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Commentary from the American Anglican Council Regarding the Situation in Connecticut
American Anglican Council ^ | 8/12/2005 | Cynthia P. Brust

Posted on 08/12/2005 5:55:47 PM PDT by sionnsar

A Commentary from the American Anglican Council Regarding the Situation in Connecticut

As more information is revealed regarding the tactics and actions of Andrew Smith, Bishop of Connecticut, it is clear that the situation at St. John’s, Bristol, has potentially far-reaching and dangerous consequences throughout the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA). We have learned through reliable sources in Connecticut that the bishop not only inhibited St. John’s rector and seized church property but also has successfully obstructed the vestry’s [church board] canonical authority to conduct business.

The canons [church law] of ECUSA state clearly that the vestry is responsible for all financial and legal matters of the church and is required to “provide for services of public worship.” Canon 14, Section 2 reads: “… the Vestry shall be agents and legal representatives of the Parish in all matters concerning its corporate property and the relations of the Parish to its clergy.” While Canon 7, Section 4 notes that the parish is “held in trust” for the Church, this trust “shall in no way limit the power and authority of the Parish, Mission or Congregation otherwise existing over such property.” Clearly, Bishop Smith’s actions are a flagrant abuse of canon law: he seized St. John’s property, hacked into computers to obtain church records, redirected the parish website to the Diocese of Connecticut’s site, and appointed a revisionist priest-in-charge—all over the vestry’s protest. Subsequently, he claimed ownership of all parish accounts at the church’s bank and took control of the church post office box in Bristol, denying vestry members access to any mail. As a result, the bank has frozen all accounts while the issue of ownership is investigated and neither vestry members nor the treasurers have access to bills or the means to pay them, thereby inhibiting them from discharging canonical duties.

Bishop Smith’s defiance of the canonical structure of the Episcopal Church threatens to create a legal vulnerability within ECUSA. By seizing financial and legal responsibilities of lay leadership and claiming “ownership” (as oppose to “oversight”) of St. John’s, Bishop Smith assumes the role of the vestry and is therefore personally liable for any and all actions of the parish. If allowed to succeed in this assumption of ownership, Bishop Smith establishes a pattern for financial and legal responsibility, and by extension liability, to be assumed by bishops and dioceses across the nation. In this scenario, bishops would be responsible for all liabilities, contractual obligations, claims, lawsuits and any litigation. Such liability could include any subsidiaries or cooperative relationships with community entities such as day schools, Mothers’ Day Out programs, or civic organizations utilizing the property. This has the potential not only to financially wreck dioceses but to also make null and void the ecclesial structure established in ECUSA and the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Revisionists have been allowed to abandon the Anglican faith as expressed in Scripture and the 39 Articles, and their theological innovations have resulted in a crisis of unprecedented proportions in the worldwide Anglican Communion. Now revisionist bishops are trampling canon law and undermining the very structure of the Episcopal Church. The result can only be more chaos as ECUSA spirals ever closer to complete disarray and ultimate irrelevance. Ecclesiastical discipline is the only reasonable recourse. Even revisionist bishops should call upon Bishop Smith to restore authority to the duly elected vestry of St. John’s given the very real threat to the stability of their episcopacies.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 08/12/2005 5:55:48 PM PDT by sionnsar
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2 posted on 08/12/2005 5:56:27 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† || Trad-Ang Ping: I read the dreck so you don't have to || Iran Azadi)
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