Episcopalians disappointed by Texas Supreme Court opinion

Posted Aug 30, 2013

[Diocese of Fort Worth press release] The Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr., bishop of Fort Worth; the Standing Committee, and the Board of Trustees of the Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth are disappointed by the August 30, 2013, opinion of the Texas Supreme Court that failed to uphold the summary judgment of the 141st District Court, Tarrant County, Texas. That judgment granted the Local Episcopal Parties’ and The Episcopal Church’s Motions for Summary Judgments.  The opinion can be seen here. and the dissenting opinion can be seen here.

Bishop High has issued a letter to the diocese that can be seen, which follows in full. When we have more thoroughly reviewed the opinion, the Diocese of Fort Worth may issue further statements. In the meantime we hold all Episcopalians in our prayers as well as former Bishop Iker and his colleagues, and we bid your prayers as we move forward.


30 August 2013

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

On August 30, 2013 the Texas Supreme Court issued an opinion that sent our case back to the lower court for reconsideration. While it is a disappointment not to have a definitive decision, as followers of Jesus Christ, we live in hope.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori joins me in acknowledging our disappointment and urging all of us to be gentle with one another during this trying time, with the important goal of continuing our worship of God and our ministries in this community in as uninterrupted a manner as possible.

Now I, other diocesan leaders, and our legal team, including representatives of the Church and its legal team, have to make decisions about our next steps.

For now, we all must don the mantle of patience and forbearance.  I ask for your prayers and urge us all to stay focused on the saving gospel of Jesus Christ in the days ahead.

I remain convinced that we are right in our affirmation that we are the continuing Diocese of Fort Worth and that I am its bishop.

But in the wake of this opinion, as always, we remain committed to preaching that gospel as we celebrate the sacraments, care for those in need, and strive for justice and peace. When we began this litigation in 2009, we did so as heir and steward of the legacy of generations of faithful Episcopalians.

Let us move forward together with grace and love, guided by the Holy Spirit.

The Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High Jr.
Bishop
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth


Tags


Comments (59)

  1. Sarah Hey says:

    RE: “Episcopalians disappointed by Texas Supreme Court opinion”

    Certainly *some* Episcopalians are disappointed. But many others — me included — are thrilled. Many of us are rejoicing with The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

    1. Jason Loller says:

      THE Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is not rejoicing.

  2. Grant Carson says:

    Neutral principles of law governed this case. Neutral principles negate the Dennis Canon. TEC won’t appeal because the Texas decision was based upon a U.S. Supreme Court decision concerning neutral principles. If TEC appeals, it risks losing all the cases decided so far.

    The TEC tactic of “litigate until they capitulate” has failed on its merits. David Boothe Beers and Katherine Jefferts Schori were simply wrong, and I might add, un-Christian.

    Now we who paid for our churches with no help from TEC and have worshipped in them for, in my parish case, since 1877, can continue to worship without the legal threat of turning us out of our home.

    The only thing that could have made this decision better was for the court to order TEC to pay court costs, in the millions.

    Shame on TEC for initiating this litigation. Christians shouldn’t sue Christians.

    1. David L. Veal says:

      You must be a pretty old guy to have worshiped in that church 1877?
      If to remain Episcopalians you had to continue the same practices and policies, the same discipline, that was that of the Episcopal Church in 1877, you would have to reject the 1979 PB and the 1928 PB and use the 1892 PB revision that was in use then. You would have to excommunicate anyone who divorced and remarried while the former spouse still lived and you could use only the King James Version, the Coverdale Psalms or the authorized metrical Psalter.

      1. Fr. Will McQueen says:

        David,
        I see nothing wrong with anything you just mentioned here.

    2. Milton Finch says:

      Grant,
      I see nothing wrong with anything you just mentioned here. Much more substantive than anything that followed.

    3. George Elliot says:

      How many Episcopalians in “your” parish were around in 1877?

  3. Greetings from the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. I must say this seems like a triumph for justice. Perhaps TEC in Ft Worth will be forced to seriously think about the meaning of evangelism and church planting?

  4. Ron Caldwell says:

    Before we jump to conclusions and get too “disappointed” or “thrilled,” we should stand back and review the overall picture of Episcopal Church legal actions in the last decade. A.S. Haley, aka “The Anglican Curmudgeon,” provides a handy listing in “Annual Litigation Summary for the Episcopal Church (USA)” available at standfirminfaith.com. Although meant to throw discredit on TEC, the summary actually shows TEC’s strength. Of the five breakaway dioceses, only one has been finally settled: Pittsburgh. A trial court found in favor of TEC as did an appeal court. The PA Supreme Court refused to take the case. The settlement in Pittsburgh was a clear-cut victory for TEC. The other four dioceses are in various stages of litigation with two important cases, Ft. Worth and San Joaquin, where lower courts ruled in favor of TEC. The new decisions in SC and TX sent the cases back down to lower courts. The secessionists hope, with some reason, that “neutral principles” and property rights will prevail in the state courts giving the edge to the local entities. But looking at the Annual Litigation Summary, one finds that exactly one case has been finally settled for a breakaway group against the TEC diocese: All Saints Waccamaw [Pawleys Island, SC], and that was not appealed to the US Supreme Court. The record shows that the overwhelming majority of the 100 or so cases in the last decade have been settled in favor of TEC, most on the grounds of the rights of a hierarchical institution.

    We are all in for many years of ugly and expensive litigation. It took six years for TEC to get back St. Paul’s of Bakersfield, the church Mark Lawrence led out of TEC. Both sides are now digging in for the long haul. It should not have come to this.

    1. Grant Carson says:

      Ugly and expensive litigation that TEC should never had initiatied. Shame on Katharine Jefferts Schori, David Boothe Beers and TEC for having initiated the suits!

      The departing parties never sued anyone for anything. They just wanted to keep what was theirs.

      Grant

      1. Jason Loller says:

        Hope to see you in the US Supreme Court.

      2. Ron Caldwell says:

        Mr. Carson, consult the above-mentioned “Annual Litigation Summary…”, also available at accurmudgeon.blogspot.com [Jan. 8, 2013] and you will see numerous cases where the “departing parties” initiated the lawsuits against TEC, most famously in South Carolina where the Lawrence faction rather cleverly made a preemptive strike on Jan. 5 2013 that has set the stage perfectly for the state court to rule eventually in their favor.

      3. Milton Finch says:

        Grant, I completely agree with you. What so many fail to see is in the first cases, the conservatives naively thought they might be dealing with Christians that still had a spirit of Christianity in them. They soon found that, as those in TEc flaunt Biblical prescriptions in many areas, they too would flaunt the one where Christians should never take Christians to court. Now that Bishop Lawrence is slamming them in court, they are also famously forgetting what the rest of that verse foretells. Do not take a person to court, BECAUSE THEY MAY TURN AROUND AND TAKE MORE FROM YOU THAN YOU MAY BE COMFORTABLE GIVING UP.

      4. We well as what was ours.

      5. George Elliot says:

        Keep what was “theirs?” Should the members of Trinity Church Wall Street be able
        to keep what was “theirs?” Shame on these people, especially the clergy, for misrepresenting their actions. Just trying to “keep what was theirs!”

    2. Kate Chipps says:

      I think you ought not to have omitted the success of The Diocese of Virginia. We stand as a beacon of hope to faithful Episcopalians everywhere who worship a living God who continues to reveal truth through the power of the Holy Spirit. God is not frozen in time nor should be the church. David Veal put it well – if you want to hold tight, the go back to our beginning. It is one thing to chose to leave a church, it is another to take what belongs to the church. And, I may ask, who set you up to decide who is a heretic and crown you the arbiter of all things theological? Just asking.

  5. Pam Hardaway says:

    For Grant and others with his opinion….you have a right to disagree with the Episcopal church. No Episcopalian will dispute that. Anyone who disagrees can change church’s and go elsewhere. My church building was taken from me and I could do nothing about it. Your opinion seems to be that was ok. At the time it was unbelievable and hurtful. Our priest had no care or concern for Episcopalians. He could no longer bring himself to pastor us. We asked for space to meet and were told no. We asked for prayer books and were told no. We asked for a frank discussion about the issues and were told no. We asked to have a parish vote and were told no. What was Christian about that?

    As it turns out, we were blessed. We meet in a theatre every Sunday morning with an average attendance of 92. We give 10% of our budget to mission but the reality has been more like 22%. We are able to do this because we have no building or grounds to maintain. We have grown every year since the split. God has shown us we don’t need a building to his work.

    Christians often disagree. No one wanted a lawsuit. There was another way to do this. Those who disagreed could have moved on but they did not. Or, what about the possibly diving the assets so each group had buildings for worship? The decision on how to worship has been made by both sides already. So, isn’t it better to let the court decide the rest?

    1. Caron Hazel says:

      The problem was that TEC changed and chose to force it on me—, my church, my parish, my diocese—I/We didn’t change. There was no longer a conscience clause….nothing for those of differing convictions. The majority in my church and diocese wished to remain faithful to the historical Christian faith of our fathers and mothers. There was no tolerance, no inclusiveness for those with differing opinions. I am so sorry that you, Pam, experienced this un-Christian behavior but that is not what happened in the diocese I belong to…In our diocese those churches that wished to remain TEC did with their church and their property, and our prayers and good will. In my little church there were those who disagreed with the split and they pledged their membership in an Episcopal church elsewhere but yet remain with us to worship each Sunday, and praise be we continue to worship the same Jesus and unite to expand his kingdom. Personally my decision had nothing to do with LGBT issues and everything to do with what it means to me to be a Chrisitian It had to do with the rejection of the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and the number 1 precept that makes me/us Christians is that Jesus is not “one way” but that he is “The way, the Truth and the Life.” This appears to no longer be the foundation of the Episcopal Church.
      As we have experienced the Christian Goodwill of TEC “inclusiveness” lifetime parishes have been forced to leave their church buildings that in many cases were built with members and/or their parents own hands and sweat and sacrifice. So sad for those churches that when there is no Episcopal congregation to replace the congregation that was forced out, the former resident Anglican Church can not even buy back the property and for those churches that no longer have congregations to support the buildings doors may shut..There are no worries TEC the property is valuable and the money will flow…Isn’t that what being a Christian is all about?
      Christians suing Christians…. What a great witness to Christ-like love.

  6. Patsy West says:

    How much money has the TEC spent to litigate all of these cases?

    1. Milton Finch says:

      The amount is at least 22 million. That is $22,000,000.00.

      1. David Yarbrough says:

        Imagine the impact that would have had on evangelism!

        1. George Elliot says:

          We can not just allow radicals to take Episcopal Church money and property.

          1. Chris Walchesky says:

            You are the “radicals”

      2. Caron Hazel says:

        Wow,
        How many hungry could we feed,
        How many could we educate,
        How many could we share the saving love of Jesus Christ with

  7. Milton Finch says:

    The hierarchial argument has failed. Yes, some cases were won because of the error of the judges looking into what hierarchial was. Thanks to papers and amicus briefs light has been shed on TEc’s deception. Like I saw one person describe it, there are 15 and two different explanations of what hierarchial is. You have the Catholic and the Greek Orthodox hierarchial, then you have all the rest. TEc falls in with that “rest” group. Now that the papers and the amicus brief came out, the judges can see that TEc is trying to be something it is not. It looks to me like TEc is in for a world of hurt with a lot of money lining the pockets so Schori’s lawyers. Meanwhile, they close and sell churches they took through deception. What a wonderful show of how TEc has learned to be a so called “Christian” entity through its secular existence and reality.

  8. Doug Desper says:

    Back several years ago the current unpleasantness was dismissed by TEC leadership with divisive phrases like “they (evangelical/traditionalists in TEC) are just a few who don’t want to be with us”. Now – today – the exodus of vital, dedicated leaders, and growing parishes, and dioceses is yet again dismissed and blamed on the Holy Spirit when Presiding Bishop Jefferts-Schori tells the shrinking ELCA that perhaps the shrinking numbers in the churches are due to the Holy Spirit “pruning” the membership. This is mind-boggling. In the past decade our leaders have given thin lip service to a big, comprehensive Anglican tent of inclusion while pursuing divisive and destructive polices demanded by leftist progressives which continue to have the ongoing effect of emptying the pews. Sixty percent of our membership will not show itself on Sundays – maybe because there isn’t much to see in philosophies that deny the unique person of Jesus Christ, or which use Him as a cause celeb to inflame rivalries among the membership. In that frame of mind it appears that lawsuits are the only discourse that will be respected – and in the wake there will be a weakened Church that may never recover. It’s odd, but I just don’t hear lament from our leadership of the loss of so much of our vitality and membership – only opining that one day there will be a much leaner, smarter, more liberal and more progressive Church. How can you reason with such as that?

    1. George Elliot says:

      I don’t think the Diocese of Ft. worth has grown in years. The prohibition of
      women from the priesthood as their main mission is not appealing to many.

      1. Grant Carson says:

        Actually, the Diocese of Fort Worth (ACNA) has grown quite a bit in the last few years. Part of this has been because parishes, such as those of continuing churches, from outside the traditional geographic boundaries of the Diocese have petitioned to join. Part is new missions. Part is the growing number of Hispanics in Texas. (Our largest parish, and our most rapidly growing parish, not the same, are Hispanic.) We now have parishes in Oklahoma, Missouri, Louisiana and Dallas (with the agreement of the bishops of Dallas and Fort Worth), and a mission in the Diocese of Texas.

      2. W T Wheeler says:

        George, where is your proof? Let’s see some numbers to this claim. In fact the opposite is true. ACNA continues to grow and flourish. How is TEC doing? Where are all of these people TEC promised would come rushing through the doors once same- sex marriage was sanctioned?

  9. Mike Brady says:

    I see lots of talk about “being Christian” and the like … yet I also see anger and vile in some of the posts …. I urge everyone to re-read their thoughts and opinions …… and to act as Christians …. not just in name only but in love and charity with everyone, even those who differ in opinion from each of us …..

    Just my thoughts ….. there is a lot of negative out in the world already, we should make every attempt to put that away and to focus on what Christ taught us ……

    Thanks,

    Mike

  10. David Leedy says:

    The simple majority of the TSC justices (five of nine) determined that the ruling by the district court had somehow relegated Texas law (statutes on non-profit corporations) inferior to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution (regarding freedom of religion), although no such statement was made in the lower court decision, and that this qualified the case to come under the jurisdiction of the TSC.

    I am neither a lawyer nor very astute, but isn’t the converse of what the TSC is saying is that Texas law (statutes on non-profit corporations) is superior (takes precedent) over considerations of the U.S. Constitution and First Amendment? And (I guess) if the US Supreme Court doesn’t agree, the TSC would just take the lead of our erstwhile governor and secede from the United States. Doesn’t this just make me proud?

    In what was to me a very confusing statement, the majority stated: (referring to the Diocese of Northwest Texas case, known as the Masterson case) “We also concluded that even both the deference and the neutral principles methodologies are constitutionally permissible, Texas courts should use only the neutral principles methodology in deciding this type of controversy.” (My comment: So why are they both permissible?).

    Finally, I was also surprised that after all of the filings and paperwork, after the oral arguments, and after the over ten months of deliberations, the TSC decision written by Justice Johnson (or was that Johnsons?) could not decide the name of our bishop. On page 4 of the decision, he is referred to as Bishop Ohls two different times, but on page 11 he is referred to as Bishop Ohls once and Bishop Ohl twice. His name is the Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl.

  11. W T Wheeler says:

    I have asked many who remained in TEC one question they cannot seem to answer; Why wouldn’t TEC negotiate with departing dioceses/ parishes? This would seem to benefit all involved. The departing folks would get to leave with property they paid for. TEC wouldn’t have to spend millions on litigation and be able to recover some monetary assets that they could use for their mission. Katherine Schori talks of “Fiduciary Responsibility”. Is it responsible to spends millions on litigation for property and assets TEC may not get?

    1. Ron Caldwell says:

      Mr. Wheeler, good question. Thanks for asking it. I would like to put in some words on this subject.

      The Dennis Canon was officially adopted by the Episcopal Church and placed in the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church in 1979. The Diocese of South Carolina acceded to that, recognized and followed it until after Bishop Lawrence came into office (indeed the DSC fought the All Saints Waccamaw case on the basis of the Dennis Canon). The Dennis Canon explicitly states that all property is held in trust for the Episcopal diocese and the Episcopal Church. It has been the clear policy of the Episcopal Church for many years now.

      When local entities form a union under a constitution they forfeit sovereignty (ultimate authority) to the central body. The framers of the Constitution believed this was obviously implicit and did not need to be spelled out. Therefore, the framers did not include a statement in the Constitution forbidding secession. It was not necessary. The powers of the federal government were enumerated and binding on all the states. The states cannot pick and choose which laws to follow and not follow.

      Likewise, the Episcopal Church has a constitution called the Constitution and Canons. It is equally binding on all dioceses and clergy. Under the C and C, a diocese may not pick and choose which rules to follow and which to ignore. Thus Bishop Lawrence was incorrect to assert that the DSC was a “sovereign” diocese and therefore could decide to ignore or revoke any Episcopal Church canons at will. And, just because dioceses and states may have existed before the unions were created, they cannot reserve sovereignty once they take part in forming the union under the enumerated terms of the constitution.

      Ironically, South Carolina then as now claimed the sovereignty of the local entity over the union and went to war to prove it (Bishop Lawrence has stated repeatedly that he is at war with TEC). The Civil War settled that issue for the U.S. President Lincoln could have taken the easy way out for the short run with no bloodshed and no cost by recognizing the existence of the Confederacy, as many urged him to do, but that would have been the wrong thing to do for the long run and he knew it then as most of us now know it in hindsight. Lincoln upheld the Constitution and at tremendous cost because it was the right thing to do. I say thank God he saved the Union.

      The Presiding Bishop is upholding the constitution of the Episcopal Church for the same reason. We commentators on this page disagree strongly on whether she should do that. I have my opinion and I respect the rights of others to their opinions. As for me, I say the very existence of the Episcopal Church in its constituted state as we know it is at stake. The PB would be derelict in her duties if she failed to do everything in her power, as did Lincoln, to save that union. Anyone may leave the Episcopal Church anytime they wish but they may not do so in violation of the rules to which they had already agreed and cannot change unilaterally. That is why the PB will not “negotiate with departing dioceses/parish.”

      1. Joseph F Foster says:

        Lincoln saved the Union by trampling all over the Constitution, and when Marylanders in their State Anthem sing “The tyrant’s heel is on thy shore, Maryland, My Maryland”, the tyrant referred to is Abraham Lincoln.

        The Southern States would never have ratified the Consititution had they not assumed they could withdraw from the Union. I agree that as long as you stay in the club, you are obligated to follow its rules, but the War between the States settled only which section had the power.

        The National Church will not negotiate with nor sell property to the seceding parishes because they don’t want a competing Episcopal congregation they can’t control.

      2. W T Wheeler says:

        Ron;
        Spouting off TEC’s company line of the Dennis Canon is not answering the question. Is it not in TEC’s best interest from a financial, moral, and mission perspective to negotiate? $22 million in legal fees (unofficial number due to TEC not releasing the number), empty buildings that are untenable, and a swarm of bad publicity. I almost forgot to mention TEC could have used the millions spent in litigation on MGD mission, etc…

        1. Ron Caldwell says:

          Mr. Wheeler: Was it not in the U.S.’s and Lincoln’s “best interest” “to negotiate” with the Confederates in April of 1861? He could have saved the lives of 600,000 men, prevented countless wounds, and kept God only knows how much money from being wasted. Lincoln knew that a higher issue was at stake that was worth it all, the preservation of the United States as the city on the hill, the shining light in the world as the great democratic republic. The Presiding Bishop knows as well that she has the integrity of her institution to serve. If the principle is established that a diocese of the Episcopal Church can secede from the Church intact, the Episcopal Church as we know it will collapse.

          Now, whether the Episcopal Church should collapse is another question? I think we all know in advance where we stand on that one. Just speaking for myself, a white person who grew up in the Jim Crow South, I say thank God for the leadership the Episcopal Church has shown in the last 50 years as a champion of human rights, first for blacks, then Native Americans, women, and now LGBT people. I believe the Presiding Bishop is right to fight for her institution because it serves a higher calling for God and for man.

  12. W T Wheeler says:

    Carol,
    I understand your anger but there is no excuse for name calling. Please stop as you make those of use who agree with you look bad.

    1. Caron Hazel says:

      Agreed

  13. Evelyn Piety says:

    @John Neir — Amen, brother!

  14. Eric Bonetti says:

    @Sarah: Your claiming to be Episcopalian is no more valid than would be the case were I to assert that I am the president of the United States. The United States is the sole determinant of who the president is, and it has a system for making that decision. If you step outside that system, it logically follows that you cannot then claim a role in that system.

    Similarly, The Episcopal Church’s canons and general convention determine what is and is not part of our denomination. Having chosen to leave, you may assert that you are the Presiding Bishop, the Archibishop of Canterbury, or anything you wish, but saying so does not make it so.

    As to the issue of property ownership, generations of Episcopalians have given time, talent and treasure in support of the church, with the express understanding that we are a hierarchical church, and that while people may come and go, the assets belong to the larger church. Indeed, your diocese expressed agreed to that understanding, including the Dennis Canon, at the time of its formation. I submit that both from a legal and ethical perspective the diocese and its members gave their word and agreed to that contract. To now assert that you do not wish to adhere to that agreement is akin to playing football, discovering you are losing at halftime, and then arguing that the rules are unfair.

    1. David Yarbrough says:

      @Eric:

      “…generations of Episcopalians have given time, talent and treasure in support of the church, with the express understanding that we are a hierarchical church, and that while people may come and go, the assets belong to the larger church.”

      This assertion was valid as long as the Episcopal Church was faithful to God, to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and Sciptural truth. When TEC abandoned its faithfulness and demanded fealty to its immoral and unscriptural teachings, it was the one who “changed the rules at halftime”.

    2. Jim Welsh says:

      @Eric,

      Did Sarah leave? I don’t think so. Those of us like Sarah who are still in the Episcopal Church and who agree with our South Carolina Supreme Court, and apparently Texas, that neutral principles of property law be applied (which ultimately leads to the conclusion that the Dennis Canon cannot unilaterally impose a trust which might take away a parish church’s title to its property) should perhaps now be listened to by the powers that be in our Church.

      1. Eric Bonetti says:

        @Jim: Apropos Sarah, the first amendment and Supreme Court precedent is clear: Hierarchical churches may determine who is a member, and who is not, without review from the courts. Thus, if Sarah’s only membership is in an organization not affiliated with The Episcopal Church, she is not an Episopalian, regardless of the outcome of the property litigation. No other outcome is possible under our legal system. And this is the case, regardless of what one believes about the ordination of women, or marriage equality.

        Or, in other words, the property litigation will not, regardless of outcome, result in the former Episcopal Diocese again becoming an Episcopal diocese by virtue of any action on the part of the courts.

        1. Fr. Will McQueen says:

          Eric,
          Sarah is a member of an Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina. She has not left TEC, and continues to fight for and promote the orthodox faith which abhors the direction that 815 and Gen Con continues to foist on the Church. Before you presume to lecture Sarah about these matters, please find out if she is still within TEC or not. She very much has a right to her voice in the matter as she has not left. Unless, of course, what most of us believe to be true that the “big tent” of TEC has only enough room for those who agree with where it has gone and where it is going. Conservatives within TEC were once tolerated, now they are scorned.

  15. Andrew Castiglione says:

    My oh my. What a cloud of witnesses. And to think this was all started by King Henry VIII of not so blessed memory.
    Dear Sisters and Brothers, I quote verse 9 of the beautiful hymn – “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy” . It is not a verse that, unfortunately, you will find in our hymnal. It may have been excluded because we as supposed Christians, would find too truthful and reminding us what we are not. I quote:

    “BUT WE MAKE HIS LOVE TOO NARROW
    BY FALSE LIMITS OF OUR OWN.
    AND WE MAGNIFY HIS STRICTNESS
    WITH A ZEAL HE WILL NOT OWN”.

    Think about it! And think about the stupidity we are putting our church and our selves through.

    1. David Yarbrough says:

      God’s love is not “too narrow” – but God cannot contradict Himself. When Christians speak the truth in love, it is not an unloving thing. When Christians reject Scriptural truth in favor of the norms of a heathen culture, it IS an unloving thing.

  16. Kathleen Murff Whiting says:

    If you choose to leave, you leave behind all the parts of the Church with which you no longer want to be identified. You cannot have your cake and eat it too. And if in leaving, you choose to believe differently from the Episcopal Church of 2013, come up with your own liturgy, your own prayer book, and your own hierarchy. And God be with you in your new endeavors. But please, expend your energies in building your new denomination and refrain from spiteful, mean comments which appear to take the inventory of everyone but yourself.

    1. W T Wheeler says:

      Kathleen,
      You mean TEC is not having it’s cake and eating it too by suing people for property they NEVER put one dime into?

  17. EJ Madden says:

    Reading above comments brings me back to 7th-8th grade — excluding the vocabulary. Disappointing.

  18. The Rev. Patrick Bone says:

    My, my. We Christians. How we love one another. Fortunately, God makes up for our sibling rivalries by loving all His creatures–not only Christians–equally. And, “NO!” we can’t theologize Him out of it.

    1. David Yarbrough says:

      @Patrick:
      God loves all his creatures equally.
      God feels pain when his creatures reject the truth He has expressed through Scripture and through the life, teachings, and resurrection of His Son.
      God has charged us as Christians with proclaiming His truth in love – his WHOLE truth, whether or not it’s consistent with some societal norm.
      And NO, we can’t theologize around explicit Scriptural truth.

  19. David Yarbrough says:

    “I am proud to be a member of a church that supports women as priests & bishops; a church that welcomes Gays & Lesbians and the Bible & teachings of Christ.”

    You are a member of a church which openly rejects the clear teaching of that Bible on sexuality – including the teachings of Jesus, who said that his teaching changed nothing at all about the law of the Old Testament.

    “It should be no surprise when lawsuits are started and appeals are made..etc.” Again, clearly a rejection of scripture, which teaches that lawsuits between Christians are inappropriate.

    Check for the post in your own eye before you worry about the sliver in another’s.

  20. Eric Bonetti says:

    @David: Our canons have always been clear: General Convention determines the rules of the game. That was the case when you became a member of The Episcopal Church. It was the case when I became a member. Further, general convention has, inter alia, voted to approve equality for LGBT members of the church, including ordination of LGBT clergy. Those are the rules. If you do not like those rules, so be it. But those are the rules. If you cannot live within that framework, I am sorry to see you go. But the rules of the game remain.

    1. Doug Desper says:

      Yes, General Convention may be able to determine the rules of “the game”. However, the point being made is simple: the loud voices currently leading the Church have been at the forefront of the decline of this Church. Revisionists cannot – by some imputed democratic fiat – (for example) decide that marriage is not what it has always been and have any ground on which to stand except an arm-twisting canon. We are not Mormons; the canon of Scripture is not continually added to by the voice of a recognized prophet. If we represent that we are part of the catholic Church we cannot keep putting faith and practice up on the tinkering block every 3 years and have any credibility as a part of the apostolic faith. Today’s liberal progressives demand adherence to their draconian shifts of theology and practice that have no grounds, and then when people don’t sit still for it we begin to see the “me – my – mine” claims, always defending their Episcopal brand – and yet rarely cherishing the individuals that make up that brand. What’s worse, is that many of these same people are perfectly fine to decimate the Church in order for it to become smaller, more liberal, and more revisionist; all the while inviting tens of thousands of members to hit the road – or “be pruned”. What utter gall.

    2. Fr. Will McQueen says:

      Eric,

      Unfortunately we will not be judged on playing by the rules of TEC or Gen Con. We will be judged according to our lives lived in accord with the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. Be very careful in determining whose rules you choose to play by, the result does have eternal consequences.

      Well said Doug.

  21. Ron Caldwell says:

    Mr. Wheeler and Mr. Foster (above) and others. It is useful to see a constitution for what it is, a contract. That is an agreement voluntarily made by a number of parties and perhaps expanded later by additional contracting parties. Once made, the terms are binding on all signatory parties. No party, or parties, to the agreement may withdraw from or alter the terms of the contract except by mutual consent or by a mechanism specified in the contract.

    The U.S. Constitution has a mechanism for change, amendments, the process for which is clearly spelled out in the Constitution. The Episcopal Church’s Constitution and Canons has a mechanism too, through due process in the General Convention. It is implicit in the terms of the original contract that a state may not withdraw from the contract, the Constitution; and it is explicit that no state may alter the laws of the United States to suit itself. Likewise, no diocese may unilaterally withdraw from or alter the laws of the Episcopal Church. These are subject to the due process embedded in the C and C.

    Therefore, Bishop Lawrence was wrong to claim that the Diocese of South Carolina was “sovereign” vis a vis the Episcopal Church. Sovereignty rests in the Church as a whole, not divided into its separate parts. Likewise he was wrong to nullify the legally constituted canons of the Episcopal Church to which he did not agree. That was breaking the contract. It is the Presiding Bishop’s job to uphold the C and C of the Episcopal Church. That is what she is doing and that is why she will not negotiate with the secessionists.

    1. W T Wheeler says:

      Well, Ron, apparently the judge in Illinois doesn’t see it your way (TEC) at all. There is no canon that says a Diocese cannot leave. There is no canon that says a Diocese must get it’s Constitution approved by GenCon. The Dennis Canon reads, “All real and personal property held by or for the benefit of any Parish, Mission, or Congregation is held in trust for this Church [i.e., the Episcopal Church in the United States] and the Diocese thereof in which such Parish, Mission or Congregation is located. The existence of this trust, however, shall in no way limit the power and authority of the Parish, Mission or Congregation otherwise existing over such property so long as the particular Parish, Mission or Congregation remains a part of, and subject to, this Church and its Constitution and Canons.” Since there is nothing saying in TEC’s Constitution that a Diocese cannot leave and the Dennis Canon does not mention a diocese property being held in trust for TEC, I don’t see where you get that a contract was broken.

  22. PJ Cabbiness says:

    This strand of posts misses a larger, unpleasant reality. The current schism is rapidly condemning anglicanism in any form (TEC, ACNA, etc.) to irrelevancy in North America. The leadership of both ACNA and TEC are driven by ego and the desire for power. Unfortunately, the ultimate responsibility for the current state of affairs falls on us, the laity as we have ceded too much power to the clergy over time and they have failed us bitterly.

  23. Rick Bowen says:

    I am a relative new-comer to the Episcopal Church. When I decided to change churches, I searched the internet and discovered “Gay Affirming” churches. In my city, San Marcos, Texas, the only church on the list was the Episcopal Church and its outreach on the TxState campus. In neighboring New Braunfels, there are no “Gay Affirming” churches at all. Not all Episcopal Churches are on the list either, but I am so happy to find a loving, open and accepting church in which to sing and worship. Change is coming for those who feel it’s somehow a family or religious value to exclude gay and lesbian people from full communion and fellowship with the church and community. Prejudice and discrimination based on sex or sexual preference is hypocritical and not Christlike, at least in my view. I very much appreciate that the Episcopal Church is not letting its property and name to be usurped by hate-filled, ignorant, sexist and homophobic congregations, while they continue spewing spiritual violence against women, gays and lesbians.

Comments are closed.