Tuesday, November 11, 2008

QC Times: Episcopal Property Conflict?

From today's Quad City Times:
Episcopal Church split might turn into conflict over property

By Deirdre Cox Baker | Monday, November 10, 2008 11:12 PM CST

Fallout from the weekend decision by the Diocese of Quincy, Ill., to leave the Episcopal Church of the United States may include litigation over millions of dollars’ worth of property and assets.

“We pray there will be no litigation,” the Rev. Ed den Blaauwen said Monday. Den Blaauwen, the rector of Christ Church in Moline, is also the newly appointed vicar general of the diocese that is now aligned with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, based in Argentina.

Church resources would be better used for Christian activities than in the courts, he added.

The Episcopal Church will protect its history and heritage, said the Rev. Charles Robertson, canon to the presiding bishop of the national church in New York City. Church officials will not give away property to a foreign province, he said, adding, “This is our heritage and, more than that, the heritage of those who have not even come our way yet.”
Well, given TEC's recent history, particularly since the election of Katharine Jefferts Schori as Presiding Bishop, such a hard line is not surprising.
The Episcopalian [sic] Church still exists in the Quincy Diocese, Robertson stressed. “Our first concern for followers is that they know that our church continues,” he added.

New alignments

Lines are being drawn in the church between liberal or moderate factions and traditional or conservative ones. Arguments center on the national church’s decisions to allow women in the clergy, which occurred in the 1970s, and to promote an openly gay minister to a bishop’s post in 2003.
Well, those are the flash points that reveal a deeper division over the place of the Scriptures and Christian doctrine in the Church's contemporary witness. But what do you expect when describing a debate over fundamental Christian truth in only one or two sentences?
The schism widened when the national church appointed Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to the job. The Quincy Diocese, which numbers 24 churches (including those in Moline, Rock Island, Silvis, Geneseo and Kewanee) and 1,800 members, has never allowed women or gays to be part of the clergy.

“We are working to assist in the reorganization of diocesan affairs,” Schori said. It now appears that four churches, including St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Peoria, Ill., the largest in the diocese, will continue to align with the Episcopal Church....
Yes, that fits with some reports I heard. Things are going to get, uh, interesting here in Peoria.
...A new alignment called the Common Cause partnership is working to establish an Anglican province in the United States, according to the Rev. John Spencer, the press officer for the Quincy Diocese. That would include the alignments with the Southern Cone and other U.S. churches that have aligned with an organization including Anglican churches in the African nations of Nigeria and Rwanda.

The timeline for the new organizational structure would involve some kind of provisional recognition in late December or early January, he said. Formal approval of the new North American Anglican Province may come by early February, after the worldwide Anglican council meets in Egypt.
Read it all here. A prayers that cooler heads might be found and prevail.

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