Skip to comments.Mother Church of [GA Diocese] told to pay up or get out by liberal bishop
Posted on 12/26/2006 5:56:14 PM PST by sionnsar
EORGIA: Mother Church of Diocese told to pay up or get out by liberal bishop
Christ Church Savannah given ultimatum by Rt. Rev. Henry I. Louttit
By David W. Virtue
The Bishop of Georgia, Henry I. Louttit has sent a letter from his attorneys telling the mother congregation of the diocese - Christ Church, Savannah - founded by John Wesley, that they must pay their full financial obligation to the diocese of $60,000 by December 31 or get out.
In a letter obtained by VOL from the law firm of Elliott, Blackburn, Barnes & Gooding, the diocesan chancellor James L. Elliott wrote that the request of the rector, wardens and vestry for a timeline of Lambeth 2008 to make up their mind about their future in the diocese was unacceptable and that the bishop wants to know by June 30, 2007 what path they chose, but that for such an "accommodation" to take place the parish must ante up $60,000 by December 31.
The chancellor then made an astonishing admission. "Bishop Louttit is concerned that Lambeth 2008 may not even take place and it is certainly not clear that our Presiding Bishop will even be invited to attend. In addition, it is impossible to predict what action if any might come from that meeting should it take place."
Elliott said the $60,000 would be divided up with one third each going to the Honey Creek Conference Center; support college campus ministries and church starts in the diocese.
Elliott then said that Christ Church had to make an additional financial contribution to the diocese of $30,000 in six (6) monthly installment of $5,000 from January to June 2007. "These funds would be applied directly to the programs set forth above in the same proportion," he wrote.
"Christ Church, through its rector, wardens and vestry must acknowledge that it is bound by the Constitution and Canons of the TEC and Diocese of Georgia and agree that all church property, both real and personal...remain the property of the diocese and TEC."
Elliot then demanded that the church spend church funds "in the ordinary course of the operation of the church and that no funds will be wasted or diverted to others or otherwise squandered." He then demanded that diocesan representatives be given immediate access to all financial records of the Christ Church.
The chancellor then demanded that should the parish decide to stay with The Episcopal Church by June 30, 2007 they had to make an unrestricted $30,000 contribution in six monthly installments of $5,000 from July to December 2007, as well as an unrestricted proportionate financial contribution to the program and administrative costs of the Diocese for 2008.
Elliott then said that if the parish decides not to stay in the Episcopal Church they must "relinquish immediately" all property held by Christ Church to the diocese.
He then told parish leaders that he was preparing a memorandum of agreement (should they not accept this proposal) which included the following:
1. Renunciation of holy orders by all ordained clergy leaving the TEC.
2. Vacate the church premises by all except those who cannot remain faithful to the Episcopal church.
3. Relinquish all accounts, financial records, books and property of the church including all signs and symbols of the church.
ON December 17, 2006 the rector, The Rev. Marcus B. Robertson, vestry and wardens responded to the bishop's letter, which VOL has also obtained, saying that early efforts to have conversation with the bishop failed but on Sept, 7 they did sit down and talk over issues relating to the continued downward trajectory of the Episcopal Church away from the Anglican Communion and the theology of Mrs. Schori and demanding an explanation from the bishop.
Louttit responded saying he would not longer allow Christ Church to support the diocese through "designated gifts", and that they would have to give directly to the Diocesan Operating Budget, a portion of which would go to support the agenda of The Episcopal Church.
The vestry echoed its desire to continue the pastoral relationship with the diocese and bishop.
Five congregations within the diocese including Christ Church then wrote to the bishop requesting him and The Standing Committee of the Diocese to address key matters forming the future of the Anglican Communion; namely their responses to Lambeth 1.10, the Windsor Report conditions for "walking together" and to assess the failure of General Convention to comply fully with these minimum parameters.
At a second meeting on November 7 with the Bishop, Chancellor and chair of the Standing Committee the parish clarified that it was not issuing specific restrictions on their financial support other than it remain in the diocese and that such an arrangement would go no further than Lambeth 2008. The Bishop replied that he would pray about it.
At the Nov. 20 meeting of the vestry, having not heard back from the bishop, they decided unanimously to give the full budgeted amount of the parish budget for 2006 of $24,000 to the program and administrative costs of the diocese which could be distributed at the conscience of the bishop. A check was cut and delivered to the bishop.
On December 3, the parish leaders got their answer.
Mr. Neil Creasey, the Chancellor of Christ Church responded with "shock and disappointment to the aggressive and threatening letter" and asked for continued conversation with a view toward deepening their mutual understanding that Christ Church had done nothing to warrant such threats.
To date the bishop has not responded.
In a series of questions and answers, the parish leaders say that the besetting issues are the TEC's move away from the essential elements of the Christian Faith, particularly the authority and primacy of Holy Scripture, the unique deity of Jesus Christ, and the nature and reality of salvation.
They also said that Christ Church has not left the TEC or Diocese of Georgia, that the parish has retained legal counsel and that the parish has not taken any action that violates any canon of the diocese or that should bring such threats upon them. To date the diocese has not initiated legal action against Christ Church; however they are prepared to defend themselves legally if such action is taken.
In a letter to the church they wrote: "Don't be afraid of the conflict. In it is embedded God's grace, and profound lessons of trust and obedience that can transform us all."
The parish has scheduled "parish forums" for Sunday January 7, January 14 and will address matters at their annual parish meeting on January 21. They noted that the Endowment Fund could be used for potential [legal] expenses.
The Rev. Marcus B. Robertson has been rector of Christ Church since 1992 and holds a D. Min degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA.
Up until now, Louttit has been a live-and-let-live sort of bishop.
Both he and Lee of VA suffered a recent complete turnabout, suddenly renouncing earlier discussions with orthodox parishes.
I think both have been threatened by 815. I don't know if they have photos of these guys in a house of ill repute or what, but whatever 815 threatened them with has them shaking in their boots -- to the point of reneging on previous agreements.
This smells to high heaven.
This also may affect my parents' heretofore very orthodox parish "bubble".
Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.
(Matthew 22:21, KJV)
My thoughts also
"First let me bury my father . . . "
I personally would like to take out the pillar named in memory of my great-grandparents in the 1800s, but the church might fall down.
However, I have been long gone myself.
"The Rev. Marcus B. Robertson has been rector of Christ Church since 1992 and holds a D. Min degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA."
If the rector is a Fuller grad, unlike many ECUSA clergy he likely is actually a Christian. I don't think Fuller is on the acceptable list of most ECUSA dioceses.