional (U.S.) scrutiny. In the present case, the only "division" that has occurred is that a group of "new' Episcopalians have up and decided they want the property for themselves. Not only do I think handing it to them is not what the statute intended, but I don't think if it were held to apply that the statute would survive under First Amendment.

Posted by C.B. at Thursday, 16 August 2007 at 11:40pm BST

Well, C.B. you are changing the nature of your position. Your initial posts had to do with non-cradle-Episcopalians voting. That I can easily answer.

Now you've changed your argument.

On the mind of the judge over Dennis Cannon and the Virginia Division Statute and other stuff, I refuse to give a declaration and issue a warning it is only a fool who would dare unless a true prophet of God. It's said that a bad settlement is better than a good trial because one never knows exactly what will happen and what "bombs" may found.

Posted by Kevin at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 1:32pm BST

Kevin - I think you mis read my argument.

Posted by C.B. at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 2:17pm BST

The fact that non-Episcopalians can vote in parish matters ought to make it clear that the notion of a right for a parish to vote to leave The Episcopal Church was never countenanced -- any more than a diocese can vote to leave or a congregation can vote to affiliate with The Episcopal Church (which of course it can, but it is meaningless unless The Episcopal Church takes action -- as happened some years back in Valdosta, Georgia, when the pastor of a Pentecostal Church decided that the Apostolic Succession was Scriptural and right and converted, bringing his congregation with him -- the bishop appointed an interim while making the former pastor a candidate for holy orders, etc. -- but the vote of the congregation did not make them Episcopalians)

Posted by Prior Aelred at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 2:30pm BST

Dear Aelred:

You start, "The fact that non-Episcopalians can vote ...." No. By definition, if one can vote--i.e., if under the canons he qualifies--then he IS an Episcopalian. The canons require only that you record your Baptism, receive Communion thrice a year, and be "faithful" (or some such) in working, giving, and attending. That's it. That's what the Episcopal Church says it takes to become an Episcopalian.

One could argue (and perhaps you do argue) that the definition of an "Episcopalian" should be tightened to exclude people who aren't really sufficiently Episcopalian in the truest sense--whatever that might mean--but then you would have to decide (and people would have to agree) what it means to be REALLY Episcopalian. So far, the additional criterion being proposed is Confirmation--i.e., that only persons confirmed (or received) by a Bishop are truly Episcopalian-ated. That's fine, but while it would set a different standard, it wouldn't really set a higher or tighter standard. After all, in order to be confirmed, one doesn't have to pass a doctrinal or liturguical test, or disavow, say, Baptist or Presbyterian leanings.

I'd be interested to see what a REAL Episcopalian really is, in your view, and what it actually is that disqualifies former Baptists.

Posted by DGus at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 4:43pm BST

Prior Aelred:

Is there a place where the definition of an "Episcopalian" is definitively and authoritatively given for TEC churches? If so, I'm surprised that no one has quoted it thus far. If not, by what basis do you say that someone is not an Episcopalian if they have met the standards for membership and voting in an Episcopal church? Does simultaneous membership in another church or denominatin keep one from being an Episcopalian? If so, where is this authoritatively set forth?

Steven

PS-It would seem this problem arises from having standards for membership and voting that have, generally, become too loose. /s

Posted by Steven at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 6:22pm BST

Cheryl:

Sigh. Sorry I asked--I shoulda known better.

Steven

Posted by Steven at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 6:25pm BST

"At least two-thirds of the worshipers are Methodists, Presbyterians or Baptists, and there is no pressure on them to be confirmed as Episcopalians, said the Rev. Rick Wright, associate rector."

"_are_ Methodists, Presbyterians or Baptists"

As reported in the Washington Post

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/03/AR2007010301952_pf.html

To hold any office one must be an Episcopalian (i.e., confirmed) -- I agree that the "standards for membership and voting" are not just "too loose" but poorly defined!

Posted by Prior Aelred at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 8:46pm BST

As to some of the recent posts from a few conservative Anglicans regarding, effectively, "who is an Episcopalian," and noting previous posters concerns about whether or not some or all of the Virginia schismatic congregations had their eligible voter rolls "loaded", we should all note that there are unfortunate parallels of voter registration loading in the US election process over the past ten years.

To those who might argue that anyone who technically qualified to vote, under loose and permissive standards (merely validly baptized, a communicant, and a contributor) is TRULY an Episcopalian, I would instead suggest that the realities of today's US "church politics" simply points out that this is an absurd permissibility in Episcopal parish structure which was created many decades ago, and without a thought about the kinds of conflicts we now have in the United States.

These very conflicts have brought about attempts by those affiliated with the radical right (and, in fairness, by some not ultraconservative, but who have a personal problem with one or more of the issues that have come to the fore since 1976) to subvert what they regard as a bastion of non-conservative thinking and action, including social justice in the name of Christ.

Subversion of the US political process has been one of the hallmarks of the leaders (I have other words) among the political right wing elite in the US. It was not much of a transition to apply this to Christian churches in the US, as Jim Naughton has so brilliantly unveiled.

Furthermore, there is a big difference in allowing someone to vote to choose which person(s) will be selected for the vestry of that parish, versus such a momentous decision as to “secede” from the Episcopal Church.

Obviously changes in canons need to take place. Perhaps there should be two classes of voting membership, with one requiring that no voter be eligible unless their letter of transfer is registered with the parish having an election beyond the scope of choosing vestry/wardens.

In the meantime, we must conclude that votes in accordance with the existing canons are legally valid, but then also note that any "legal" vote has no effect upon the property of the parish, whose ownership and title resides with the Diocese and the national church.

As my politically-minded uncle used to say, there is a big difference between a legal vote, and an ethical vote.

Posted by Jerry Hannon at Friday, 17 August 2007 at 10:33pm BST

Dear Jerry:

You guys keep comparing apples and pineapples. The Rev. Rick Wright is quoted as having said that 2/3 of "worshippers" are Baptists, etc. He didn't comment on voters. To vote, one must first transfer his membership by recording his baptism. The average Sunday attendance at the Falls Church includes many hundreds who were ineligible to vote, and who did not vote.

I suppose, alas, that you consider it a defect that an Episcopal Church somehow used the liturgy, Word, and sacraments in such a way that it was welcoming to Christians of all types--and non-Christians as well--but I doubt you'll develop consensus about redefining "Episcopalian" if your definition is oriented toward making the Episcopal Church a tight little club of the already initiated.

And you haven't told us your proposed definition yet. Take a try.

TEC's current membership definition--woefully lax, in your view--was delberately crafted that way. Why? I'm betting it was to try to keep the Episcopal Church's membership statistics from looking even more dismal than they do. Imagine if membership WERE appreciably stricter. The Episcopal Church would already be statistically neglible, whereas those loose membership rules may give the Episcopal Church another 10 years or so before it dwindles to the point that it fails altogether to show up on the religious radar.

Posted by DGus at Saturday, 18 August 2007 at 1:20am BST

DGus --
You continue to miss the point -- parishioners don't have the right to vote to take the parish out of The Episcopal Church any more than English parishioners have the right to take their parish out of the Church of England -- they can vote that the Bible says the pi = 3 (I Kings 7:23), but that doesn't change reality.

Posted by Prior Aelred at Saturday, 18 August 2007 at 3:42pm BST

Dear DGus:

To your question about definition, I'd suggest the same standard, for any vote beyond the scope of annual elections for vestry and wardens, as is required to be eligible to run for warden, viz. all those required for general membership PLUS being a Confirmed (or Received) Episcopalian.

That was implied in what I wrote, but I'm sorry if it wasn't clear enough for you.

As to your intimation that creating a more strict standard for any votes unrelated to annual selection of vestry/wardens (whether binding or not, or of legal consequence or not) is somehow offputting for potential or current non-Episcopalian parishioners, you are way off base.

When I began attending services at an Episcopal Church near my office, about 1974, I did not know, nor did I care, what the standards for membership were. When I chose to depart the Roman Catholic Church, some two years later, and be Received into the Episcopal Church, I still did not know, nor care, whether I could vote in an election, or for anything else, much less run for the vestry.

Your suggestion that potential parishioners would give more than a nanosecond of thought to such issues is remarkably shallow.

Do you really know people who made decisions about their faith and their parish based upon the voting structure in the Episcopal Church? I don't think I'd like to even meet them, much less spend any time with them.

I don't know what your parish is like, but mine, four Episcopal parishes after my 1976 Reception, is resplendent with people of all manner of personal backgrounds, economic circumstances, political persuasions, and religious upbringings.

We are filled with so many cultures that our Rector even uses the many languages natively spoken on Pentecost Sunday to read parts of the Lessons and Prayers of the People, first in the "foreign" tongue and then followed by its English meaning.

None of these people are focused upon what the voting standards are, nor what they might like them to be. But I'd love to have a series of discussions with all non-cradle-to-grave Episcopalians in my parish to learn how they came to the Episcopal Church, and what their reaction was to their initial experience, and so on.

I'd be very willing to place a large wager that less than five percent of them cared one whit about the things you suggested.

Posted by Jerry Hannon at Saturday, 18 August 2007 at 4:54pm BST

Dear Aelred:

No, I hear you, but I was talking about a different point being discussed here--i.e., that people had voted in CANA congregations who were not truly and authentically Episcopalian enough to have been allowed to vote on such important matters.

As for your point--that denominational affiliation simply isn't a proper subject for voting in a Virginia parish in TEC, because (you say) the relation between TEC and Episcopal parishes is the same as that between the C of E and its parishes--I would respond that this equating of TEC and the C of E is grandly and impressively untrue. It is untrue not only spiritually and ecclesiologically, but most especially in terms of property ownership.

(It would be fun to hear a Roman Catholic take up your logic to insist that the C of E never had the right to take itself and its property outside the RCC, but I digress.)

Dear Jerry:

So the thing that distinguishes authentic from inauthentic Episcopalians, and the criterion that should have been in place to distinguish those entitled to vote, is Confirmation (or reception)? I don't see how that is a meaningful distinction. You surely know how easy it is to be confirmed (or received) these days. Someone who denies every truth that the Episcopal Church has ever held is nevertheless still allowed to be confirmed--and to be consecrated Bishop of Newark.

Posted by DGus at Sunday, 19 August 2007 at 4:47pm BST

Oh my, DGus implies that we can't even trust the Confirmation/Reception process, when he/she writes "So the thing that distinguishes authentic from inauthentic Episcopalians, and the criterion that should have been in place to distinguish those entitled to vote, is Confirmation (or reception)? I don't see how that is a meaningful distinction. You surely know how easy it is to be confirmed (or received) these days."

I suppose that, in order to help our ultraconservative brothers and sisters become comfortable with the reliability of most of the Anglican provinces and their communicants, we will have to revert to the time of Cardinal Torquemada, and allow these skeptical and schism-minded Anglicans to define the "tests and trials" that will prove the rest of us worthy of the love of Christ, and allow us to also call ourselves Anglicans, and Christians.

What a frightening prospect for not only the Anglican Communion but indeed all of mainstream Christianity. I mean, good grief, not even the Roman Catholics, excepting perhaps Opus Dei and some of their fellow travelers, would operate under a narrow fundamentalist mindset.

This sounds more like Pat Robertson, the late Jerry Falwell, and James Dobson all rolled into one. For those of you outside North America, who might not be familiar with this crew and their US political right wing allies, it sounds like many of you will experience the same kinds of emotion-based, intellect-suppressing, scripture-distorting extremists who are bound to hit your shores -- if they are not already planted there.

That's why increasing numbers of Anglicans, notable as well as obscure, are fighting to prevent the Calvinization of the Anglican Communion. That attempt didn't work in the Church of England hundreds of years ago, and we are determined that it not work in that communion based upon the CoE in 2007/2008 either.

Posted by Jerry Hannon at Sunday, 19 August 2007 at 9:04pm BST

Well the satellite stations are full of them coming to UK shores.

There is God TV, fronted by a well presented couple, that wants millions of pounds to keep its operations ever expanding, and then a range of shouting stations.

There are two by Revelation TV, a sort of pro-Israel last days outfit of Christian fundamentalism, and it is run on a shoestring budget making all sorts of mistakes as it bumbles along. The best bits are where they have that Australian chap on dressed as if he is going to cut his way through the jungle telling us that the Grand Canyon was made during a bit of rushing water at the time of Noah's Ark. And there's me thinking it's about a thousand years to every inch. Oh and humanking used to eat dino burgers.

Then there is EWTN, which seems sane contrasted with the rest of them, but then turns out to be this fantasy of somewhere on another planet run by men in frocks and nuns with the addition nodding lay people in the audience.

I often wonder: what if the Church of England paid Sky its millions a year to run a channel. Would it be like those Epilogues that used to run years back before closedown, except twenty four hours a day?

Posted by Pluralist at Monday, 20 August 2007 at 2:00pm BST

"redefining "Episcopalian" if your definition is oriented toward making the Episcopal Church a tight little club of the already initiated."

But it's NOT the "liberals" who are doing this. CANA is hardly trying to make ECUSA more open! It's actually quite humourous that someone who defends the exclusion of those who are not sufficiently in accord with the more radical ideas of the Reformation, and which they mistakenly call 'orthodox', has the face to accuse his opponents of exclusivity! I think the issue is one of poor catechesis. Those who joined from other denominations were not sufficiently or properly taught what the Anglican Church is. They were obviously led to believe, or not disabused of the notion that, the Anglican Church is congregational, believes that Biblical authority means that the Bible is the only authority in matter of faith, and demands the kind of uniformity they obviously think it should have. In short, it's not about whether or not they are "Anglican enough" but about whether or not they knew what they were joining when they became Anglicans. It certainly seems they did not, given the kinds of things they believe. No wonder they are disgruntled! They have been encouraged to join a Church and are now finding out that the Church they have joined is not at all what they were told it was. Why they are angry at the Church for not being what it never was, instead of angry at those who misled them is a mystery.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 20 August 2007 at 2:35pm BST

Ford and others:

Errr. I hate to interrupt a good row (and possibly disrupt an established set of prejudices), but plenty of conservatives are not Calvinists, nor are they great fans of "the more radical ideas of the Reformation" as you put it.

I have pointed this out numerous times in the past, but it doesn't seem to have sunk in to date. Like the "Donatist" accusation it is, for the most part, a meaningless distraction from the real issues. This type of stereotyping (and its reverse of calling all liberals Spongites or something similar), does not accomplish anything. It merely contributes to the continuing misunderstandings between the two sides.

Steven

PS- I am a fan of Archbishop Laud, though I wish he had been a bit less of a fan of the penal methods of the day.

PPS- I am not a fan of the Puritans overall, though I find them a good deal more theologicallly attractive than Spong and his ilk.

Posted by Steven at Monday, 20 August 2007 at 8:11pm BST

Dear Ford:

Thank you. Thank you for proposing what you think should be required of someone (beyond Baptism) before he can be thought of as truly Anglican/Episcopalian enough to be allowed to vote on important matters. You propose something ecclesiological--that he should adhere to an episcopal polity, as opposed to congregational--and that's fine. But may I point out two problems?--

First, as important as ecclesiology is, it is in the realm of procedure, rather than substance. It would seem eccentric to be rigorous about polity but indifferent to matters as substantial as theology, Christology, anthropology, soteriology, etc.

Second, CANA-type conservatives feel that ecclesiology is a sphere in which TEC had made critical doctrinal errors in consecrating Bishop Gene Robinson. TEC's innovation was possible only because its ecclesiology had degraded to the point that it considered itself authorized to change the rules against the will of the Communion. It would be doubly eccentric for TEC to become rigorous in defining membership (or voting rights) by reference to ecclesiology, but then make that a novel ecclesiology that eschews the independence of congregationalism on the one hand, but then on the other hand insists on provincial-level independence from the consensus of the Communion.

Posted by DGus at Monday, 20 August 2007 at 8:44pm BST

"It would be doubly eccentric for TEC to become rigorous in defining membership (or voting rights) by reference to ecclesiology, but then make that a novel ecclesiology that eschews the independence of congregationalism on the one hand, but then on the other hand insists on provincial-level independence from the consensus of the Communion."

But that provincial level independence is PRECISELY what the Communion has always insisted upon in the past:

"The Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and peoples called of God into the Unity of His Church."

No province of the Communion is required to ask permission of any other province, nor of the Communion as a whole, in the choice of its bishops or the manner of their election.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Tuesday, 21 August 2007 at 12:39am BST

Perhaps those joining The Falls Church were joining it because it was the up-and-coming ecclesiastical organization in town and gave little thought to its denominational heritage/affiliation? I have attended Episcopal churches of more liberal orientations in Florida and Maryland where this was the case. People were attracted because of a music program or a prestigious day school or proximity to the beach, not because it was specifically an Episcopal church. For some people, the denominational label means less than the attractiveness or the convenience of the facility.

Posted by Hoosierpalian at Tuesday, 21 August 2007 at 5:37am BST

"independence of congregationalism ...provincial-level independence"

Which proves my point. The "independence of congregationalism" is novel. The comparison between the congregation on the one hand and the province on the other is a false one.

For 500 years, there has been an Anglican Church, quite fuzzy around the edges, but definable, more or less. We have a tendency, born of the insecurity of Elizabeth's throne, to try to be as vague in our statements as possible so that those of quite differing religious backgrounds can sign on to them. We have consistently said to those who would narrow the definition, the Evangelicals and us Anglo-catholics are cases in point, that can be "that way" if they want to, but don't try to pretend like it's the only "right" way to be. If someone comes from another tradition, they need to understand that they might be uncomfortable with this broadness.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 21 August 2007 at 2:08pm BST

"For some people, the denominational label means less than the attractiveness or the convenience of the facility."

Gasp! You mean some people might go to church for reasons that have nothing to do with Christian faith?!?!?! Surely you aren't saying that some of them are the very ones who insist on other people obeying the letter of "the Law" while they ignore the transgressions of the spirit of that Law in themselves and others? You can't be serious?!?!?! I must just be reading too much into this. It's just that the idea that church attendance might be based on social climbing or other such less than spiritual factors came as such a shock! My whole reality is reeling, I need a little sit down!

Sorry. I'll take my tongue out of my cheek now.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 21 August 2007 at 3:57pm BST

"indifferent to matters as substantial as theology, Christology, anthropology, soteriology

Ecclesiology springs from such things. And who is indifferent to "theology, Christology, anthropology, soteriology, etc."? Does it not occur to you that perhaps these people have a "different" take on these things, that they are not at all indifferent to them? Frankly, every argument I have heard for SSBs is solidly Incarnational. The only people I have ever heard make reference to 'rights' of gay people are Consevos sneering at what they consider the faithlessness of their opponents. Sure, they don't engage in Bible mining, but that is not indifference, it's respect for the mind of Scripture. I agree TEC acted without due consideration of their fellow Christians, but it is people with entirely different, and only vaguely Church related, agendas that have fanned the flames into what it is now. You, like NP, seem to think this is all about the arrogant actions of TEC. There is far more behind this than merely American cockiness. That you buy into that myth prevents ou from seeing the big picture. Follow the money.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 21 August 2007 at 4:45pm BST

Ford says "You, like NP, seem to think this is all about the arrogant actions of TEC. "

Yes - it must be my terrible arrogance and misunderstanding again......I must have missed the bit in the Tanzania Communique and The Windsor Report which said the it was people like me wanting to stick to the teaching of the AC who are causing schism!

Posted by NP at Thursday, 30 August 2007 at 10:17am BST

"Yes - it must be my terrible arrogance and misunderstanding again"

You said it! Now what are you going to do about it? Maybe start giving credit to those who point out to you that there is more going on here than the simplistic "Sons of Light versus the Sons of Darkness" myth you have swallowed whole? Nah. They're just evil Liberals who don't even read the Bible.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 30 August 2007 at 4:17pm BST

well Ford....I see some (eg VGR but not just him) who reject certain clear biblical teaching, 2000 years of church tradition on certain issues and their own Anglican church's agreed positions.....sorry, but you want me to stop being so arrogant and accept such people as vicars and bishops???

I think I will be "arrogant" if that is how you describe sticking to 2000 years of tradition, my understanding of the bible, the AC's stated understand of the bible on the presenting issues (which happens to be consistent with the RCC and most US Christians' understanding of the bible on the said issues) I will continue to be arrogant and not go my own way.

Without what you call the "clobber verses", I would agree with you.....this is not my personal objection but I am constrained by scripture and (like most in the AC) not persuaded by those who teach we can ignore it on certain issues.

Posted by NP at Friday, 31 August 2007 at 9:41am BST

"you want me to stop being so arrogant and accept such people as vicars and bishops???"

I want you to stop being so arrogant as to claim you have the right to dictate to everyone else how they will live. You are an ordinary Christian just like me. You may have theological training, you may not. Frankly, given some of the things you say here, I doubt it. So, what gives you the right to demand everybody else comply with how you think things should be? What gives you the right to claim that because people disagree with you, they not only don't read the Bible, but don't believe any of it either? Sticking to what you believe isn't arrogant, NP, claiming others must comply with what you say, or denying their faith if they disagree with you certainly is. Of course, you are only defending your side. But in doing so, you are claiming that everyone else must comply with what you say, and those who refuse to are not only faithless heathens, but are actually trying to do to you what you are trying to do to them: force you to comply with their ideas, and both of these last things are false witness. There are some theologians in that group who are a lot smarter and better trained in theology than you or I, NP, I think it's pretty arrogant to call them faithless ignorers of Scripture because they don't agree with someone on your side. I might disagree profoundly with the theological understanding of, say, John Stott, but I'd never call him faithless. That is the arrogance, NP, not your faithful adherence to what you believe in.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 31 August 2007 at 2:08pm BST

NP and Ford: please, no more.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Friday, 31 August 2007 at 2:23pm BST
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