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Property ProgressReview by Rachel Kronberger

Book | Property and Progress for a Pilgrim People | Michael Owen

In his new book Property and Progress for a Pilgrim People, Michael Owen reflects on property in the UCA and asks to whom does a congregation’s property really belong?  Owen argues from the Basis of Union and the Regulations that it belongs to the congregation.

He asserts that one council, such as a synod, cannot make an executive decision to sell or transfer a property held in trust for the use of another, such as a congregation, nor benefit from the proceeds of such a sale. He describes recent examples of this happening as reflecting a growing power imbalance between councils of the church. He contends that this imbalance is driven by managerialism in synod operations and a pursuit of ‘progress’. In this imbalance, the life of worship, witness and service of congregations is lost as ‘the primary expression of the corporate life of the Church’.

Owen’s analysis is challenging. It is, however, inevitable that synod operations develop in response to growing responsibilities for property. This growth has benefited the church in having a synod structure with which to respond to other state-based legal issues such as child safety legislation. 

In an Assembly year it is timely to be reminded of the perennial call to follow Christ the risen crucified One in all matters, spiritual, material and organisational.

We are not at the end of tough decisions about property and for this reason Property and Progress for a Pilgrim People is important reading.

Available at:  RRP: $14.95

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