The recent General Convention of the Episcopal Church did many things. Bottled water is now officially a Bad Thing, for example. One of the more important things it did was eliminate, completely, evangelism from the national budget. Now it's quite possible to argue that was a good thing, given the current nature of Episcopal theology. But, were I a member of the Episcopal Church I would be worried. Evangelism is how churches grow. The money, effort and staffing spent evangelising is an investment in the future.
Certainly, individual dioceses and parishes will spend money on evangelism. Some of them even have officially designated evangelists on staff. But where an organization spends money is clear sign of what its priorities are. What are the Episcopal Church's priorities? Well the only items to see increases in funds were those included under the heading of Presiding Bishop's office. This includes $3 million for litigation and $1 million for disciplining bishops (and possibly other clergy). That's a staggering sum.
Currently, the official position of the Episcopal Church is that only individuals may leave. Diocese, parishes and such may not leave. Also, all property belongs to the national church. The national church has resolutely resisted any attempts by churches to exit with their property.
The problem is, that even if you happen to agree with 815, what argument can be made against allowing a church to buy its own property? In the vast majority of cases of a congregational split, the remnant congregation has been folded. Selling vacant churches is almost always problematic. I'm told St James, Newport is on the waterfront, which makes it extremely valuable, but most of the dissident churches have not been so blessed.
The litigation has been justified as a 'stewardship issue'. I'm just not buying it. Then again neither are the churches in question. A good and wise steward would seek to extract the maximum value for the property. Disregarding any prohibitions against litigation and being totally worldly, the good steward would assess each case on its facts, and litigate when the cast of the suit was well below the value of the property. He would also negotiate whenever possible to get the greatest value for property.
Outside of Central Florida, we haven't seen this. And again, I have to ask: Why?
What, exactly are the priorities of the Episcopal Church?
All signs point to an organization that is trying to stay on an even keel while the ship sinks. The officers and crew seem to just want to stay afloat until they retire. Any thoughts of repairing the damage have been officially cast aside.