Daily Archives: October 7, 2019
Historic Anglican Diocese of South Carolina recent Legal Developments (V)–Diocese gives joint Notice of appeal of Judge Gergel’s Ruling
No one disputes, or could dispute, that the newly organized Episcopal Church in South Carolina (ECSC), which was organized for the first time at a meeting of its delegates in January 2013 and immediately recognized as a diocese by ECUSA without going through any of the formalities required by Article V of ECUSA’s Constitution, was regarded by ECUSA as a successor to the Diocese of Bishop Lawrence which had earlier voted to dissociate from General Convention. The vacancy left by that withdrawal obviously required a successor, and so ECSC was it.
But viewed in secular legal terms, the Diocese of Bishop Lawrence had its own continuity of existence. It was still (under South Carolina secular law) the same unincorporated association of clergy and parishes after it voted to withdraw that it was before that vote — it had the same bishop, the same headquarters, telephone number and address, the same employees and records: nothing had changed except for its affiliation with ECUSA.
And most notably, it still owned and possessed the same name, brands and marks as it had before its withdrawal. Those were not given to it by ECUSA, but invented and trademarked by that Diocese on its own, as its own property. Yet thanks to the aside by Justice Beatty in a footnote, the civil law question of legal successorship becomes subsumed under an ecclesiastical question which no one would dispute.
Or, stated another way: from an ecclesiastical law point of view, no one would take issue with Chief Justice Beatty’s assertion. The last thing Bishop Lawrence’s diocese wanted was to be seen as continuing as a member diocese of the apostate ECUSA. But from a civil law point of view, Justice Beatty’s claim is simply wrong on its face. An entity whose existence is recognized under South Carolina secular law does not cease to exist, or become some new entity altogether, simply because it changes its religious affiliation.
Historic Anglican Diocese of South Carolina recent Legal Developments (III)-An Update for St. Philip’s Church from Ben A. Hagood
On September 19, 2019, U.S. Federal District Judge Richard Gergel ruled that St. Philip’s Church, and the other parishes in our diocese that disassociated from The Episcopal Church (TEC), are free to continue using their historic parish names. The formal, legal name of our parish is “The Protestant Episcopal Church of the Parish of Saint Philip, in Charleston, in the State of South Carolina.” For some years, we have simply been known as “St. Philip’s Church.” Judge Gergel ruled that the historic inclusion of the word “episcopal” in our name does not constitute trademark infringement, trademark dilution, or false advertising as claimed by TEC and its affiliated diocese, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC).
In a separate, contemporaneous order Judge Gergel ruled that the seal and names of our diocese (specifically, “Diocese of South Carolina,” “The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina,” and “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina”) infringe upon the trademarks of TEC and TECSC and that our diocese and all of its parish churches, including St. Philip’s Church, are permanently enjoined from using these marks or any mark confusingly similar. St. Philip’s is now complying with this injunction by discontinuing use of any of the enjoined names or marks. On September 20, our diocese changed its name to “The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina.” At this point, our diocese and St. Philip’s are reviewing these Orders with our litigation counsel to determine next steps.
The rulings in federal court arise from the case brought by TECSC and TEC, originally filed in 2013, against our diocese alleging trademark infringement, trademark dilution and false advertisement. In 2018 St. Philip’s, and the other parishes associated with our diocese, were added as defendants. It is important to note that this federal trademark and false advertising litigation does not affect the property ownership issues of St. Philip’s Church and the other parishes. Those issues currently remain in state trial court before Circuit Judge Edgar W. Dickson.
Judge Dickson has held two hearings on motions related to the property ownership issues. Last November he held hearings on a motion filed by us, our diocese, and associated parishes, seeking clarification of the South Carolina Supreme Court opinions. This motion includes our argument that the Supreme Court opinions concluded that those parishes that did not expressly accede in writing to TEC’s Dennis Cannon retain ownership of their property; that St. Philip’s Church, and the other parishes, never expressly acceded in writing to the Dennis Canon; and that no judge has made a finding of fact to the contrary. This motion is still under consideration by Judge Dickson.
This past July, Judge Dickson held a hearing in a separate state court case involving the property issues, a case brought under the state Betterments Act. The suit under the Betterments Act alleges that if TEC or TECSC is ultimately determined to be the owners of property held by our diocese and its parishes, including St. Philip’s Church, then the diocese and parishes are entitled to be compensated for all improvements made to the properties. On August 28th Judge Dickson issued an order rejecting TEC and TECSC’s motion that this Betterments Act suit should be dismissed. Judge Dickson has also ordered that all of the property ownership issues and other state court issues should be mediated by the parties. Mediation is currently scheduled for
–Ben A. Hagood, Jr.
Chancellor, St. Philip’s Church
On Thursday, September 20 District Court Judge Richard M. Gergel ruled in favor of The Episcopal Church (TEC) and its local diocese, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC), in a federal trademark case. In the 73-page decision, Judge Gergel issued an injunction preventing the Diocese and parishes in union with it from using the names and seal of the diocese. These are: “Diocese of South Carolina”; “The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina”; “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina” and The Diocesan Seal.
“We’re disappointed, of course,” said the Rev. Marcus Kaiser, Rector of the Church of the Holy Comforter in Sumter, who serves as the President of the Standing Committee, which also serves as the Diocese’s Board of Directors. “But changing our name doesn’t change who we are, or who we’ve ever been. It simply changes the name under which we operate.”
The Standing Committee met Friday morning and unanimously voted to adopt the name “The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina.” Although Counsel for both the Diocese and the Parishes who are studying the order believe it likely will be appealed, even erroneous orders still must be obeyed. “I am grateful,” noted Bishop Lawrence, “for the faithful response of our Standing Committee, the diocesan staff, and legal team in seeking to comply with this order. We work not in fear, for as St. Paul has reminded us, God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind.”
On August 28th , in one of two state cases regarding the ownership of parish and diocesan property, Judge Edgar Dickson issued an order adverse to TEC and TECSC. He rejected their request to dismiss the diocese and parish claims to recover the value of improvements to parish and diocesan real property under the Betterments Statute if it is decided that TEC has title to those properties. He also stated that he had yet to rule on motions before him concerning the question of whether the five separate opinions of the Supreme Court found that there has been any Diocesan or Parish loss of property.“The Court…recognizes that were it to rule against the Defendants [TEC and TECSC] on some or all of those motions, this betterments action could become moot….” “…the Court will consider, for purposes of ruling on the motion to dismiss only, that the betterments action is ripe.”
The state cases were ordered to be mediated by Judge Dickson which will be held on September 26th. That mediation, which had been scheduled for earlier this month, was postponed due to Hurricane Dorian.
“With every real-estate cycle, developers will systemically call on religious institutions because their sites are soft,” Ms. Friedman said.
In a way, it’s an odd time for churches to disappear. The number of congregations in New York is actually increasing, according to census records. There were 1,426 congregations in Brooklyn in 2010, up from 959 in 2000, records show, with large gains in Manhattan and Queens, too. And the 2020 census is expected to show more growth, religious leaders predict.
But small mosques and storefront churches account for a lot of the uptick. Older and highly visible institutions that once served Episcopalians and Lutherans, for example, are indeed closing. And dozens of Catholic churches, facing low attendance, have also gone dark in the past 15 years.
“Every time we turn around, another is being sold,” Gilford T. Monrose, who directs the Office of Faith-Based and Clergy Initiatives on behalf of Eric L. Adams, the Brooklyn Borough President.
Concerned that the borough is losing an important source of community services, Mr. Monrose has been working over the past few years to get churches to consider affordable housing as a lifeline.
— Michael Snedeker (@MikeTSnedeker) October 4, 2019
(Sunday [London] Times) A Life in the Day interview: Peter Owen, the former drug taker turned Anglican priest
As a young child, I was adopted and my adopted father died when I was four. Every adopted person I’ve talked to says the same thing: we grow up with an empty space inside. Is that why I turned to God? I’m not sure. I wasn’t particularly religious before, but in my late twenties I became aware that I was surrounded by a feeling of patience. There was no “big moment” when I decided to go to theological college, but it somehow became clear to me that I should live my life as a parish priest and I was eventually ordained in 1992. And the only reason I could give for being a priest was that I was a broken man. Maybe that’s the only quality you need.
As a non-stipendiary priest, you don’t get paid. You get a house, but money has to be earned elsewhere. I’m supposed to spend two days a week as a priest and the rest of the time on my other stuff — writing or catching up with friends and family. I’m sure some people see my books or watch me on TV and think I’m rolling in cash. Definitely not! It makes things a bit easier but, financially, life is still tricky. That’s OK. I don’t need a big TV or a fancy car. I have a home and goldfinches in my garden. If I lust after anything, it’s chocolate peanuts.
Read it all (subscription).
The charismatic priest on swapping drink and drugs for Jesus and the Sussex countryside https://t.co/8SZ0AbqCIX
— The Sunday Times Magazine (@TheSTMagazine) October 6, 2019
Loving God, Shepherd of thy people, we offer thanks for the ministry of Henry Melchior Muhlenberg, who left his native land to care for the German and Scandinavian pioneers in North America; and we pray that, following the teaching and example of his life, we may grow into the full stature of Christ; who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
— NE Iowa Synod, ELCA (@NEIowaSynodELCA) October 7, 2016
Lord, who hast warned us that without thee we can do nothing; and by thy holy apostle hast taught us that in thy strength we can do all things: So take and possess us, that our weakness may be transformed by thy power; that we be no longer our own, but thine; that it be not we who live, but thou who livest in us; who now reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, world without end.
—Daily Prayer, Eric Milner-White and G. W. Briggs, eds. (London: Penguin Books 1959 edition of the 1941 original)
Therefore, my beloved, shun the worship of idols. I speak as to sensible men; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. (But if some one says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then out of consideration for the man who informed you, and for conscience’ sake— I mean his conscience, not yours—do not eat it.) For why should my liberty be determined by another man’s scruples? If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please all men in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
–1 Corinthians 10:14-11:1
STRENGTHEN ONE ANOTHER
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own but each one the others well-being.
— +GodfrienddMe (@godfrienddme) July 2, 2019