Category : Episcopal Church (TEC)

(TLC) Cameron Nations–The future of the Episcopal Church’s clergy

Of all full-time clergy in TEC, 55.4 percent are older than 55, and almost 80 percent of all full-time clergy in TEC are older than 45….Particularly noteworthy are the figures for Millennial clergy, which, depending on where you want to place the cutoff in your definition of Millennial, comprise roughly 6 percent of all full-time clergy in TEC.

Only 20 percent of full-time clergy younger than 45 equals 100 percent of a problem for a denomination struggling to grow and thrive in the decades to come.

If you were to think, Well, at least we have experience going for us, you would be a little off target. The average age of ordinands has held pretty steady at about 50 years of age according to recent CPG Annual Reports (which are different than the Compensation Report). That means that a significant amount of those in the older age brackets are no more seasoned in ministry than many of their younger colleagues; they were ordained later in life.

Read it all and follow the footnotes.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(LA Times) L.A. Episcopal diocese is going ahead with sale of Newport’s St. James church site

[Bp John] Taylor, however, wrote that the panelists and their advising attorneys “evidently did not take fully into account the existence of a binding contract, nor all the ways the dispute begs for wider reconciliation.”

Parishioner Walter Stahr, who has been active in the congregation’s allegations of misconduct against Bruno and the effort to reclaim the building, said diocese leaders did not say when escrow would close on the property when they met Monday with him and St. James pastor Cindy Evans Voorhees. The sale price also has not been disclosed.

“They assured us that if St. James the Great wishes to continue as an Episcopal congregation, they will support us — just not in our building,” Stahr told his fellow parishioners in a statement Monday. “I know how devastating this will be for many of you, but the story is not over.”

Read it all.

Posted in Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles

(AI) Despite win against Bruno, St James Newport Beach learns they will lose their church

We understand that the Hearing Panel’s ruling, which awaits the possibility of Bishop Bruno’s appeal, calls on us to return the congregation to the building. The four concurring Hearing Panel members and the attorneys who advised them evidently did not take fully into account the existence of a binding contract nor all the ways the dispute begs for wider reconciliation. (One panel member dissented and supported Bishop Bruno.)

Their advocacy bespeaks a commendable pastoral connection with the people of St. James. As recently as the filing of the church attorney’s brief after the hearings in Pasadena in March, those conducting the proceeding against Bishop Bruno made it clear that he could avoid being sanctioned if he would relent on his intention to sell the property. This is not to understate the significance of the panel’s findings against Bishop Bruno. But we trust that from the painful experience of the Diocese of Los Angeles, The Episcopal Church will learn lessons about how, in disciplinary settings, to differentiate between actions by a respondent which deserve sanction and a complainant’s wish to reverse an operational decision.

We share the panel’s profound concern for the people of St. James. Bishop Bruno asked them to start a new congregation, and under the leadership of the Rev. Canon Cindy Voorhees, they accepted the challenge. They praised, worshipped, and served, as they continue to do. We are not here to relitigate Bishop Bruno’s actions or the Hearing Panel’s verdict. In all likelihood, after 40 years of ordination, including many moments of courage and vision, he will lose the right to say Holy Eucharist and to baptize, confirm, and bless for three years. It is also outside the realm of Bishop Curry’s charge to assess how long it would have taken St. James to achieve sustainability. Suffice it to say that it was making good progress and that losing its church building was a disappointment and shock….

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles, TEC Parishes

Jeffrey Miller’s Sunday Sermon at St Philips Charleston Facing into the SC Supreme Court Decision: “Let not your hearts be Troubled”

You can listen directly here or download it there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Preaching / Homiletics, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Please Pray for the Diocese of South Carolina Clergy Day

[Aug 2]

Dear Fellow Clergy,

As noted in today’s earlier email the South Carolina Supreme Court released a divided ruling in our case. You may read the ruling here.

The Bishop is calling for a clergy day this coming Wednesday, August 9 beginning at 1:30 p.m. in St. Paul’s Church in Summerville.  Legal counsel will be present to discuss the ruling and its possible implications.  We request that all who are able make it a priority to attend….

While we released a statement to the press this afternoon, we want you to further know that our legal team is planning a motion for a rehearing.  There are multiple strong grounds for making that request and good reason to be hopeful about that outcome.  In the meantime, please appreciate that legal council is still reviewing the implications for what is a very complicated ruling.

While this ruling is disheartening, we are a long way from the conclusion of this fight for the Diocese and its Parishes.  Please keep the Diocese and its leadership in your prayers as they discern appropriate next steps.

In Christ’s service,

 

(The Rev.) Canon Jim Lewis

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

A Message from the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina

August 7, 2017

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina, having met together with our bishop, The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, in Charleston this day, sends to all of our brothers and sisters of the diocese our love and our greetings in the name of Jesus Christ. We are so profoundly thankful for all who have fasted and prayed for our diocese and our Standing Committee during the past week from across South Carolina, throughout the Anglican Church in North America, and among all the faithful in global Anglicanism.

We have spent this time together in prayer and discussion regarding the decision by the South Carolina Supreme Court last Wednesday. In light of the conflicting opinions issued by the court, we met with the legal counsel for our diocese and have approved a strategy on how we go forward seeking clarity. We want you to know this: the legal process continues. We will be filing a motion for a rehearing from the Supreme Court, the deadline for which is September 1st. We are convinced there are compelling reasons to make this motion. There will be other avenues along with and following that action.

Finally, while we cannot tell you what tomorrow brings, we want to reiterate three things that you already know. First, again, the legal process continues. Second, we are stronger together. Third, we will continue in all circumstances our God-given mandate of making biblical Anglicans for a global age. Know that we love you, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and that we remain,

Yours in Christ Jesus,

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina

The Rev. David Thurlow, President
The Very Rev. Craige Borrett
The Rev. Karl Burns, Vice-President
The Very Rev. Peet Dickinson
The Rev. David Dubay
The Rev. Marcus Kaiser
Mr. Alonso Galvan
Mr. Gerry Graves
Mrs. Susan McDuffie, Secretary
Mr. Foster Smith
Mrs. Anne Walton
Absent:
Mr. Brandt Shelbourne

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

What the Rector of Redeemer, Orangeburg, South Carolina wrote his parish about the recent SC Supreme Court Ruling

Dear Members Of Our Redeemer Family,
I would guess that by now you’ve heard that the SC Supreme Court issued their ruling on the appeal of the 2014 Circuit Court opinion that awarded the Diocese of South Carolina full rights to continue as the Diocese and gave full ownership of the churches properties to the individual churches. According to the ruling which you can download by tapping or clicking here, it looks like we may have lost some of what we gained under the 2014 Circuit Court opinion.
As I understand it, part of the 2014 ruling has been reversed by a majority of justices, and another part remains as it because there was a 2-2 tie on that part. It appears that we [in Orangeburg] lost the right to keep our buildings.
I’m writing today to ask you to fear not. I assure you, we are going to be alright. I’m asking you not to start “what-iffing” and please don’t start anticipating what we are going to do from here on out. We really don’t have enough information yet to even be anxious. Additionally, I have a personal rule of life I follow which goes like this: “Never make policy out of something that hasn’t yet happened.”
Last night I got an email from Canon Jim Lewis saying that our legal team will appeal. Here’s part of that letter from Canon Lewis:
We want you to further know that our legal team is planning a motion for a rehearing.  There are multiple strong grounds for making that request and good reason to be hopeful about that outcome.  In the meantime, please appreciate that legal council is still reviewing the implications for what is a very complicated ruling.

While this ruling is disheartening, we are a long way from the conclusion of this fight for the Diocese and its Parishes.  Please keep the Diocese and its leadership in your prayers as they discern appropriate next steps.

Additionally, I would ask you to stay away from gossip on the subject. Facebook and the various church blogs are often little more than gossip. At best they are one person’s opinion. Opinions are just that – opinions; they are not fact.  The fact is, the sky is not falling. Another thing you might want to do is talk with Pinckney Thompson. Pinckney led the charge for us in 2014, and I believe that he’s got some great wisdom on the issue.
In any event, God is still God, and I know He’s in charge of our future. Whatever may transpire, we are going to be alright. That much you can take to the bank. All we need to be doing at this point is praying for God to take care of it, because the Lord knows we surely can’t.
My friend Chris Warner wrote these words to his congregation: 
Let me remind you; you don’t have to worry. Worry is optional misery! This court ruling is a situation that you cannot control. But you can control the amount you worry.
If you have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, you know the One who created your future. His promises about your future give life, not worry.
We clergy will have a special meeting next Wednesday, August 9 to hear from our lawyers and leadership. As soon as I get more information – reliable information – I’ll send it to you. Again – Please – Fear Not. This is not a time to worry. This is the time to pray. And pray with the assurance that God’s got it, and it’s going to turn out just fine.  Thanks.
God bless you, and See you Sunday!
–The Rev. John Burwell
Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology: Scripture

South Carolina Bishop Lawrence Writes his Diocese Following the recent Supreme Court Ruling

Today, thousands of Christians around the world are holding you, the congregations of the diocese, as well as our clergy and bishop in prayer. Even more specifically, yesterday Anglicans on this continent were lifting us in constant prayer. As you may know, we recently voted as a diocese to affiliate with the Anglican Church in North America, and this summer their Provincial Assembly joyfully received us as full members therein. What a comfort it is to know that our Archbishop, the Most Reverend Foley Beach, asked the bishops, clergy and laity of the ACNA to pray and fast yesterday on our behalf.

Many of those praying and fasting have in the past walked away from their church buildings, buildings they built and maintained, and in some cases, where their families worshiped for centuries. Some left by choice; others after years of litigation. I do not mention the latter, however, as if the legal issues in our case are fully resolved. They most certainly are not, though they are clearly challenging. Rather, I want you to know the sort of Christians who are praying for us; and while holding us in prayer, many are fasting. They have paid a price to follow their Lord. We are part of a provincial body of Anglican Christians and they are walking this hard road with us. Their fellowship at such a time is greatly comforting to me and I hope it is for you.

I also want to tell you what our next steps are. First, this Monday, August 7, the Standing Committee and I will meet with our lead legal counsel, Mr. Alan Runyan. I assure you that our legal team is looking at the various options before us. Second, this Wednesday I will meet with the deans of the various diocesan deaneries, and that afternoon, Mr. Runyan, Canon Lewis and I will meet with all the clergy of the diocese. Please keep us in your prayers. Many important decisions are before us and we want to be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ and walk in step with the Holy Spirit.

Read it all (his emphasis).

Posted in * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(AAC) Phil Ashey–On lawsuits and losses: a Meditation from Psalm 37

The decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court in the matter of the ACNA Diocese of South Carolina vs. the TEC Diocese of South Carolina (Heard September 23, 2015 and filed August 2, 2017) appears to be such a case. The net effect of this case seems to be the transfer of the property of 29 congregations from the ACNA Diocese of South Carolina to TEC. Ultimately this could mean the displacement of thousands of families from the place where they have worshiped for generations. It could mean the loss of all the ACNA Diocese of South Carolina offices, the bishops residence and more.

The legal effect is to overturn the South Carolina Supreme Court decision in All Saints Parish, Waccamaw v Diocese 385 S.C. 428 (2009) that neither the then Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina nor the national church (by the Dennis Canon) can create a trust in favor of themselves in any church in South Carolina unless they already have an express property interest in that church. This 2009 decision was based on long settled common law principles of trusts in South Carolina law. The legal effect of the Court’s August 2 decision is to reinterpret the facts of this case de novo, and by bare majority of 3-2 to reinstate the validity of the Dennis Canon by turning the “neutral principles” approach to church property disputes (see Jones v. Wolf , 443 U.S. 595 (1979)) into a “deference to internal hierarchical church law,” approach—turning “neutral principles on its head.” As Justice Kittredge concluded in his opinion (dissenting in part and concurring in part): “The message is clear for churches in South Carolina that are affiliated in any manner with a national organization and have never lifted a finger to transfer control or ownership of their property—if you think your property ownership is secure, think again….”

I am reminded constantly of the example of The Falls Church Anglican in Virginia. Under years of costly litigation and appeals, they planted three churches in the DC Beltway (Arlington, Alexandria and Vienna) and one on the outskirts of Northern VA, in Winchester. All are thriving. TFC lost their buildings, but their congregation grew even as they gave away hundreds to these church plants! Now they have a location and a building that exceeds what they had before, as they are growing in mission and evangelism where God has planted them.

How tragic it would be if litigation and appeals took our eyes off God and the things that delight him—especially reaching those who do not yet know the transforming love of Jesus Christ.

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology: Scripture

AS Haley–Massive Conflict of Interest Taints South Carolina State Supreme Court Ruling

In her concurring opinion, Justice Hearn went out of her way to castigate Bishop Lawrence and the role he played as chief pastor of his Diocese — ecclesiastical matters which, as her colleagues pointed out, had no business being addressed in a secular judicial opinion. In doing so, she only advanced, and acted as a spokesperson in black robes for, the sectarian interests of the Episcopal Forum to which she still (presumably — the organization no longer publishes the names of its members) belongs. At the same time, she contradicted her own precept that South Carolina courts should stay out of Episcopal Church matters and defer to its “ecclesiastical determinations.”

Further, according to the minutes, Justice Hearn’s husband, George, was one of the duly designated delegates to the special convention of ECSC called in January 2013 by ECUSA’s Presiding Bishop to replace Bishop Lawrence. That convention elected Charles G. vonRosenberg as Provisional Bishop of ECSC, who promptly brought suit against Bishop Lawrence in federal court and countersued in the State court action — eventually seeking the recovery of all the properties of each of the 36 separate parishes involved in that litigation. George Hearn also was a deputy to the first regular convention of ECSC held in March 2013.

One would think that Justice Hearn, given her membership in the organization that initiated the disciplinary proceedings against Bishop Lawrence, and given her husband’s role in enabling the litigation now before her, might have considered recusing herself from the 2015 appeal by her own diocese (ECSC) and church (ECUSA) to her Court, which placed directly at issue the actions of Bishop Lawrence and his Diocese that removed them from ECUSA. But one would be wrong. She not only stayed on the case, but she displayed a disgraceful bias in her own church’s favor during the oral arguments in September 2015.

Fast forward now to the current year. The appeal by Justice Hearn’s church and diocese has been languishing for 15 months because the five justices have been unable to form a consensus on how to resolve it, and are still circulating draft opinions. At some point in the process (perhaps just a few months ago, or perhaps it was right after the oral argument in September 2015), it has become clear that there are two votes (Acting Justice Pleicones, and, naturally, Justice Hearn herself) to apply ECUSA’s Dennis Canon full bore to the withdrawn parishes.

Read it carefull and read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Diocese of SC Statement the recent South Carolina Supreme Court Ruling

A sharply divided court reverses portions of the lower court ruling

COLUMBIA, S.C. (August 2, 2017) – In a 77 page opinion, the South Carolina Supreme Court today reversed portions of an earlier lower court ruling. In February 2015, circuit court Judge Diane Goodstein ruled that the Diocese of South Carolina, its trustees and the 50 parishes — representing 80 percent of the members — that disassociated with the Diocese successfully withdrew from The Episcopal Church (TEC) in 2012, taking all their property, including churches, symbols and other assets. The ruling was the result of a three-week trial in 2014.

That court found that “the Constitution and Canons of TEC have no provision which states that a member diocese cannot voluntarily withdraw its membership.” This ruling found that had there been such a provision, it would have violated the diocese’s “constitutionally protected right” to freedom of association. “With the freedom to associate goes its corollary, the freedom to disassociate,” Judge Goodstein wrote.

In a complicated ruling consisting of five separate opinions, the S.C. Supreme Court today ruled that parishes which had “acceded” to the national church’s ‘Dennis canon’ are subject to a trust interest on their property by the denomination. Eight congregations that had not so acceded were judged to have full rights to retain their property.

The dissenting justices expressed concern regarding the long term implications of this decision. Former Chief Justice Jean Toal stated that the court should have relied on “over three hundred years of settled trust and property law… I believe the effect of the majority’s decision is to strip a title owner of its property…” on the basis of actions that do not create a trust interest under South Carolina law. In concurring with Justice Toal, Justice Kittredge observed of other church properties where there is affiliation with a national organization, based on this ruling, “if you think your property ownership is secure, think again.”

This current litigation became necessary when TEC attempted to wrongly remove Bishop Lawrence, and the Diocese, in response, elected to disassociate from TEC. At that time a small group of TEC loyalists who had been preparing for this attempted removal began an intentional campaign of using the Diocesan Seal and other service marks of the Diocese. They began to function as if they were the Diocese of South Carolina. To maintain its identity required that the Diocese defend that identity.

Lead counsel for the Diocese, Alan Runyan, said the lead opinion and concurring’s decision is inconsistent with South Carolina and long-standing United States Supreme Court precedent involving church property disputes. Legal counsel continues to review a lengthy and complicated ruling comprised of five separate opinions.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

AS Haley’s preliminary Read on the South Carolina Supreme Court Decision

In a divided decision, the trial court’s order is reversed as to twenty-nine parishes and affirmed as to the remaining parishes. The trial court’s intellectual property ruling is affirmed by a vote of 2-2, with one justice declining to reach the issue.

Here are the seven parishes (and one land trust) which, by a 3-2 vote, were not subject to the Dennis Canon: Christ the King, Waccamaw; St. Matthews Church, Darlington; St. Andrews Church-Mt. Pleasant Land Trust; St. Paul’s Episcopal Church of Conway; The Episcopal Church of the Parish of Prince George Winyah, Georgetown; the Parish of St. Andrew, Mt. Pleasant; St. John’s Episcopal Church of Florence; and St. Matthias Episcopal Church, Summerton.

Note that the opinions are confusing as to how many “congregations” — seven or eight — managed to escape the Dennis Canon, by never acceding in their articles or bylaws to the Constitution and Canons of ECUSA. The reason is that one of the eight is not a congregation, but apparently a trust that holds title to church property.

The opinions show a bitterly divided Court that could not agree even upon the basic framework by which to decide the case (what the Court calls “the standard of review”). I put a lot of the blame for this divisiveness upon Justice Hearn, about whose blatant bias I wrote at the time of the oral argument. Her opinion concurring with Justice Pleicones might as well have been written by David Booth Beers….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Analysis, - Anglican: Latest News, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

South Carolina Supreme Court on Diocese of South Carolina/TEC Diocese in SC Dispute Ruling is Out

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

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.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles

(TLC) David Goodhew–Facing Decline in TEC (the Episcopal Church)

[Jeremy] Bonner’s analysis shows how TEC has dramatically declined in recent years. There is a sense that the wider Anglican Communion has not awakened to how far and fast that decline has happened. In significant parts of the United States, TEC has ceased or will soon cease to have a meaningful presence. That said, those who write TEC off are overstating their case. Despite severe decline, it remains a substantial presence in parts of the nation, especially in some major cities.

Estimating the size of TEC’s decline and understanding its causes is complex. Suggesting remedies is beyond the scope of this short article. But a few things can be said.

First, churches need to face demographic realities. If, for example, a city’s or town’s ethnic make-up shifts, wise dioceses and congregations will adapt, not pretend everything is the same.

Second, denominations have to learn to value the local church theologically. If the local church is seen only as an adjunct to some higher good, often called the kingdom, it is not surprising that little effort is made to multiply such congregations or seek their growth. Seeing kingdom as different from, and better than, church is against the grain of the New Testament, in which local churches are integral to the kingdom. The things that we value are the things that tend to flourish. If we want to see growing local churches, we need a theology that values the local church more.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, TEC Data, TEC Departing Parishes