February 03, 2005

Virginia Religious Wars Update

Following up on my post about Virginia legislation that would allow rebel Episcopal parishes to secede from the Diocese and take their property with them, it appears that the war is over for the time being. Today, the bill was amended to include this language:

C. Such determination [Ed. - to break away] shall be reported by the congregation to the circuit court of the county, or circuit or corporation court of the city, wherein the property held in trust for such congregation or the greater part thereof is; and if the determination be approved by the court, it shall be so entered in its chancery order book, and shall be conclusive as to the title to and control of any such property held in trust for such congregation, and be respected and enforced accordingly in all of the courts of this Commonwealth, unless the deed or deeds to such property explicitly vests title in [ , or an express trust agreement grants the beneficial interest to, ] the church, diocese, or society, or a bishop or other representative thereof, rather than the congregation.

I don't even have to look - I'll bet a considerable amount of money this vestment language is exactly the way Episcopal Church trusts are set up.

Thus, I expect the bill will pass and will be essentially meaningless. And the Elders of the Church can, with impunity, go back to telling the knuckle-dragging conservatives to get over themselves .

Posted by Robert at February 3, 2005 04:56 PM

You do realize that the "knuckle-dragging conservatives" are the vast majority of the Anglican communion and of christianity in general, right? The liberals are in a great bind. The growth in anglicanism is all of the conservative variety and the liberals keep getting more exclusionary of differing voices in their efforts to be more inclusionary of all sorts of behavior that christians have been against from the beginning.

My call is that the Episcopalians will end up losing every one of those churches. At the latest, they'll lose them when they sell them because there is no net income and there's no money left to subsidize them.

Posted by: TM Lutas at February 4, 2005 02:32 PM

You may be right. Certainly the powers that be were hoping that once presented with a fait acompli, the vast majority of parishes and parishioners could be made to simply get used to it. I honestly haven't tried that hard to judge how fired up the rebels still are, but this bill certainly didn't appear by accident. I expect the Church's next step will be to try and craft as fawning a response to the recent Lambeth Report as possible (without actually doing anything about it) in a continuation of this stall tactic.

In the end, I reckon the Church knows it's going to lose some parishes. The question is whether it loses so many as to become unviable. At this point, I simply can't tell.

Incidentally, as a knuckle-dragger myself, if and when the crisis finally does come, I will probably either go with the rebels or else break completely and go back to Rome. It hasn't come to a head yet and I have enough invested in my own parish that I don't want to do anything drastic until I absoutely have to. I expect there are a number of others like me out there.

Posted by: Robert the LB at February 4, 2005 03:09 PM

I have enough invested in my own parish that I don't want to do anything drastic until I absoutely have to. I expect there are a number of others like me out there.

yes, and they'll stay in the pews their parents bought and paid for no matter what. c'mon - that's what they did in the 70s with the ordination of women, so although this is harder to swallow, swallow they will.

funny... you may go back to Catholicism while we headed to the OPC (we moved, and the ECUSA church in our nearby towns don't want our kind). I do miss smells and bells, the occasionally sung mass, and I struggle to see how a cross or a window in and of themselves could be idolotrous, but that's far more bearable discourse than treating the scripture that is the foundation as if it must meet the scrutiny of the day. if no one is doing anything wrong, and should be allowed to behave any way they feel as long as they can call it "honest" and "loving", what do these churches have to offer? they become irrelevant in their pandering notions of outreach. they forget that this church was forged in the fire of martyrs devoted to the truth of the Bible regardless of what their bishops and pope told them to believe.

plus we went on mission to Nicaragua when the conference voted on Robinson, so I see the churches we have as beautiful, but extravagant in terms of what Christianity in many places is like. those places will continue to blossom in their devotion, and so will the faithful Anglicans here.

Posted by: tee bee at February 4, 2005 07:56 PM

Tee Bee - when I say "invested" I mean emotionally and spiritually invested. I've been a very active member of my parish for better than ten years and am very close with a number of people there. To walk out now - however justified - would be difficult and painful. If it comes to that, so be it. But it's not something I look forward to.

Posted by: Robert the LB at February 4, 2005 11:21 PM

well, I didn't think you were diamond Jim, but for many the two go hand-in-hand: they give as much of their time as they do of their paycheck. and that makes it hard to leave.

it's my own hardly bitter-at-all snark that we're tussling over the furniture and doilies. just trying to keep perspective in one of the few life events that's as sad as a divorce.

Posted by: tee bee at February 5, 2005 03:02 PM
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