Friday, April 22, 2011

Antioch - Canon 24

It is right that what belongs to the Church be preserved with all care to the Church, with a good conscience and faith in God, the inspector and judge of all.  And these things ought to be administered under the judgment and authority of the bishop, who is entrusted with the whole people and with the souls of the congregation.  But it should be manifest what is church property, with the knowledge of the presbyters and deacons about him; so that these may know assuredly what things belong to the Church, and that nothing be concealed from them, in order that, when the bishop may happen to depart this life, the property belonging to the Church being well known, may not be embezzled nor lost, and in order that the private property of the bishop may not be disturbed on a pretense that it is part of the ecclesiastical goods.  For it is just and well-pleasing to God and man that the private property of the bishop be bequeathed to whomsoever he will, but that for the Church be kept whatever belongs to the Church; so that neither the Church may suffer loss, nor the bishop be injured under pretext of the Church’s interest, nor those who belong to him fall into lawsuits, and himself, after his death, be brought under reproach. 

There was to be a clear accounting of what belonged to the overseer and what to the church body.  When the overseer went to meet his savior, the elders and deacons were charged to maintain the property until such time as a new overseer was recognized.  Since the overseer had ultimate responsibility, it behooved him to ensure these things were in order so no reproach should come upon his or the church's name because of mishandling on either side.

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