Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Dennis Canon

The Dennis Canon of The Episcopal Church
Was an afterthought, proposed near the
Conclusion of the 1979 General Convention,
And adopted in haste, perhaps irregularly.

Simply put, the Dennis Canon asserts that
The property of each parish is held in trust for the diocese.
This means that the parish does not own
The property that it paid for over the years.

So if a parish decides to secede from TEC
To operate independently, or in another Anglican province,
It can be evicted from the church building and grounds.
The diocese may then sell or otherwise dispose of the property.

Until recently, state courts supported the Dennis Canon
On the basis that TEC is a "hierarchical church."
Lately some deals have been struck where the
Seceding congregation "buys back" the property from a diocese.

Beware, then, if your parish is dissatisfied
With a theological path that TEC is taking; and
Thereupon refuses to perform certain ceremonies
Instituted and prescribed by the diocese and TEC.

The parish may then be accused by the diocese
Of abandoning TEC, and be forced to vacate the premises.
The clergy may be deposed from holy orders
And charged with committing a hate crime.

Many Episcopal parishes are now involved in litigation
By their respective dioceses to capture their property,
Although their sin has simply been to register disagreement
With actions and doctrine of The Episcopal Church.

The validity of the Dennis Canon has not been
Examined sufficiently to justify its application.
So far, courts in various states have avoided
Getting into the wrangle that would ensue.

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