Category : Stewardship

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

(Bloomberg) The Church of England Takes on Climate Change—and Generates a 17 Percent Return

Over the Exxon board’s objections, almost two-thirds of shareholders voted for a proposal asking the company to provide a detailed report on how curbing climate change could affect its business. Leading the charge was the giant New York State Common Retirement Fund, which manages $192 billion and is a veteran activist. Its partner was a far smaller and lower-profile newcomer taking one of its first public stands in the U.S.: the Church of England.

Through a £7.9 billion ($10 billion) fund that finances the church’s mission activities, cathedral costs, and clergy pensions, the church has been quietly—and successfully—engaging with European companies in the energy and mining industries for the past few years. BP, BHP Billiton, and Royal Dutch Shell have all voluntarily adopted similar climate change steps to those sought at Exxon.

“We see ourselves as active, rather than activist,” says ­Edward Mason, head of responsible investment at Church Commissioners for England, as the fund is formally known. The Church of England, also known as the Anglican Church, is the state church of England. Christianity came to the country during Roman times, but the church split from Rome in the 16th century under King Henry VIII. Like many socially responsible investors, the church today prefers to engage collaboratively with companies rather than resort to a public brawl.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stewardship, Stock Market

LifeWay Research: 1 in 10 Churches Has Had Funds Stolen

Churches and other faith groups collect tens of billions of donations each year. Chances are some of the money goes missing.

About 1 in 10 Protestant churches has had someone embezzle funds, according to a new survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors from Nashville-based LifeWay Research.

That figure isn’t surprising, said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. Most churches rely on volunteers to handle their finances, he said.

Those volunteers are usually honest. But churches often lack systems to catch those who aren’t. As a result, he said, money that could have been used for ministry goes missing.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship

Phil Ashey takes an in depth dive into the recent TEC Bp Jon Bruno decision and what it tells us: Questions about the corruption of a diocese

The Hearing Panel stated unequivocally that prior review and approval of the sale of church property by the Standing Committee “is a crucial part of the fabric and polity of the Church.” (Report at 57). And yet the specific findings recited in the Hearing Panel’s Report show that the Standing Committee did little, if anything, to investigate the legal ownership of St. James, to review any legal documentation for the sale, and to refer to its own minutes in doing so. If they had, they presumably would have discovered that the only properties transferred to Corp Sole were back in 2009, and did not include St. James. They would have discovered that a purported May 2014 quitclaim deed by the Diocese to Corp Sole was without any review by the Standing Committee. If they had followed Bishop Glasspool’s advice and consulted with another diocesan chancellor, they might have intervened and halted the sale. Nevertheless, they did not

These detailed findings in the Hearing Panel’s Report are troubling in the extreme, to say the least. Viewed as a whole, the findings strongly suggest that corruption and greed were systemic. They were not limited to Bishop Bruno himself. Key staff and leaders at the highest levels appear from the Report to have been complicit. The Standing Committee appears to have failed to properly review, let alone check, these problematic actions. Both laity and clergy close to the bishop were apparently involved.

How could the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles end up with so many people in positions of leadership who had lost their moral compass?

If the statement of the Diocesan spokesman and its webpage are any signs, the absence of conviction, humility and repentance is not promising.

Read it all.

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

(CT Pastors) Small Church, Big Ministry God is using 124 people from this historic congregation to feed 145,000

“When your income is not that great, and prices are going up, how are people supposed to survive?”

For the last year, Charles Johnson and his family of five have been caught in an insecure no man’s land. Their family’s low income can’t always stretch to cover everything they need, yet they don’t qualify for public assistance in Georgia. So in his words, “We’re trying to look for any kind of help we can get.”

That’s where Hillside Presbyterian Church comes through. Whoever said small churches can’t do big things?

This small church in the Atlanta area has found its calling in Decatur, Georgia, by meeting tangible needs of people in the community. Over the last 20 years, this church of 124 members—80 active members, most of them between the ages of 50 and 90—has distributed around 800,000 pounds of food to nearly 145,000 people. Hillside has become well known for its food pantry, and people from outside its service area—often sent by other churches—come looking for help.

Read it all.

Posted in Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Parish Ministry, Poverty, Stewardship

(AI) A Hull parish stops its payments to diocese in response to General Synod

To his Grace, the Archbishop of York,

The PCC considers the response by the Archbishop of York to Mrs Andrea Williams’ amendment of Item 48 at the July General Synod of the Church of England, 2017, in terms of what was said, to indicate theological ineptitude at best and error at worst; and how it was said, as intemperate and ungodly. As such there was a failure to meet the standard required of a bishop according to Titus 1:7-9. Neither did the Archbishop display his canonical duty to ‘with all faithful diligence…. banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s Word; and both privately and openly to call upon and encourage others to the same’ in relation to Item 58.

Accordingly, this PCC no longer has any confidence in the Archbishop of York in ‘all things spiritual’ and requests that he expresses repentance for what took place.

The PCC looks forward to receiving an indication of repentance from the Archbishop and will offer prayers to that end.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Living Church article on the panel draft decision about Bishop Jon Bruno

In a scathing rebuke of the Bishop of Los Angeles, a disciplinary hearing panel of the Episcopal Church has voted to suspend the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno from ministry for three years….

According to Title IV 14.5 of the church’s canons, the presiding bishop is charged with reviewing this sentence and then pronouncing it or lessening it.

In a 4-1 decision, the panel wrote that “the scope and severity of Bishop Bruno’s misconduct … have unjustly and unnecessarily disturbed the ministry of a mission of the Church. St. James the Great is a casualty of Bishop Bruno’s misconduct.”

Neva Rae Fox, public affairs officer for the Episcopal Church, said late that evening, “This document is marked as a draft, and that is what it is. We will offer no comments as the Hearing Panel’s work continues.”

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles

(OC Register) Episcopal panel recommends suspension for L.A. Bishop J. Jon Bruno, return of Newport Beach church to locked-out congregants

A panel of officials from the national Episcopal Church issued its recommendation on misconduct charges against J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, on Friday, July 21, nearly ending a two-year battle during which he tried to sell the St. James the Great church in Newport Beach and displaced its congregants.

Panel members voted 4-1 to suspend Bruno for three years, restore the congregation and halt efforts to sell the 40,000-square-foot building and surrounding property at 3209 Via Lido, which includes a rose garden where the ashes of 12 former parishioners are buried.

The decision comes after panel members presided over a three-day disciplinary hearing in March.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles

Growing Anglican parish buys 133-year-old Waco. Texas, Lutheran church

Father Lee Nelson, pastor of Christ Church Waco, said his growing church is looking forward to “putting down some roots” at the new location after meeting for the past eight years at the Junior League House, the Clifton House, the Dr Pepper Museum, the chapel at First Baptist Church and other locations.

Nelson said the church currently has more than 200 members, adding that the congregation has grown 70 percent annually for the last three years.

Christ Church likely will spend more than $200,000 on the former First Lutheran building before the congregation moves in, including asbestos abatement, major heating and air-conditioning repairs, new flooring, ceilings and light fixtures and painting, Nelson said.

He said the church is fortunate that included in the deal were the sanctuary’s beautiful stained-glass windows, which Bain said have been appraised at $500,000.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Lutheran, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

A Look Back to The Episcopal Church in 2007: (ENS) the Presiding Bishop’s Chancellor, David Booth Beers, “predicted another year or so of lawsuits”

Read it all. Followers of this blog should be well aware that there is not one but two active lawsuits by the Episcopal Church against the Diocese of South Carolina currently ongoing at the present time–KSH.

Posted in Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts

(LA Times) TEC Bp of Los Angeles loses appeal of order not to sell Newport church

A disciplinary board for the Episcopal Church has upheld a lower panel’s order blocking the bishop of the Los Angeles diocese from completing a planned sale of the St. James the Great church property in Newport Beach.

The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno appealed to the Disciplinary Board for Bishops after an ecclesiastical hearing panel warned him in June not to sell the property before that panel reaches a decision on misconduct allegations related to a separate attempt to sell the church site in 2015.

The Most Rev. Michael Curry, the top bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, issued a similar sale-blocking order late last month.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Stewardship, TEC Bishops

(LA Times) National Episcopal leader bars L.A. bishop from selling Newport church

The top bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States has barred the bishop of the Los Angeles diocese from completing a planned sale of the St. James the Great Episcopal Church property in Newport Beach.

The pending sale, which was set to close July 3, came to light this month as Bishop J. Jon Bruno of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles was already under scrutiny by an ecclesiastical panel considering whether he committed misconduct in a separate attempt to sell the site in 2015.

The Most Rev. Michael Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, issued an order Wednesday banning Bruno from closing the latest planned sale until the misconduct matter is resolved.

Read it all.

Posted in Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Bishops

A S Haley–TEC Bishop Jon Bruno Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The litigation grew nastier, as narrated in this post. Matters even began to sour between Bishop Bruno and his own Diocese’s convention. Eventually, the original purchaser pulled out of the contract (because of the litigation, no doubt), +Bruno rejected all attempts at mediation / conciliation with the parishioners, and the Disciplinary Board’s review panel ordered the matter (over +Bruno’s hypocritical objections) to a full-blown, public hearing, which took place over three days at the end of March of this year. (You can read the day-by-day accounts of the proceedings at this site, if you choose. With my departure from ECUSA, I have pretty much stopped chronicling all the desultory conduct that goes on in the name of that body.)

In the civil courts, meanwhile, +Bruno achieved mixed results. The parishioners’ lawsuit to stop him from selling the property was dismissed, but his suit against the original donor has not fared well. On February 24, the Court of Appeal reversed a decision by the trial court which had denied the donor’s motion to strike +Bruno’s “slander of title” claim against it. The decision ordered the trial court to strike the claim from the lawsuit and award the donor its attorneys’ fees and costs incurred as a result of its filing. The fees and costs will have to be paid out of the Bishop’s own corporation sole, since it was the plaintiff against the donor. In another ruling, the trial court found the original donor had failed to record a renewal of its deed restriction as required by law to keep it enforceable. That freed +Bruno to sell the property, but by then (as we now learn — see below) the original buyer had backed out.

After the disciplinary hearing concluded on March 30, the hearing panel took the matter under submission for briefing before issuing its decision. The Bishop’s attorneys asked the panel to dismiss all charges against him, while the attorney prosecuting the charges asked the panel to find him guilty and suspend him from active ministry for up to a year while fashioning a remedy that would foster reconciliation — for which +Bruno to date has shown no interest whatsoever.

On June 14, before the panel had issued any decision, one of the complainants submitted colorable evidence that +Bruno had entered into a new contract to sell St. James while the disciplinary proceedings were going on. The panel asked +Bruno’s attorneys to disclose to it whether he was under contract with a buyer or not, and when they gave evasive replies, the panel issued a sanctions order on June 17 directing +Bruno not to sell or contract to sell the property until “further order of the Hearing Panel.”

Now comes word from Anglican news sources that on June 22, +Bruno’s attorney sent an email to the panel in which she disclosed that Bishop Bruno had signed a contract to sell the property to another developer — just three weeks after the disciplinary hearing (the purchaser signed the contract a month later).

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, TEC Bishops

(Tel.) Fundenhall Church can keep comfortable chairs even though heritage groups say they are ‘cheap’ and ‘dumpy

A church has won a battle to keep its new comfortable chairs despite the objections of heritage groups who say they are “cheap” and “dumpy”.

St Nicholas Church in Fundenhall illegally spent £3,053 on 50 “crude” chairs which are made of brown faux leather with brushed gold-coloured frames, last September.

The church council had been allowed to remove the church’s pews as part of a much-needed refurbishment, but did not have permission to buy the chairs.

Now it has been allowed to keep them for ten years after a church court found that it would take too long to fundraise for new ones.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Stewardship

(Gafcon) Stories of sacrifice from the USA – How God sustained two faithful churches through tough times

Indeed, in an almost unbelievable twist, the diocese sold the property for a third of the price Good Shepherd had offered to a local Muslim Group! The building, now no longer a place of faithful gospel witness, stands as an ‘Islamic Awareness Centre.’ Tragically, the diocese preferred to sell to an organisation spreading the message of Islam than to a church who had for years preached Jesus and the true biblical gospel.

And so, the Kennedys (who lived in the rectory) were now homeless and the congregation had nowhere to meet. Game over, right?

Wrong! Following their untimely eviction, the congregation was provided with temporary space to worship by a local Baptist Church. And then, in a stunning example of God’s providence, they were later offered a permanent building that had been vacated in a Catholic parish merger. And so, it was settled; 360 Conklin Avenue would become the new home of the Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd.

Read it all.

Posted in Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Departing Parishes, Theology