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The Tide Is Rising In The Diocese Of Florida
VirtueOnline-News ^ | 12/29/2005 | Harris Willman

Posted on 12/30/2005 8:47:09 AM PST by sionnsar

As 2005 draws to a close, we have been sadly reminded of the tsunami that brought such devastation just one year ago. Just as the multiple waves of that tsunami were caused by the one earthquake, there seem to be similar 'waves' of churches realigning away from The Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) and The Diocese of Florida (DoF) toward alternative Anglican jurisdictions due to the actions of the General Convention 2003...ECUSA's earthquake.

The evidence of these waves is plain to see. Six Churches known as The Florida Six, also known as 'The First Wave', will officially separate themselves from the ECUSA and the DoF on January 1st, 2006.

These churches are firm in their commitment to remain part of the world wide Anglican Communion, but due to conscience, find it spiritually necessary to separate themselves from the ECUSA now. The First Wave Churches are All Souls, Church of the Redeemer, both of Jacksonville , Grace Church, Orange Park , St. Michael's, Gainesville , St. Luke's Community of Life, Tallahassee , and Calvary , Jacksonville which realigned with an alternate Anglican jurisdiction on November 6th 2005 . They of course join with St. Peter's, Tallahassee (formerly St. John's ) who made their decision last October.

As the First Wave moves forward, there is a Second Wave mounting rapidly behind it. The Second Wave may well be larger and cause a greater loss to the DoF than the first. There appears to be at least eight and possibly as many as fourteen other churches preparing themselves for a similar move to separate at some point between January 1st and soon after General Convention in June of 2006. Many of the Second Wave clergy and vestries have communicated with Bishop John Howard to express their spiritual solidarity with the First Wave churches and to urge him to be graceful in his handling of the issues surrounding the realignment, especially with property. The rector of one of these churches, The Rev. Mark R. Eldredge of Epiphany, Jacksonville shared his vestries' letter to Bishop Howard which said,

"Along with many other congregations, we too are struggling with the issue of remaining loyal to the Episcopal Church unless there is the significant repentance as called for by the Primates of the Anglican Communion.

We request therefore that those congregations in the Diocese of Florida who have already, for reasons of conscience, decided to align themselves with other Anglican jurisdictions be allowed to retain their properties. Please consider that the treatment of these congregations will affect our long term relationship."

He also said that he knows of at least two other church vestries that have sent similar letters and that he has talked with many other rectors who have said they have spoken directly to Bishop Howard about their similar struggles. Many of these Second Wave churches have also chosen not to make a financial pledge to the DoF for 2006 and those that are pledging will only do so through June.

Finally, if one looks very carefully, there is also a Third Wave racing in behind the first two. This Third Wave will likely not include entire congregations, but will be a silent majority of individuals and families from churches throughout the diocese that choose to remain in the DoF and the ECUSA. As General Convention concludes its legislative actions in June, and if, as expected, the ECUSA refuses to adequately repent of its prior decisions and actions concerning Biblical Authority, the Third Wave will mount quickly as individuals and families begin to leave from the churches where there is no action.

Clearly, the realignment is not going to be limited to just six or seven churches in the Diocese of Florida! Similar waves of realignment are forming in dioceses throughout the USA.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 12/30/2005 8:47:11 AM PST by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; AnalogReigns; Uriah_lost; Condor 63; Fractal Trader; Zero Sum; anselmcantuar; Agrarian; ..
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2 posted on 12/30/2005 8:48:08 AM PST by sionnsar (†† || Libs: Celebrate MY diversity, eh! || Iran Azadi 2006)
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To: sionnsar

Dear sionnsar,

What's happening to most of these parishes?

I've seen some cases where "St. Alban's Episcopal Church" seems to sort of disappear in a twinkling, to open up across the street from the old church building as "St. Edward's Anglican Church, overseen by the Province of Uganda."

Are others just staying as "St. Alban's" and removing the "Episcopal" (and possibly adding "Anglican")?

Are they mostly being permitted to keep their churches, property, money?

With six parishes in one diocese, that suggests that there might be hundreds, nationwide. Do you have a sense of the magnitude of all this?

Are many going to the TAC or other bodies?

Here's a question - is the TAC in communion with the Anglican Communion in general, or with some parts of it? Didn't an Anglican bishop consecrate some TAC bishops a while back?

It's all quite confusing to me!



3 posted on 12/30/2005 9:36:08 AM PST by sitetest (If Roe is not overturned, no unborn child will ever be protected in law.)
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To: sitetest

As a member of one of these churches, I do know a little about what's going on. In most cases, there's an effort to remain with the property through a settlement of some sort with the Diocese of Florida (which covers Jacksonville, Gainesville, Tallahasee and St Augustine). It should be pointed out that the Diocese does not allow gay marriage or any of that ilk, and Bp Howard has said that he opposes that stuff. Unfortunately, the Diocese and Bp Howard have chosen to walk with ECUSA while it walks apart from the rest of the Communion. The parishes mentioned in the article have decided that they will not walk with ECUSA and have made (or are making) the decision to walk apart from ECUSA which means walking apart from the Diocese. Bp Howard understands (at least he says so) what these parishes are doing and why, and he is working with them on a case by case basis.

4 posted on 12/30/2005 10:08:40 AM PST by bobjam
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To: sitetest
sitetest, it can be confusing. There are a number of different actions going on.

Sometimes parish bodies are moving en masse, as you suggest. In others just the parish members move. In some of the former cases they are keeping the properties, in the latter cases obviously not.

To my recollection few, if any (I simply do not recall), keep their name and change the affiliation. None do it quietly, although I have personally seen one church quietly drop the word "Episcopal" from everything it possibly can, including the sign out front. (My guess is that they're preparing for a move once the battles are joined.)

As to the magnitude of this, no, I don't have a good sense myself. But there are others elsewhere, such as the church I previously noted. I see little organised "first wave" movement such as described here, only in three or maybe four places, but independent departures have been going on all over -- noted once, then forgotten. On the other hand, there are entire dioceses preparing to move.

I expect to see the pace pick up, but countervailing that are the departures of individuals which diminishes the numbers and strength of those pushing for whole-church departures. If GC2006 does not result in the final showdown I expect to see the rate of departures rise dramatically. (Thhis is just my guess.)

As to where they are going... the ones being noted most publicly on the blogs are going to the Southern Cone. Those that are going to the Continuing churches are little noted, but there is likely a bias in the blogworld here.

I have little knowledge of how many are going to the TAC.

The TAC is not in communion with the worldwide Anglican Communion, nor with other Continuing churches. Yes, there was quite a flap over the consecration of a couple of TAC bishops, one in Australia and one in North America, a while back. As I recall, though, it was because they tried to have ties to two juridictions.

5 posted on 12/30/2005 11:12:26 AM PST by sionnsar (†† || Libs: Celebrate MY diversity, eh! || Iran Azadi 2006)
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To: sionnsar; bobjam

Dear sionnsar and bobjam,


What's the fall-out, legal and ecclesiastically, if a parish goes from the ECUSA to being under another jurisdiction of the Anglican Communion?

Ecclesiastically, I guess the parish is still in communion with the Anglican Communion? Is it any longer in communion with the ECUSA?

Legally, can these folks make the case of, "Hey, we're still Anglicans - we're still the Anglican parish of St. John's, we're still under an Anglican bishop, we're just not under Frank Griswold and his co-conspirators, anymore. Previously, the ECUSA was the only branch of the Anglican Communion here in the US, but as is evidenced by the fact that we're recognized and under the jurisdiction of real, live Anglican primates, that's no longer the case now."

Or will the ECUSA's reply of, "Well, it was nice knowin' ya', make sure you leave all the silverware at the door, because, after all, the body that's incorporated in the United States is the Episcopal Church of the United States of America, not the Anglican Communion" win the day?

Sorry to have so many questions. Just trying to wrap my head around all of this.


6 posted on 12/30/2005 11:33:35 AM PST by sitetest (If Roe is not overturned, no unborn child will ever be protected in law.)
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To: sitetest

Generally, I believe, it's been "leave the silverware at the door." There have been specific cases in specific locales which had had laws that block that, allowing the departing parish to keep the property, but the general issue of who really owns the property (the Dennis Canon) has not been litigated.

If they affiliate elsewhere in the worldwide Anglican Communion they can say they're not part of ECUSA, they're not supporting Griswold & co with their money -- but they're still in communion with ECUSA!

For all I keep explaining why things take forever in the Anglican world, even to me the split is long overdue.

7 posted on 12/30/2005 12:18:38 PM PST by sionnsar (†† || Libs: Celebrate MY diversity, eh! || Iran Azadi 2006)
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To: sionnsar

Thanks for your explanations. They certainly helped me.

8 posted on 12/30/2005 12:48:36 PM PST by TruthNtegrity (Tony Snow: Fighting for the full release of the Barrett Report.)
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To: sitetest

ECUSA is not, by any means, the only institution of Anglicanism in this country. There are more than two dozen church groups that follow Anglican liturgy and tradition operating around the nation. The Reformed Episcopal Church has been around for over a hundred years.

Technically, ECUSA is the only American branch of the Anglcan Communion. The Network, which is headed by Bp Duncan, is part of ECUSA. However, a number of other branches (such as Nigeria, Uganda, Bolivia and SE Asia) have either launched parishes or given oversight to existing parishes that are geographically located in the United States. These parishes and their clergy are members of the Anglican Communion because they are part of an overseas Anglican province. The most well known of these groups is the Anglican Mission in America (AMiA). Its bishops are part of either the Anglican Church of Rwanda or the Anglican Church of SE Asia. There is widespread speculation that the Anglican Communion will expel ECUSA, and the groups in the US and Canada that are overseen by foreign archbishops will be rolled together into a new North American jurisdiction.

In general, ECUSA parish property is owned by the diocese. However, the diocese also is ultimately responsible for the parish's liabilities. From a diocesan standpoint, a parish walkout means the diocese looses that parish's annual contribution to the budget and inherits the mortgage, maintenance, utility and insurance bills. Having several parishes leave could force the diocese to the bargaining table (sell to the departing parish the property) or into bankruptcy court.

There is little ECUSA can do to AMiA churches other than complain to Archbishop Williams about foreign bishops "invading" ECUSA territory.

9 posted on 12/30/2005 12:48:57 PM PST by bobjam
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To: bobjam; sitetest
In general, ECUSA parish property is owned by the diocese.

That is what the Bishops would like for you to believe, but in most instances that is not the case. Most of the established parishes hold legal title to their property. Recent rulings in Calfornia dealing with Methodists and Presbyterians have held that legal title, absent an express trust of record, controls. So in California, at least, the local parish might well be able to hold their property. Outside California, you would need to research state law, which might still not be conclusive on the subject.

If the court is willing to use neutral principles of law, the parish is more likely to win; if the court defers to the religious body, the bishop is going to win.

Some of the parishes have elected to walk away from the property, even if there is a good likelihood of success, because they don't feel that the legal battle is a good use of resources.

10 posted on 12/30/2005 9:45:41 PM PST by PAR35
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To: PAR35

Every state has different laws, so cases must be evaluated on a state by state basis. In Florida, the Diocese is listed as the legal owner of the properties.

11 posted on 01/04/2006 4:08:00 AM PST by bobjam
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To: bobjam
In Florida, the Diocese is listed as the legal owner of the properties.

If the diocese is the title holder of record, then there shouldn't be a whole lot of litigation. The parish is likely to lose, and would be better off putting those resources toward rental or purchase of a new facility.

Did you see the recent postings about the case out of Pennsylvania where the court there ruled for the diocese even though the title was in the parish?

12 posted on 01/04/2006 8:20:35 AM PST by PAR35
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