SC court rules on Episcopal church properties
After the Episcopal Church decided to begin the 21st century by embracing liberal sexuality, conflict predictably ensued within the denomination and a legal battle eventually kicked off over church properties.
After watching this battle for more than a decade, Jeff Walton of the Institute on Religion and Democracy reports a state court ruling in South Carolina has settled a dispute over 36 Episcopal churches.
“What the case basically decided,” Walton says, “was that of the 36 contested properties, 29 of them would have to accede what is called the church’s Dennis Canon, which says that properties are held in trust for the national church.”
The remaining seven churches, he adds, are “free and clear” to leave with their properties that together have an approximate value of a half-billion dollars.
A homosexual Episcopal bishop was consecrated in New Hampshire in 2003, setting off conflicts and debates, and threats of splits within the denomination that eventually materialized.
Denomination leaders urged churches at the time to restrain from publicly considering homosexual bishops but by 2009 OneNewsNow was reporting that bishops approved a statement suggesting that God has “called and may call” homosexual men and women to ministry.
The denomination’s most recent church attendance figures, from 2015, show a three-percent drop in attendance and a two-percent drop in membership. While those single-digit figures may appear slim, Walton says they come after years of steady decline.
Walton, in fact, reported last fall that church attendance has dropped off by 26 percent since 2005, and approximately three-fourths of churches have attendance under 100 churchgoers.