All eyes on Texas, S.C. church property fights

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St. Michael's, a church within the Diocese of South Carolina, is one of the most prominent Episcopal churches in Charleston, S.C. RNS photo by Kevin Eckstrom

St. Michael's, a church within the Diocese of South Carolina, is one of the most prominent Episcopal churches in Charleston, S.C. RNS photo by Kevin Eckstrom

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(RNS) When disgruntled congregations have left hierarchical denominations, civil courts traditionally have said buildings and land are not theirs to keep. But outcomes could be different this year as high-profile cases wind their way through courts in Texas and South Carolina.

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  • this situation has been going on for decades in the Episcopal Church. So much so that already 1/3 or about 300 Bishops left within ECUSA to form another communion. I don’t know what happened with all their property but I think most just left and forfeited the buildings. It isn’t that hard for a congregation to start over. Just move all your money together. Start over. There are new buildings to build.

  • Tony

    I think the property should go with whoever paid for it. If the Episcopal Church did not purchase the property they they have not rights to if. My experience has been the congregations purchases their own property so why should the Church get to keep it.

  • Paul Y Stephens

    “They were given access to church titles and church properties because they promised to abide by the Episcopal Church” and its canons, High said. “Commitments were made. You can’t just decide a little later on, ‘I think I’ll change my mind.’”
    The Episcopal Church should listen to their own comments here. “You can’t just decide a little later on, I think I’ll change my mind.”
    When these congregations were agreeing to the doctrine of the church, they had no idea the long established biblical doctrine would change. The church’s doctrine was based on the obedience to scripture. Now they have decided to ignore the teachings of scripture in favor of heretical teachings in direct opposition to established Cannon.
    The church broke the agreements and trust with it’s parishioners not the other way around. When the leadership of the church turns it’s back on God’s word and precepts then they are the ones who need to be cast out. The local congregations who decide to continue in abiding with scripture are the true church and deserve it’s property.

  • Janine

    Christians are to settle their disputes within the church using church/canon law. The Bible gives a directive to Believers warning them to stay away from the secular courts settle disputes amongst one another,

  • Janine

    Generations of Episcopal Believers paid for those properties. People who didn’t espouse the sin that is now being preached from its pulpits. The LORD God will padlock the episcopal church which contains these false teachers residing within the new age episcopal social club(can’t call it a church when Jesus’ & the Bible are not at the center of its teachings).

  • Janine

    GOD is purging the church, Those whose heart knows not the LORD will fall away by the wayside. That which is for GOD will grow stronger and be made purer. Persecution and turmoil will bring forth the true adherents to The LORD GOD and these will be cleansed, purer and stronger in faith.

  • Southern Baptist

    The denomination has betrayed GOD and these right-minded local churches OWN the property!

    I would burn the buildings before allowing these sexual deviants to take them!

  • Philip J. DiNovo

    I am interested!

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  • RevBill

    The article has this sentence, “Courts have increasingly used neutral principles, observers say, in part to avoid becoming ensnared in polity or theological debates.” But there is nothing “neutral” when the courts define “the body of Christ” as excluding the sacred (theological), physical space/property for worship, teaching and mission. Just as water, bread and wine have spiritual meaning when set apart in worship, so does religious space. When our courts define away a denomination’s definition of the spiritual relationships among its congregations (polity), the same courts will be asked, in time, to define away other areas of church and congregational life. I predict that the US Supreme Court will support the Episcopal Church under the First Amendment and I pray they have the guts to appeal all the way if the state courts rule against them.

  • REAL Christian

    The leadership of this “church” had betrayed the Bible thus have zero right to the property!

    Like “Southern Baptist” said, I would burn the building before turning it over to mentally ill people (homosexuals) and their leader named Satan!

  • RevBill

    Look out ‘REAL Christian,” you are inviting the civil courts to get involved. Actually the criminal courts would deal with an arsonist who burns down a building. Don’t allow your harsh words to be defined as “hate speech.” Keep your arguments filled with biblical and loving language, else even OTHER Christians may find them betraying what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount.

  • Southern Baptist

    No, REAL CHRISTIANS handle the evil gay agenda the way Jesus handled the “money changers” at the temple! We don’t bow to Satan…we fight him.

  • RevBill

    Or maybe REAL CHRISTIANS handle sin as Jesus did with the woman caught in adultery.

  • Southern Baptist

    Jesus told her (and other’s) to “go thy way and SIN NO MORE” and these gays refuse to give up the sin (lifestyle) thus there is no forgiveness! This so-called “church” had chosen to please these mentally-ill, sexual deviants over God thus these “churches” are DAMNED>

  • RevBill

    But, Southern Baptist, it’s the crowd with stones in their hand that we need to consider. It’s too easy for us in the crowd; we are quick to identify sin. Who was Jesus telling the story for the benefit of? I believe it’s for those of us with stones in our hands to have ears to hear and listen.

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