An Anglican priest of my acquaintance spoke to me recently about a curious incident. The diocese in which he works contacted not him, but his churchwarden, to state that at the latest by the end of next year (and preferably via the diocese within a month) the land on which the church and churchyard stand must be registered with the Land Registry as always having belonged to the church. This must be asserted before a solicitor.
There are some curious angles to this:
• Why is this necessary all of a sudden? Is it because some congregations are hoping to take their buildings with them when they join the Ordinariate?
• Does this mean that the Church of England is actually aware that its confident assertion that such alienation of property is not possible is actually not as watertight as it hoped? In fact, that congregations might successfully claim ownership of their own church?
• Why was the churchwarden approached without the knowledge of the incumbent? Is it because, as a known opponent of the ordination of women, he might be thought liable to join the Ordinariate?
One hears rumours of an E.U. law which says that if a congregation has been worshipping in a building for twenty years or more and maintaining it entirely at their own expense during this period it belongs to them. And presumably they could take it with them if they voted to join the Ordinariate or, for that matter (and no doubt preferably to some in Church House) the Unification Church or the Church of Scientology.
Makes you fink, dunnit?