Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Understandable and doable"

You are not going to believe this one. When asked by WXIA reporter Dennis O'Hayer about her view on whether departing congregations should keep their property, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said that if they were going to a church that is in communion with TEC, that would "be understandable and doable." The relevant clip is with about 2:30 minutes left in this interview.
O’Hayer: "Court battles have started. Virginia has had a case where the congregation that left got to keep the property, at least in the lower court ruling. Would you rather have those properties sold, than go with the congregation that leaves the [Episcopal] Church?"

Schori:The issue that’s often not understood is that bishops and officers of dioceses have a moral and a fiduciary responsibility to see that the legacy of the church, the assets of the church, are used for the purposes for which they were given. When a congregation, or members of a congregation, or a priest decides that he wants to set up as another church that’s not in communion with this church, we really don’t have the right to give that property away, give those assets away. If it’s another . . . you know, if it were a church with whom we are in full communion, like the ELCA, that would be much more understandable and doable. In the absence of that kind of full communion relationship, we really don’t have a choice. Our task is to see that the assets of the church are used for the ministry of the Episcopal Church.”

That should be good news for Bishop Schofield and the people of the Diocese of San Joaquin, who left TEC last December for "a church with whom we are in full communion." It is a reassurance to the dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, and Quincy who are considering the same move.

Of course, I don't believe that our Katharine has changed her hard-line stance on departing congregations. It is interesting that she mentioned the ELCA as an example of churches with whom we are in communion. Surely other churches of the Anglican Communion would fit this category at least as well, or are we no longer claiming that TEC is a part of the Anglican Communion?

When the time comes for her to take the stand in the next church property trial, she may wish she could take that interview back.


LutherPunk said...

If there is to be a mass TEC exodus for the ELCA, kindly bring your BCPs, as our ELWs really suck.

Anonymous said...

I really like the new green wallpaper and scroll motif...nifty

Anonymous said...

Interesting about the ELCA mention. Actually, for me the ELCA came in handy.

I was a Fort Worth Episcopalian, used to be at St. Vincent's, hung out some at St. Laurence. Got to where I hated the Network hype at both places. I'm more moderate anyway.

So last year, not wanting to be around when Bishop Iker makes his move this November, I fled to the ELCA. Been there a year, and happy to be away from the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

And why did I think of the ELCA. Because the ELCA and TEC are in full communion - though I have serious doubts that Bishop Iker would see himself in communion with the Fort Worth area ELCA congregations. (After all, they have WOMEN PASTORS!!!)

Fr Timothy Matkin said...

Dear Corie,

I am glad you found a church home. I was ELCA before becoming an Episcopalian, so it has a fond place in my heart.

You are correct about Fort Worth (among others) not fully participating in the ELCA concordat. However, it is not because of women pastors per se; it is because of the suspension of the preface to the ordinal to provide for a lack of historic episcopate and priesthood and diaconate in the ELCA. Hopefully, this problem will not persist in the future.

Nevertheless, we have had good ELCA relations. At our parochial school, a parent couple who were both ELCA pastors served as two of our chaplains. They led Morning Prayer and taught religion classes. They did a wonderful job and we were glad to have them.

The issue of "full communion" is a tricky and nuanced thing. As there is in practice not a full "communio in sacris" nor a full interchangeability of orders, much less a full communion of doctrine, the term "full communion" with the ELCA cannot be taken to its literal extent. But then, there is no longer a "full communion" WITHIN the Episcopal Church in the literal sense either. I just found it odd that Schori went to the ELCA as an example of "full communion" rather than other churches of the Anglican Communion, with whom we have more in common and much longer ties. Perhaps it occurred to her mid-statement that most departing parishes and all departing dioceses are joining other churches of the Anglican Communion.

Adam said...

Oops. I wonder if she really meant to say that.

I like how my rector refers to her sometimes: "That vile woman."