Is N.J. A Precedent for Negotiated Settlements between the Episcopal Church and some Anglicans ?

In fact, this story [raises questions about]…the oft-heard assertion that bishops are bound by… [Presiding Bishop Jefferts] Schori, Mr. Beers, 815 and “fiduciary duty” to eschew any negotiated settlements. As you will see,…[Presiding Bishop Jefferts] Schori and Mr. Beers were fully informed along the way as this negotiation proceeded.

Is this a precedent for negotiated settlements and a forbearance of arms? Is it an isolated case, or does it herald a new day? Raymond Dague himself draws the best conclusion:

“[This case] goes to prove that when the parties both desire to find an amicable way to sell a formerly Episcopal Church to an Anglican Church which has disaffiliated from TEC, that a way can be found. There is no legal bar to such a sale, nor is such a sale, even at a fraction of the assessed value of the property, in violation of the fiduciary duty of the diocese or TEC. Where there is the will to be gracious and settle without lawsuits, there is a way that it can be done, because it was done here. Perhaps the Helmetta experience might be repeated. It need not be an isolated incident if both parties in other cases have the good will to try it.”

Read it all and make sure to take the time to read the whole Raymond Dague memorandum also.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Departing Parishes

11 comments on “Is N.J. A Precedent for Negotiated Settlements between the Episcopal Church and some Anglicans ?

  1. Grandmother says:

    One might ask +Iker of Ft. Worth what he thinks in light of yesterdays horrendous ruling… Negotiated, hardly…

  2. NoVA Scout says:

    The fact situation described here contains (quite starkly) at least two important elements that have been missing elsewhere where resort to the secular courts has occurred: 1) the departing parish acknowledged from the outset that it had no right to stay, and opened negotiations by offering to leave the premises, should the Bishop so direct; and 2) the parish seemed to be unanimous in its determination to leave – i.e., the fact pattern was not complicated by loyal Episcopalians who had continued need for and use of the premises (this is not stated in so many words in the linked documents, but I have never read in any account of this transaction any reference to continuing Episcopalian issues).

    Despite the wildly popular vilification of the Presiding Bishop and Mr. Beers on this subject, I have never understood their position to be completely opposed to practical solutions along these lines. Indeed, they appear to have been comfortable with this disposition. What I think they oppose (quite rightly in my view) is the unilateral seizure of property and exclusion of remaining parishioners by departing factions. This has been the case far too often and no sentient Diocesan Bishop can permit it. The national church position can hardly differ.

    In all events, we should be grateful for this outcome for this Diocese and this Parish.

  3. AnglicanFirst says:

    Reply to #2.
    Your comment is an interesting ‘interpretation’ of of the events at hand.

    But it is just an interpretation.

  4. billqs says:

    All this shows is that the whole “failure to sue is a breach of fiduciary duty” is a stick to beat their enemies with, they have no intention to evenly apply the rule to their friends.

  5. NoVA Scout says:

    No. 3: I guess the interpretive (not sure why the word “interpretation” is in quotes in your comment – it’s a perfectly good, commonly understood word) part is my speculation that the leaders of the national Church are not bound, in all circumstances, to a policy of resolutely opposing any disposition that leaves a property in the hands of a departing group. I don’t know that from any direct contact with them, but this post certainly provides evidence that they do not oppose these types of dispositions in all instances.

    The non-interpretive part is my observation that there did not appear to be an asserted right by the departees to seize or occupy the premises, that there did not appear to be a continuing group of Episcopalians who were ousted, and that these circumstances distinguish this situation from many others that have been discussed here and elsewhere over the past couple of years. If you have a different view of that component, I would be pleased to consider it.

    By the way (re No. 1), what happened in Fort Worth? I have seen nothing about it here or at Stand Firm, my usual sources of information and education on these types of things. Usually these events get posted up rather quickly.

  6. Brian from T19 says:


    Here are two articles on the Southern Cone group’s loss in DioFW:

    We are seeing that almost all States are now siding with TEC when leaving parishes and/or dioceses attempt to take TEC property.

  7. NoVA Scout says:

    Ah, thank you, Brian. Very interesting. I’ve always thought it highly artificial and not likely persuasive to a court that departing groups like the one in Fort Worth would cling to the “Episcopalian” terminology and trappings in an effort to buttress their property claims. It apparently didn’t work with this judge. I guess there will be a couple of years worth of appeals.

  8. Brian from T19 says:

    I agree NoVA. BTW, here is the ENS article that just came out

  9. Sarah says:

    RE: “We are seeing that almost all States are now siding with TEC when leaving parishes and/or dioceses attempt to take TEC property.”

    Nah — not yet we aren’t. Actually what we are seeing are two revisionists simply enjoying a bit of “grab all the triumphalism one can” during this latest ruling. ; > )

    We’ll see how it all shakes out over the years — as I said 4-5 years ago. We’ve got a good half decade to go.

  10. NoVA Scout says:

    Sarah – Is a “revisionist” a person who comments on legal developments? I have never been sure of the meaning as used in these parts, but I always thought it was intended to have theological content.

  11. Sarah says:

    RE: “I have never been sure of the meaning as used in these parts. . . .”

    Of course, of course.

    RE: “I always thought it was intended to have theological content.”