Category : Stewardship

(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

(Church Times) Chelmsford diocese to lose stipendiary clergy posts

Chelmsford diocesan synod has formally approved a proposal to cut 61 stipendiary clergy posts by the end of 2021; a possible 49 more posts are to go if the financial situation does not improve.

The cuts come five years in advance of the original proposal for 2025, in the light of the pandemic. But plans have been in place since 2011 — when 47 per cent of stipendiary clergy were due to retire within the decade — to reduce clergy posts to the minimum sustainable number of 215 (News, 9 June).

A traffic-light system will operate, where posts “to be retained or filled if vacant” are classified as Green, and those “desirable and should be retained if finances permit” are Amber. Red posts are those “unlikely to be filled with a full-time stipendiary incumbent, and other options for enabling ministry should be considered.”

Benefices in the Red category which are unable to cover the average £80,180 costs of a full-time stipendiary priest will be invited to discuss alternatives, such as interim ministry, a self-supporting priest, or a licensed lay minister.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(CBC) Anglican Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador running out of cash, selling assets in ‘hemorrhage situation’

The Anglican Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador has announced it’s running out of money and may need to stem its losses with layoffs, closures and sale of assets.

In an Oct. 5 letter obtained by CBC News, the diocesan finance committee said COVID-19 lockdown measures — which prevented gathering for worship for months — had a “devastating impact” on the church’s finances.

“While a number of our parishes continued to receive offerings and donations via drop-off collections and electronic means, it is clear that COVID-19 has negatively impacted our stewardship,” the letter says.

Archdeacon Sam Rose told CBC the pandemic has exacerbated previous financial struggles resulting from a reduction in church attendance.

“Like most organizations the onset of COVID accelerated this rapid decline,” he said Thursday.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Canada, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

Mark Lawrence’s Sermon from last Night at Christ Saint Paul’s–Confirmed by the Holy Spirit in the Love of the Father

The sermon starts about 19:30 in.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Stewardship, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

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

UK Faith leaders make call for environment-focused economic recovery

Marking the end of the first half of London Climate Action Week, representatives from UK faith groups have signed an open letter to the UK Government urging it to ensure that its economic recovery strategy is centred on the urgent need to reduce the impact of climate change.

In the letter, the signatories, some of whom are members of the ‘Faith for the Climate’ network, also commit to the goals of the Laudato Si encyclical – an initiative of Pope Francis – to advocate for and model positive initiatives to continue to tackle the Climate Emergency.

The open letter [begins]:

COVID-19 has unexpectedly taught us a great deal. Amidst the fear and the grief for loved ones lost, many of us have found consolation in the dramatic reduction of pollution and the restoration of nature. Renewed delight in and contact with the natural world has the capacity to reduce our mental stress and nourish us spiritually.

We have rediscovered our sense of how interconnected the world is. The very health and future of humanity depends on our ability to act together not only with respect to pandemics but also in protecting our global eco-system.

At the same time, less travel and consumption and more kindness and neighbourliness have helped us appreciate what society can really mean.

We have also seen yet again that in times of crisis, injustice becomes more obvious, and that it is the poor and vulnerable who suffer most….

Read it all.

Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Church Times) Government guidance for services: count them in, keep it short, and beware ‘consumables’

From 4 July, incumbents will be responsible for determining how many people can safely attend public worship in their churches, based on a risk assessment of the capacity and ventilation of the building, the Government has said.

The guidance, published on Monday and effective from 4 July, was drawn up by the Places of Worship Taskforce, which includes faith leaders and government ministers. It has legal status under the Health and Safety and Equality Acts.

No maximum number is specified for people attending for general worship, which includes led prayers, devotions, or meditations. The guidance confirms, however, that a maximum of 30 people are permitted to attend weddings, funerals, and other “life-cycle” services, such as baptisms, regardless of the size of the building, unless this takes place during routine communal worship (News, 26 June).

It states: “Limits for communal worship should be decided locally on the basis of the capacity of the place of worship following a risk assessment. The number of people permitted to enter the place of worship at any one time should be limited, so that a safe distance of at least two metres, or one metre with risk mitigation (where two metres is not viable) between households.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Politics in General, Stewardship

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–The end of the road for C of E growth strategies?

At…[a recent] Diocesan Synod in Chelmsford Diocese, a paper was discussed which proposed a radical reduction of stipendiary clergy posts from 275 to 215 within the next 18 months, a reduction of 22%. (Since these papers are in the public domain, you can read it for yourself here.) Despite some of these positions already being vacant, this will almost certainly involve making actual clergy redundant, which I think must be unprecedented in the modern era. With our (appropriate) current pre-occupation with the question of racism in society and the church, this might get overlooked or thought of as a local issue—but in fact this could be a turning point, since its implications point to a radical rejection of a commitment to a strategy of growth for the Church of England.

The introduction to the paper sets out the paradoxical pressures that has faced both dioceses and the national Church for some time:

a. On the one hand, it was widely predicted that 40% of serving clergy would retire in the next ten years, creating a kind of ‘cliff edge’ for stipendiary ministry. In fact, this has not been realised, since dioceses cannot control exactly when clergy retire, and many have been staying on longer than expected.

b. On the other hand, the Church of England nationally has never consistently reached its giving target of 5% of net income of those attending, and dioceses across the country are reporting growing deficits.

c. This paradox has been brought to a head by a very significant change in the way that the Church Commissioners distribute their funding. Prior to 2015, the Commissioners distributed funds according to what was known as the ‘Darlow formula’, which paid attention to needs in the dioceses in different ways, but paid no attention to commitment to or potential for growth. John Spence was the leading voice in the 2015 report Resourcing the Future, which proposed that the Commissioners money was divided into two: the Strategic Development Fund (SDF), which would give grants for church planting and church growth initiatives, each of which would need to become self-sustaining over a five-year period; and the Lowest Income Communities Funding (LInC), continuing support for the poorest communities across the dioceses….

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

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

Diocese of Carlisle sets up a Task Group to secure its future mission

A special Task Group has been set up to secure the long-term missional sustainability of the Diocese of Carlisle – the Church of England in Cumbria – post COVID-19.

The Financial Planning Task Group is chaired by the Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Rev James Newcome, and has ten other members including the Bishop of Penrith, clergy and members of the Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF).

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, its focus is the sustained growth of church of every kind in the Diocese of Carlisle, supporting mission, ministry and the ecumenical God for All Vision Refresh.

Bishop James said: “As with all other dioceses in the Church of England, our cash flow and overall financial situation has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Almost every part of our income has been affected: churches have been closed, regular giving has fallen and Parish Offer has been affected; investment income is likely to be lower; parochial fees have not been earned as occasional offices such as weddings and funerals in churches have not happened and our commercial and residential tenants are themselves under financial pressure. We still don’t know exactly for how long and to what degree this will be the case….”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Yorkshire Post) Upkeep of historic churches could fall victim to coronavirus fallout

The Rt Rev Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, Bishop of Ripon, told the Yorkshire Post the pandemic had left “some quite serious financial challenges” and those burdened by constant maintenance bills could be forced to make difficult decisions.

Her thoughts have been echoed by Yorkshire Historic Churches Trust, which last year gave out just short of £100,000 to historic churches in the region, for repairs to roofs, spires and stonework and organ restoration.

Many historic churches are reliant on tourism and constant fundraising to meet ongoing maintenance – both of which have dried up, and new funding streams should be considered, the Trust said.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

(Telegraph) Row escalates between Christ Church Dean and dons as Oxford college tries to distance itself from McDonald Centre

An ongoing row between the Dean of Christ Church and Oxford University dons has escalated following the college’s attempts to distance itself from a theological foundation headed up by one of the Dean’s staunchest allies.

One of the university’s Chancellor has been asked to intervene after Christ Church insisted that The McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics & Public Life remove all references to Christ Church from its website, including the centre’s logo, which has the appearance of the college’s famous Tom Tower.

The centre is headed up by Professor Nigel Biggar, a vocal supporter of the Very Rev Martyn Percy, who presides over the prestigious college and the cathedral.

It comes after 41 members of Christ Church’s governing body wrote to the Charity Commission accusing Dr Percy of “unsound judgement” and “a consistent lack of moral compass” in a bid to have him removed from the Board of Trustees. They also accused him of breaching his legal, fiduciary and safeguarding duties and of leaking confidential material to the press.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

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

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

(Church Times) Cathedrals face sharp drop in income

As churches learned this week that their coronavirus shutdown could end in July, administrators of the nation’s cathedrals are beginning to consider what life in the “new normal” will be like.

With their doors closed, many have adapted new technology, live-streaming services and linking remotely through apps such as Zoom. But cathedrals have also taken a severe financial hit, with the loss of collections, no visitor spending, and the cancellation of events that often fund a significant proportion of their annual expenditure.

“On top of daily worship, events are the bread and butter of what cathedrals do, but they are going to be low down on the list of things relaxed,” the Church Commissioners’ Head of Bishoprics and Cathedrals, Michael Minta, said. The Commissioners fund each cathedral’s dean, two residentiary canons, and some lay staff.

Cathedrals had had great expectations for 2020: the Year of Cathedrals and the Year of Pilgrimage were expected to boost visitor numbers and involvement. “There was a real positive vibe last year that things were really going to be good for everyone,” Mr Minta said. “But, instead, many have had to stand staff down, buildings are closed, their cafés and shops are shut, and income has been lost.”

Larger cathedrals, such as Canterbury and St Paul’s, which rely on tourism from overseas, have been badly affected; Durham’s 750,000 visitors, one third from overseas, provide one fifth of its annual revenue of £7 million.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Slate) Small Churches Are in Particularly Big Trouble Right Now

Founded in the mid-19th century, New Hope United Methodist Church had been operating on a razor-thin budget for years. Even after renovating the sanctuary recently, Sunday attendance was low, with $300 in the collection plate on a good week. But the church’s small, bustling food bank served 50 people a week in the low-income Starlight neighborhood of Atlanta. Others came to the church for Bible study and a free meal on Thursday nights, where a volunteer made sure everyone went home with an extra plate.

But the pandemic accelerated New Hope’s struggles. More than half its meager weekly donations came through cash in the Sunday offering basket, and the congregation has not met in person since mid-March. To raise extra money, pastor Abby Norman had recently started renting out the historic church building for documentaries and other film projects, including rap and country music video shoots. (Norman said she mostly stayed out of it but did ask the artists to email her the lyrics first.) The pandemic killed those gigs, too. Last week, Norman told her congregation that the church—and the food bank—would have to close. “We were so close,” Norman said. “It’s not just that we’re losing a church that worships Jesus on Sunday. It’s generations worth of knowledge about how to care for a community.”

Temporary church closings have meant spiritual losses for many Christians. Zoom is no substitute for the fellowship of weekly gatherings and the ritual of communal worship. But for churches as institutions, with buildings to maintain and staff to pay, the pandemic has also prompted a financial crisis. About 40 percent of Protestant pastors say giving has declined since earlier this year, according to an April survey conducted by LifeWay Research, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Just 9 percent said giving has increased. “This will push some churches over the edge,” said Scott McConnell, LifeWay Research’s executive director. “It’s definitely an existential threat.”

The unexpected dry season is especially acute for smaller churches and those serving low-income communities.

Read it all.

Posted in Economy, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

(Church Times) It would not be viable for us to cover virus outbreaks, says Ecclesiastical Insurance

A PCC treasurer has been told by Ecclesiastical Insurance that its policies do not cover the coronavirus pandemic.

Mary Woolley, a parochial church councillor for the 13th-century Grade II* listed St Mary the Virgin, Lynton, in Devon, tried to make a claim under the business interruption clause, covering loss of earnings and closure owing to disease. But, when she contacted the insurer, she was turned down.

“They said: ‘No chance on either count. Sorry, but there you go.’ That hit a nerve,” she said. “Ecclesiastical is in a slightly funny position in that it is owned by the Allchurches Trust, which gives money to charity — and we are a charity. It has strong links with the Church of England. Their reaction wasn’t: ‘We can feel your pain.’ It was, rather: ‘We couldn’t possibly help our churches in that way: we wouldn’t be able to afford it.’”

One third of her church’s income is raised through service collections and donations from tourists. “There are two sections in the policy covering lost earnings,” she said. “One was closure by public decree, which seemed to be pretty clear, but the answer was: ‘Ah, yes, but not for disease.’ The other was disease. There is a long and absolutely hilarious list of things for which we would be covered if we closed the church, such as leprosy and smallpox, but, unfortunately for us, Covid-19 wasn’t invented when the list was created.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

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.”

Read it all.

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

(Anglican Diocese of SC) South Carolina Supreme Court denies Petition for Writ of Prohibition by The Episcopal Church

The South Carolina Supreme Court announced yesterday that it has denied the Petition for a Writ of Prohibition submitted on February 21st by The Episcopal Church (TEC) and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC), which sought to prevent Judge Edgar W. Dickson from ruling on the Diocese’s and parishes motion to clarify the Supreme Court’s earlier ruling. If granted, the petition would have prevented Judge Dickson from ruling on the case as he has indicated he was about to do. The Supreme Court’s order succinctly states: “Petitioners seek a Writ of Prohibition to prevent the circuit court from clarifying this Court’s decision in Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of S.C. v. Episcopal Church, 412 S.C. 211, 806 S.E. 2d 82 (2017). The petition is denied.”

This ruling by the Supreme Court allows Judge Dickson to proceed with clarifying the Court’s earlier August 2017 ruling, which was comprised of five separate opinions. That situation is unprecedented in the history of the court. This open-ended denial of the petition by the Supreme Court places no restrictions upon the appropriateness of Judge Dickson’s work in interpreting the meaning of the original ruling.

Ironically, this ruling comes almost exactly a year after TEC and TECSC filed a similar Petition with the high court for a Writ of Mandamus meant to force Judge Dickson to rule in the case. The Mandamus Petition asked the Supreme Court to require the Circuit Court to interpret the Supreme Court’s August 2, 2017 ruling favorably for TEC and TECSC. That petition was also denied by the Supreme Court in July of last year.

As before, the Prohibition Petition was an attempt to end run Judge Dickson’s exercise of his discretion in interpreting the August 2, 2017 decision in a manner that may differ from TEC and TECSC’s interpretation.

The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina welcomes this decision by the South Carolina Supreme Court affirming that the Circuit Court is the proper venue to resolve the many uncertain issues arising from the August 2, 2017 decision.

The Rev. Marcus Kaiser, President of the diocesan Standing Committee observed, “In this time, our focus is on caring for our people and praying for a world deeply rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, we are profoundly grateful that the Supreme Court has denied the request for a Writ of Prohibition, and hope this ruling helps move things along. We pray for Judge Dickson and the complex issues he has to deal with, even as we continue to focus on concerns far more pressing to most people.”

The brief in support of the motion by the Diocese to dismiss this Petition can be found on the Diocesan website, along with further background on the earlier Petition for Mandamus. The August 2, 2017, ruling by the Supreme Court may also be found here.

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

(AP) As offerings dwindle, some churches fear for their future

As in-person worship services are canceled or downsized amid the coronavirus outbreak, some churches across the U.S. are bracing for a painful drop in weekly contributions and possible cutbacks in programs and staff.

One church leader, Bishop Paul Egensteiner of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Metropolitan New York Synod, said some of the 190 churches in his region were unlikely to survive because of a two-pronged financial hit. Their offerings are dwindling, and they are losing income from tenants such as preschools which can no longer afford to rent church venues.

“As much as I’d like to help them, everybody’s reserves are taking a hit because of the stock market,” Egensteiner said,

At Friendship Baptist Church in Baltimore, a mostly African American congregation of about 1,100, the Rev. Alvin Gwynn Sr. bucked the cancellation trend by holding services last Sunday. But attendance was down by about 50%, and Gwynn said the day’s offering netted about $5,000 compared to a normal intake of about $15,000.

“It cuts into our ministry,” he said. “If this keeps up, we can’t fund all our outreach to help other people.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(PCN) Dean’s Beans: Blackburn Cathedral launches new coffee business

Blackburn Cathedral is launching its very own blend of coffee in the latest of its drinks businesses set up to boost its mission and ministry.

Hot on the heels of the first ever cathedral branded gin, Dean’s Beans Coffee has been produced by a local company and will be sold in the cathedral’s cafe.

Like its gin business, it’s hoped the coffee will soon be stocked in supermarkets.

Named in honour of the Dean of Blackburn Very Rev Peter Howell-Jones, Dean’s Beans retails at £5 a 225g bag for both ground and beans.

A tea business is expected to launch later this year too.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Church Times) Lincoln diocese ‘living beyond its means’

The diocese of Lincoln — the wealthiest in the Church of Eng­­­­land, with the lowest level of giving — has warned that it cannot continue to sell its assets to balance the books.

This week, a rector in the diocese, who is also a member of the Arch­bishops’ Council’s Finance Com­­­­­mittee, suggested that its historic wealth had “blinded us to the real costs of mission and min­istry”, and that it would be “immoral” to ex­­haust it.

A statement issued by the diocese last week notes that it is running an annual cash deficit of about £3 million, “which has been steadily increasing for some years, and is not sustainable”.

“For several years, bridging the gap between the parish share income and the clergy stipend costs has been met by disposing of our assets,” it says. “Although this does result in an immediate injection of funds, we lose a proportion of the interest (in­­come) on the greater amount of the asset, thus putting further pressure on our finances.

“Whilst the diocese has some his­­­toric assets, by 2021 we will have reached the safe limit of what we can sell off to pay the deficit with­­­­out caus­ing damage to those assets.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

A S Haley–The Brand New TEC Diocese in South Carolina Attempts an End Run by filing a request with the SC Supreme Court in their lawsuit vs. the historic Anglican diocese of SouthCarolina

By invoking the Supreme Court’s original jurisdiction over its inferior courts, the ECUSA parties at this point are demonstrating outright that they no longer have any confidence in Judge Dickson’s integrity to reach an impartial resolution of the puzzle presented to him by the five scattered opinions that came from the Court. Just as they requested the Court last June, ECUSA’s attorneys want to have the Court step in now and put an end to further delay in implementing what they claim was the Court’s “clear mandate.”

The problem is, the Supreme Court’s membership has changed since it rendered its fractured decision. Two of the then Justices (Toal and Pleicones) have retired from the Court, while a third (Hearn) belatedly recused herself from taking any further part in the case. That leaves only Chief Justice Donald Beatty and Justice John Kittredge out of the original panel, and those two were at odds with each other: the Chief Justice supported the official ECUSA line about the Dennis Canon, while Justice Kittredge was having nothing to do with any sort of remote trust that could be imposed on a parish’s property without its written consent.

Under those circumstances, the success of the petition filed by ECUSA will at the outset turn upon the view of it by the two new appointees to the Supreme Court: Justice John Cannon Few and Justice George C. James, Jr. If they agree between themselves on how to deal with the petition, their votes will carry the day by making the tally 3-1 (whether to deny the petition or to grant it). And if they disagree? The result (presuming that the C.J. and Kittredge are still at odds) would be a 2-2 tie, with the result that the writ could not issue.

Long and short of it: The Court will issue the petition restraining Judge Dickson only if the two new appointees both vote with the Chief Justice to grant the writ.

After all, there is nothing compelling the Court to be as impatient as ECUSA is to get a result; the Justices will each still collect their paychecks regardless of how they rule. And after all the time and effort Judge Dickson has expended to get to the point where he is now ready to take up ECUSA’s motions, one would think that the Court will be in no great hurry to take the case away from him, either.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(PCN) Contactless giving now available at 300 more C of E churches

Giving an offering via contactless is about to get a whole lot easier in another 300 churches in the UK.

The Church of England has embarked on a new partnership with Visa, SumUp and Caution Your Blast to enable 300 more churches across the UK to accept contactless donations.

With more consumers choosing to make payments with card, mobile and contactless enabled devices, the partnership will offer more options for churchgoers wanting to donate.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Science & Technology, Stewardship

The brand new TEC Diocese in South Carolina Files a Petition for a Writ of Prohibition with the South Carolina Supreme Court in its Controversy with the Historic Anglican Diocese of South Carolina

Take the time to read it all (18 page pdf).

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

(Church Times) Climate battle must start right now, says Bishop Holtam

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Revd Nick Holtam, the Church of England’s lead bishop on environmental issues, is writing to all bishops and diocesan secretaries this week, in response to the target set at the General Synod last week to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to net zero by 2030.

The most immediate problem facing the C of E is that it has no idea what its carbon footprint is at present. Bishop Holtam will ask parishes to use a new Energy Footprint Tool to measure the energy they use. The online tool also generates a dashboard to show churches how they compare. For details, see cofe.io/footprint.

Responding to the new target, 15 years before the official recommendation, the Bishop said: “We aren’t under any illusion that this will be easy. Synod’s target sets a serious challenge for the whole Church to examine urgently the steps necessary to achieve the kind of year-on-year carbon reductions we need. This is a national goal which will need more than 16,000 local plans supported by the right policies and resource.

“But the science tells us there’s no time to lose if we are to limit the warming of the planet humans are causing. The tone at Synod was overwhelmingly that Christians should respond urgently to our calling to safeguard God’s creation, and go as fast as we can.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, CoE Bishops, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stewardship

([London] Times) Oversized vicarages send wrong message to the poor, warns rector

Plush vicarages put off working class Christians claims a priest as the Church of England warns of a “serious threat” to its future in poorer areas.

In a debate about struggling to reach people on low-income backgrounds, Rev Canon Chris Tebbutt, rector of Canford Magna, Salisbury, said he had forged much better relationships with his community after giving up a seven-bedroom “manor house” to live in a new local development.

“Clergy housing is a hugely important factor for mission and evangelism,” he said. “Inappropriate housing sends out totally the wrong message to the community.” The vicarage is now occupied by an archdeacon, he added.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Housing/Real Estate Market, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

(Church Times) General Synod accepts that ‘serious money’ must be found for abuse survivors

Calls for “proper” and “just” redress for survivors of clerical abuse, with “serious money”, were made in an emotional debate on safeguarding in the General Synod on Wednesday morning.

The Synod voted unanimously for an amended motion to endorse the response of the Archbishops’ Council to the recommendations made by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

The amendment, brought by the next lead Bishop of safeguarding, the Bishop of Huddersfield, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, asked that the original motion be reinforced by “concrete actions”. Earlier attempts to strengthen it had foundered (News, 7 February). Dr Gibbs’s amendment also urged the National Safeguarding Steering Group to commit to a “fully survivor-centred approach to safeguarding, including arrangements for redress for survivors” and to update the Synod on the progress on the IICSA recommendations not later than 2021.

Redress was a small phrase with large implications, Dr Gibbs said. “It will mean serious money [and] changes in ways we handle claims and complaints.” Safeguarding responses must be “shaped by the righteousness and compassion of God’s Kingdom, not by the short-term and short-sighted financial and reputational interests of the Church,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Stewardship, Theology, Violence