Monday, December 15, 2008

Property Disputes - Common sense is not all that common

This post by Fr. Dan Martins got me thinking again about what to do with the Episcopal Church in the property disputes. It seems that eveyone is throwing around the title of "thief" and accusing each other of starting the lawsuits. It reminds me of my days in elementary school where crys of "he started it!" were all too common and the lazy teachers were the ones who wanted to know who threw the first punch (or kick or whatever).

The disputes on property are being handled just like a very acrimonious and messy divorce. Neither side may have a full claim to the property, but neither want the other to have any benefit from it. It's like a wife who cannot afford the house after the husband moves out but doesn't want to sell it and split the money with the ex-husband let alone let the ex-husband have the house. Likewise, the ex-husband "will be damned" if he'll let this woman have the house he worked so hard to pay for.

On all sides of this issue, we claim the title of Christian. When a congregation cannot see a way to remain within TEC, then we should be able to reach some form of compromise that honors the contributions of all involved and in both directions. The congregation did derive some benefit from being in TEC and in the diocese. Likewise, both TEC and the diocese derived benefit from the people in the congregation.

I propose that we let congregations share the property. Many congregations have multiple services on Sunday mornings. Let the congregation that has the most people attending pick their time and then let the smaller congregation have an alternate time. For major feast days that don't have multiple services (such as Maundy Thursday or the Great Vigil), develop some plan to share the space and have one service. Plan to do things such as mission or outreach work with both congregations.

Rather that buring the earth and sowing salt there, let's let Charity and forebearance rule our hearts.

Anger and hatred make great defenses against God's transforming love.

Phil Snyder

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