Skip to comments.Rio Grande Diocese Plan to Allow Parishes to Leave with Properties
Posted on 08/23/2006 5:56:07 PM PDT by sionnsar
The Diocese of the Rio Grande is weighing the option for allowing dissenting parishes who disagree with their bishop to opt out of the diocese and The Episcopal Church and still keep their properties.
A confidential 22-page "work-in-progress" report of the Diocesan Task Force on Communion, sent to VirtueOnline, reveals that a plan to let parishes leave the diocese and The Episcopal Church, without litigation, if passed by the Diocesan Convocation in October, would be the first diocese in the history of the TEC to allow such an exodus.
The recently consecrated orthodox Bishop of the Rio Grande, the Rt. Rev. Jeffrey N. Steenson is said to approve the plan.
Here are the details:
1. A decision to sever its relationship with The Episcopal church must be made by at least two-thirds of the qualified voters of the congregation...and certified by the bishop.
2. The congregation must remain a part of the Anglican Communion, and participate as a constituent member in the life of a Diocese within a Province of the Anglican Communion. Further, said congregation must have a bishop or other judicatory representative of the receiving entity involved in the realignment.
3. The parish or mission must be legally incorporated, and its officers must formally release the Diocese of the Rio Grande from...obligations and liabilities that may result from the decision to leave the Episcopal Church including costs of litigation that may result from legal actions taken by dissenting members of the congregation.
4. All obligations incurred up to the date of the congregation's departure, including notes held by or secured by the Diocese and pension and insurance assessments for its clergy and staff must be satisfied, and the congregation must conduct a certified audit and submit it to the diocesan Treasurer.
5. In both the year in which the congregation departs and the year following, the congregation agrees to compensate the diocese an amount equal to 100 percent of the average annual fair share it had been assessed the previous three years. In subsequent years the amount will be reduced to 75 percent, 50 percent and 25 percent.
6. The diocese expects any congregation which chooses to leave the TEC will treat those who choose to remain in a fair and equitable manner.
7. Associated clergy who desire to depart with the congregation must immediately resign their orders in the Episcopal Church as prescribed by canon or be transferred to another bishop or ecclesiastical authority as prescribed by canon or in a manner approved by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Associated clergy who wish to remain in communion with the Episcopal Church are entitled to reasonable severance as approved by the bishops and Standing Committee,
8. The departing congregation may be permitted by the Diocesan Council to retain its name, so long as references to the Episcopal Church are removed from its articles of incorporation, signage, stationary, publications, etc.
9. The diocese and the congregation will covenant together to pray for each other, avoid criticizing each other, and cooperate insofar as possible in the work of the Gospel. v 10. In cases where a portion of a congregation chooses to realign and a portion chooses to remain in the Episcopal Church, each portion will covenant together to pray for each other, avoid criticizing each other, and cooperate insofar as possible in the work of the Gospel.
11. Legal title to all real property of the congregation will be conveyed to the congregation by the Trustees of the diocese when all of the above policy has been fully complied with.
For those remaining within the Episcopal Church once a parish decides to leave, the bishop shall appoint a joint task force made up equally of those staying within the Episcopal Church and those leaving. The Bishop shall also appoint an arbitrator to work with the parochial task force to:
A. Provide adequate pastoral and sacramental ministry for those remaining.
B. Provide adequate physical space in which to conduct worship.
C. Provide adequate liturgical tools with which to conduct worship.
D. Provide adequate financial provision to ensure continue ministry and mission viability.
E. Provide equitable division of memorials and restricted endowments.
Christianity is a school of repentance. If the Christian doesn't have a guilty conscience, then he is committing the greatest sin of all--pride. This sounds like an act of charity to me. And it would certainly make it easier for this diocese to leave TEC if the two-tier plan of the BoC becomes reality.
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