Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Virginia Episcopal Diocese May Sue

Who owns the property when a church decides to split from a denomination or judicatory body? It depends on the denominational polity. In the Episcopal Church, apparently, it is the denomination that owns the property. The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia may sue the nine churches who have decided to align themselves with an African diocese because they disagree with the American church's stand on ordaining women and gay pastors. From the Washington Post:
Hopes for a peaceful settlement between the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and nine breakaway congregations suffered a blow yesterday when the diocese announced it would not renew a mutual promise to avoid litigation over property.
My guess is that if it goes to court the local congregations will lose.

1 comment:

ProgressiveChurchlady said...

That's my understanding too. Denominations own the property. If you want to break off, you can't just take your marbles and leave. They are not your marbles. Conversely, if you get "kicked out" of a denomination, you leave your structure behind to the denomination. This is the issue I once researched within the Presbyterian Church USA for a congregation that was taking a more progressive stand than the denomination had taken. (In his best Rodney Dangerfield impersonation the pastor at the time said, "Take the church building, please!")