The House of Bishops has created a 10-member task force of attorneys and other experts to help defend the Episcopal Church and its dioceses against attempts by congregations or other dioceses to secede from the Episcopal Church with their property.
Twenty-eight bishops from across the geographic and theological spectrum met during the House of Bishops San Juan meeting Sept. 22-27 and explored the creation of a resource to assist congregations and dioceses in the challenging work of resolving property disputes, a press release by the group stated.
Motivated by a desire to be good stewards of sacred places, the bishops statement said they would pool their experience, expertise, and other resources to face the rising tide of property litigation.
To be drawn into litigious contests that threaten profound loss does harm to the past generations who contributed to the mission of the Episcopal Church and denies future generations rightful resources, the statement said.
The organizer of the caucus, the Rt. Rev. William Swing, Bishop of California, stated a steering committee of 10 bishops, chancellors, and lawyers would be recruited immediately and would report to the next meeting of the House of Bishops on their progress.
The Bishop of Lexington, the Rt. Rev. Stacy F. Sauls told The Living Church the formation of the legal network was one of the main accomplishments of the House of Bishops meeting.
I think that many bishops felt, as I do, that we could be more effective in exercising our fiduciary responsibilities by working in cooperation with each other rather than in isolation, Bishop Sauls said. He will serve on the steering committee.
One participant said bishops from both sides of the human sexuality divide participated in the discussions, citing the presence of the bishops of Central Florida, Pennsylvania, Florida, Kansas and Los Angeles among the participants. Bishop Sauls concurred, saying, All of us were committed to the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church and the strong belief that the resources given for that purpose should be protected.
He noted the underlying issues were broader than property concerns. Ecclesiastical discipline, community accountability, fostering reconciliation, and jurisdictional issues were cross party concerns that must be tackled in cooperation rather than working in isolation.
Full text of the press release below:
Do these bishops maintain with a straight face that the current mission of the ECUSA would meet with approval of those past generations?