Category : TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(CM) Myron Harrington Chimes in on the Anglican/Episcopal Dispute and the Supreme Court in South Carolina

That [SC Supreme Court] decision has been articulated in past editions of this paper so I will not go into the details. Unfathomable and unimaginable, however, is how that decision came about. A travesty of justice has occurred! Judicial integrity was not broken; it was fractured — perhaps beyond — repair by the actions of one justice. We now have a Supreme Court whose integrity, as a whole, must be questioned.

I could accept this decision if it had been properly adjudicated by our Supreme Court with no bias, as they are sworn to do. However, this was not the case, as one of the justices failed to recuse herself because of her deep affiliation and vested interest with one side, to include membership in a body that’s avowed mission has been to destroy the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and defrock its bishop. The other sitting justices, if they knew of her ties to The Episcopal Church, should have taken immediate action to remove her. And if not, when they discovered her egregious breach of trust and confidence, they should have acted in good faith to dismiss her opinion or call for a rehearing with justices with no ties to the case.

I am a proud Citadel graduate, a retired Marine Corps Officer, a veteran of Vietnam and Beirut. My life has been about service to my God, country, family and others. Duty, Honor, Respect and Integrity have been my guiding principles.

To see our state’s most respected court have such an obvious breach of the values I stand for and fought for is troubling — not only for the case with which I’m concerned but for their future as the last word in justice and integrity.

Read it all.

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

Diocese of South Carolina Rebuts Amici Brief Defending State Supreme Court Justice Hearn

The Code of Judicial Conduct still requires recusal.
 
COLUMBIA, S.C. (October 13, 2017) – Today the Diocese of South Carolina (Diocese) filed our Response, at the Court’s request, to the Amici brief submitted on behalf of Justice Kaye Hearn regarding her actions on the South Carolina Supreme Court in its recent ruling in Appellate Case No. 2015-000622.  Her opinion there provided the deciding vote to deprive at least 29 parish churches of their right to properties some have held for over 300 years. Similar to the previous filings on the issue of Justice Hearn’s recusal, 26 attorneys signed this response as well.

Statement by the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis:   

“An essential issue before the State Supreme Court in this matter is whether the Judicial Code of Conduct means what it says. If it does, Justice Hearn should and must be recused from any further participation in this case. At a minimum, she should have no part in the Court’s decision whether to rehear this case. Further, if the Court is to defend the due process rights of the Diocese of South Carolina, we likewise believe it should vacate her existing opinion and grant a fresh hearing before a new bench of Justices that is untainted by her failure to recuse herself.”

Quotes from today’s filed Response:

+   Regarding Justice Hearn’s interest in the outcome, the amici brief “simply disregards the evidence provided with the Motion to Recuse.” [p. 4]

+   The Canons of the State Code of Judicial Conduct places “the determination regarding recusal and duty to disclose and recuse on the judge, not the parties.” [p. 8]

+   There are no grounds for Justices Hearn’s continued participation in this case. The amici brief itself makes “no argument that prospective recusal is unavailable and inappropriate in these circumstance.” [p. 10]

Conclusion: “Respectfully, Justice Hearn should recuse herself from hearing the Petition for Rehearing and the Court should vacate her opinion and appoint a Justice to hear the Petition. Failing that, the Court should vacate all of the opinions and order rehearing.” [p. 12]

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(Local Paper) Catherine Jones Chimes in on the Lowcountry South Carolina Anglican/Episcopal mess

From there:

I write to join with many Christians in South Carolina to express deep concern, shock, and sorrow regarding the recent state Supreme Court decision which attempts to strip titles of 28 churches in the Diocese of South Carolina and award them to the National Episcopal Church. The situation is tragic in terms of its presentation of the church to the world and poses at least three important questions:

1) How can three judges overturn a previous court ruling and 300 years of sacrificial stewardship?

Consider that a number of these parishes existed a century before there was a National Episcopal Church. Consider, too, that Justice Jean Toal is quoted in reference to “the leading opinion in this case,” calling it “nothing less than judicial sanction of the confiscation of church property.”

Also, a careful review will show that a number of the congregations involved did not accede to the Dennis Canon of the national church which concerned ownership.

2) How can such a decision stand in a nation whose Constitution and Bill of Rights guarantee freedom of religion?

Many of the first European settlers came to this country fleeing persecution and seeking a haven where they might have freedom of conscience and religion. They established churches.

For centuries, their descendants and other devoted parishioners have maintained these houses of worship despite fires, floods, earthquakes, wars, pestilence, poverty and hurricanes while also supporting home and world missions. The national church has not borne these expenses. Can a secular court give it ownership?

3) How can confiscation of places of Christian worship where the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, and articles of religion are upheld be consistent with the teachings of Christ? This is the most important question.

Theological aspects have frequently been neglected by much of the media, but bishops, clergy, and lay people have long been troubled by the national church organization’s apparent departure from basic principles of the faith.

Christians and Jews have been taught that they should love the Lord with all their being and their neighbors as themselves. For Christians, respecting and loving all does not mean forsaking belief in the unique divinity of Jesus Christ and the validity of Scripture. In fact, only by God’s grace can we love and forgive others.

We are taught, too, that there is a higher court and a supreme judge. We come before Him in great humility, acknowledging that we are all in need of mercy. Many of us are praying that God’s will be done, whatever that may be, and that we may be faithful.

Catherine O. Jones….

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

A World Radio segment–Religious liberty guidance, and the battle over South Carolina’s Episcopal churches

listen to it all. Included are interviews with the Rev. Jeff Miller, the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis and Elizabeth Hagood.

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

A S Haley Analyzes the Specious Defenses of Judge Kay Hearn’s need not to be Recused from the Anglican/Episcopal Case–Judges Who Are Indifferent to Injustice

Perhaps none of my readers in South Carolina will be surprised to learn that two former colleagues of South Carolina Supreme Court Justice Kaye Hearn, both retired judges who sat with her for many years on that State’s Court of Appeals, have appeared as “friends of the court” (amici curiae) in the Episcopal Church case on her behalf. That case (Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina et al. v. The Episcopal Church et al., No. 27731, August 2, 2017) has been the subject of four of my last seven postings here (report of decision, first critical observations re: bias of Justice Hearn, summary of grounds for her disqualification, and summary of grounds for granting a rehearing).

Now come the Hon. William T. Howell and the Hon. H. Samuel Stilwell, retired from the Court of Appeals, to argue to the Justices of the State Supreme Court that (a) the motion to disqualify Justice Hearn comes too late for it to be acted upon, and (b) in any event, no foul has occurred — there has been no violation of due process, because their former colleague did nothing wrong by deciding the case as she did. Oh, and did I mention that the signer (and presumably principal author) of the brief for the amici curiae is Matthew Richardson, who served in the past as a law clerk to Justice Hearn?

In support of (and attached to) this brief are two affidavits. The first is from Rebecca Lovelace, a witness who testified at trial on behalf of those claiming all the properties of the withdrawing parishes, who is a long-time personal friend and fellow parishioner of the Justice and her husband, George Hearn, and who was on the steering committee that organized the appellant Episcopal Church in South Carolina (ECSC). The second affidavit comes from Prof. Gregory B. Adams of the University of South Carolina School of Law, who does not, however, disclose that he himself is a member in good standing of the parish of Good Shepherd in Columbia — which, as a constituent of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina, has remained in ECUSA.

So one would expect to read a thoroughly impartial and unbiased series of legal documents, right? And if that is what you expect, then you might as well stop reading right now.

Earlier, I analogized Justice Hearn’s role in this case to that of a member of a golf club who sees nothing wrong in sitting as judge over a property dispute that results in the transfer to her own club of millions of dollars of real estate titled in the name of a competing golf club. If that analogy holds up, then I will liken the filing of this amicus brief to testimony offered in her support, in a proceeding against the judge to disqualify her for bias, by four members of the judge’s same club. And that is not also bias?

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, - Anglican: Analysis, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

The Rector of Saint Philips, Charleston, writes his Parish about the proposed mediation process in the South Carolina Anglican-Episcopal Dispute

Dear Friends,

From November 6-8, representatives of the Diocese of South Carolina and the Episcopal Church will be engaged in mediation under the direction of retired federal judge Joseph Anderson in Columbia. Both parties have agreed to mediate all issues currently pending before the State and Federal courts.

This is another step along the way toward resolution, but unlike arbitration, mediation is not binding on either party, and this is no guarantee of a positive outcome for the Diocese. It would be unwise to assume that this will necessarily resolve the litigation or guarantee that we will ultimately prevail. Instead, this is an opportunity for us to engage in fervent prayer. As Christians, we have the great privilege of laying our burdens, fears, and hopes before our Heavenly Father, and I encourage you to do so between now and the conclusion of the mediation on November 8.

Please remember Bishop Lawrence and our legal team as you pray, but also include Bishop Skip Adams and the legal representatives from TEC. It may be difficult to bless our adversaries and pray for those who appear to persecute us, but it is the Christian way. It is our hope that in ALL things Jesus Christ may be glorified, so pray especially that God’s will may be done on earth as it is in heaven, and that the ministry of St. Philip’s and the Diocese of South Carolina may continue unfettered and undeterred.

Faithfully Yours,

–The Rev, Jeff Miller is rector, Saint Philip’s, Charleston

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Church History, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology

(Local Paper) Laura Hipp Chimes in on the Lowcountry South Carolina Anglican/Episcopal mess

From there:

Being “given over to the courts”and being “thrown out of the synagogues” (our churches) are some of the “peculiar honors” St. Philip’s and St. Michael’s congregations and others are facing. Jesus said his disciples would face such trials before he returned.

Why did we break away from the Episcopal Church? We had already voted that we supported theologically our bishop’s stand for orthodox theology that has been held by the church for over 2,000 years, come what may with the prevailing winds of the culture.

When the House of Bishops voted overwhelmingly to redefine certain sacraments and to approve new liturgy accordingly, Bishop Mark Lawrence being present wrote his name down in a blank book of the House of Bishops as having a concern over the departure of the Episcopal Church from particular tenets of the faith. He was in communication with the presiding bishop, seeking to work with each other side by side.During what he thought was open communication with the presiding bishop, he was surprised to receive without forewarning a letter from the House of Bishops barring him from his duties as bishop. Because our diocese had already voted to support our bishop come what may, we were out of the Episcopal Church with his barring.

We only recently joined the Anglican Church in North America, comprised of similar congregations who have not buckled to doctrines once considered inconceivable by instructed man. The ghost of every dead and buried heresy does squeak and gibber as on our ghost tours of Charleston.

Certainly there are some “brethren” at Grace and the few other churches that remained with TEC who would not like to see us kicked out of our church properties over freedom of conscience and free exercise of religion, which are unalienable rights to all Americans. As the Charleston poet, Elizabeth Verner Hamilton said, “You’ve got to love your neighbor when you live this close together.”

What we are being found guilty of is remaining in the faith, remaining in the Bible Belt, even in the Holy City’s most historic churches, not breaking away from the “Faith of our Fathers, Holy Faith.”

“We will be true to you till death.”

Laura Wichmann Hipp…

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(Carolina Compass) Diocese of South Carolina Canon Jim Lewis– Justice for all?

The Diocese of South Carolina filed two motions on September 1 with the State Supreme Court, requesting a rehearing of our case and the recusal of the justice casting the deciding vote. Both are unusual steps and legal counsel for The Episcopal Church (TEC) has now responded to our motions. Because the issues at stake in this case have implications far beyond our Anglican family, they merit public comment.
Ownership of church property

The Diocese of South Carolina and its 54 congregations provide a place of worship for 23,000 faithful members across the Lowcountry of our state. Most of those congregations will lose their place of worship to TEC if the current ruling of the court stands as is. Many of those affected are colonial parishes like St. Philip’s and St. Michael’s whose existence predates TEC by more than 100 years. How can an unincorporated, New York association claim ownership here?

The majority in this case has made multiple legal assertions, among the most problematic of which is that a church body can lay claim to another’s property simply by saying it is so. The General Convention of TEC asserted such a unilateral claim in 1979. The problem with affirming such a claim in South Carolina is that it requires ignoring 300 years of clear legal precedent for how to establish an ownership interest in property.
The well-established legal principal is that the party granting anyone an interest in their property must do so in a clear, unambiguous written form. TEC failed to establish a trust interest in our property, of any sort, that can be recognized under existing S.C. legal precedent. To grant TEC such an interest now is to grant it favored status over the diocese and its parishes, establishing one church body over another. This is inconsistent with opinions of the U.S. Supreme Court that truly “neutral” principles of state law must be applied here as they would in any other case.

If you belong to any religious body, this ruling should concern you. It establishes the precedent that your property interests are not subject to the same rules as everyone else and you can be treated differently. In this particular case, it means any group you are associated with can make a legal claim to your property, simply because they say they have decided they have one. As Justice Kittredge noted in his dissenting opinion on this ruling, “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.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Diocese of South Carolina Announces Schedule for Proposed Mediation

COLUMBIA, S.C. (October 4, 2017) – Today the Diocese of South Carolina (Diocese) announced the schedule for mediation of the ongoing litigation with The Episcopal Church (TEC).

Statement by the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis:

“In a pre-mediation meeting today with Judge Joseph Anderson, it was determined that mediation would be conducted November 6-8 in Columbia, South Carolina.  Both State and Federal cases will be addressed by the mediation.  Confidentiality will be expected from all parties concerning these discussions.”

Read it all and please note all the linked material.

Posted in * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

The Diocese of South Carolina offers its Rebuttal of TEC Recusal and Rehearing Arguments

COLUMBIA, S.C. (September 25, 2017) – Today the Diocese of South Carolina (Diocese) filed our Replies, to the Return by The Episcopal Church (TEC) to our motions for recusal and rehearing in the South Carolina Supreme Court, regarding its recent ruling in Appellate Case No. 2015-000622.

Statement by the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis: 

“Today’s filings by the Diocese of South Carolina address the property law issues at the heart of this case. TEC failed to establish a trust interest in property, of any sort, that can be recognized under 300 years of existing South Carolina legal precedent.  And to claim such an interest now is to grant TEC favored status against the Diocese and its parishes, establishing one church body over another. This is inconsistent with opinions of the United States Supreme Court that truly “neutral” principles of state law must be applied as they would be in any other case.

Further, the timeliness of our request for recusal is not an issue before an appellate court.    The public confidence in and the credibility of the Court is!  The most effective way to assure both is the recusal of Justice Hearn and the vacating of her opinion.  A ruling free from conflict of interest is not a right that can be waived.”

Read it all as well as the cited documents and those listed below the article.

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

(DC) South Carolina Diocese Fights Back Against Episcopal Church

What appeared to be a dispute over property quickly implicated First Amendment rights and the Establishment Clause, when the South Carolina Supreme Court applied different standards and rules to the Episcopal Church for establishing a trust in property than those governing secular organizations.

The court, in applying different and more lenient standards to the Episcopal Church, appeared to favor one denomination over another, according to Alan Runyan, an attorney representing the diocese.

“According to this decision, the Supreme Court of South Carolina has created a special rule which operates here to the benefit of the Episcopal Church, a New York unincorporated association, and to the punishment of the parish churches in the diocese of South Carolina, many of whom predate the Episcopal Church and the United States of America,” Runyan told TheDCNF. “Because, in the exercise of their protected rights to their religious beliefs and to associate with those they choose to associate with, they successfully withdrew from the Episcopal Church, only to have applied to them a rule that would not apply to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.”

“And I say that because in South Carolina there are very precise ways for how you create a trust in property,” Runyan said. “In this case, the [South Carolina] Supreme Court majority expressly stated that, in fact, the Episcopal Church did not have to follow those rules. It didn’t have to follow the same rules that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce would have to follow to create a trust interest in the property of a local chamber of commerce that had joined it. And it is in that respect that this is an egregious violation of the right to freedom of religion and the right to associate with others who share your religious beliefs because, in the exercise of those same rights, a secular organization would not have been punished.”

Lewis told TheDCNF that the implications of the court’s ruling, especially as they pertain to the Establishment Clause, posed a grave threat to the religious community at large.

“Part of our argument is that’s a gross violation of the First Amendment, that the court here has established a different set of rules, a different precedent for how church property ownership is determined than what would be used for a secular nonprofit,” Lewis said. “That’s essentially establishment of religion. There are all kinds of problems with that that should be of concern certainly to anybody in the religious community.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Dr John Kerrison weighs in on the South Carolina Supreme Court Decision

From here:

Imagine you are in court getting divorced. You may be angry, relieved, or bereft of hope. Nevertheless, you expect fair treatment.

It happens that you are married to a judge.

Wait — the judge hearing your case is your spouse?

Now the judge has ruled in her own favor on their own, personal case. Is this justice? Who cares?

Think about that for a minute. This happened when S.C. State Supreme Court Justice Kaye Hearn ruled in a case despite her membership in the activist Episcopal Forum, and even though it directly involved her own church and disregarded established precedent of the S.C. Supreme Court.

When my wife and I formally complained in writing to the committee on Judicial Conduct on Sept. 28, 2015 about the conflict of interest in accordance with Canons 2 and 3 of the South Carolina Code of Judicial Ethics, we were told this was not a problem.

Now that she has ruled, it is a problem on display for all.

When you love God, you love justice. Blessed are those who are persecuted for his sake.

John B. Kerrison, M.D….

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

The Historic Diocese of South Carolina responds to the New TEC Diocese’s Motion on the Rehearing

Today The Episcopal Church (TEC) filed their reply, as requested by the Court, to the motions by the Diocese of South Carolina and 28 parish churches for recusal and rehearing in the South Carolina Supreme Court, regarding its recent ruling in Appellate Case No. 2015-000622.

On behalf of the Diocese of South Carolina, Rev. Canon Jim Lewis issued the following statement:

“Today’s filing by The Episcopal Church argues in essence, that the Diocese and its parishes waived their right to recusal, by not requesting it earlier, and that the Constitutional issues raised in their motions are negligible or mistaken.  The facts in this ruling, as it presently stands however, will not yield to such arguments.  Justice Hearn’s bias and conflict of interest is clear to any impartial observer.  The Constitutional issues for Freedom of Religion remain.  As our petition for rehearing stated: “These are serious issues for Respondents, Appellants and for all religious organizations in South Carolina. This Court should grant a rehearing.”  That continues to be our hope and Constitutional expectation from the Court.”


The Diocese is also providing the following background information and details:

•    In 2012, the Diocese of South Carolina, along with 50 of its congregations voted by an 80% margin to disassociate from The Episcopal Church.  In a complicated and sharply divided ruling consisting of five separate opinions, the S.C. Supreme Court appeared to rule on August 2 this year that parishes which had “acceded” to the national church are subject to a trust interest in their property by (TEC).

•    The Constitutional due process requirements of the 14th Amendment are clear.  No member of government should make decisions in matters in which they have a vested interest in the outcome.  The Justice in this ruling who provided the deciding vote is a member of a TEC parish, Diocese and its national church.  Under South Carolina law, that Justice is a legal party to this litigation.  The bodies to which this Justice belongs as a member would be the beneficiaries of a nearly $500 million property windfall if this ruling stands.  That is a massive conflict of interest.  And it is the responsibility of the judge, under the South Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct, to reveal that issue, not for a party in the case to challenge the propriety of their actions.

•    The expert affidavit testimonies of Nathan M. Crystal, Professor and Adjunct Professor of Ethics at the University of South Carolina and NYU Schools of Law and Lawrence J. Fox, Professor of Ethics at Yale University are unanimous in their conclusions.  The due process rights of the Diocese of South Carolina have been violated by these actions and the only appropriate response is for this Justice to be recused from further participation in this case and their opinion vacated.  As Lawrence Fox observes in his analysis, “This is not a close case.”  The violations of due process here are not subtle.  They are profound….

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

New Episcopal Church in South Carolina Diocese Files its Motion with the South Carolina Supreme Court on the Rehearing Request

You may find the 32 page pdf document here and the press release about it there.

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

(The State) Chuck Croft Chimes in–SC Supreme Court got it wrong on Episcopal Church dispute

I am outraged by the recent S.C. Supreme Court decision that strips the title of 28 churches in the Diocese of South Carolina and awards them to the national Episcopal Church. As acting Justice Jean Toal wrote in a dissent: “The First Amendment prohibits civil courts from resolving church property disputes on the basis of religious doctrine and practice.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina