Texas Looks at Changing the Law on Church Property Disputes and Secession of Churches

From the Episcopal News Service:

An Episcopal priest who proposed rewriting Texas law to favor dissident congregations in property disputes said January 30 he considers it “the next natural step” in an attempt to halt lawsuits within the church.

“It’s shameful we’re spending so much money suing one another when we could be using that money for mission,” said the Rev. Canon Ed Monk, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Corsicana.

He and other leaders of the conservative 300-member St. John’s, located about 50 miles southeast of Dallas, contacted state Representative Byron Cook, a three-term Republican. On January 22, Cook introduced House Bill 972, which directs courts to find a “just and right” division of property, having “due regard” for all parties.

Cook did not return Episcopal News Service calls January 30, but Monk said that the changes were inspired by a Virginia law which awarded property to dissident congregations, contradicting Episcopal Church canons. “I thought it would be good to have a similar one,” he said.

This obviously would affect centralised churches such as the Church of God as well.

2 thoughts on “Texas Looks at Changing the Law on Church Property Disputes and Secession of Churches”

  1. Maybe so, Don, but isn’t the COG interest in the local plants more financial? Shori’s crews are all about using Caesar’s courts to enforce (their interpretation of) Church law. Cleveland more likely has real financial shares in its churches, no?

    Please email me when you can. I’ve lost your address, & would rather drop a note than interrupt your schedule by telephone. God bless ya, Brother!

    1. There are two aspects of this.

      From a purely legal standpoint, the two situations are similar, because COG holds all of the local church property in trust for the central church. In fact, COG has been more consistent in this than TEC, as evidenced by the need (from the central church’s standpoint) for the Dennis Canon (whose actual enactment has yet to be definitively determined.) So any act of the Texas legislature regarding this could affect, in theory at least, the COG’s relationship with its local church property, if not now at some time in the future.

      On the other hand, the COG does not have the situation in the TEC where a) there is a wide ranging doctrinal and moral dispute which has effectively split the church and b) the Presiding Bishop has assumed a “take no prisoners” or “scorched earth” policy towards its opponents, real or perceived.

      Having worked in the COG for some time, I know that, even in the absence of (a), the COG generally takes a more common sense approach to church property issues than the TEC under KJS. The church is prepared to defend its rights over the local church property, but also knows that there are times when its better to cut a deal than to get into a protracted fight. KJS’ lack of common sense is going to cost the revisionists dearly. Eventually they will realise that they have a lot of property but are out of cash and membership, and then it will be time for the brown pants.

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