Category : 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

A S Haley–Faults in the South Carolina Supreme Court Decision Laid Bare (II)

Rehearing is required, flat out, because respondents’ due process rights to a fair and impartial tribunal were grossly violated. But rehearing would be required in any event because the bias injected into the proceedings by Justice Hearn tainted not only her conclusions, but those of Acting Justice Pleicones and of Chief Justice Beatty, as well.

In a nutshell, the fault exposed by the petition for rehearing is this: there is no 3-2 majority, or any majority, of the Court that is united in favor of any reasoning for any result that is dispositive of the entire case. When a court has failed properly to dispose of the whole case before it, it must grant a rehearing to clarify what it meant by its original decision.

Let me restate that observation, in terms a lay person can understand. To have an effective decision from a court of law in which a panel of multiple justices participates, there has to be a majority of the participating justices who each concur in (agree with) the result that necessarily follows from that concurrence. And in this South Carolina decision, an analysis of the separate opinions shows conclusively that while three justices out of five may concur in one given result, they differ fatally in what process gets them to that result.

With no clear majority agreeing on the approach the Court (through its supposed majority) is laying out, the picture is the same as if three bettors at roulette won money when the ball landed on Red 34, because the first bet on “red”, the second bet on “even”, and the third bet on “34”. There is consensus only in result, but not in how you get there. And basic due process requires courts to explicate their reasoning for reaching a given result.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, - Anglican: Analysis, Church History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

A S Haley–Faults in the South Carolina Supreme Court Decision Laid Bare (I)

In a demonstration that tops all that came before, the motion makes its most convincing argument for Justice Hearn’s disqualification at pp. 11-12. ECUSA itself has for a long time declared in its national canons that as an unincorporated association of dioceses, its members are individuals who have been baptized in the Church (Canon I.17.1 [a], cited in n. 1 on p. 11). Justice Hearn fits that description, so ECUSA itself regards her as one of its own members.

Likewise, ECSC stated in discovery that “its members are persons” (ibid.), and so Justice Hearn, who belongs to a parish that recognizes the authority of ECSC and its Provisional Bishop, is a member of that body as well.

But the kicker is that under South Carolina law, all members of unincorporated associations are deemed to be parties to an action in the name of the association — and both ECUSA and ECSC are unincorporated associations. Ergo, Justice Hearn is a party defendant, and could be found personally liable if ECSC ends up with a money judgment against it and no means to pay it. As a party defendant, she has no right to sit in judgment of her own case (just as she has no inherent right to rule on her own disqualification by participating in deciding the motion). See the motion at pp. 11-12, and 24.)

Two Experts in Legal Ethics State that Justice Hearn Should Have Recused Herself

It is no answer to all of the foregoing to say that it was the responsibility of Bishop Lawrence’s attorneys to have requested Justice Hearn to withdraw from participation in the case. The South Carolina Judicial Canons required her to make a full disclosure on the record of all of the relevant facts before proceeding at all. Not only that, once she made such a disclosure, the Canons forbid parties from waiving disqualification on grounds of personal involvement, so that she would have had to step down once she revealed the extent of her and her husband’s personal involvement (see motion, pp. 13-19).

In further support of their motion, Bishop Lawrence’s attorneys submitted the affidavits of two recognized experts in the field of legal ethics.

Read it all.

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

Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary, Writes the Diocese of South Carolina about the Motions Filed with the SC Supreme Court

September 1, 2017

Dear Friends,

Today the Diocese filed two motions with the South Carolina Supreme Court;

  • A Motion to Recuse, addressing the participation of Justice Kaye Hearn, and
  • A Motion for Rehearing, asking the court to reconsider multiple important issues in the current ruling.

The respective motions and the expert opinions can be found here:


The press release filed today is available here.

We continue to believe what we have asserted from the beginning. With the freedom of association comes the freedom of disassociation. In the pursuit of the constitutionally protected right to the free exercise of our religious beliefs we disassociated from the Episcopal Church. It should not be the case that this protected right causes the loss of our property when it would not do so if we were not a religious organization.

It is incomprehensible that a parish like St. Philip’s in Charleston, that was worshipping here 100 years before TEC even existed, can have that place of worship taken from them and given to an unincorporated New York association who contributed nothing to its building or preservation.  This is a principle worth fighting for.

In Christ’s service,

 

–The Rev. Jim Lewis is Caon to the Ordinary, Diocese of South Carolina

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

Diocese of South Carolina and 29 Parish Churches File Motion for Rehearing in State Supreme Court

Citing significant departures from both state and federal precedents, the Diocese of South Carolina and 29 parish churches today filed a motion for rehearing in the South Carolina Supreme Court regarding its recent ruling in Appellate Case No. 2015-000622.  In 2012, the Diocese of South Carolina, along with 50 of its congregations voted to disassociate from The Episcopal Church.  In a complicated and sharply divided ruling consisting of five separate opinions, the S.C. Supreme Court ruled on August 2 this year that parishes which had “acceded” to the national church’s ‘Dennis canon’ are subject to a trust interest in their property by The Episcopal Church (TEC).  Only eight congregations were judged to have full rights to retain their property.

In a decision that partly reversed the February 2015 Circuit Court ruling of Judge Diane Goodstein, the Supreme Court significantly changed court precedents in multiple areas and divested the property rights of at least 28 congregations and over 20,000 church members.

Grounds for Rehearing

While there are multiple legal issues in the ruling that merit rehearing, the most crucial are possibly the constitutional ones controlling cases of religious property.  As stated in the conclusion to the petition: “The majority has fashioned a neutral principles standard for religious organizations under South Carolina property, trust and corporate law that admittedly would not be applied to secular organizations. It then applied it to religious organizations today in a fashion it did not do 8 years ago involving the same issues between the Plaintiff Diocese, The Episcopal Church and a parish church. It does so when no appellant asked the trial court, either during trial or post trial, to apply such a standard. As a result, the majority would transfer the real and personal property of South Carolina religious organizations, many of whom preexisted The Episcopal Church and the United States, to a New York religious organization. This establishment of one religion over another impacts the choices these South Carolina religious organizations (and those associated with them) made in the free exercise of their religion.  They chose to disassociate, exercising their right of association under the United States and South Carolina Constitutions which this Court has recognized.  Yet, according to the majority, that constitutionally protected decision, requires a massive transfer of centuries old real and personal property when it would not be required for a secular South Carolina organization.”

The petition concluded: “These are serious issues for Respondents, Appellants and for all religious organizations in South Carolina. This Court should grant a rehearing.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Primary Source, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

A Summary of recent posts on the August 2 South Carolina Supreme Court Decision involving “five different, strongly-held opinions”

Careful blog readers should make sure there have read and understood them all. I have been asked why I have not linked to secular media reports or other stories, and the answer is I would be happy to if they were accurate but they have not been–KSH.

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

Diocese of SC Statement on the recent South Carolina Supreme Court Ruling.

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

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

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

Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina Calls for a Day of Prayer+Fasting on August 30.

Diocese of South Carolina and 29 Parish Churches File Motion for Rehearing in State Supreme Court.

A S Haley–Faults in the South Carolina Supreme Court Decision Laid Bare (I).

A S Haley–Faults in the South Carolina Supreme Court Decision Laid Bare (II).

Jeff Miller–SC Supreme Court ruling against Diocese of South Carolina threatens religious freedom.

(The State) How a South Carolina Supreme Court decision threatens religious freedom.

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

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

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology, Uncategorized

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