The Episcopal Church in 2009: A Primer for Those in the Pews
posted March 16, 2009
by R.A. Livingston
-To let Episcopalians know that a small group of single-issue activists has taken over the leadership and management of the church and turned missions, goals and budgets to their exclusive advantage.
-To inform, educate and hopefully arouse Episcopalians to question the profligate spending by the church on lawsuits against fellow Christians and Anglicans.
-To draw attention to violations of the Canons of the church by its leadership.
-To provide practical methods whereby an individual can express displeasure at these actions.
Over the past century The Protestant Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. has been transformed. What had been a church overly steeped in the ways of English gentlemen rewrote its Book of Common Prayer in 1928 to be more inclusive and friendly to those who worshiped each Sunday. Women no longer had to sit in a certain area at the back of the nave. The pure English rootstock of the church was being augmented by more recent arrivals to our country - once, of course, they had reached a modicum of wealth and position. The leaders of the church, bishops, priests and laity, were content that tradition still held and innovation was strictly limited....
-The General Convention in 2006 allocated $300,000 for all legal expenses in the years 2007-2009. Actual expenses will exceed $4,700,000 a 1,560% increase.
-The proposed budget for the next three years is $1,800,000.
$100,000 of each of these budgets is set aside for disciplinary actions against bishops and similar cases. The balance is for lawsuits.
-Other expenses both at TEC headquarters in New York City and elsewhere are being cut at the same time litigation expenses are significantly increasing.
-The “Dennis” Canon purports to place all real and personal property of all Episcopal parishes in trust for the diocese and the national church.
-Lawsuits by TEC invoking the Dennis Canon have been successful only about half the time.
When TEC sues or intervenes in a diocese’s suit, compromise and negotiated settlements are cut off.
-Other carnage: There have been more bishops and clergy deposed, or involuntarily removed from the ranks of the Church, in the two-and-a-half years of Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori’s term than at any other time in its four-hundred-year history.
-In doing so, the Presiding Bishop has repeatedly violated the Canons of the church.
-Are dioceses members of a voluntary association from which they can depart or are they forever a part of the whole?
-The threat of anarchy looms as multiple dioceses vie for the same jurisdiction.
-The scorched earth policy in lawsuits has created tension and mistrust, increased the flow of those leaving and exacerbated the shortfall in contributions at all levels of the church
-The twisted and abused Canons are seen not as rules for Christian conduct, but simply as means to an end.