Regular readers here will know that I do not think much of the way property disputes are being handled in North America. Few seem to handle themselves with distinction whether trying to wrest property or protect property. I keep thinking about a friend who with his congregation walked away and sought nothing. That's one way. Here is another, involving All Saints, Waccamaw, Diocese of South Carolina, which, having gone some way in the court system, is now resolved through negotiated settlement. From Stand Firm:
"Dear Parish Family:
As Rector of your parish, I am writing to formally report that the long standing litigation involving our church, our diocese, the AMiA congregation and the national Episcopal Church, has ended.
Our Vestry has worked long and hard with the Vestry of the AMiA congregation to find a way to end the case forever while providing a way for both churches to go forward into the future in faith and service to our Lord.
While the final agreement provides for the AMiA congregation to own the real property which was in question, it also provides for a proper use of the property by the members of our congregation who have a heritage there. Beyond that, there are other very important and significant provisions for our congregation, which will provide assistance toward the acquisition of a permanent church home for our future, and which will provide us with some of the tradition and heritage treasured by so many among us.
This news will be a matter of rejoicing for some members of our church family and a matter of disappointment for others among us. Understanding that difference is crucial to the proper Christian love and care we need to be showing one another at this time. No one should be insensitive to the feelings of those who are disappointed that our church will not be returning to Kings River Road, and no one should put a damper on the enthusiasm and spirit of those who now see us free to finally pursue our Gospel ministries, free of litigation and uncertainty. Whether in gladness or sadness, in all things give thanks to the Lord. This is God's will for us in Christ Jesus and to do otherwise would be to quench the Spirit among us. 1 Thessalonians 5:18-19
If you would like to know more details of the agreement, you may do one of several things.
First, you can call me (222-8166) or you can speak to me face to face privately if that would be of assistance to you.
Second, you may speak to any member of the Vestry as they all have the relevant information you might need. Since there are so many more Vestry members than just one Rector, you may have a much easier time reaching one of them than me.
Third, we will use the Sunday School hour, 9:15 to 10:15, on this Sunday, March 28, as Rector's and Vestry Forum to talk about what has transpired. I am also inviting all the Vestry to be with us at that time, as their own schedules might permit. This is not a formal parish meeting of any sort so please don't feel that you need to be there. It is simply a time and place to come to talk and learn if that would help you.
In closing I ask you to hold onto these truths: Although some hopes and dreams may now be ending by this development, others are being born or liberated. What has happened is not so much the "ending" of something, as we honestly acknowledge that our time and participation at Kings River Road practically ceased about six years ago. Instead, what has been provided here are the resolution and finality we needed, whether good news or bad, so that now, either way, we may fully step out in faith and sacrifice for our Lord Jesus and the vision He is setting for us. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
The Lord has us in His loving hands and there is nothing but goodness before us. Peace and grace are ours.
God bless you all as we faithfully walk into the vision the Lord has set for us.
OK, every situation may not be quite as amenable as this one, but it is, I suggest, a vindication for those such as myself who think TEC could handle these disputes differently. It can be done where there is a will to do so.
Further comment on the detail and the implications? None better than Anglican Curmudgeon.