Breaking: Appeal Court denies TEC Quincy Appeal

Key Excerpts follow below the “read more” link.

Read it all[pdf]. h/t Stand Firm

Note: An article with important background to today’s decision is here.

[color=Red]UPDATE:[/color] Don’t miss Allan Haley’s analysis of this decision at Anglican Curmudgeon

[47] However, the deference approach is unavailable where the determination of a church’s hierarchical structure is not easily discernible. See Maryland & Virginia Eldership of the Churches of God v. Church of God at Sharpsburg, Inc., 396 U.S. 367, 369-70 (1970) (deference approach is permissible only where the governing church body can be determined without extensive inquiry into religious policy). Here, the trial court declined to apply a deference approach, concluding it could not “constitutionally determine the highest judicatory authority or the locus of control regarding the property dispute to which it would be required to defer.” The court’s conclusion is not against the manifest weight of the evidence.

[48] A review of the evidence presented in this case, including testimony from Dr. Mullin, the Church’s own witness, does not clearly demonstrate the existence of a hierarchical relationship between the Diocese and the Church. Indeed, the Church’s authority is not readily ascertainable without an impermissible investigation into matters of polity. Moreover, the central matter underlying the parties’ dispute is: “who owns the disputed property.” Determining whether the Diocese could leave the Church or identifying the leaders of the continuing diocese is unnecessary for purposes of answering that question. Again, such determinations would necessarily involve an extensive inquiry into church polity. With regard to the issue of the disputed property, however, we agree with the trial court it can be resolved by applying neutral principles of law.

[54] An examination of the evidence reveals nothing to demonstrate an express trust, an implied trust, or any other interest vested in the Church. As stated, neither the deed nor the Discretionary Agency Agreement provides for an express trust in favor of the Church. Further, our review of the Diocese’s constitution and canons does not suggest diocesan assets were ever impliedly held in trust for the Church. After Jones, the Church adopted a trust canon (Title I.7.4, referred to by the parties as the Dennis Canon). That canon provides parish property is held in trust for the Diocese and Church and restricts a parish’s ability to dispose of its property. However, it appears undisputed the Church’s canons do not contain similar language with respect to diocesan property being held in favor of the Church. In addition, Bonner testified the Dennis Canon does not apply to property owned by a diocese. Our review of the record reveals nothing to suggest the opposite conclusion. Accordingly, the trial court’s findings in this regard are not against the manifest weight of the evidence.

[55] In sum, the evidence presented demonstrates title to the funds and real property lies with the Diocese. Following our review of the record, we cannot say the trial court’s findings were arbitrary, unreasonable, or not otherwise based on the evidence. Nor can we say the opposite conclusion is clearly apparent in this case. As a result, the court did not err in finding in favor of the Diocese. We commend the trial court for its detailed order, which we found quite helpful in reviewing this matter.


[57] For the reasons stated, we affirm the trial court’s judgment and deny the Church’s motion to substitute party.

[58] Affirmed; motion denied.


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12 comments on “Breaking: Appeal Court denies TEC Quincy Appeal

  1. Sarah says:

    There are masses of members of my church — TEC – that are [i]ecstatic[/i] for the Diocese of Quincy. So very happy that — as St. Paul did — they are currently receiving justice from the secular courts.

    Woo hoo!

  2. APB says:

    This really made this a good Friday, though nothing to compare with Good Friday. However, I expect that TEC will find yet another way to go at this. As ++Kate said, “We will never leave you alone.” For Progressives, there is no price too great to make a point.

  3. SC blu cat lady says:

    This news from the Illinois Court of Appeals about the Diocese of Quincy and the trial being over here in SC make for the beginning of a nice weekend. 🙂

  4. MichaelA says:

    Great to hear, a real answer to prayer.

  5. rwkachur says:

    I wonder if Quincy, and God-willing, South Carolina and Texas can be the “Gettysburg and Vicksburg” for TEC? Maybe, just maybe, they will reconsider the scorched earth strategy?

  6. Luke says:

    Don’t see it – it would mean KJS admitting error.

  7. rwkachur says:

    I bet you they’re drafting a “Supremacy Clause” right now, but the tricky part will be getting people to accept after all that has happened.

  8. SC blu cat lady says:

    #7. Given the lefties that remain in TEC, a supremacy clause would give TEC’s Constitution that bit of *je ne sais quoi* that it needs.

  9. tjmcmahon says:

    #7- Watch GC 2015- it won’t be difficult at all.

  10. Nikolaus says:

    I wish I knew what to say to family members in Illinois who remained in TEC – i.e. the Potemkin Diocese – primarily due to the real estate. Now, it would seem that they need to leave TEC so that they can cling to their bricks and mortar. If anyone has a charitable suggestion, please share.

  11. Luke says:

    You can always say, “Welcome to a Christian church!”

  12. SC blu cat lady says:

    #10. It depends on whose name is on those bricks and mortar. If they are that interested in staying with the building, chances are good they would not notice any change in theology with the new “owners” of the real estate.