Daily Archives: September 23, 2015

Historic Diocese of South Carolina Defends Its Property Against Another Episcopal Church Appeal

Diocese argues to South Carolina Supreme Court that a lower court decision dismissing outside claims on local church property is consistent with state law and constitutional precedent.

COLUMBIA, SC (Sept. 23, 2015) ”“ The Diocese of South Carolina today argued to the state Supreme Court that a judge’s February ruling that the Episcopal Church (TEC) has “no legal, equitable or beneficial interest” in the Diocese’s properties was correct and consistent with South Carolina law.

The argument came as the Diocese defended against the latest appeal by TEC, which seeks to seize local property. The denomination’s filings seek control of the Diocese’s 314-acre St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center, the Diocese’s historic identity, its accounts and the properties of 50 congregations that joined the Diocese in disassociating from the denomination in 2012.

During today’s appeal hearing, the Diocese and TEC would normally have had 20 minutes to present respective arguments, however due to the number of questions, more time was taken because of the vigorous debate.
“We are hopeful the Supreme Court will protect the fundamental constitutional right of South Carolina institutions and residents to choose with whom to associate,” said Rev. Jim Lewis, canon to the ordinary of the Diocese. “The lower court made clear that the Diocese could leave TEC and take its property. We hope this decision concludes the expensive, distracting efforts by TEC to use what feels like endless appeals to delay the inevitable outcome.”

The History of the Dispute

The dispute began when TEC attempted to remove the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence as bishop in the fall of 2012. The Diocese immediately disassociated from TEC, an action affirmed by its Diocesan Convention in November 2012. At that time 50 of the 72 congregations that made up the Diocese at the time and 80 percent of its members supported the disassociation.

TEC immediately attempted to claim the identity of the Diocese, with a rump group calling itself the Steering Committee using the Diocese’s registered service mark and announcing meetings of the diocesan clergy. In response to the attempted identity theft, the Diocese sought legal protection for the Diocese, its property and that of its congregations.

On Jan. 29, 2013, TEC agreed to a court-imposed temporary injunction preventing its further use of the Diocese’s identity. The final ruling by Circuit Court Judge Diane Goodstein, which supported the Diocese’s request and rejected TEC claims, made that initial injunction permanent and dismissed the TEC arguments “with prejudice”.

The Legal Background

TEC’s legal arguments can be distilled down to two related propositions. It claims to be a “hierarchical” church, with complete control of the entire organization located at its very top, much like the Roman Catholic Church, which is led by the pope. It claims that, as a “hierarchical” church, the establishment clause of the Constitution prevents any court from challenging its ecclesiastical decisions.

Courts in South Carolina, Illinois, California and Texas have repeatedly found there are multiple and significant problems with these assertions in this case.

The first is the fact that TEC’s organizational structure is irrelevant to this case. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled clearly and repeatedly that in property matters like those involved here, courts may decide them using what is known as neutral principles of law, which means the court may not apply special conditions or rules that are different than those it would apply in normal property disputes.

An example of neutral principles was the 2009 decision of the All Saints Parish Waccamaw case by the South Carolina Supreme Court. The court said judges may decide the matter applying the customary laws of property ownership. The same principles were applied in the case of the Diocese.

Under neutral principles of law, several further crucial legal principles apply. First, it does not matter if TEC were hierarchical or not. That should be irrelevant under neutral principles of law. Second, TEC has no interest in the real, personal or intellectual property of the Diocese because no trust interest has been established to give it such a claim. Under South Carolina law, an express trust requires a written declaration signed by the party conveying that interest. No such document was ever executed by the Diocese or any of its parishes to convey anything to The Episcopal Church.

Similarly, though TEC has asserted trademark infringement as an issue in this case, the only infringement considered at trial was the denomination’s unauthorized use of the Diocesan service marks. The real issue was who has the rights to control the Diocese, TEC or those who have continuously been its leadership, in unbroken succession, all the way back to 1785.

About the Diocese of South Carolina

The Diocese was founded in 1785 by the parishes of the former South Carolina colony. Based in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, the Diocese is one of the oldest religious districts in the United States and counts among its members several of the oldest, operating churches in the nation.

The Diocese of South Carolina is recognized by Anglican Dioceses and Provinces around the world, many of whom have broken fellowship with The Episcopal Church, and in 2013 the Diocese joined the global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans and entered into a formal relationship of Provisional Primatial Oversight with Global South Primates.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

Primate of Nigerian Anglican Church leads 180 bishops to pray for the release of Falae

The church of Nigeria Anglican communion Wednesday went spiritual as it prayed for the quick release of the former Secretary to the Government of Federation SGF) Chief Olu Falae.

Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) Most Rev’d Nicholas Okoh led Standing Committee of the Anglican Church consisting of 180 bishops and Laity to pray and plead that his abductors should have a rethink and set him free forthwith.

Okoh was in Akure for a four day meeting of the standing committee of the Anglican Church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Nigeria, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Nigeria, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

Jesus – our older brother – A Kendall Harmon sermon on Hebrews 2

“He is your great high priest, He is your elder brother and pioneer, He is the conqueror of death”
Dr Kendall Harmon’s sermon from Sunday on Hebrews 2:5-18

Listen to it all or download it here if you wish.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Biblical Commentary & Reflection, Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Astounding–Robert Lewandowski scores five goals in 9 minutes

Watch it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Europe, Germany, Men, Sports

***Important for Blog Readers***Livestream link for todays South Carolina Supreme Court Case

UPDATE: The Hearing today has ended
You may find the link here if you have the capability and time to try to watch it. Please note that there are three cases, and the third case of the historic Episcopal diocese versus the new Episcopal Church Diocese is the third. This means it will not start before 10:30 a.m. EST but it COULD start later as I understand it–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Blogging & the Internet, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, Theology

Anglican diocese of Montreal to consecrate first female bishop

Mary Irwin-Gibson, the bishop-elect, was born in Sarnia, Ont., but grew up around Montreal. Before her election, the 59-year-old served as the dean and rector of St. George’s Catherdral in Kingston since 2009. She was ordained a priest in 1982, just six years after Canada’s Anglican church allowed women to serve in the role.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canada, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Upper South Carolina TEC Churches Invite parishioners to hear Bishop Spong this evening

Spong will lecture on “CHRISTPOWER in the Radical Center of Life–A New Christianity for a New World,” followed by a question and answer session with the audience. Spong always promises to provide a provocative, thoughtful, and enlivening experience for seekers from all faiths and denominations (or none) and across all religious and political spectrums.

His appearance in Columbia is a cooperative effort of several local congregations including St. Luke’s, St. Martin’s in the Fields, Church of the Cross, and St. Simon & St. Jude Episcopal Churches, as well as the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia and the Jubilee! Circle, Columbia.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, TEC Bishops, Theology

Anglican Church of Canada report on Marriage Canon is released

(Archbishop Fred Hiltz writes) Dear Friends in Christ,

Today the Council of General Synod received The Report of The Commission on The Marriage Canon. The report is very comprehensive and reflects the commitment of the members to address General Synod 2013’s Resolution C003 in its fullness.

You will recall that the resolution requested consideration as to whether the proposal for amending The Marriage Canon would contravene The Solemn Declaration of 1893; and called for a theological and biblical rationale for the blessing of same sex marriages. The Commissioners take us into a deep exploration of the theology of marriage and present several models for understanding same sex marriage. In accord with the request in Resolution C003 for broad consultation throughout the Church the report includes a succinct summary of feedback received from Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners.

Read it all and yes you need to look at the whole report (64 page download).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Canada, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(FCA Blog) Daniel Haqiqatjou–Ashley Madison and the Problem of Liberal Sexual Ethics

The Ashley Madison hack has spurred a national debate on data privacy as well as the state of marriage in society. Pundits like Fredrik deBoer, Dan Savage, and Glenn Greenwald wasted no time commenting on the controversy by pushing several familiar narratives:

1. Adultery is a victimless and harmless act and therefore within the bounds of morality. If two (or more) people consent to sexual activity, that is their prerogative, and society must be accepting of that choice or at the very least respectful and understanding.

2. The fact that many conservative people do not accept adultery is a function of their religious prudery. That is the only reason anyone could possibly have for opposing consensual sex, which, in the final analysis, is a private matter that ought to remain beyond the scrutiny of others.

3. By insisting that adultery is immoral, religious groups are imposing their puritanical beliefs on others, stigmatizing the innocent lifestyles of certain people, and dehumanizing those who engage in otherwise harmless intimate relationships in pursuit of love and happiness.

We know these arguments so well because they are endlessly rehashed to defend the morality of homosexual acts and the push to redefine marriage. Simply replace every instance of the word “adultery” in the above with “homosexual act” or “same-sex relationships” and the parallels become undeniable.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Men, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Sexuality, Sociology, Theology, Women

A S Haley–Important Episcopal Legal Developments in South Carolina

Heading up the panel hearing the case will be Chief Justice Jean Hoefer Toal, who in that same position authored the Court’s unanimous 2009 opinion in the case of All Saints Waccamaw v. Episcopal Church, which I quoted and analyzed in this earlier post. Also serving on the panel will be Associate Justice Donald W. Beatty, who joined in the Waccamaw opinion. It is not known yet whether any of the other sitting Justices have recused themselves (two of them did so in the Waccamaw case); the fifth, Justice Kaye Hearn, assumed her seat on the Court after the arguments in the 2009 case.

Chief Justice Toal, whose religion is Roman Catholic, is no stranger to the concept of what makes a church “hierarchical.” In her opinion in the Waccamaw case, Justice Toal noted that South Carolina Courts are required to resolve church property disputes using “neutral principles of law” whenever possible. They may defer only to “the highest religious judicatories” when they have properly decided an issue “as to religious law, principle, doctrine, discipline, custom, and administration.” It should be noted that in her written opinion filed last January, Circuit Judge Diane Goodstein expressly found that there were no such bodies in the Episcopal Church (USA) that had outside jurisdiction over either the Diocese or any of its parishes.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

Lent and Beyond–Pondering the mystery of South Carolina Litigation+Yom Kippur

We appeal to heaven and humbly ask for an alignment of this court case with Your perfect justice and righteousness.
We bless the South Carolina Court and Justices, the lawyers on both sides of this case, and the churches they represent.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Pastor's Prayerbook

O God, our Father, we pray for thy Church, which is set today amid the perplexities of a changing order, and face to face with new tasks. Baptize her afresh in the life-giving spirit of Jesus. Bestow upon her a greater responsiveness to duty, a swifter compassion with suffering, and an utter loyalty to the will of God. Help her to proclaim boldly the coming of the Kingdom of God. Bid her cease from seeking her own life, lest she lose it. Make her valiant to give up her life to humanity; that, like her crucified Master, she may mount by the path of the cross to a higher glory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was round about the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Fear not, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Eli”²sha prayed, and said, “O Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Eli”²sha. And when the Syrians came down against him, Eli”²sha prayed to the Lord, and said, “Strike this people, I pray thee, with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Eli”²sha. And Eli”²sha said to them, “This is not the way, and this is not the city; follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he led them to Samar”²ia.
As soon as they entered Samar”²ia, Eli”²sha said, “O Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see.” So the Lord opened their eyes, and they saw; and lo, they were in the midst of Samar”²ia. When the king of Israel saw them he said to Eli”²sha, “My father, shall I slay them? Shall I slay them?” He answered, “You shall not slay them. Would you slay those whom you have taken captive with your sword and with your bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.” So he prepared for them a great feast; and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the Syrians came no more on raids into the land of Israel.

–2 Kings 6:15-23

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

What a friend we have in Jesus – Guy Penrod

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged””
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge””
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer””
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

The Promise – Isaiah 51

Readings on the eve of litigation from Isaiah 51 for another people of God and the promise made to them. Please pray for the Diocese of South Carolina and its legal team, for the Court and for the Justices, for all who are involved and in need of comfort, and that everything said and done may be to the glory of God, for the building of His Kingdom and the honor of the name of Jesus – and that His justice from South Carolina may become a light to the nations
Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness
and seek the Lord;
Look to the rock from which you were hewn

Listen to me my people
hear me my nation
The law will go out from me
my justice will become a light to the nations

My righteousness draws near speedily
my salvation is on the way
and my arm will bring justice to the nations

Hear me, you who know what is right
you people who have my law in your heart
Do not fear the reproach of men
or be terrified by their insults
For the moth will eat them up like a garment
the worm will devour them like wool
But my righteousness will last forever
my salvation through all generations

I, even I, am he who comforts you
Who are you that fear mortal men
the sons of men who are but grass
that you forget the Lord your Maker
who stretched out the heavens
and laid out the foundations of the earth
that you live in constant terror every day
because of the wrath of the oppressor
who is bent on destruction?

For where is the wrath of the oppressor?
The cowering prisoners will soon be free
they will not die in their dungeon
nor will they lack bread.

For I am the Lord your God
who churns up the sea so that its waves roar –
the Lord Almighty is his name

I have put my words in your mouth
and covered you with the shadow of my hand –
I who set the heavens in place
who laid the foundations of the earth
and who say to Zion
‘You are my people’

Lord, let it be so, in Jesus’ name. Amen

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer