The extraordinary act in Massachusetts

The Boston Globe reports this morning:

Murdoch’s congregation, which averages about 300 worshipers each Sunday, will have to turn over its three buildings and a $1 million endowment to the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. The congregation is planning to buy a closed Catholic church in Amesbury and start over as All Saints Anglican, a local parish of the Kenyan church.

The extraordinary act is part of a new national movement, in which a handful of Episcopal parishes and priests are leaving the 2-million-member Episcopal Church USA and affiliating with the more conservative Anglican churches, called provinces, of Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda.

Let’s underscore that: what makes this extraordinary is that Murdoch and the congregation are not attempting to take to the buildings with them. This is a significant departure from the Nigerian churches in Virginia and Colorado, and similar property disputes in California where the Diocese of Los Angeles had several court rulings in its favor.

The article continues, “Murdoch’s congregation has become a magnet for disenchanted Episcopalians from several states.” At the same time others have been attracted to other less conservative Episcopal congregations. It is no surprise, then, that the congregation is staying with Murdoch. And, as the article said we’re talking about “handfuls”, not a mass movement.

Read it here.

It appears likely that the congregation Murdoch leads will purchase buildings from the Roman Catholics.

UPDATE: Here’s Episcopal Life Online’s take,

Bishop Shaw noted that the discussions between the bishops and potentially departing All Saints’ leadership have been characterized by an extraordinary spirit of cooperation through which all have been well served. … No decision has been made about the status of the West Newbury Episcopal church. Diocesan representatives will meet with Episcopalians from the area in early September to discuss the continuing Episcopal Church presence in the Merrimack Valley which is also home to Episcopal parishes in Amesbury, Andover, Chelmsford, Groveland, Haverhill, Lawrence, Lowell, Methuen, Newburyport, North Andover, North Billerica and Westford.

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