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Bishop Howe: Church Litigation a Travesty: TLC 1.29.08 January 29, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Central Florida, Living Church, Property Litigation.

bishop-howe-listening-to-debate.jpgThe Diocese of Central Florida is “poised for a new round of significant growth,” after three months of tense negotiations with clergy and lay leadership from nine congregations seeking to leave The Episcopal Church, according to Bishop John W. Howe.

At the conclusion of the diocesan convention Jan. 25-26 at St. James’ Church, Ormond Beach, Bishop Howe told a reporter for The Living Church that though exhausted, he was pleased with the negotiations.

“We are on the best of terms with all those leaving,” he said. “And we are committed to rebuilding where there have been losses.”

In his address to convention, Bishop Howe said the last three months had been the worst period of his life. However, amicable solutions had been reached with the members of the eight congregations who sought to withdraw from the diocese.

“There are those who simply have to leave The Episcopal Church for conscience sake,” he said. “I understand that. I don’t agree, but I don’t believe we should punish them. We shouldn’t sue them. We shouldn’t depose the clergy. Our brokenness is a tragedy. The litigation that is going on in so many places is a travesty. And although some seem to be trying to do so, I don’t think you can hold a church together by taking everybody you disagree with to court.”

During the business portion of the meeting, delegates passed the first reading of an amendment to Article III of the diocese’s constitution, designed to strengthen the diocese’s ties to the wider Anglican Communion.

The resolution “does not change the constitution,” the Very Rev. Eric Turner told the convention, but “clarifies what once did not need clarifying.”

Proposed by the diocesan board, the resolution appended a sentence to the constitutional article defining the diocese’s “purpose,” stating the diocese was a “constituent member” of the Anglican Communion.

The amendment defines the Anglican Communion as a “fellowship of those duly constitution Dioceses, Provinces and regional Churches in Communion with the See of Canterbury, upholding and propagating the historic Faith and Order as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.”

The Rev. Thomas C. Seitz, Jr., rector of Good Shepherd, Lake Wales, endorsed the resolution, saying it “more accurately reflects who we are and have been.”

The Very Rev. Donald Lyon objected to the amendment. He said he was a “constitutional minimalist.” As there “was not an explicit need to state this,” he counseled against adopting “unnecessary” language.

After a half hour’s debate, a roll call vote by orders was called, and the resolution passed among the clergy 89-66 and in the laity 139-91.

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