Loss for Anti-Gay Ex-Episcopalians

Timothy Kincaid

January 5th, 2009

When the Episcopal Church ordained Gene Robinson as a Bishop, it threw several conservative congregations into a tizzy. Some were so upset about the idea of their church including an openly gay man in so high a position, that they announced that they would take their marbles and go elsewhere.

St. James parish in Newport Beach was one such church. Now they have found that it just isn’t that easy. The Supreme Court of California has informed St. James parish that they can go elsewhere, but they have to leave their marbles behind.

The California Supreme Court ruled that the 2.4-million-member national church, and not a local parish in that state, owns a church building and the land on which it sits, property which members of the congregation said belonged to them when they left the church.

This decision upheld the 2007 reversal of a 2005 judicial decision granting the property to the local congregation. 2007 was a sad year for the church; also in that year Rev. Praveen Bunyan, the priest who led the disaffiliation, resigned his duties over inappropriate attention paid to a female parishioner.

This unanimous Supreme Court decision is, no doubt, discouraging to the parish that lost its marbles. But it is definitely encouraging to the Episcopal Church, especially as it may direct that the multi-million dollar assets of the San Juaquin Diocese in Fresno remain under the control of the denomination, and are not at the discretion of the break-away Bishop.

Although the deeds showed that the local church owned the property, the parish had agreed to be part of the greater Episcopal Church of the United States and to be bound by that church’s rules, the court said. Those rules said local churches hold property in trust for the greater denomination.

“The local church agreed and intended to be part of a larger entity and to be bound by the rules and governing documents of that greater entity,” Chin wrote.

So it now seems, at least in California, that it may actually cost chuches something to stand by their convictions.


January 5th, 2009

There’s a lot more to this story that what the MSM has reported.

The tear began in 1979 when the Book of Common Prayer was revised and women were welcomed into the episcopacy as priests and bishops (gah–can you imagine… lowly WOMEN in those positions!)

The straw was Gene Robinson.

The real twister in this, right now, from my point of view (as a Piskie myself) is that those in leadership positions and holding the properties have all been either found by the church of abandonment of their communion, or are amist in the process as they have found extreme (for the most part, including AB Akinola and Bishops Orombi and Venables) anti-gay (in all cases, and I underline extreme) who are also anti-women in the episcopacy.

So what we have, right now, is an entire bunch of people aligned to foreign leaders with no churches and leaders which, as of today, cannot rightfully even administer communion on the shores of the US.

The whole situation is bizarre.

But one thing for sure: The MSM never got the history and details even close to right.

Timothy Kincaid

January 5th, 2009


I agree that the MSM has trouble getting the story right. I too have trouble getting the story right.

Richard W. Fitch

January 5th, 2009

I’m a ‘Piskie’ too, so I know much of the story. But please clarify for me the ‘MSM’. I presume some news outlet(?).


January 5th, 2009

MSM: “main-stream media” LOL :)

Richard W. Fitch

January 6th, 2009

—duh—! Shoulda known. It was late. Figured it might be a specific CA paper. Bishop Robinson was not so much the last straw as a convenient excuse. Most Americans have accepted the need to update the language of their liturgy to be understandable to the average person (BCP-1979); and most have recognized that women can and should have primary roles in the structure of the church (other than SS teachers and crew in the kitchen for potluck suppers). However, the assessment of human sexuality, especially for clergy, has not gotten beyond the archaic notions that have been overshadowed by most contemporary science. Until the general populace can get beyond the concept of copulation as the only function of an intimate, primary relationship, especially as this applies to the LGBT community, the assertion that there can be a Godly gay-partnered man or women is enigma and blasphemy to them. There were and are many EC-USA parishes and dioceses that see the changes in the denomination as a threat to the security of their ‘old time religion’. Change is usually not easy for any religious institution. So the election of Gene Robinson as Bishop of NH simply provided them with the cultural ammunition to catapult from the ‘apostate, secularized revisionists’. Ironically, some of these groups have found new troublesome issues in the ideology of the third-world provinces with which they are now affiliated.


January 6th, 2009

Nigeria’s Peter Akinola is a very ambitious man. Keeping the property of the breakaway churches out of the rebels’ hands might dampen anyone’s enthusiasm for deepening the split in the Anglican communion. It’s one thing for these non-U.S. bishops if there’s a pot of money to be gained; it’s quite something else if someone like Akinola would like to be Archbishop of Canterbury one day.

Kate Maver

January 6th, 2009

The only thing LGBT people have to do is walk out the door of the church. Once you walk out the door of the church, hardly anybody cares if you’re LGBT. No more angst. No more hand-wringing. No more pointless arguments with religious pinheads. Try it. It’s really freeing.

Timothy Kincaid

January 6th, 2009

Why on earth would LGBT people want to walk out the door of the Episcopal Church when that church is risking schism and conflict just so that they can proclaim that LGBT people are an equal part of the family of God? That doesn’t sound very freeing to me; it sounds ridiculous.

Richard W. Fitch

January 6th, 2009

Thank goodness, the likelihood of Akinola being Archbishop of Canterbury is a moot point. Unless the Church of England is disestablished, the reigning monarch appoints the ++Bishop. It is more likely that Akinola will become the head or high high ranking official in the breakaway provinces. I have no respect for the man — NONE!! He and his ilk have shunned our Presiding Bishop at the world conferences over the past 4 years, partly because of her being a woman and partly because she is American. Akinola supports the efforts of Nigeria to make homosexuality a capital crime and even to prosecute/persecute those who associate with others suspected of being part of the LGBT community.

Jonathan Justice

January 6th, 2009

While it is good to see that Justice Chin and the rest of the California Supremes do grasp the contractual character of congregational engagement in a connectional denomination, there does remain the question of whether the property ownership resides with the denomination or the diocese. The argument is made that dioceses like San Juaquin will get to keep the assets of churches in their jurisdiction even as the larger church moves to provide assistance to congregations that wish to remain with the ECUSA.

As a Presbyterian, I find it more than a little ironic that religious rightists have put so much energy into trying to precipitate a program of judicial activism that would impose a Procrustean bed of totally congregationalist polity on just about all of the hilariously various American churches. I have to suppose that the consideration that we are talking about California here does spice this up a little, but it does take some serious denialism for a bunch of Episcopalians to stomp around pretending that they do not understand their polity as connectional with regards to property.


January 6th, 2009

It will be interesting to see how this decision plays when the Virginia cases ‘finally’ make it to the Supreme Court.

(VA has a statute that permits a secular judge — rather than church body — to decide when a church has “split”, and the assets are then broken away by formula. ECUSA, and other churches, have argued strongly that any such law unconstitutionally infringes on a religious organisations ability to govern its own internal affairs. The California decision has confirmed that the ECUSA has its own way of doing things, as is their right, and is in direct conflict with recent Virginia judgements.)

Personally, if somewhat flippantly, I can’t but help connect the phrases “transfer of assets to a Nigerian Archbishop” and “419 scam” in my own mind.

Blame all those “My Dear and Esteemed Friend!!!” emails we’ve been receiving…

Wilburn Fessenden

January 8th, 2009

Kate, I walked out of ECUSA years ago, and yes, it was very freeing. It continues to be a freeing experience. I would that all gays boycott anti-gay congregations of every color. I am willing to bet when 95% or church musicians and at least 50% of the clergy are no longer involved, there would be some miraculous divine intervention saying it is perfectly OK to gay after all. Money talks. I say let churches who want to segregate and hate be by themselves. Good riddance.

Timothy (TRiG)

January 23rd, 2009

Wilburn Fessenden: “I would that all gays boycott anti-gay congregations of every color.”

I disagree. Strongly.

If you believe what the church teaches, you should stay there. And, while you’re there, you should play by the rules. If that means no sex, then so be it.

If you don’t believe what the church teaches, then get out. Now. Not as a boycott or any other form of protest, but merely because you shouldn’t be pretending to believe something you don’t. It’s not honest and it’s not good for you.

If you’re questioning, then continue to do so. It’s good for you.

And if you half-believe what the church teaches, then find a church you agree with more, or perhaps try to reform from within. But boycotts are just silly in religious contexts.


Kate Maver

January 27th, 2009

I’m not talking about a boycott. I’m talking about, for the sake of your own mental health, getting out. Staying in is just masochistic. But if putting up with abuse somehow makes you feel like you’re nailed up there on the cross with Jesus, by all means, go ahead and let them nail you.

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