The Episcopal Church: Getting Out While the Getting Out Was Good

This exchange of correspondence about someone who wanted to transfer their membership to one of the “seceding” dioceses’ parishes would be hilarious if it wasn’t so tragic.

Basically, the parish of the Diocese of Dallas (whose Dean’s parting shot was commented on here) refused to start a “canonical” transfer of membership to one of the parishes of the Diocese of Ft. Worth (which has left TEC over the usual problems).  As Fr. Matkin points out:

When parishes and dioceses began leaving the Episcopal Church in the last several years, the mantra we heard from TEC leadership was, “Individuals can leave this church, but parishes and dioceses cannot.” But according to a parish in the Diocese of Dallas, individuals cannot leave either. There is no way out.

As Jean-Paul Sartre would say, it’s “Huis Clos”!

Back in old South Florida, we used to say that those who got out of Cuba before or shortly after Castro took over got out with pretty much everything.  The longer they waited, the less they came out with.  In TEC’s case, it’s the same.  Places like All Saints Pawley’s Island, with its extraordinary charter, got out early and well; most everyone else has had to take a raft, although Ft. Worth has the best shot out there to reverse the trend.  (And, yes, the comparison between KJS and Fidel is unfair.  To Fidel).

When I left the Episcopal Church forty years ago, I just swam the Tiber and that was it.  I didn’t care how Bethesda handled it.  What I gained after leaving more than compensated for whatever I lost.

There’s also an interesting legal angle to this: TEC is struggling mightily (both internally and externally) to regain the Ft. Worth diocese and its parishes.  It does not, in theory, recognise the secession of these parishes.  But the Episcopal position re this membership is a de facto acknowledgement of two realities:

  1. That Fr. Matkin’s parish has made its escape in the eyes of TEC, which undermines their position in court.
  2. That TEC is no longer in communion with large swaths of the Anglican Communion.  From an Episcopal standpoint, there are two Communions, not one.

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