Skip to comments.Horse's Head [everything is just fine in TEC ]
Posted on 11/09/2006 3:15:22 PM PST by sionnsar
According to Kate Schori's consiligiere, David Booth Beers, everything is just fine in TEC these days:
Although The Episcopal Church currently finds itself in uncharted territory both legally over ownership of diocesan property and with respect to its standing within the Anglican Communion, the Presiding Bishops chancellor, David Booth Beers, does not anticipate that the Archbishop of Canterbury will make any formal change in the churchs membership status in the Communion nor does he expect any dioceses affiliated with the Anglican Communion Network to attempt to leave.
I mean, it's not like we're buried in lawsuits or anything.
You hear a lot about our being swamped by litigation, Mr. Beers said. It has been [former Presiding] Bishop [Frank] Griswolds belief that this is not an epidemic. Well have some troubles. I think hes been proven right.
Mr. Beers went on to list and discuss briefly 10 cases that have been filed over property since 2000. The Episcopal Church has prevailed in all situations that have already been decided except for one in Los Angeles, although some pre-trial decisions have been unfavorable in San Diego, South Carolina and Central New York. Mr. Beers said he expects the Los Angeles decision to be overturned on appeal and a favorable final verdict in the other cases.
Thats it, he concluded. Its not an epidemic and its not a wave of victories for what I would call the arch conservatives.
Only 10 churches want to pull out? In a serious Christian church, one single parish wanting to bail should be a problem. But Dave's a big picture guy. Oh and about that letter he wrote to the Dioceses of Fort Worth and Quincy a while back?
The cases he discussed have all involved a congregation seeking to leave The Episcopal Church with its property. A number of conference participants asked Mr. Beers what would happen if a diocese voted to cut its ties with the constitution and canons of the General Convention. Last week The Living Church reported that Mr. Beers had written to the chancellors of two Network dioceses Fort Worth and Quincy on Oct. 19 inquiring whether the dioceses they provide legal counsel to had qualified the supremacy of General Convention bylaws over their diocesan ones. The letters also threatened possible action by the Presiding Bishop if the diocese failed to make satisfactory changes.
They weren't threats or anything.
Mr. Beers said he had written a similar letter to the chancellor of the Diocese of San Joaquin last summer and expressed annoyance that details concerning private correspondence had been published. He did not share a draft with either Bishop Griswold or Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who assumed office Nov. 1, prior to sending the letters, but they didnt come as a surprise to either one of them. The letters, he said, were not meant to be taken as threats, merely a reminder that according to Episcopal Church polity, the diocese is a creature of General Convention and cannot change its status with respect to The Episcopal Church without General Convention approval.
Really. They weren't threats at all.
Under the canons, Mr. Beers said the Presiding Bishop can declare a diocese vacant of leadership. A decision as to when legal action against a diocese would become necessary is nominally up to the Presiding Bishop, although presumably she could be overruled by General Convention, a precedent Mr. Beers cautioned against.
Would Purple Haze pull the trigger? Dave doesn't know but he thinks San Joaquin, Fort Worth, Quincy and any other Network diocese thinking of emulating them would be better off playing it safe.
What I urge you to think about is what cross the line means, he said. What they say is that well accede to the constitution and canons, but only in those things we think are consistent with the gospel, but they havent really acted. Are they going to pull out of the pension fund? Ive got to have something to explain to a judge who already thinks were crazy.
While concerned about legislative events in many Network dioceses, particularly San Joaquin, Mr. Beers does not anticipate that any diocese would actually attempt to leave.
These conditional things dont particularly trouble me, although the language used in San Joaquin is very blunt, he said. Where are they going to go? They seem to be positioning themselves for what? They seem to be preparing themselves for the day when the Archbishop of Canterbury recognizes them as a separate province, but I dont see evidence of that happening and I dont see [Bishop Jefferts Schori] suing bishops and diocesan leaders without a lot more evidence that theyre doing something to take property away from the national church or violating their ordination vows.
Besides, TEC isn't going to get run from the Communion anyway for a very Episcopal reason.
Mr. Beers said there might be some symbolic gestures by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to distance The Episcopal Church from the rest of the Anglican Communion. But he does not expect any formal break in part because too much of the Communions funding comes from the United States, both directly from The Episcopal Church and also through the Compass Rose Society.
So stick the Network up your narthex.
Even if formal action to recognize the Network dioceses as the legitimate Anglican Communion partner in the United States did come, Mr. Beers said it was unlikely that would change the outcome of a property dispute in U.S. court. Despite language in the preamble to the General Convention constitution which defines it as a constituent member of the Anglican Communion, the highest legislative body to which The Episcopal Church owes allegiance is General Convention. Communion ties are merely historical and symbolic, he said.
Dave may be right about that. And it's refreshing to see the usual Episcopal scorn for the Anglican Communion expressed so openly. But what I think Dave and the rest of the TEC ultras miss is the fact that the decision about what should be done about TEC is no longer in Dr. Williams' hands.
In Dar es Salaam next February, the Global South primates are going to have to give my gracious lord of Canterbury a choice. Dr. Williams can have a strong, vigorous and influential Anglican Communion without TEC or he can a greatly-reduced, basically irrelevant Anglican Communion with TEC. If they don't, the split, for many of us, will come anyway since we'll move on with our lives.
But what if TEC is run? What if Kate Schori is told to stay home from Africa while Bob Duncan is invited, thus granting the Network the official Anglican imprimatur it seeks? As Beers seems to hint, the Network's problems may get far worse than they are now.
Because a spurned Kate Schori might be more likely to start declaring dioceses vacant and an insulted TEC might be more likely to support her and might also be eager to devote TEC money to the cause. But on the bright side, Dave should be hip-deep in billable hours.
Did we ever find out if "Booth" is this fellow's maiden name?
One hasn't had time (not to mention inclination) to find out... *\;-)
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