Category : Episcopal Church (TEC)

Amicus Brief Filed By Religious Leaders in Support of the Diocese of South Carolina

Statement by the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis:   

“Friday’s brief illustrates well two essential problems with the current ruling of the Court. Because there is no legal consensus among the Justices, the ruling as it stands is, as stated in the brief, a “recipe for endless litigation.” As a consequence of misapplying neutral principles of law as intended by the U.S. Supreme Court, it violates rather than preserves, the First Amendment protections of religious liberty they are meant to ensure. Resolving these significant issues merits rehearing by the Court.”

The Diocese also provided the following list of additional details from Friday’s filed Brief:

  • “For over 300 years, since before the Founding of this Nation, members of the Respondent’s congregations contributed land, money and labor in reliance on settled South Carolina law – only to have this Court divest them of their property based on a canon unilaterally adopted centuries later by a national denomination. This outcome was possible only because the Court fashioned a new rule of law solely for this case, and this denomination. But that rule of law departs from this court’s precedents and imposes special burdens on religious associations relative to secular ones. Those burdens violate the First Amendment.” [p. 1]
  • Amici believe strongly that churches freely associated with each other can also freely choose to disassociate. And the exercise of that freedom should not come at the price of the tools for ministry established by local sacrifice… ” [p. 4]
  • “… the Court’s fractured decision leaves church property law in this state in utter confusion…. This confusion is a recipe for endless litigation.” [p. 2]
  • The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Jones vs. Wolf established the use of neutral principles of law to settle church property disputes… “A court applying a neutral principles approach can only apply state law as it normally would; any other approach would be the opposite of neutral principles.” [p. 9]
  • As the Court has done in this case, “Giving legal effect to trusts declared in denominational documents is not even mere deference. It is giving denominations power to rewrite civil property law.” [p. 14] and that is in violation of the free exercise of religion.
  • “If that conception of “neutral principles” is correct, then no church can join a denomination without jeopardizing its property.” [p. 16]
  • “Any denomination could pass a retroactive internal rule that would appropriate congregants gifts and church property.” … “Without secure property ownership, many rounds of future litigation are inevitable.” [p. 18]
  • “If ownership no longer turns on publicly recorded deeds and trust instruments, but on the meaning of internal church rules and relationships, no one can know for certain who owns church property.” [p. 18]
  • “Moreover, the Court’s ruling could eviscerate otherwise clear titles” and harm “the rights of insurers and lenders” all with “not a single justice agreeing as to exactly how State title and property law apply in this dispute.” [p. 19]

Read it all and please take the time to read the full brief.

Posted in * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Samuel Seabury

Eternal God, who didst bless thy servant Samuel Seabury with the gift of perseverance to renew the Anglican inheritance in North America; Grant that, joined together in unity with our bishops and nourished by thy holy Sacraments, we may proclaim the Gospel of redemption with apostolic zeal; through Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Spirituality/Prayer, TEC Bishops

(Tehachapi News) Life in St. Jude’s Anglican Church after the Split with the The Episcopal Church

In the 1970s, St. Jude’s in Tehachapi formed after a small group of Episcopalians began meeting in members’ homes within Tehachapi. Eventually, and with the assignment of a full-time priest for the Diocese of San Joaquin in 1977, they began worshiping out of a mortuary on the corner of Curry and C streets. Sunday school was held in the old Spencer Lees’ clothing factory where the Tehachapi Police Department is now located.

Eventually, the congregation desired their own church, so Spencer Lees donated 1.2 acres of land on the corner of Curry and Pinon streets, and the congregation raised the needed funds for the new building. The design, general contracting and much of the construction was accomplished by church members, many of whom are still members. The building was completed around 1985, and services commenced immediately at the new church.

“Our congregation built that church,” said Father Wes Clare, a priest of 20 years who has provided spiritual guidance for St. Jude’s in Tehachapi for 15 years.

According to Father Clare, Tehachapi is home to only five remaining Episcopalians. With no Episcopalian congregation in town to use the abandoned church, the Episcopalian Diocese decided to dispose of the asset.

Said Smith, “A few weeks ago, I noticed there was a ‘for sale’ sign up, so I called up the realtor and asked them how much, and they said it was $415,000.”

Read it all.

Posted in Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Departing Parishes

(LA Times) St. James and TEC Diocese of Los Angeles leaders try to forge ahead

Local Episcopal Church leaders acknowledged the continual, bruising conflict that has surrounded the St. James the Great church in Newport Beach for the last two and a half years of off-and-on sale attempts, extending a promise to transparently work together with the ascension of a new bishop and the impending reopening of the long-shuttered sanctuary.

In a joint statement released Thursday titled “Making All Things New,” John Taylor, the successor to retiring Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno, Rachel Nyback, president of the diocesan Standing Committee governing body, and Rev. Canon Cindy Evans Voorhees, the priest who has continued to lead the St. James the Great flock, acknowledged the pain that has come from the sales attempts and related closure.

“The church’s sudden closing hurt the people of St. James,” they wrote. “Their leaders countenanced hurtful statements and tactics. This cycle of hurt strained relationships in the diocese. We will end the cycle by sharing our narratives openly and honestly, using reconciliation in relationship to rediscover our unity and purpose as a diocesan family in Christ.”

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Parishes

(WBFO) In Buffalo, NY, Converting Episcopal Church of the Ascension into senior housing becomes confrontational

The fight over converting historic Ascension Church at Linwood Avenue and North Street into senior housing turned into something of a confrontation between Buffalo’s Preservation Board and its Planning Board during Monday’s Planning Board meeting.

The Episcopal Diocese and an affiliate want to convert the century-and-a-half-old church into 28 units of low-income senior housing, wading through regulations on three different levels of government and concern the rules for financing the project might change.

The project has been in the works for more than two years, as various approvals were sought and various design changes were made, shrinking the project and moving a new building.

Charles von Simson said it is still not worth building in his neighborhood and other residents agree.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Housing/Real Estate Market, TEC Parishes, Urban/City Life and Issues

Mediation Update–Both the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina+the new Episcopal Church Diocese in SC announce its recessed until early December

Both “sides” involved have stated the mediation with Senior U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Anderson Jr. has been recessed until December 4-5, 2017.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(Local Paper) Edward Gilbreth–Strong judicial disagreements fuel the South Carolina Anglican/Episcopal controversy

Another petition supporting the rehearing filed Sept. 25 by various churches and the Diocese, includes these arguments:

“The sole basis on which Appellants have argued, and the Court has so held, that St. Philips (as an example) should be divested of its property is that St. Philips Church, in 1987, acknowledged the purpose of the parish corporation as being ‘in accord with the Articles of Religion’ of the national church (or more precisely the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, according to the Articles of Restatement filed with the SC Secretary of State by St. Philips in 1987.)

“The Articles of Religion of the national church were established in 1801, one hundred and seventy-eight years prior to the Dennis Canon. The articles of Religion, similar to those for other Protestant Churches, contain nothing more than a summary of the religious doctrine, theology and beliefs of the national church and St. Philips Church. The Articles of Religion do not mention the constitution or any of the canons of the national church, let alone the Dennis Canon adopted 178 years after the establishment of the Articles of Religion.”

Interestingly, The Episcopal Church has never required subscription to the Articles, which now appear in a section called “Historical Documents” in the back of the Book of Common Prayer.

All this, along with the controversy surrounding Justice Hearn’s participation in the initial ruling due to her family involvement in a church with ties to the national church, makes for interesting consideration as the mediation for and possible rehearing of the Diocese’s case approaches.

Read it all.”>Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Local Paper Editorial–End South Carolina Anglican/Episcopal church dispute with mediation

The Diocese of South Carolina has called that…ruling into question because of state Supreme Court Justice Kaye Hearn’s involvement in the Episcopal Church. In fairness, the motion for a rehearing should be granted, and Justice Hearn should recuse herself. But the rehearing request has yet to be acted on.

The purpose of mediation beginning Monday is to determine how to implement the August decision as amicably as possible. Even so, it still offers an opportunity for the disaffected church groups to preclude further legal battles over the valuable and historic properties in question.

Neither the Diocese nor the Episcopal Church in South Carolina may ever bridge the spiritual and philosophical divides that caused their separation. Nor need they do so. Both groups are free to worship as they see fit — a principle enshrined in the Constitution.

But an agreement should be reached that lets the Diocese of South Carolina and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina part ways while remaining in the churches they have called home for so many generations.

Failure to do so would do further harm to the Christian spirit of unity and goodwill that ought to bring Lowcountry churches together rather than tear them apart. Reaching a mediated accord could avoid years of additional lawsuits and appeals and divisions among friends and neighbors.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(TLC) Bp. Sauls Files Defamation Claim against TEC in New York

Bishop Stacy Sauls, a top Episcopal Church administrator who was fired in April 2016 after a misconduct investigation exonerated him, is bringing his defamation claim against the church and 30 unnamed defendants to a new venue where experts say it belongs: New York City.

In response, the Episcopal Church is once again calling for his claims to be thrown out, as it did successfully when Sauls first brought them in Mobile, Alabama, earlier this year. Sauls is now appealing that ruling to the Alabama Supreme Court.

But in New York, the church is also challenging the merits of the case since the propriety of the venue is no longer in dispute.

In a 31-page memorandum filed Nov. 1, the church laid out for the first time its response to Sauls’s allegations. He claims a top-level, Machiavellian conspiracy at church headquarters in New York City ruined his reputation and successfully sabotaged his pursuit of new employment.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops

(Wash Po) Ryan Danker–Historic church should rethink Washington, Lee plaque removals

The plaques on the walls of Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, commemorate famous Americans who at one time called the Episcopal parish their own: George Washington and Robert E. Lee.

As a church historian, I believe the vestry’s recent decision to remove the memorials – as well as their forebears’ decision to put them up in the first place – disregards the true purpose of Christians’ commemoration of the dead.

From the very start of the Christian faith, believers have remembered the “great cloud of witnesses” who came before them. During the third century, the church in North Africa regularly commemorated early martyrs on the anniversary of their death – the origin of saints’ days.

Whether honored through holidays or monuments, the church still recognized the complexity of the human situation and never expected perfection from these early saints. Scripture and church history provided plenty of evidence of their shortcomings: Paul’s thorn in his flesh, Peter’s denial of Christ, Augustine’s lust, Thomas Aquinas’ borderline gluttony, Martin Luther’s anti-Semitic tendencies, John Calvin’s use of capital punishment, and John Wesley’s failed marriage.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Office of the President, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, TEC Parishes

(JE) Mark Tooley–What Christ Church’s decision to Remove George Washington’s Plaque really Tells us

Over the last 14 years the Episcopal Church has suffered a nationwide schism since electing an openly homosexual bishop. Some conservative congregations, including several in Northern Virginia, left the denomination to create the new Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). Another church Washington helped govern at the same time as Christ Church was The Falls Church, whose congregation joined ACNA. It lost its historic property in litigation to the Episcopal Church but continues to thrive and grow while meeting in a Catholic high school auditorium. It has even planted several successful new churches.

Christ Church remained in the Episcopal Church and has headed in a more liberal direction. One Christmas Eve sermon I heard got political, as I shared here. And in recent years the church has hosted a labyrinth, advertised by a large banner outside the church to passing commuters. This arguably New Agey fad is popular in some liberal Protestant churches, and I wrote about it here, noting that neither Washington nor Lee, if alive today, were likely to walk the labyrinth.

I mention the political sermon, the labyrinth and support for same-sex marriage because they could all be interpreted as unwelcoming signals to potential worshipers who don’t share Christ Church’s form of Episcopal liberalism. This kind of church invariably attracts a demographic that is nearly all middle and upper class, educated, socially liberal urban white people. Churches that stress their welcome-welcome-welcome message of inclusion over a firm orthodox theological message typically are, whether realizing it or not, actually welcoming some and discouraging others. In my visits to Christ Church I have noticed the well-dressed congregation is not very diverse. Removing the Washington and Lee plaques will not likely expand its demographic.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), History, Religion & Culture, TEC Parishes, Zimbabwe

The indefatigable former Bishop Chimes in (Again) on the Anglican/Episcopal mess in South Carolina

From there:

It has been publicly announced that the Diocese of South Carolina will enter into mediation with The Episcopal Church (TEC) at the Federal Courthouse in Columbia November 6-8. All parties to the ongoing litigation in both the State and Federal courts have agreed to participate. Many understandably hope this will bring an end to years of litigation. What is an appropriate expectation of the outcome?

A word often used by the TEC bishop and legal counsel is “reconciliation”. While an attractive word to readers and pleasing to the ear, it creates false expectations. To be reconciled implies, by definition, coming back together. It requires one or both parties to repent of their past actions and positions. That is unreasonable in this case.

Neither the Diocese of S.C. nor TEC has shown any evidence of changing course on any of the issues that created the initial divisions years ago. The Diocese has moved on, becoming formally affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and TEC has continued with its own theological agenda. The two are not compatible and are, if anything, further apart than ever.

And nothing in the behavior of TEC suggests their goals with departing parishes and Dioceses have changed over time. They continue to litigate in the Diocese of Quincy, Illinois despite having lost at the highest level in the state courts there. In the Diocese of San Joaquin, California, after spending $15 million to recover the parish properties, only 21 have been declared “viable” with the other 25 reported as going up for sale. In Bishop Adams former diocese, the people of Good Shepherd, Binghamton, NY were denied the purchase of their former church, seeing it sold for 1/3 their offer to become a mosque instead. The pattern of behavior is clear. For TEC, “reconciliation” has meant, “surrender, return the property and we’ll forgive you so you can rejoin us”. That is not a viable way forward.

So what is a reasonable expectation? What might be sought, and could work, is a “settlement” that ends all the litigation and enables both dioceses to go their separate ways in peace. The Diocese of S.C. granted that grace from the beginning in 2012 to parishes wishing to remain with TEC. The 80% who chose to disassociate from TEC should be allowed to do the same. The two opposing dioceses share a common history in S.C. and a heritage each has some claim to. Perhaps there is a way to honor that reality outside the “winner takes all” setting of the courtroom.

The resources of both groups would be preferably spent on the work of ministry to which each feels called. A workable settlement would allow each to go its way in peace to pursue their separate callings. If that is the goal of the mediation, by both parties, then much good could come of it. Failing that, expect the litigation to continue.

[The] Rt. Rev. Dr. C. Fitzsimons Allison is 12th Bishop (ret.) of the Diocese of South Carolina.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Pastoral Theology, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

(The Hill) George Washington’s Virginia church taking down his memorial

A church attended by George Washington will take down a memorial to the nation’s first president, a move church leaders say is intended to make the place of worship more welcoming.

The Washington Times reported Friday that Christ Church in Alexandria, Va., will remove memorials of Washington and former Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, which stand on either side of the church’s altar.

“The plaques in our sanctuary make some in our presence feel unsafe or unwelcome,” church leaders said. “Some visitors and guests who worship with us choose not to return because they receive an unintended message from the prominent presence of the plaques.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), History, Office of the President, Parish Ministry

A S Haley–The Episcopal Church’s Pyrrhic Victory in San Joaquin

What would you say of a trustee who spent $6.8 million of his trust fund’s money to recover just $1 million? Is that a healthy example of how a fiduciary should carry out his duties?

You probably already guessed before I tell you: the trustee in question is the Episcopal Church (USA); the trust fund is ECUSA’s endowment (some $366 million as of the end of 2016); the $6.8 million was loaned by ECUSA’s Executive Council to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin to keep it propped up during its ten-year lawsuit to “recover church properties”; and the $1 million is all that the Diocese of San Joaquin is now able to repay after having been handed more than 25 properties by the crazy California courts.

And actually, those figures are not even half of the San Joaquin iceberg. For as I carefully estimated from all sources and after reviewing ECUSA’s budget for the current triennium, ECUSA’s litigation machine has spent a good $40 million on just legal expenses in the first six triennia of this century (it began its career of suing parishes and dioceses in 2000). Because the two longest-lasting cases to date have been in California, it would be fair to allocate, say, $8 million of that total to the legal expenses of ECUSA in connection with the San Joaquin lawsuit (recounted in considerable detail in these pages, since yours truly was a participant)….

Read it all.

Posted in Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin

(AI) Bp Dan Martins out at Nashotah House

In his on-line diary, “Moving Diagonally” Bishop Martins wrote that the meeting of the corporation had been “fairly routine, save for the results of the election and reelection of members of the Board of Directors, of which I have been the chairman for five years.”

“I was not reelected. This is a shock–to me and to many others,” Bishop Martins wrote, adding: “There are complicated political forces in play, which is probably all I should say in this venue. It will take me a while to process this, but I can say that *part* of what I will feel is relieved of a great burden of time and energy that has gone into my board duties. But it is a shock.”

The acting dean of the seminary, Dr. Garwood Anderson, confirmed Bishop Martins had not been re-elected, and Canon Monk elected chairman in his place. Bishop Martins “remains a member of the Corporation – the larger body that supports the seminary, whence are drawn members for the Board of Directors, and which elects members to the Board of Directors,” wrote Dr. Anderson.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Seminary / Theological Education, TEC Bishops