Category : TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin

AS Haley-San Joaquin Appeal Rebuffed in Anglican/Episcopal Legal fracas by California Supreme Court

I have held off writing about the case of the Episcopal Church (USA)’s lawsuit against the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin as it was going through its final stages in the California courts. Today I can do so no longer, because today the California Supreme Court slammed the door shut by denying review of the abysmally egregious decision by the Fifth District Court of Appeal that I wrote about in this post, and this one. Naturally, it wrote no opinion justifying its refusal to grant review, but just issued a one-sentence order.

The result is that the Episcopal Church (USA)’s Machiavellian strategy of organizing a minority group that pretends to be the only diocese in the region after one of its former dioceses votes (by an overwhelming majority of laity and clergy) to realign with a more orthodox denomination has succeeded in California, much the same as it did in Pittsburgh. (But not — Deo gratias — in Illinois (Quincy), or [yet] in Fort Worth or in South Carolina [whose highest court has yet to issue its decision, ten months after the oral argument].) So the lawyers for 815 Second Avenue managed to hoodwink the highest judges in both Pennsylvania and California, but not everywhere.

In Pennsylvania, the appellate decisions were unpublished, so no lasting precedent was (thankfully) created….

Read it all and there is more there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin

[Fr Dale Matson] Contending For The Faith

..The most important thing for us is not what happens but how we respond to what happens. If our legal case is not heard, do we respond with righteous indignation or like our Lord from the cross? Forgive them for they know not what they do. And if they get the property, what will come of it? I sometimes smile when I think about what happened when the Philistines captured the Ark Of The Covenant. The property has been a blessing to us like the Ark was a blessing to Israel. Like the Ark, the property could become a curse to those who may capture it.

The author of the spirit of the ages is Satan who is the ruler of this world and this age. As a church our marching orders remain the same against the spirit of this age. Preach the Good News of Jesus Christ. “O God, from whom all good proceeds: Grant that by your inspiration we may think those things that are right, and by your merciful guiding may do them”. Lord, with Your inspiration, may we help others come into the light of Your Truth. Amen

Read it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin

A S Haley–TEC Loses (Again) in Quincy; San Joaquin Seeks Review

Now that the case will return to Adams County (assuming the Church litigators do not waste everyone’s time and money with a request for leave to appeal again to the Illinois Supreme Court), the stay against those actions will be lifted, and they can proceed. However, like the claim to the moneys in the bank, the claims in these suits will not be proceeding in a vacuum. Twice now the Illinois Court of Appeals has held that ECUSA had no enforceable trust interest in property held for parishes. The first of those decisions also dealt with the ineffectiveness of the Dennis Canon to create any such trust under Illinois law. It is likely, therefore, but not certain, that these last few isolated claims will fare the same fate as the others. (No one ever made anything by trying to predict what a particular court will decide to do.)

It is nonetheless deplorable that the new Presiding Bishop of ECUSA sees fit to allow his litigators to continue to waste the Church’s trust funds and pledge income on litigation for purely punitive purposes. One has to wonder, when it comes to going after realigning dioceses and parishes, just who is in charge of ECUSA after all these years. The irony is that a person who acts as his own attorney (or lets his attorney make all the decisions, which comes to the same thing) has, as those of us in the profession happily admit, “a fool for a client.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Quincy, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, Theology

[AS Haley] San Joaquin Diocese Files for Rehearing (I)

Yesterday the attorneys for the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin (of which your Curmudgeon is one) filed a petition with the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Fresno to grant a rehearing (and re-briefing) of the case which that Court decided on April 5, as reported in this earlier post. The link to the Court’s April 5 decision is here, and you may download the petition for rehearing here (a 45-page Adobe Acrobat file; nothing about this case is short and sweet).

Based on what the Court wrote in its decision, the petition recites a number of grounds for granting a rehearing (Petition, pp. 6-7). Let me deal with them one-by-one…

Read it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin

[A Haley] San Joaquin: Fifth District Holds that Minority Controls Corp Sole

..The key question in the California case is: which diocese — the Anglican one that withdrew from ECUSA in December 2007, or the newbie Episcopal one that started up on March 29, 2008 — has the legal control of the corporation sole under California law?

The decision by the Court of Appeal does not address this key question. Indeed, it barely mentions the Anglican Diocese, and does not acknowledge its separate existence under California law, let alone its connection to the corporation sole. (The Episcopal plaintiffs made a strategic decision not to name the Anglican Diocese in their lawsuit, and to make the corp sole a plaintiff as though they already controlled it, because they wanted to pretend that they were the “only” diocese in San Joaquin. It looks as though the strategy confused the civil courts — as it was doubtlessly intended to do.)

The case is not over yet — the Anglican parties can ask the Court for a rehearing based on the factual mistakes it made in its opinion, and if the Court refuses to grant that request, they can ask the California Supreme Court to review the decision, which the Court of Appeal ordered be published in the official reports. (The California Supreme Court tends not to review unpublished opinions.) If such a request is filed, the parties will not know the disposition of the case for another 60 to 120 days.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin

A Legal Update and Prayer Request from Bishop Eric Menees of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin

April 5th, 2016
Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin:

I am disappointed to announce that today the Fifth District Court of Appeal issued its written opinion affirming the judgment of the Fresno Superior Court. The appellate court summed up its opinion as follows: “Appelants (ADSJ) are correct that the trial court made certain errors. Nevertheless, applying neutral principles of law, the property belongs to respondents (TEC). Therefore, the judgment will be affirmed.” (Contents in parenthesis added for clarification)

I am going to the Lord in prayer, seeking legal advice from our chancellors, and soliciting opinions from clergy and lay leaders with regards to possible avenues forward. I will communicate with you as soon as practicable when our lawyers have finished analysing the decision and a path forward is settled on.

Whatever decisions are made, we should have some time, 90-120 days, for things to work through the system.

Continue to pray and remember that God is in control.

Almighty God, creator of heaven and earth, we come before you with open hearts and minds, seeking your wisdom and discernment. We pray you to grant us the peace that passes all understanding in the midst of uncertain times. Guide and direct our Bishop, clergy, and lay leaders as we seek a path forward that glorifies you and honors the men and women of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin past, present and future. This we ask in the mighty name of your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen

Bishop Eric Menees
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Eric Vawter Menees, Bishop

Read it all

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin

New Trinity Anglican Church nears after years 'in the wilderness'

After being without a sanctuary of their own for 2 1/2 years, Trinity Anglican Church members will break ground in December on a new $9 million, 27,000-square-foot complex in the southwest that includes worship space and a preschool.

The ceremony, planned for 1 p.m. Dec. 5 at the northwest corner of Buena Vista Road and Campus Park Drive, will feature a brief prayer service and dedication by Father Karl Dietze, rector at Trinity Anglican Church, and Bishop Eric Menees of Fresno.

It’s just the latest milestone for the congregation, which split from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in a microcosm of the nationwide philosophical schism of the mid-2000s that saw congregations in the valley and around the country leave the Episcopal Church and align themselves with the Anglican Church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Departing Parishes, Theology

A.S. Haley–Legal News from South Carolina and San Joaquin

Late yesterday the South Carolina Supreme Court issued a brief order transferring to itself the jurisdiction over the appeal filed by ECUSA and its rump group (ECSC) from the February 3, 2015 judgment and order against them entered by Circuit Court Judge Diane Goodstein. ECUSA and ECSC had themselves requested the transfer of the case in order to expedite a final decision in the case by the State’s highest court, without having to wait for any intermediate decision from the Court of Appeals.

The Court’s order declined further to expedite the case’s briefing schedule, set oral argument in the case for September 23, 2015, and then added: “No further extensions of time will be granted.” In view of the great number of parties to the case (Bishop Lawrence’s Episcopal Diocese and thirty-six of its member parishes are all respondents in the appeal, represented each by their own attorneys), the Court’s order relaxes some of the filing and service requirements, and urges the attorneys to compress the multi-volume record on appeal to just the documents necessary for meaningful review of the decision below.

This order will enable a written, final decision in the case to be rendered before the end of the current calendar year, and should be welcome news to those on both sides who want to put this litigation behind them, and get on with the real work of the Church.

Read it all and do follow the links.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Analysis, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A S Haley–The Episcopal Church and the Freedom of Association: a Showdown Is Coming

By my count, 40 of the 91 cases listed resulted in legal victories at the trial or appellate level for ECUSA; just two parish cases (All Saints and the Good Shepherd San Angelo case in Texas) went the other way, but three of the five cases involving Dioceses resulted in rulings against ECUSA. A fourth diocese case (San Joaquin) is on appeal; the fifth one (Pittsburgh) gave a victory to ECUSA on the basis of a very strained reading of the effect of a stipulation between the parties.

It is a legitimate query to ask why the results of the parish cases are so lopsided in favor of ECUSA, while the results of the diocese cases go just the other way.
For the parishes, most of the decisions turned upon explicit language in their own bylaws that made them “perpetually” subject to their Diocese and ECUSA. No such language exists in any of the Dioceses’ governing documents, however. For the cases involving them, the explanation lies in the well-established freedom of association, which is a fundamental right enshrined in the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. It holds that just as no one can be prevented by the government from joining a group, so also the group may not go to court to prevent a member from leaving it. “Freedom of association therefore plainly presupposes a freedom not to associate,” as the Supreme Court put it in Roberts v. U.S. Jaycees, 468 U.S. 609, 623, 104 S. Ct. 3244, 3252, 82 L. Ed. 2d 462 (1984).

The liberals in ECUSA have a very difficult time trying to understand why their Church should be subject to such a doctrine. For them, the union between a Diocese and General Convention is an ecclesiastical one, and as such, they claim, civil courts should be precluded (by that same First Amendment!) from examining or questioning it in any way.

A moment’s reflection will expose the flaws in that argument (not that ecclesiastical liberals ever pay any attention to logic or reason). ECUSA is, ecclesiastically speaking, a denomination — but that says nothing about what it is in the eyes of the law. In order to sue or be sued in a civil court, for instance, ECUSA has to be a juridical person, not just an ecclesiastical one.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Analysis, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Conflicts: Quincy, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

Anglican Unscripted 117 – features Allan Haley on the legal news in San Joaquin and South Carolina

Allan Haley is Kevin Kallson’s guest on the latest episode of Anglican Unscripted. Allan and Kevin discuss the legal situations in the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin and the Diocese of South Carolina.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Analysis, - Anglican: Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Polity & Canons

(Sac. Bee) Wellspring Anglican church to move into new home next year

Wellspring Anglican Church was birthed during the pangs of dissension between the theologically liberal Episcopal Church and its dioceses and parishes whose members held more conservative views. The first and only local congregation to voluntarily leave its former property at the beginning of the conflict, the Wellspring group walked away from a multimillion-dollar campus at St. Paul’s on Oakdale Road in 2009 and has spent the past five years meeting in rented space in downtown Modesto.

Parking has been tight, trains rumbling next to the sanctuary have disrupted worship services, and having people in the area who were vagrants or addicted to drugs posed challenges, but the congregation persevered.

Members finally will have their own home again. The congregation bought a building near the Modesto Junior College West Campus in 2013 and is remodeling the former food-testing laboratory space to make it suitable for a church. Work is expected to be complete in early 2015.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Departing Parishes, Theology

A.S. Haley: Questions for a California Judge Who Tentatively Ruled in TEC's Favor

7. Is there any body or office within the Episcopal Church with juridical authority over a member diocese and, if so, where is that juridical authority found in the governing documents?

8. Whether any bishop, including the Presiding Bishop, can act within a diocese outside of their own, without the consent of the Ecclesiastical Authority, i.e., the diocesan bishop or diocesan Standing Committee, and, if so, where in the governing documents such authority can be found?

9. Apart from General Convention, is there any body or office within the Episcopal Church with authority to enact legislation affecting all of its dioceses? And, if so, what is that body or office and where is its authority found in the governing documents?

10. When and how was the term “unqualified accession” added to Article V of the Episcopal Church Constitution, and what is the legal basis and evidence for concluding that the amendment applied to any diocese other than a “new Diocese” admitted after the effective date of that amendment to Article V [in 1982]?

Read it carefully and ponder it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Analysis, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Polity & Canons, Theology

A.S. Haley Offers Thoughts on recent TEC Court Decisions in Calif. and South Carolina

The litigation agenda of the Episcopal Church (USA) continues to garner victories in California (where a single federal district court was allowed to overturn a constitutional initiative passed by a clear majority of voters). At the same time, ECUSA’s agenda in South Carolina suffered another defeat. Nonetheless, neither decision resolves any of the questions at issue once and for all. Thus, neither side may yet claim “victory”, but only to have reached one more stage in the interminable torture of litigation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Analysis, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

St. John’s awarded to TEC Diocese of San Joaquin, new Anglican parish named

A property rights battle over the historic St. John’s Parish has ended years after a schism erupted within the Episcopal Church when part of the congregation opposed the church’s acceptance of gay pastors.

Superior Court Judge Roger Ross on April 4 awarded the parish in downtown Stockton to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

The group that had broken away from the diocese – most of them with a history of multiple past generations in the Episcopal Church – and became aligned with the more conservative Anglican Church of North America was ordered out of the building in the ruling.

Read it all.

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

A.S. Haley on the recent legal Rulings in the Episcopal Church's S.C. and Texas Legal Battles

In another recent but unpublished decision, the same [South Carolina] Court of Appeals disposed in one paragraph of an appeal by a Baptist Church Conference from a judgment finding it had no ownership or trust interest in the property of one of its churches (Haselden v. New Hope Church, No. 2012-213355, March 19, 2014) (h/t: commenter “Joe”). The per curiam opinion is self-explanatory:

The General Conference of the Free Will Baptist Church of the Pentecostal Faith (“the Conference”) appeals the circuit court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of New Hope Church (“New Hope”) on the grounds that New Hope owned the property on which it was situated free and clear of any legal interest claimed by the Conference. We affirm pursuant to Rule 220(b), SCACR, and the following authorities: Rule 56(c), SCRCP (stating that summary judgment is proper when no genuine issue exists as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law); Jones v. Wolf, 443 U.S. 595, 603 (1979) (stating that when resolving disputes over the ownership of church property, courts must rely “exclusively on objective, well-established concepts of trust and property law familiar to lawyers and judges.”); S.C. Code Ann. § 62-7401(a)(2) (Supp. 2013) (“To be valid, a trust of real property, created by transfer in trust or by declaration of trust, must be proved by some writing signed by the party creating the trust.”); All Saints Parish Waccamaw v. Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of S.C., 385 S.C. 428, 449, 685 S.E.2d 163, 174 (2009) (“It is an axiomatic principle of law that a person or entity must hold title to property in order to declare that it is held in trust for the benefit of another or transfer legal title to one person for the benefit of another.”).

AFFIRMED.

Since it is unpublished, the opinion has no precedential value (i.e., it cannot be cited to any other South Carolina court), but its summary disposition is still a strong indicator of the way the wind blows in South Carolina. The Court found applicable Jones v. Wolf’s holding that state courts may apply traditional concepts of trust and property law in resolving church property cases; a South Carolina statute setting out the legal requirements for a valid trust in the State; and the Supreme Court’s opinion in the All Saints Waccamaw case, which ruled against a similar argument made by ECUSA and the then-EDSC. Taken together, those three authorities are all a court needs to cite in order to find a Dennis-Canon type of claim invalid and of no consequence under South Carolina law.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, Theology