Rift between Peoria-based Diocese of Quincy and The Episcopal Church likely would lead to court

TEC spokeswoman Neva Rae Fox said a Quincy vote to leave would have to go through the church’s General Convention in 2009 in order to be recognized. Dioceses can’t leave The Episcopal Church on their own say-so because they were created by the church’s General Convention, Fox said.

“They’re dead wrong on that,” said Wicks Stephens, legal adviser for the Anglican Communion Network in Pittsburgh, of which the Diocese of Quincy is a part.

“If you read the constitution and canons of The Episcopal Church, in order for a diocese to come into union with other dioceses of The Episcopal Church through the General Convention, that diocese has to meet certain standards, including forming itself, becoming financially sustainable and other things, including allegiance to The Episcopal Church.”
The Rev. Jim Naughton, director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D.C., said, though, that “this is an argument that didn’t exist until they needed it to exist.”

“No one has previously interpreted constitutions and canons in this way,” said Naughton, whose diocese leans liberal and who contributes to an Episcopalian blog called The Lead.

But the Rev. John Spencer, president of Quincy’s joint standing committee, agreed with Stephens.

“If you actually read the constitution carefully, what it says is the people and the churches and the clergy form a diocese,” Spencer said.

Dioceses, the vicar of St. Francis Church in Dunlap said, created the General Convention, not the other way around.

Read it all.


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10 comments on “Rift between Peoria-based Diocese of Quincy and The Episcopal Church likely would lead to court

  1. DonGander says:

    “Litigation is a shameful way for Christians to behave,” Ackerman said.

    Well, Mr. Ackerman knows both shame and christianity. God bless him. I only hope that there is room in his mind to posit the notion that TEClub leadership may not be christian, or at least not be able to know shame.

  2. BillS says:

    “If you don’t believe I’m leaving, you can count the days I’m gone.”

    Milk Cow Blues

  3. dwstroudmd+ says:

    Does Jim Naughton mean that this interpretation of the canons was just made up when it was needed: the Dennis Canon. Or did he mean the actual words written in the canons and constitution? Is he objecting to the plain sense of the words and suggesting they need interpretation? Hmmm. Court, again.

  4. wvparson says:

    The Diocese of Illinois, from which the present dioceses were formed, created itself and elected Philander Chase as its bishop -he took the job and functioned as Ordinary – before entering into union with the then PECUSA. One of the Wordsworth brothers, I think John, wrote a book defending the action on the grounds of necessity and charity. I am sure the people at Project Canterbury have a copy somewhere.

    The original dioceses of PECUSA were formed before PECUSA was created. They created PECUSA: PECUSA didn’t create them.

  5. TonyinCNY says:

    TEC is treating this like they’re a communist country. “You can’t leave” is plenty coercive and it makes me wonder why they feel they must be so totalitarian. Survival issues, perhaps.

  6. StayinAnglican says:

    It seems to me that TEC argument boils down to “one diocese, one vote, one time”
    A parish or diocese can freely affirm by vote to be a part of the national denomination but can never ever change its mind for any reason afterwards and freely vote to leave.
    Somehow I can’t see that line of argument working in court.

  7. Hakkatan says:

    I know little of the law, but I suspect that the articles of incorporation of each diocese, whereby they exist as legal entity within each state, would have a voice in how a lawsuit over leaving with property would be determined. I do not think that the articles of incorporation would be solely determinative, but neither do I believe that they could or would be ignored. Articles of incorporation that did not speak of its identity as a constituent member of the DFMS or PECUSA would give a diocese a lot more power in court, I would think.

  8. William Tighe says:

    Quincy’s Diocesan Convention is 19-19 October. Let’s hope they’ve brought enough old cloths to “wipe the dust from their feet” before they go bye-bye.

  9. William Tighe says:

    Oops, I meant to write 18-19 October immediately above.

  10. William Tighe says:

    And, in fact, I should have written 19-20 October. My bad.