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13 January 2009


Beat Attitude

The spiritual effectiveness of a church does not consist in its worldly possessions, and God is very creative and can build stuff out of nothing. When they rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, it was the spirit of the enterprise, not the bricks and mortar, which God honoured.


Yet we still need over a million £ for a hall. Hmm.

Graham Smith

"Unfortunately, the national church has won their claim..."

I don't understand why you say "unfortunately". Is not the court's ruling wholly in-line with the anglican model of episcopal authority? After all, this is not a congregational church we're talking about!

Returning to first principles, surely Bishops are entitled to canonical obedience from clergy and lay office-holders 'in all things lawful and honest'?

Within the Anglican model of episcopal authority, the Bishop is the effective symbol of unity and parishes therefore have a special obligation to remain in communion with their diocesan (even though they may not agree with everything the Bishop says or does).

Writing in "The Anglican Understanding of the Church" (SPCK, 2000, p.29), Paul Avis makes the point that: 'Theologically, severance of communion can only be justified when the issue concerns the basis of our communion in God's act of salvation in Jesus Christ, our baptismal incorporation into the Body of Christ and the trinitarian baptismal faith itself.'

I would contend that the differences between the leaders of the Church of the Good Shepherd and its Diocesan fall short of this test.

In any event, it is not the place for a parish ministry team to make a unilateral declaration of independence from its diocesan, which is what appears to have occurred here.

Of course, were the Church of the Good Shepherd to have been part of a wider church that followed the congregational model, the court's decision would likely have been very different (indeed, as property is owned under trust by the local congregation it may never have come to court). But the Church of the Good Shepherd is not part of the URC (or whatever the USA equivilant is), they are part of the Episcopal Church. And an important element of the rationale for the episcopal model is to prevent local leaders (who have considerable autonomy of action) from persuading their parishoners to cede from their diocese.

Now, Matt and Anne Kennedy appear to be good and honest christian people. But what if they weren't? What if their views were completely heretical and they had deliberately misled their parishoners into ceding from their diocesan? Surely you (and many others) would be clamouring for the courts to uphold the "Dennis Canon"?

It doesn't look as if anyone is emerging as a victor here; everyone involved must be finding this a very painful experience. And how will future historians view it?

Beat Attitude


The point is that unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain. It is right to ask God for the resources for doing the good works God has prepared for you to do (see Ephesians 2, v10), but more important is allowing God to dictate what resources are necessary. Even if you pray through the disagreement and still the finding is not (in worldly terms) in your favour, it becomes something which can be used as a test of faith. The bible is full of examples where people were under-resourced in order that they might learn to trust God more.

So it's fine for us to seek financial resources for BFF. We are building while we have the opportunity to build. God does not expect us to live our lives in the expectation of miraculous intervention at every juncture, as though a live not peppered with miracles were somehow sub-standard. But there are occasions when he takes away those things we think we need in order that we might be reminded that man does not live by bread alone.

Beat Attitude

sorry I meant "a life not peppered with..." not "live"


So THAT'S why St.Silas doesn't pay the full quota! ;-)


And, of course, the Scottish Episcopal Church would permit a congregation to leave and take their building with them, right?


Thanks for the comments.

Graham Smith: Though Anglicanism is hierarchical and centralised, it is nonetheless dependent on congregations to make it work. In that sense, we remain congregational, with most funding for the centre flowing from the congregations. Congregations in Scotland are largely responsible for the upkeep of their buildings (unless they are unable to do so, when the diocese and/or province steps in). We retain some measure of congregationalism, though some would prefer it were not so. I think that those departing in the USA, are doing so over much more than sexuality: they truly believe that TEC's leadership espouse a different gospel, in which Jesus is not unique, the authority of scripture is denied, salvation is universal, morality is confused, and traditionalists are crushed. If 'heretical' leadership wanted to take a willing congregation out of the congregation and I had any say in whether they could or not I'd hope to be gracious enough to let them go, rather than fight needless battles which say more about us than they do about the Lord.

MJ: A few congregations would not need the permission of the SEC, as the individual church clearly still retains the ownership of the property with their own trustees in place. However, most congregations would need to negotiate an exit strategy. Knowing how gracious the leadership of the SEC is, and how costly court battles could be, one would hope that a rather more charitable approach than the US one would be taken in such circumstances. This would also avoid a PR disaster for both sides.

Grace upon grace........


More interestingly, David, what do you think of my proposed new motto for the Scottish Episcopal Church : "Fabulousness is next to Godliness" ? Cool, eh?

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