Things have not gone as predicted by the Donatists, though, and things are not “happily ever after” either.
Part of the strategy of the Donatists was to bankrupt TEC though litigation -- to force the Church to divert untold millions of dollars to defend its property from suits brought by thieves who thought they could leave TEC and take the assets with them. Apparently, that strategy didn’t work and it cuts both ways.
Jim Naughton over at the The Lead posted a wee article on how things are going at Fall Rivers. In short, not so good. It seems that they are strapped for cash. So strapped are the Donatists that they have written to donors of a former building campaign asking permission to redirect those funds into the legal war chest to aid themselves and other schismatic communities. Make sure to read the background on that building campaign.
One must wonder how the schismatics feel knowing that at every turn of the legal and ecclesial wheels, they have lost – except in Virginia where a Jim Crow era law was cited as justification for allowing the thieves to retain TEC property. Remember that law was enacted to protect slavery friendly churches that departed non hierarchical organisations when slavery was outlawed. Keep that in mind as you read this bit about the church beef with the city.
In every other case (correct me if I am wrong) the courts have ruled in favour of TEC. All the gold spent by the schismatics in the United States has been for naught and now they are strapped for cash knowing they will have to “defend” the Fall River decision in a higher court that is not predisposed in favour of the schismatics.
In a second article at the Lead today, Nicholas Knisely reports that the Donatists themselves realize recognisation by the Anglican Communion is ‘unlikely. According to the Rev. J Phillip Ashley, the ACC’s chief operating officer
We do not believe that Canterbury will recognize us, at least while the current archbishop is still in office.Notice their hope though - While this archbishop is in office. I wonder who they think will replace Williams, and why he would be favourable to the schismatic movement. Could it be they expect a schismatic to sit in St. Augustine's Chair?
Probably not as this bit is where their hope is placed
Echoing the sentiments of the Jerusalem Declaration, Fr. Ashey suggested that Canterbury’s recognition will be less important as various provinces in the Global South recognize the ACNA. He said representatives from Kenya, Rwanda, the Southern Cone of South America, and Uganda are expected to attend a provincial assembly in Texas in June, where the ACNA will vote on a proposed constitution and canons.The schism is a done deal; all that remains is the ink to dry. However, to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, "It's an ecclesiastical community, if you can keep it." My educated guess is that infighting will not allow them to "keep it." If not infighting, certainly the super egos of the leaders involved.
As for TEC property, Douglas LeBlanc quotes Ashley's Living Church article (keep in mind that TLC is the bastion f schismatics still in TEC)
Some parishes may prevail in property disputes, if they owned property before a diocese existed and they have no record of agreeing to The Episcopal Church’s Constitution and Canons.
Departing parishes’ chance of prevailing in court cases likely will decrease because of decisions he expects at General Convention this summer.
The canons will make clear that all property belongs to congregations rather than dioceses; that bishops will be nominated by dioceses on a slate of three and chosen by a College of Bishops; and that all bishops must warn each other when a transferring priest has engaged in misconduct.I have two questions about that:
- What property? The only property they have is in Fall Rivers and that will be returned to TEC.
When a schismatic group breaks apart and congregations decide to leave, will the property still be seen as belonging to the local unit?
Ahsley went on to state the real purpose of the ACC
Like Special Forces, we go behind the scenes and we blow things up.He added that what the ACC blows up is 'principalities and powers.' That is such a Christian virtue, no?