The wonderful thing about this litigation is how it brings different faith communities together in their desire to protect their cherished tax benefit. Not yet available is the brief from the following amici – Christian Legal Society, Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, National Association of Evangelicals, Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, Council of Churches of New York City, and Queens Federation of Churches. Last time around there was a brief that included The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Commission (Southern Baptists, the second largest denomination in the United States probably have the most skin in this game) and The International Society for Krishna Consciousness and The Islamic Center of Boca Raton.
Category : Housing/Real Estate Market
(Forbes) Religious Organizations Rally To Preserve Current Tax Treatment Of Clergy Housing Allowances
(NYT The Upshot) In 83 Million Eviction Records, a Sweeping and Intimate New Look at Housing in America
Before the first hearings on the morning docket, the line starts to clog the lobby of the John Marshall Courthouse. No cellphones are allowed inside, but many of the people who’ve been summoned don’t learn that until they arrive. “Put it in your car,” the sheriff’s deputies suggest at the metal detector. That advice is no help to renters who have come by bus. To make it inside, some tuck their phones in the bushes nearby.
This courthouse handles every eviction in Richmond, a city with one of the highest eviction rates in the country, according to new data covering dozens of states and compiled by a team led by the Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond.
Two years ago, Mr. Desmond turned eviction into a national topic of conversation with “Evicted,” a book that chronicled how poor families who lost their homes in Milwaukee sank ever deeper into poverty. It became a favorite among civic groups and on college campuses, some here in Richmond. Bill Gates and former President Obama named it among the best books they had read in 2017, and it was awarded a Pulitzer Prize.
But for all the attention the problem began to draw, even Mr. Desmond could not say how widespread it was. Surveys of renters have tried to gauge displacement, but there is no government data tracking all eviction cases in America. Now that Mr. Desmond has been mining court records across the country to build a database of millions of evictions, it’s clear even in his incomplete national picture that they are more rampant in many places than what he saw in Milwaukee.
(Wash Post) Duke Kwon–The tragedy to communities when church buildings are demolished to make condos
I walk by a brown brick church in my neighborhood every day. On Sunday, the aging but still impressive building will be empty on Easter for the first time in a hundred years. And soon, the building will be converted into luxury condos.
While the impact of gentrification on affordable housing in D.C. and other cities has been a topic of ongoing study and debate, still underappreciated is its impact on a different sort of “housing” — namely, houses of worship. The issue is on my radar because I am the pastor of a church that met in that building until November.
For four years, Grace Meridian Hill was the sole tenant of 3431 13th Street NW, a 100-year-old building formerly owned by Mount Rona Missionary Baptist Church. In 2014, our landlord sold the property to developers. We recently learned the groundbreaking is scheduled for this week.
Although we grieved the loss of our home, our greater concern and lament is for the neighborhood and city. Numerous church properties within a few blocks have been sold to developers in the past few years, including Southern Bethany Baptist Church on Monroe Street NW, Iglesia Ni Cristo on Morton Street NW and Meridian Hill Baptist Church on 16th Street NW.
St. Mark’s Anglican Church, a 100-year-old facility in Kitsilano, one of B.C.’s most upscale areas, is up for sale at the steep price of $11,998,000.
[The] Rev. Richard Leggett said Anglican churches in the Vancouver area are moving elsewhere due to, in part, the steep cost of housing.
Other Anglican properties up for sale include St. Margaret of Scotland in Burnaby and St. Monica’s in Horseshoe Bay.
“Housing prices in Vancouver have grown so rapidly and so high that the grandchildren of the grandparents who built the church are no longer living nearby,” said Leggett.
Baptist minister Glenn Burns calls the evening of April 7, 2016, the “crucifixion.” It was the toughest test of his 40-year career.
Burns leads a Christian social services ministry in northern Florida called the Good Samaritan Network. Until last April, the nonprofit was headquartered in the town of Woodville, just outside Tallahassee. Its food bank served 7,000 people a month. It also ran a thrift store and a home for women transitioning off the street from sex work. And it operated a Christian home for men reentering society after prison who had no other place to live. Many of them were on Florida’s registry of sex offenders.
It was that last program that got Burns in trouble. As in other states, Florida’s state-run registry puts the names, photos, and addresses of those convicted of sex crimes on a public website. In Woodville, a few neighbors had searched the site and found that 11 of the 16 men at Good Samaritan’s home for ex-offenders were on the list. They called the program to find out why it served people they thought were dangerous. There was a school less than a quarter of a mile away….
The Church of England has laid claim to minerals beneath privately owned land covering an area the size of the Lake District, including in regions earmarked for fracking, The Times has learnt.
Since 2010 the church has officially registered its ownership of 585,000 acres of underground resources. Thousands of people have received letters warning that they do not own potentially valuable deposits under their land.
In most cases, the church has laid claim to deposits beneath land that it used to own but is now held privately. It has also exploited ancient property laws allowing it to claim the minerals beneath land that it owned under the feudal system. This gives the church the right to cash in on any profits from the extraction of stone, metals and other minerals in the earth, though it may have to compensate the surface landowners for access.
Read it all(requires subscription).
What was that South Carolina Betterment Statute that Bishop Mark Lawrence referred to in his recent letter?
One of the good things about blogs is you can learn things from them which you can learn nowhere else. This past week is a case in point. In his letter of last weekend the Bishop said:
All parties to the case have previously discussed the timetable for a filing under the Betterments Statute. Legal counsel can give you best directions for how to proceed with that process (my emphasis).
And just what it this “Betterments Statute”? You can find it there and please note carefully its wording which includes among other sections the following:
SECTION 27-27-10. Recovery for improvements made in good faith.
After final judgment in favor of the plaintiff in an action to recover lands and tenements, if the defendant has purchased or acquired the lands and tenements recovered in such action or taken a lease thereof or those under whom he holds have purchased or acquired a title to such lands and tenements or taken a lease thereof, supposing at the time of such purchase or acquisition such title to be good in fee or such lease to convey and secure the title and interest therein expressed, such defendant shall be entitled to recover of the plaintiff in such action the full value of all improvements made upon such land by such defendant or those under whom he claims, in the manner provided in this chapter….
SECTION 27-27-30. Proceedings subsequent to judgment to recover value of improvements.
The defendant in such action shall, within forty-eight hours after such judgment or during the term of the court in which it shall be rendered, file in the office of the clerk of the court in which such judgment was rendered a complaint against the plaintiff for so much money as the lands and tenements are so made better. The filing of such complaint shall be sufficient notice to the defendant in such complaint to appear and defend against it. All subsequent proceedings shall be had in accordance with the practice prescribed in this Code for actions generally….
SECTION 27-27-40. Stay of judgment in first action; special verdict for betterments.
The court, on the entry of such action, shall stay all proceedings upon the judgment obtained in the prior action, except the recovery of such lands, until the sale of the lands recovered as provided in Section 27-27-60. The final judgment shall be upon a special verdict by a jury, under the direction of the court, stating the value of the lands and tenements without the improvements put thereon in good faith by the defendant in the prior action and the value thereof with improvements. The defendant in the prior action shall be entitled for such betterments to a verdict for the value thereof, as of the date when the lands were recovered from him and interest on such verdict from such date.
Bishop Mark Lawrence’s Letter to the Diocese of South Carolina following the recent SC Supreme Court Decisions
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Today legal counsel for the Diocese received written notification that both our motions for Recusal and for Rehearing were denied by the State Supreme Court. The former was denied 5-0. The latter was denied 2-2 with Justice Hearn abstaining and no fifth justice appointed to fill the vacancy.
For those parishes that are parties to the litigation, I encourage you, at this stage, to consult with your parish chancellor. All parties to the case have previously discussed the timetable for a filing under the Betterments Statute. Legal counsel can give you best directions for how to proceed with that process. Our press release for this evening can be found here.
As you will remember, we began our week with our Annual Clergy Conference reflecting together on the Apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 and 12:9-10. Now this final ruling from the South Carolina Supreme Court coming as it does at the very end of the week presses us once again with the need to find comfort, strength, and courage from the Lord through these words of Holy Scripture. May I encourage you to revisit them—I believe they were prophetic in their timing for us. Meanwhile please know that I have spoken with our lead counsel, Mr. Alan Runyan, Fr. David Thurlow, President of the Standing Committee, as well as with Canon Lewis. A Standing Committee meeting has been called for this Tuesday morning, November 21, 2017.
I will write further to you and to the diocese once I have met with the Standing Committee and have more thoroughly examined the options before us. For now we will continue to stand forthright for the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the faith once delivered to the saints!
Please continue to hold our Diocesan Leadership and Legal Counsel in your prayers.
Your brother in Christ,
–(The Rt. Rev.) Mark Lawrence, 14th Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina
Bp Mark Lawrence’s Letter 2 the Diocese of #SouthCarolina following the recent SC Supreme Court Decisions #religion #law #Anglican #ministry #bettermentstatute #ethics #stewardship #episcopal https://t.co/b3HbqP7IMK pic.twitter.com/M551dIkn46
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) November 20, 2017
(WBFO) In Buffalo, NY, Converting Episcopal Church of the Ascension into senior housing becomes confrontational
The fight over converting historic Ascension Church at Linwood Avenue and North Street into senior housing turned into something of a confrontation between Buffalo’s Preservation Board and its Planning Board during Monday’s Planning Board meeting.
The Episcopal Diocese and an affiliate want to convert the century-and-a-half-old church into 28 units of low-income senior housing, wading through regulations on three different levels of government and concern the rules for financing the project might change.
The project has been in the works for more than two years, as various approvals were sought and various design changes were made, shrinking the project and moving a new building.
Charles von Simson said it is still not worth building in his neighborhood and other residents agree.
When a friend heard that the Episcopal Church is continuing a lawsuit over ownership of church real estate in the Diocese of South Carolina, knowing it could drive 20,000-plus Christians from their meeting places, that person said, “That’s just not Christian.”
I cannot disagree. Apart from the legal arguments, when a fair person weighs the biggest issues, it’s real estate versus unimpeded worship and ministry.
It is hard to see that the Episcopal Church is being Christian in this action.
Neighborhood shopping centers battered by store vacancies are finding solace in churches.
As retailers consolidate and shrink the number and sizes of their stores, retail center landlords, especially in weaker markets, are being forced to consider a wider range of prospective tenants that might not fit the conventional retail mold. Among them: houses of worship.
“Having a church becomes an asset because it creates a mixed-use space,” said Rodney Arnold, pastor at OneLife Church, based in Powell, Tenn. The church leases space both in Powell Place Shopping Center and at a building near Knoxville Center Mall in Knoxville.
Until recently, property owners have turned mainly to theaters, restaurants, medical and wellness clinics, and bowling alleys to fill space formerly occupied by retailers that have been plagued by the shift to online shopping and changing consumer tastes.
England’s vicarages and parsonages are almost as iconic as its churches. But campaigners say they may be all but gone after a 70-year process of selling-off which began after the Second World War and has seen thousands of vicars ejected from the historic buildings and moved into private houses.
What’s more, they have raised concerns that many modern priests have no interest in living in the properties – leaving them vulnerable to being sold.
Campaign group Save Our Parsonages estimates that 8,000 such houses have been sold by dioceses since the Second World War, causing the Church of England financial loss because of the growing value of property.
(Northern Echo) New man takes on the complex task of caring for York Minster ‘largest medieval, gothic cathedral north of the Alps’
York Minster’s new director of works and precinct, Alex McCallion, has joined from real estate provider Savills, where he worked as a director in the planning team.
A chartered planning and development surveyor by trade, he is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and brings considerable experience developing master-planning projects within the heritage sector.
His role at the Minster involves overseeing the maintenance, restoration and conservation of the cathedral and its precinct properties and services.
One of the largest marijuana companies in the US has bought a California desert town, promising to turn it into a “cannabis-friendly hospitality destination.”
American Green Inc. said it is buying all 80 acres of Nipton, which includes its Old West-style hotel, a handful of houses, an RV park and a coffee shop.
The town’s current owner, Roxanne Lang, said the sale is still in escrow, but confirmed American Green is the buyer.
Phil Ashey takes an in depth dive into the recent TEC Bp Jon Bruno decision and what it tells us: Questions about the corruption of a diocese
The Hearing Panel stated unequivocally that prior review and approval of the sale of church property by the Standing Committee “is a crucial part of the fabric and polity of the Church.” (Report at 57). And yet the specific findings recited in the Hearing Panel’s Report show that the Standing Committee did little, if anything, to investigate the legal ownership of St. James, to review any legal documentation for the sale, and to refer to its own minutes in doing so. If they had, they presumably would have discovered that the only properties transferred to Corp Sole were back in 2009, and did not include St. James. They would have discovered that a purported May 2014 quitclaim deed by the Diocese to Corp Sole was without any review by the Standing Committee. If they had followed Bishop Glasspool’s advice and consulted with another diocesan chancellor, they might have intervened and halted the sale. Nevertheless, they did not
These detailed findings in the Hearing Panel’s Report are troubling in the extreme, to say the least. Viewed as a whole, the findings strongly suggest that corruption and greed were systemic. They were not limited to Bishop Bruno himself. Key staff and leaders at the highest levels appear from the Report to have been complicit. The Standing Committee appears to have failed to properly review, let alone check, these problematic actions. Both laity and clergy close to the bishop were apparently involved.
How could the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles end up with so many people in positions of leadership who had lost their moral compass?
If the statement of the Diocesan spokesman and its webpage are any signs, the absence of conviction, humility and repentance is not promising.