A News Release from the Communications Office of The Diocese of Virginia
Diocesan Leadership Declares Church Property ‘Abandoned’
For release: Thursday, January 18, 2007 . . .
January 18, 2007, the Executive Board of the Diocese of Virginia took a step forward in preserving the mission and ministry of the Diocese and the Episcopal Church for current and future generations of Episcopalians and adopted a resolution concerning the property of 11 Episcopal Churches where a majority of members – including the vestry and clergy – have left The Episcopal Church but have not relinquished Church property and have continued to occupy the churches and use the property owned by the Diocese.Specifically, the Executive Board declared the property of those churches – real and personal – to be abandoned in accordance with the Canons of the Diocese. . . (h/t BabyBlueOnline)
Of course, what this means is the whole mess will end up in the courts. What does the Diocese of Virginia hope to gain from this ploy? I just don't get it: the vast majority of the people of these parishes have voted to leave the Episcopal Church and they will do so with or without their property. There is little ECUSA can do at this point to persuade those souls to return and it's a dead certainty nasty and vindictive lawsuits will only further steel their resolve to ditch.
Bishop Lee, in a letter to his diocese, has stated this action was taken to protect the small number of people in the offending eleven parishes who have chosen to remain in ECUSA. I don't believe it: It will cost the diocese huge sums to keep those many churches in operation for the benefit of such a few. The diocese will never be able to replace the parishioners nor the money walking out with them so the only recourse they have is the properties. No doubt they will continue to operate them as churches for a time to show "good faith" to those remaining. In time, however, when they do the books and see money hemorrhaging, money that could be spent on other things, like the PB's raison d’être, the Millennium Development Goals, the diocese will decide in the interests of "prudence" to close those churches down and put them on the block. And so it will go around Virginia and around the nation. How sad. Pray for them, they know not what they do.