Category : TEC Conflicts

A Local Paper Article about the recent South Carolina Supreme Court Decision

On April 20, the state’s top court ordered that 14 of the 29 congregations that split from the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina were to hand over the properties to the Episcopal Church. It appeared that the court’s decision put an end to a decadelong legal battle over the ownership of dozens of church properties valued at roughly $200 million.

But in a stunning development Tuesday, the state’s top court did not deny petitions for rehearing submitted by seven of those churches. Instead, the court requested that the Episcopal Church respond by June 20 to the arguments made by the seven parishes.

The court’s order gives hope to some of the breakaway parishes, which fall within the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina umbrella, that they could, in fact, retain their valuable religious facilities.

“We are encouraged by the recent development from the South Carolina Supreme Court and are buoyed by the hope that seven more of our parishes might keep their properties,” said Bishop Chip Edgar of the Anglican Diocese. “But in all these legal matters, we are keeping our eyes focused on our Lord Jesus and the work he has called us to — to glorify God in worship and in our lives, to proclaim his name, to build up the church, and to love our neighbors as Christ loves us.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Robert Kunes Chimes in on the recent South Carolina Supreme Court Decision

From there:

The state Supreme Court got it right, and the state Supreme Court got it wrong when it came to the opinion issued last week regarding the former Episcopal Church parishes in South Carolina.

The court got it right when it quoted the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1979 case of Jones v. Wolf: “(The) constitution of the general church can be made to recite an express trust in favor of the denominational church.”

The state Supreme Court got it wrong when it relied upon the canons — not the constitution — of the Episcopal Church to determine that some of the parishes had “acceded” to the Dennis Canon.

Anyone who looks at the constitution of the Episcopal Church will find no provision in it addressing trusts for real estate owned by any church.

Such language is in the canons, which are analogous to an entity’s bylaws or operating rules, of the Episcopal Church but not in the constitution of the church, as required in the Jones v. Wolf decision.

The language was put into the canons because adopting those is a much simpler process that can be accomplished quickly.

ROBERT M. KUNES

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Church History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Alan Haley Analyzes what happened in the Oral Arguments Wednesday before the South Carolina Supreme Court in the TEC in SC/Anglican Diocese of SC Case

If anything remained clear at the conclusion, it was this: the current Justices will have to do the homework of looking carefully at all the documentary evidence in the record in order to feel comfortable with any final ruling they make. There has been too much legal bias and posturing in the past — like the claim that All Saints Waccamaw was no longer the law in South Carolina, when it clearly was; or like the claim that the Court was required to “defer” to the unilateral decisions by ECUSA in matters of property law (as opposed to religious doctrine).

The reason for much of that bias and posturing, it has to be said, should be laid at the feet of the now recused, but in 2017 highly partisan, Justice Kaye Hearn — aided and abetted by retired Justice Pleicones. Together, their unified front against (former) Chief Justice Toal seems to have deprived her of the command of the law and the authority she wielded to great effect in achieving the unanimous decision eight years before, in the All Saints Waccamaw case. They appear to have determined that she not be allowed to treat ECUSA in the same fashion again, and alas, if that was their goal, they succeeded. Fortunately, that success may not be lasting, if the current justices prove up to the evidentiary task before them.

Trying to make the Court’s work less burdensome, by having the parties pare down the record, Chief Justice Beatty admitted at the end, had been a mistake. The complex cannot be made simple in that way. There will be no easy out for this Court, and I predict we will have to wait a good many months for a consensus to emerge. Given the facts as we all know them from the history of the last twenty-odd years, there is no reason, in my humble opinion, why there should not be another 5-0 decision in this case.

Read it carefully and read it all and make sure to take the time to follow the links.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(Historic Anglican Diocese of SC) South Carolina Supreme Court hears TEC appeal from Judge Dickson’s interpretation of the 2017 Collective Opinions in Church Property Dispute

…[Wednesday] the South Carolina Supreme Court heard the appeal of Judge Edgar W. Dickson’s interpretation of the high court’s 2017 ruling. On June 19, 2020, South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Edgar W. Dickson granted the motion by the Plaintiffs (The Anglican Diocese of S.C. and Parishes) for clarification and other relief related to the August 2017 ruling of the South Carolina Supreme Court. That ruling had the rare character of consisting of five separate opinions (the “Collective Opinions”). Judge Dickson’s clarification determined that the disassociated parishes and The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina are, “affirmed as the title owners in fee simple absolute of their respective parish real properties.”

The Episcopal Church’s (TEC) arguments at that time that the Dennis Canon alone, or the Canon in conjunction with various pledges of allegiance and the like were sufficient to create a trust under South Carolina law were rejected. Judge Dickson’s ruling clarified the Collective Opinions, explaining that, “the Dennis Canon by itself does not create a legally cognizable trust, nor does it transfer title to property.” This affirmed that those congregations that followed state non-profit guidelines for their disassociation from TEC retained all their real and personal property.

TEC appealed this interpretation of the Courts 2017 collective opinions in July 2020, not on the basis of Judge Dickson’s legal arguments, but only on the assertion that he had no authority to provide any interpretation. Their argument is that his only possible role was to simply enforce what they assert the Court had ruled.

In today’s hearing, the justices were very active in their questioning. The time allotted to both sides legal counsel was exceeded because of the extensive questioning.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Yesterday’s Oral Arguments Before the South Carolina Supreme Court in the long running between the brand new TEC in SC dispute with the traditional Anglican Diocese of SC

Watch and listen to it all (about 1.5 hours). For some crucial background information, please see all the information and links provided there. The single most important thing constantly to remember about the original 2017 ruling is then Chief Justice Toal’s statement: ‘As I stated at the outset, this is unfortunately a difficult case leading us to five
different, strongly-held opinions…we all write separately
‘ (footnote 72). For those who wish to reread the 2017 SC Supreme Court decision please see there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

A Strange Development in the Anglican Diocese of Fort Worth Property fracas–the Corporation of All Saints’ Fort Worth (TEC) files for bankruptcy

From the Anglican Diocese of Fort Worth:

A hearing scheduled for 11 a.m. today, Wednesday, Oct. 20, in the 141st District Court was abruptly canceled when a surprise bankruptcy filing was shared with the Court. However, it was not the plaintiff All Saints’ Episcopal Church but rather its corporation that submitted the filing. As our attorney’s letter (attached) makes clear, that corporation has never at any point been a party to the litigation now being concluded before the Court. Therefore, we are asking for another hearing date in order to proceed as originally planned with motions that were filed to compel the Plaintiffs to surrender property and funds awarded to the Defendants.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

South Carolina Supreme Court sets hearing date for TEC’s appeal from Judge Dickson’s interpretation of the 2017 Collective Opinions in Church Property Dispute

The Diocese disassociated from The Episcopal Church in the fall of 2012, along with 80% of its congregations and members. That action was taken in response to attempts by TEC to remove the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence as Diocesan Bishop. Litigation in this case began the following January. The Diocese and Parishes filed this action seeking a declaratory judgement to clarify the rights of the Diocese and its parishes. In February 2015, the Honorable Judge Diane Goodstein ruled that the Diocese and those parishes in union with it, “are the owners of their real personal and intellectual property and that [TEC and TECSC] have no legal, beneficial or equitable interest in the Diocese’s real, personal and intellectual property.” TEC and TECSC were permanently enjoined from using, assuming or adopting the marks of the Diocese.

Judge Goodstein’s ruling was appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court, which ruled on August 2, 2017 in the form of five separate opinions. The lack of agreement among those five opinions required clarification. The Diocese and Parishes filed a Motion for Clarification on March 23, 2018.

In his ruling, Judge Dickson made several important conclusions of law. Chief among them was his ruling on the central issue of interpreting the Collective Opinions. As he noted in quoting former Chief Justice Toal, “The Court’s collective opinions in this matter give rise to great uncertainty, so that we have given little to no collective guidance in this case or in church property disputes like this going forward.” He concluded that, “This court must distill the five separate opinions, identify the court’s intent and produce a logical directive.”

With respect to parish property, the law of this case follows the precedent of All Saints Parish, Waccamaw (2009). In his deciding opinion, Chief Justice Beatty, “found that the Dennis Canon, standing alone, does not unequivocally convey an intention to transfer ownership of property to the national church…” In accordance with established South Carolina law, establishment of a trust interest must meet the standard of being “legally cognizable”. Judge Dickson concluded there is no evidence that any parish agreed to the Dennis Canon: “This court finds that no parish expressly acceded to the Dennis Canon” and “defendants failed to prove creation of a trust.” He further concluded, “TEC’s argument that their unilaterally drafted Dennis Canon created a trust under South Carolina law is rejected.”

Read it all and where necessary follow the links.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(Anglican Diocese of Fort Worth) State Supreme Court rejects TEC loyalists’ bid to keep property

Today the Supreme Court of Texas declined to overturn or delay the April 2021 order of the 141st District Court directing Episcopal Church parties to return property removed from churches they formerly occupied.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

‘The Advent has changed’: Andrew Pearson on why he left TEC’s Advent Cathedral, dealing with the diocese, starting an Anglican church in Birmingham

A church shouldn’t have to compromise its identity, he said.

“Do you have to have an elaborate document in order to get permission to preach the gospel?” Pearson said. “That shows me there’s something not quite right in the relationship from the get-go. It really was those core issues that were being brought to bear and of course, yes, they manifest themselves in the sexuality issue.”

He was not pressing other churches to change to the Advent’s position, he said.

“In one of our earlier conversations the president of the Standing Committee said to me, ‘Well, Andrew, what would you say if an Episcopal Church in Birmingham hired a transgendered clergy person to be their associate?’” Pearson said. “My answer was, ‘What I’d say is ‘Welcome to the Episcopal Church.’”

It was more about the Advent’s right to keep its tradition, he said.

“The issue really became, for me anyway, I think the individual congregation should have the ability to go in the direction they feel called to go, but I’d ask the same for the Advent,” he said. “I wasn’t really concerned what other Episcopal churches in the diocese were doing, but there seems to be a great concern from other churches as to what the Advent is doing.”

Read it all.

Posted in TEC Conflicts, TEC Parishes

TEC News Service Article on the recent Supreme Court decision regarding Fort Worth

Read it all.

Posted in Supreme Court, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

(Star-Telegram) Supreme Court ends 12-year Fort Worth legal battle over $100 million in church property

In the Fort Worth case, the Episcopal national church argued that church law — specifically a rule known as the Dennis Canon — dictates church property is held in a trust for the national church, and does not belong to the congregations themselves. In 2018, a Fort Worth Appeals Court agreed and sided with the group that remained loyal to the national church.

However, the Texas Supreme Court reversed the decision in May and ruled that Texas law allows a trust to be revoked, and Texas law supersedes canon law. The opinions also differed because the Texas Supreme Court applied the law as if the church were a corporation.

The Rev. Ryan Reed, the current leader of the Fort Worth diocese belonging to the Anglican Church in North America, wrote in a press release Monday that the decision “marks a turning point for us as a Diocese.”

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

(Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth) U.S. Supreme Court upholds Texas ruling on bishop Ryan Reed led Diocese and Corporation

It is with great joy and thanksgiving to God that we receive news today that the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has let stand the unanimous May 2020 ruling of the Texas Supreme Court (TXSC),which found in favor of the Diocese and diocesan Corporation.

Responding to two Petitions and replies, SCOTUS denied the requests of The Episcopal Church and All Saints Episcopal Church in Fort Worth for a review of the May 2020 opinion. That opinion upheld state trust law and statutes governing unincorporated associations, affirming ownership of properties throughout the Diocese is governed by our Constitution and Canons and administered by the diocesan Corporation.

For all practical purposes this ends the appeals process that began in 2015 following the Second Summary Judgement of the trial court in Fort Worth.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, Supreme Court, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Alan Haley–TEC Diocese in Fort Worth loses its Appeal to the US Supreme Court of a Unanimous Texas Supreme Court Ruling Against them

With its denial of certiorari (review) this morning to two of the Episcopal Church in the USA’s (“ECUSA’s”) groups in Fort Worth, Texas, the United States Supreme Court has put to rest the multiple adverse claims made for the last twelve years against the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. All of those various claims, and the stages of their ups and downs, have been chronicled on this blog, which began just before the legal disputes emerged. It is gratifying, therefore, to report that this blog has managed to outlive, along with (retired) Bishop Jack Iker and his faithful flock, the Machiavellian intrigues of the schemers at 815 Second Avenue to hound and intimidate them into surrender of their properties.

Denial of review of the May 2020 decision by the Texas Supreme Court puts finally to rest ECUSA’s dogged attempts to enforce its notorious and one-sided Dennis Canon in Texas. The brazenness of that Canon, which attempted unilaterally to impose (after the fact) an enforceable, perpetual trust everywhere on all the parish properties of its members in ECUSA’s favor, ran directly into long-standing Texas trust law, which requires the consent of a property’s owner to place it into a trust, and which also requires express language to make a trust irrevocable. The Dennis Canon failed the test on both of those grounds.

Nor could ECUSA succeed by giving its successor group the same name as Bishop Iker’s Diocese, and then pretending to assume its identity. The Texas Supreme Court saw through those machinations, and held that the majority controlling the Diocesan corporation, and not ECUSA’s minority faction, were the true successors under Texas corporate law to the group that founded the original Diocese in 1983. In that respect, the Texas courts were far more perspicacious than the feckless courts in California, New York, Pennsylvania and elsewhere who simply allowed ECUSA’s attorneys to pull the wool over their eyes, and pretend that the newest kid on the block was actually the oldest, who (they claimed) had been there the whole time.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Supreme Court, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

(AI) Anglican Diocese of Fort Worth files responses to TEC’s appeal to the US Supreme Court

Today in Washington, D.C., attorneys for the Diocese and Corporation have filed two Briefs in Opposition with the U.S. Supreme Court, responding to Petitions initiated in that Court by the TEC parties and All Saints’ Church (Fort Worth) in October. (The property of All Saints’ Church in Fort Worth was separated by the trial court from the rest of the property suit in 2015.)

The October Petitions asked for a review of the unanimous opinion issued in May of this year by the Texas Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the Diocese and Corporation.

Read it all and follow the links.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, Supreme Court, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

(JE) Virginia TEC Diocese Signals Truro Anglican Sale is Possible

Episcopal Diocese of Virginia officials have announced that diocesan leadership initiated “confidential conversations” in late 2019 with representatives of Truro Anglican Church in suburban Washington about the future of the property, with a potential sale possible.

“The discussions have been productive and are expected to continue,” the diocese shared in a December 6 press release on its website. A member of the Truro congregation confirmed to me that the diocesan release “is substantially correct.”

I’ve reached out to Truro’s vestry wardens and will update this blog entry as I receive their responses. Truro staff confirmed that a verbal announcement was read aloud to the congregation during a parish meeting but that no written or public statement was released.

Anglican Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic Canon for Congregation and Clergy Care the Rev. Mary Maggard Hays noted that ongoing negotiations with the Diocese of Virginia are still confidential, but characterized them as “amicable and thoughtful.”

That assessment is similarly held by Episcopalians.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: Virginia, TEC Departing Parishes

Gafcon Chairman Foley Beach’s November Letter

Bishop Love is a godly and good man. I am so thankful for his faithful stand regarding the office of a diocesan bishop and for keeping to the teaching and moral ethics of the Bible as he has served in the Episcopal Church here in North America. He is a man who has felt the full weight and responsibility of his calling and has sought to humbly follow the Lord’s direction. He has been standing alone against a rising tide of ridicule for his biblical positions, positions which have always been held by the Church.

Many would like to know the response from Gafcon. We are certainly praying for Bishop Bill Love and the many people who find themselves in provinces and dioceses with compromised and failing leadership. To everyone like him in difficult positions, you are not alone as so many around the world contend with you in prayer for the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are grateful for your faith in the midst of opposition and persecution.

A few years ago, I heard Archbishop Deng from the Province of South Sudan describe the growth of the church in his worn-torn nation. He said (paraphrased) they murder our people and the church grows. They raided our villages and the church grows. To those of us listening, his words were so clear to us: the church preaches the gospel (in season or out of it) and God builds His church. We commend these brothers and sisters who prevailed seeing more baptisms and more new churches in a very difficult spot in world history. Their example is a great reminder to the rest of us of the fruitfulness of faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Read it all.

Posted in GAFCON, TEC Conflicts

TEC (The Episcopal Church) appeals the Unanimous Texas Supreme Court Ruling to the US Supreme Court

Read it all and follow the links.

Posted in Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, Supreme Court, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

(AI) Hearing Panel finds Bishop Love guilty of failing to abide by the Discipline and Worship of The Episcopal Church (TEC)

The Summary of Opinion states, “This Panel unanimously concludes that TEC has met its burden of showing, by clear and convincing evidence, that Bishop Love has violated Canon IV.4.1(c) in that his November 10, [2018] Pastoral Directive violated the Discipline of the Church, as Resolution B012 was properly constituted and passed as an authorized revision to the BCP as expressly provided for in Constitution Article X, thus requiring that all Bishop Diocesans permit their clergy the option to utilize such rites.
TEC has further met its burden of establishing that Bishop Love’s Direction also violated the Discipline of the Church in that it violated Canon I.18. The canonical legitimacy of Resolution B012 rendered Canon I.18 mandatory, requiring adherence by Bishops Diocesan in permitting their Clergy the option to perform same-sex marriage rites. TEC has also met its burden of establishing that the Direction violated the Worship of the Church in that Resolution B012 added canonically-authorized same-sex marriage rites to the Worship of the Church pursuant to the BCP.”

While I am very disappointed and strongly disagree with the Decision of the Hearing Panel, particularly their argument that B012 was passed as an authorized revision to the Book of Common Prayer, they have issued their judgement. Unfortunately, given the nature of this case, I have no reason to believe that appealing the Hearing Panel’s Decision would result in any different outcome.
A separate Hearing will be scheduled within the month to discuss the terms of discipline to be carried out. Until then, we don’t know what actions will be taken. Whatever the final outcome, it will severely impact not only me and the ministry entrusted to me as Bishop of Albany, but it will also seriously impact the life and ministry of the Diocese. I continue to pray that somehow God will use all of this for His purposes.

Read it all.

Posted in TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Brand new TEC in SC Diocese’s motion for reconsideration in Lawsuit with Historic Anglican Diocese of South Carolina is denied

Monday, July 13 Judge Dickson denied the TECSC Motion for Reconsideration of his ruling.  They promptly filed their Notice of Appeal and a further motion requesting the S.C. Supreme Court to take the appeal directly.

The Diocese continues to give thanks for the clarity of Judge Dickson’s ruling and forward progress towards the conclusion of this litigation.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Brand New Episcopal Church (TEC) Diocese in South Carolina Asks Court to Reconsider its recent Ruling

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Anglican Unscripted 606 – Legal Victories

Kevin Kallsen and AS Haley talk about the latest court victories for the ACNA. And, some of the challenges the US Supreme Court’s recent decisions will bring religious communities.

Posted in Anthropology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Supreme Court, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

The Brand New TEC Diocese in South Carolina gives a (very revealing) response to Judge Edgar W. Dickson’s ruling

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(AI) A Report on the Hearing Panel from Bishop William Love and Note of Thanks

It has been a very long and arduous process thus far, not only for me and my family, but for the entire Diocese of Albany and all those in the wider Body of Christ who have been following this case. Unfortunately, as just shared, it is not over. As Bishop, one of the most difficult and frustrating aspects of the situation we find ourselves in, is knowing that regardless of what action I took in response to General Convention Resolution B012, it would be seen as divisive, resulting in hurting, angry people being left in the wake

As the Bishop of Albany, I love and care deeply for all the people of this Diocese, even those who may have a different understanding than I do regarding same-sex marriage. I know there are people of good will on both sides of this issue, and that ultimately, we want the same thing – to know how best to show God’s love and minister to our Brothers and Sisters in Christ who have same-sex attractions. The problem is, we have a different understanding of how to go about it. May God give us the grace to figure it out as we work together, keeping Christ at the center of all that we do. My hope and prayer is that whatever the outcome of this Hearing / Trial, God will use it for His purposes and that He will be honored and glorified, and His Church and people be blessed.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

(TEC OPA) TEC Bishop Love of Albany’s Hearing Scheduled for this Friday

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

(JE) Anglican Bishop Ryan Reed on Seeking the Gospel Amidst Litigation

“One of the things that we have learned is the spiritual handicap or weight that comes upon you even when you are defending yourself in a lawsuit,” Reed shares. ” This Sunday on Pentecost I am calling the entire diocese to a day or penance and of repentance. We are all collectively going to pray the litany of penance together and repent of any way in which this lawsuit has kept us from being faithful to the Gospel, any way it may have hardened our hearts to those who differ with us or those who wanted to hurt us.”

“This Sunday is a day of penance and a day of re-dedication. On Pentecost we are all going to re-affirm our baptismal vows and return to 100 percent focus upon sharing the Gospel and the transforming love of Jesus because that is what is important,” Reed declares. “All of this property and these funds and the buildings — those are just tools to help us share the good news of Jesus Christ. We could do with or without them to be honest, but if we’re not doing that, then those things don’t matter at all.”

Read it all and watch the whole interview (just over 23 minutes).

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pentecost, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

A S Haley–Texas Supreme Court Repudiates ECUSA’s Sophistries

In a comprehensive and unanimous thirty-page decision filed Friday morning, May 22, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of Bishop Jack L. Iker and reversed the Court of Appeals’ earlier decision to the effect that ECUSA’s rump diocese, and not Bishop Iker’s diocese, controlled the Texas corporation which holds title to the properties of those parishes which in 2008 voted to withdraw their diocese from the unaffiliated and unincorporated association that historically has been called the (Protestant) Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

The decision is as straightforward an application of “neutral principles of law” (espoused by the U.S. Supreme Court in Jones v. Wolf) as one could find among the courts to which ECUSA has presented its “hierarchical church” sophistries. It repudiates those sophistries in a succinct passage (pp. 24-25):

In sum, TEC’s determinations as to which faction is the true diocese loyal to the church and which congregants are in good standing are ecclesiastical determinations to which the courts must defer. But applying neutral principles to the organizational documents, the question of property ownership is not entwined with or settled by those determinations. The Fort Worth Diocese’s identity depends on what its documents say. To that end, the Diocesan Constitution and Canons provided who could make amendments and under what circumstances; none of those circumstances incorporate or rely on an ecclesiastical determination by the national church; and nothing in the diocese’s or national church’s documents precluded amendments rescinding an accession to or affiliation with TEC. Applying neutral principles of law, we hold that the majority faction is the Fort Worth Diocese and parishes and missions in union with that faction hold equitable title to the disputed property under the Diocesan Trust.

The opinion then makes short shrift of ECUSA’s remaining arguments. It demolishes ECUSA’s Dennis Canon, first by holding that a beneficiary like ECUSA cannot declare a trust in its favor in Texas on property that it does not own, and second by holding that even if the Dennis Canon could be said to create a trust in ECUSA’s favor, the Canon does not, as Texas law specifies, make the trust “expressly irrevocable”. Thus it was well within the power of Bishop Iker’s Fort Worth Diocese to revoke any such trust, which it did by a diocesan canon adopted in 1989 — to which ECUSA never objected in the twenty years following that act.

The Texas Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals’ holding that ECUSA could not assert title to the parishes’ properties by way of any “constructive” trust (a creation of the law to prevent a wrongdoer’s “unjust enrichment”), or by the ancient doctrines of estoppel or trespass-to-try-title, or by accusing Bishop Iker and his fellow trustees of the diocesan corporation of breaches of fiduciary obligation allegedly owed to ECUSA. Each of those claims would involve the civil courts unconstitutionally in disputes over religious doctrine.

In conclusion, the Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals on the grounds last noted, reversed its principal holding that as an ecclesiastical matter, ECUSA got to say which corporation under Texas civil law was the entity which held the parishes’ property in trust, and reinstated the trial court’s judgment that Bishop Iker’s corporation was in law the trustee of the properties of the parishes in his diocese.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

(Star-Telegram) TX court favors classical group in Episcopal Church Fort Worth-area property dispute

One group calling itself the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has won a decisive legal battle in a fight over which religious organization has control of church property.

But whether the war is over between these two religious organizations, both of which claim the title of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, is still being decided.

Both groups seek ownership of about $100 million in church property in a 24-county area….

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

The Diocese of Fort Worth Responds to Today’s Unanimous Texas Supreme Court Decision

From there:

Today we rejoice that the Supreme Court of Texas has issued a unanimous decision in our favor concerning the suit first brought against the Diocese and Corporation more than 11 years ago. After considering our Petition for Review of the 2018 opinion issued by the Second Court of Appeals, the high Court has granted all the relief requested.

Page two of the opinion says in part,

Applying neutral principles to the undisputed facts, we hold that 1) resolution of this property dispute does not require consideration of an ecclesiastical question, 2) under the governing documents, the withdrawing faction is the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, and 3) the trial court properly granted summary judgment in the withdrawing faction’s favor. We therefore reverse the court of appeals’ contrary judgment.
In its opinion, the Court found that the Diocese had not violated any Episcopal Church charter in withdrawing from association to TEC in 2008, and that the actions of the Diocese and Corporation were consistent with our own charters and with the state’s trust and unincorporated association statutes, and it upheld the dismissal of the Dennis Canon as determinative in Texas church property disputes.

Plaintiffs may exercise their rights of appeal, after which a mandate will go to the trial court for implementation.

We are grateful for the Court’s hard work on this decision and for the clarity with which it was rendered. We give thanks to the members of our legal team – Shelby Sharpe, Scott Brister, and David Weaver – for their sound counsel, expertise, and perseverance throughout these proceedings.

We give thanks for our visionary founding Bishop, the Rt. Rev. A. Donald Davies, and for those who assisted him in setting the legal and temporal foundations of the Diocese and Corporation. We stand on their shoulders.

We praise God for the steadfast faith and leadership of our third Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker, a true shepherd of the flock, who made many sacrifices throughout his episcopate for the sake of Christ’s holy Church.

Above all, we thank God for his eternal provision and protection for his Church and the people he has called to serve him.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Texas Supreme Court Makes Major Ruling in the Episcopal Church case in Fort Worth

The court of appeals declined TEC’s constructive-trust claim because such relief would require the court “to delve into the mysteries of faith,” impermissibly entangling the court in a dispute over religious doctrine.We agree with the analysis.’

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

A S Haley–The South Carolina Supreme Court Rebuffs TEC Again

How do ECUSA and its attorneys manage to contend that there are any “rulings” in the August 2017 decision capable of being enforced? By vastly oversimplifying the jumble of five separate Justices’ opinions, that’s how.

I have demonstrated in earlier posts just how divided and disunited were the individual Justices (including especially Justice Hearn, who had not yet seen fit to disqualify herself — on the ground that she was an active member of one of the parishes whose property was at stake in the case, and had earlier underwritten the effort by dissident Episcopalians to remove Bishop Lawrence from his position). It is logically impossible to derive any legal result from the five opinions other than that three of the Justices (including the one now disqualified) voted to reverse the trial court’s judgment.

So Judge Goodstein’s judgment awarding the property is now reversed. What comes next? Ah, that is the question — and one looks in vain for a mandate (direction) from any three of opinions as got what the Circuit Court should do on remand towards entering a new judgment. As Judge Dickson said at the outset of the arguments on the motions before him:

The Court: The first motion that I have today, going through the list that y’all gave me the last time y’all were here, and I think the one I am most interested in is the motion to decide what I am supposed to decide. The clarification motion, okay.

In response to the contention by ECUSA’s attorney, Mary Kostel, that the Court’s ruling as to who owned the property was “clear”, Judge Dickson responded: “We would not be here if it was clear.”

And indeed, as pointed out in Bishop Lawrence’s response to the petition for mandamus, just one day before filing its motion for enforcement with Judge Dickson, ECUSA had filed a brief in opposition to Bishop Lawrence’s petition to the United States Supreme Court for a writ to review the August 2017 decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court (p. 4):

On May 7, 2018, Petitioners [in the Circuit Court, i.e., ECUSA and its diocese] argued to the United States Supreme Court that it should not grant Plaintiffs’ Petition for Certiorari because the Collective Opinions were “a poor vehicle for review.” Brief of Respondents in Opposition to Petition for Writ of Certiorari, 2018 WL 2129786 at 23-26. Petitioners [ECUSA and its diocese] contended this was so because the Collective Opinions are based on an “incomplete record”, which “contains significant ambiguities.” Id at 2, 23. The Collective Opinions are “fractured not only in rationale but even on facts.” Id at 2, 9. The absence “of a majority opinion on the standard of review” creates “ambiguities” making it “difficult to discern which of the trial court findings stand.” Id. at 23-24.

This is just another example of ECUSA’s unabashed hypocrisy in making diametrically opposed arguments to different courts, depending on the occasion. (For another egregious example, see this post.) For the US Supreme Court, the jumbled South Carolina opinions were “ambiguous” and “difficult to discern”, but in the South Carolina Circuit Court, just one day later, all was suddenly “clear.”

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Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina