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Anglican Unscripted Episode 101: July 7, 2014 July 7, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican.TV, Property Litigation, San Joaquin, South Carolina.
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Published on Jul 7, 2014

Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe. Please donate athttp://anglican.tv/donate

00:00 Australia Dumps Seal of Confession
05:52 Breaking News from South Carolina with AS Haley

Fort Worth court win: The Church of England Newspaper, May 2, 2014 June 2, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Fort Worth, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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The Texas courts have handed the Episcopal Church of the USA a loss in its dispute with the Diocese of Fort Worth, rejecting its plea for a rehearing of its case that the diocese should not be allowed to quit the national church and returning a $100,000 bond to the diocese and lifting the requirement that it provide a monthly accounting to the national church. On 24 April 2014 the 141st District Court in Fort Worth agreed to move forward with a new trial in the property suit brought five years ago by the national church against the diocese five years ago. The attorney for Fort Worth Scott Brister, a retired Texas Supreme Court judge, noted, “The judge ruled with us. It’s time to move forward and finish this suit.” The Rt. Rev.  Jack L. Iker, Bishop of Fort Worth commented that this as a “great encouragement to us, and we look forward to the day when all these legal proceedings are behind us and we can get on with the mission of the Church without the distraction of litigation.” In August the court will likely consider motions for summary judgment, which if granted, would resolve the dispute in favor of the diocese.

Supreme Court denies leave to appeal to St Aidan’s: The Church of England Newspaper, April 28, 2014 June 2, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Church of North America, Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation.
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The Supreme Court of Canada has denied leave to appeal requested by the congregation of St. Aidan’s Anglican Church in Windsor in its dispute with the Anglican Church of Canada’s Diocese of Huron over the ownership of the church’s building and assets. The decision lets stand a September 2013 decision b the Court of Appeal which upheld the ruling of the trial court granting ownership to the diocese and awarding the diocese C$100,000 in costs. Writing in the Anglican Network in Canada’s Newsletter, St Aidan’s rector the Rev.  Canon Tom Carman noted: “Yes, sadly the Supreme Court has decided not to grant us leave to appeal.  It’s not really surprising – not from a human standpoint – but we were hoping for a miracle.  Sometimes, though, God simply calls us to bear reproach for his name’s sake.  And we know that in the end our reward is with Him and in Him.  He will see us through this. Please do continue to keep us in your prayers.”

TEC appeal dismissed in SC: The Church of England Newspaper, April 4, 2014 April 11, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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A South Carolina appeals court has dismissed the appeal of the Episcopal Church and its allies in the Diocese of South Carolina, seeking review of a lower court order rejecting the national church’s demand that attorneys for the diocese turn over copies of their correspondence with the Bishop of South Carolina, the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence.  A spokesman for the diocese stated they were “grateful” the court had dismissed the appeal. “Their strategy of using legal motions to delay court decisions caused eight months to be wasted when they asked the federal court to override the state court injunction. As in that matter, the courts sided with the Diocese of South Carolina,” Canon Jim Lewis said. The ruling renders moot a motion filed by the diocese last month for the state Supreme Court to take jurisdiction over the appeal and return the dispute to the trial docket, which is scheduled to adjudicate the case in July.

Texas Supreme Court rejects TEC appeal: The Church of England Newspaper, March 28, 2014 April 11, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Fort Worth, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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The Texas Supreme Court has rejected the petition of the Episcopal Church in the Texas property cases, denying a rehearing of its dispute with the Diocese of Fort Worth and a parish in the Diocese of Northwest Texas that had seceded from its diocese.  The 21 March 2014 ruling sends the disputes back to the trial courts with instructions to adjudicate the case without reference to church canon law, looking only at civil property law. “We are greatly relieved by the finality of the Court’s ruling,” said the Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker, Bishop of Fort Worth. “TEC’s rehearing strategy has delayed us from moving on with this case by more than six months and at the cost of several thousands of dollars to oppose it. My advice is that TEC cut its losses and get on with their life without the Diocese of Fort Worth. Their litigation strategy has failed.”

Supreme Court declines cert in Falls Church appeal: The Church of England Newspaper, March 21, 2014 April 11, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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The United States Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeal from the Virginia Supreme Court over the case of The Falls Church v. the Episcopal Church of the USA, ending seven years of litigation over the ownership of $13 million of property and assets of what had been the Diocese of Virginia’s largest congregation. After relisting the case for its conference four times, the case failed to garner the support of five of the court’s nine justices to allow it to be adjudicated. The decision not to hear the case leaves the state of American Church property law unsettled with the state supreme courts divided over the interpretation of the US Supreme Court’s 1979 ruling in Jones v. Wolf, with some states granting priority to canon law while other states have granted priority to civil property law and have allowed congregations who own their property to quit the church and take their buildings with them.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 95: March 21, 2014 March 22, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

STORY INDEX
00:00 The Pope a year in review
10:00 Global South adopts Diocese of South Carolina
18:10 ABC Canterbury year in review with Peter Ould
29:11 Why would anybody bring charges against Saint Schori?
38:14 R.I.P Terry Fullam
45:57 Closing and Bloopers

Supreme Court intervention requested in the South Carolina case: The Church of England Newspaper, March 14, 2014 March 20, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has asked the state’s Supreme Court to take jurisdiction over its dispute with the Episcopal Church and its allies, arguing the national church has been pursuing a legal strategy designed solely to “interfere with the purpose of a speedy and inexpensive resolution.”

Lawyers for the diocese on 6 Feb 2014 filed the motion after the national church appealed a ruling by the trial court that rejected its request the diocese turn over all copies of correspondence between Bishop Mark Lawrence and his attorneys. American law forbids discovery of such correspondence as being protected by attorney-client privilege. The national church had argued that as they were the true diocese and thus the client, they could waive the privilege on Bishop Lawrence’s behalf.

Judge Diane Goodstein dismissed the request, prompting the appeal from the national church. Under South Carolina law the judge’s interlocutory order is not normally subject to appeal, however while the appeals court rules on the motion the proceedings in the trial court halt.

In its 24 Jan 2014 appeal of Judge Goodstein’s ruling the national church said it should have access to the correspondence between the bishop and the diocese’s attorneys. It argued “in this dispute where both sides claim to be the one and only continuing Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina after the split in late 2012, the Respondents’ exclusive possession and access to the prior legal positions of the then-unified Diocese gives the Respondents an unfair informational advantage. The fact that the same lawyer is now representing the Respondents in this litigation only compounds that unfairness.”

A diocesan spokesman said the Episcopal Church and its local allies, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina were “misusing the judicial system to delay resolution of this case.”

“Their strategy of appealing an interlocutory order is evidence of that intent. This is the same strategy that caused eight months to be wasted at the start of this case in federal court where they asked the federal court to override the state court injunction.”

The national church and its supporters also filed an appeal with the Federal Court on 5 Feb asking for a review of its January decision not to take jurisdiction over the dispute.

“We are disappointed in TEC’s appeal, but it does not surprise us,” said the Rev. Jim Lewis, Canon to the Ordinary of the Diocese. “The Episcopal Church has a long history of dragging out legal battles in hopes of draining the resources of parishes and dioceses it seeks to punish for leaving the denomination,” he said.

Since 2000 the national church has incurred approximately $34 million in prosecuting 83 lawsuits and defending itself in seven church property lawsuits.

Final arguments presented in San Joaquin case: The Church of England Newspaper, January 24, 2014 February 3, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, San Joaquin, The Episcopal Church.
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The legality of the secession of a California diocese from the from the Episcopal Church is in the hands of California Judge Donald Black following  the closing arguments presented to the Fresno Superior Court last week.

On 13 Jan 2014 the videotaped testimony of the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield who presided over the 2007 vote by the diocesan synod to quit the Episcopal Church was presented to the court.  Bishop Schofield, who died in October 2013, testified in the 2011 recording to his actions surrounding the diocesan vote to amend its amend its constitution and canons to replace language acceding to the Episcopal Church’s constitution with language that affiliated the Diocese with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

In 2008 the national church and loyalists members of the diocese brought suit against Bishop Schofield and various parishes, seeking to acquire control of all church properties. The breakaway diocese has argued that the diocese’s actions conformed to secular and ecclesiastical law.  Attorneys for the national church have argued that while the church’s constitution does not forbid the secession of dioceses, a ban on quitting is implied in the church’s governing documents.

Judge Black ordered the parties to file their final briefs on 24 Feb 2014, and their reply briefs on 17 March 2014. A decision is expected from the court by late summer.

Plea to hold bishop liable for secession from the Episcopal Church dismissed: The Church of England Newspaper, January 17, 2014 January 27, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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A South Carolina court has dismissed a motion brought by the national Episcopal Church to add in his personal capacity, Bishop Mark Lawrence, and three diocesan officials to the lawsuit over the Diocese of South Carolina’s properties.

On 30 December 2013, Judge Diane Goodstein dismissed the Episcopal Church in South Carolina’s argument that Bishop Lawrence and the other church leaders should be made personally responsible for the secession of the diocese from the national Church. The court found there was no reason to single out specific members of the clergy for a vote taken by the diocese as a whole.

The court also dismissed a request by the national Church for an order barring loyalists in the diocese from saying they were the true Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. The matter has been set down for trial in July.

Diocesan spokesman Canon Jim Lewis said: “We are grateful that Judge Goodstein dismissed this most recent effort to harass our people with time-consuming, expensive litigation,” adding the “the judge’s decision ends the legal fishing expedition and forces all to focus on the only issue that matters: whether our religious freedom is protected.”

Suit seeks to hold Bishop Lawrence personally liable for South Carolina’s secession: The Church of England Newspaper, December 13, 2013 December 18, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, the faction loyal to the national Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, has filed a motion in state court seeking to add Bishop Mark Lawrence and three other diocesan officials as parties in the lawsuit over the control of church properties. The new pleading seeks to hold the breakaway leaders personally liable for the secession of South Carolina from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

On 25 November 2013 loyalists filed a motion alleging 18 causes of action against the four, the bishop, his canon to the ordinary, the current and former president of the standing committee , “including breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, conversion, trademark infringement and civil conspiracy.”

Supporters of the diocese have dismissed the motion as a last minute ploy to salvage the national church’s case against the breakaway diocese.

Canon lawyer Allan Haley, who has represented breakaway dioceses of Quincy and San Joaqui in their litigation with the national church, stated the pleadings were ridiculous.

“It should be obvious to almost anyone that priests who break their ordination vows, or who violate the Constitution and Canons of the Church or of one of its Dioceses, cannot be sued in the civil courts for those actions,” he said, “that is the entire purpose of Title IV (“Ecclesiastical Discipline”) of the Canons.”

“I fail to see, therefore, how the rump group could have authorized the motion to add additional parties to state any claim for breach of the Constitution and Canons — or indeed, for breach of any fiduciary duties owed to the Church whatsoever,” he said citing a recent decision by the California Fifth District Appellate Court that “such questions are ‘quintessentially ecclesiastical’ — they are issues ‘the First Amendment forbids us from adjudicating’.”

“I fail to see how this ‘Hail Mary’ pass has any chance of success in court,” he said.

However, the national church supporters said the motion was filed “because actions [Lawrence and the others] they took to ‘withdraw’ the diocese from [the Episcopal Church] were outside the scope of their legal authority and violated state law,” a press statement said.

Their actions amounted to a “conspiracy” to spirit away “the assets of the diocese and ‘deprive Episcopalians loyal to the Episcopal Church of their property rights’ by manipulating the corporate entity of the diocese,” the pleading alleged.

Episode 85: Anglican Unscripted, November 14, 2013 November 14, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, Disaster Relief, Property Litigation, Quincy, The Episcopal Church.
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Published on Nov 14, 2013

Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

Helping the Philippines: 00:00
GAFCON Update 04:16
Fleeing the Churches 16:00
Legal Update 20:06
GAFCON in England 30:07
Closing and Bloopers 47:15

Anglican Unscripted Episode 82: September 28, 2013 September 29, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican.TV, Church of England, Church of Pakistan, GAFCON, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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Episcopal Church confident it will win Fort Worth fight: Anglican Ink, September 12, 2013 September 13, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Fort Worth, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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The Provisional Bishop of Fort Worth, the Rt. Rev. Rayford High

The Episcopal Church will prevail in its court battle with Bishop Jack L. Iker and the Diocese of Fort Worth, the Provisional Bishop of Fort Worth, the Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr., said this week, arguing the doctrine of neutral principles of law favors their cause.

On 9 Sept 2013 Bishop High and members of the diocesan standing committee along with the national church appointed trustees of the Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and officers for the Fund for the Endowment of the Episcopate met with their lawyers to review the Texas Supreme Court’s 30 August 2013 decision in No. 11-0265Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, et al. v. The Episcopal Church, et al.

In the Fort Worth case the Court by a vote of 5 to 4 overturned a Tarrant County trial court decision that awarded the property of the Diocese of Fort Worth to the national Episcopal Church and its local allies.  The Supreme Court held the trial court erred in deferring to the denominational polity of the national church. The ruling nullified the Episcopal Church’s Dennis Canon in Texas, holding the national church’s property rules had no legal effect in the state.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Fort Worth wins: The Church of England Newspaper, September 6, 2013 p 6. September 12, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Fort Worth, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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The Texas Supreme Court has nullified the Dennis Canon, holding the Episcopal Church’s property rules have no legal effect in the state. It ruled that church property disputes are to be governed by the “neutral principles of law” doctrine rather than ecclesiastical law.

The decision marks the climax of the five year legal battle between the national church and Diocese of Fort Worth – effectively ruling that a parish may quit its diocese and keep its property if it has clear title to its buildings, and that a diocese may withdraw from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

On 30 August 2013 the Court handed down its decisions in two closely watched cases — No. 11-0265Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, et al. v. The Episcopal Church, et al.; and No. 11-0332Masterson v. Diocese of Northwest Texas.

In the Fort Worth case, the Court by a vote of 5 to 4 to overturn a lower court decision that awarded the property of the Diocese of Fort Worth to the national Episcopal Church and its local allies.  It held the trial court erred in deferring to the opinion of the Episcopal Church over the arguments of the diocese.

It remanded the case to the trial court, instructing it to apply a “neutral principles of law” analysis to the issues and determine whether the Corporation of the Diocese of Fort Worth had complied with state law when it withdrew from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. The dissenting votes in the Fort Worth case did not dispute the majority’s finding and accept the arguments of the national church, but held the hearing before the Supreme Court was premature and the matter should have been litigated at the court of appeal first.

In the Masterson case, the court voted 7 to 2 to reverse a court of appeal decision which held the Diocese of Northwest Texas was the owner of the property of the Church of the Good Shepherd in San Angelo, Texas.  The appeals court had held that the national church’s property canon – known colloquially as the Dennis Canon — required the court to award the parish property to the diocese under the theory that the state must defer to ecclesiastical law.

The Supreme Court rejected this finding, ruling that “neutral principles of law” must govern the courts, where it must look to property deeds and corporate charters to determine who owns property in Texas. The Masterson ruling nullified in Texas the Dennis Canon – a 1979 rule which states parish property is held in trust for the diocese and national church.

The trial court was directed to review the dispute between the parish and diocese and look to the deeds to determine ownership.

The provisional Bishop of Fort Worth, the Rt. Rev. Rayford High, Jr., — the bishop of the loyalist faction — released a statement lamenting the decision. “For now, we must all don the mantle of patience and forbearance,” as their lawyers reviewed the decision.

“I ask for your prayers and urge us all to stay focused on the saving gospel of Jesus Christ in the days ahead,” he said.

The Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker, Bishop of Fort Worth rejoiced in the decision. He told the diocese the Supreme Court had ruled the trial court had erred in its decision and “must now reconsider the merits of the case” based on neutral principles.  “While today’s opinions are not final victory, they indicate that a final victory is only a matter of time.”

Bishop Iker thanked the clergy and lay members of the diocese for “your faithfulness and support during this trying period of time. … Patience and prayers are still required, but in the end we will prevail.”

Canon lawyer Alan Halley – who has served as counsel for some of the breakaway dioceses in their battles with the national church – observed: “Texas law will control the issue of who were the trustees of the Fort Worth diocesan corporation on the relevant dates when crucial votes were taken. And that should bode very well for Bishop Iker’s chances on remand.”

“Likewise, the issues of title are to be resolved by examining the various deeds under Texas secular law — and that, too, should work in Bishop Iker’s favor. Title to all of the parish properties is held by the diocesan corporation. Thus if Bishop Iker’s trustees are the proper trustees in office, the property will follow the corporation.”

TEC loses battle for Quincy: Anglican Ink, September 10, 2013 September 12, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, Quincy, The Episcopal Church.
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An Illinois circuit court has rejected the national Episcopal Church’s claim that it is a “hierarchical church” under law, handing down a ruling that supports the Diocese of Quincy’s secession from the national church.

Details of the court’s ruling have yet to be analyzed by Anglican Ink, but the Illinois ruling appears to have rejected the legal arguments brought by the national Episcopal Church in its litigation with departing dioceses and congregations — upholding the neutral principles of law doctrine over deference to the denominational polity of the church.

The suit came On 7 Nov 2008 delegates to the diocesan synod meeting at St John’s Church in Quincy, Illinois, approved the second and final reading of a constitutional amendment withdrawing from the Episcopal Church. The vote was 41-14 in the clergy order and 54-12 by the laity. A second resolution affiliating the diocese with the Southern Cone pending the creation of a Third Province in North America was approved 46-4 in the clergy order and 55-8 in the lay order.

Read it all at Anglican Ink.

Trademark violation lawsuit against Mark Lawrence dismissed August 23, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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A federal court has dismissed the trademark lawsuit brought by the Rt. Rev. Charles vonRosenberg against the Rt Rev. Mark Lawrence, ruling the dispute over who may call himself bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina is a matter to be decided by the state court.

On 23 August 2013 Senior U.S. District Court Judge Weston C. Houck held “[t]he sum of all disputes and conflicts arising in the wake of the Diocese’s estrangement from [the national Episcopal Church] are more appropriately before, and will more comprehensively be resolved, in South Carolina state court.”

In a statement released after the decision as handed down, Bishop vonRosenberg  said he was “disappointed at the recent legal developments,” but added “we recognized that our journey involves many, many more steps than only this one.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

South Carolina clergy deposed: The Church of England Newspaper, August 11, 2013 p 6. August 16, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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The Episcopal Church in South Carolina has announced it will depose over 100 clergy loyal to the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence and the breakaway Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.  On 10 July 2013 the faction loyal to the national Episcopal Church published a list of clergy whom it said remained in good standing with the Episcopal Church for having expressed its loyalty to their leadership. Those who had not given their allegiance to the minority faction would be removed from the ordained ministry.

Last month a “Notice of Restriction” was mailed by the Rt. Rev. Charles vonRosenberg, Provisional Bishop of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina to the bishops of the national church and the clergy pension fund saying those who had backed Mark Lawrence were “found to have abandoned The Episcopal Church.”

The letter followed a 21 June 2013 vote by the standing committee of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina to depose the clergy. While political considerations will likely give force to the decision in most dioceses, the entity known as the Episcopal Church in South Carolina has no legal meaning under the canon law of the Episcopal Church. Other members of the Anglican Communion, including the Church of England, have not recognized past depositions of clergy by the American Church for abandoning the Episcopal Church, and the move has yet to be tested in the civil courts in conjunction with the church’s pension fund.

The Episcopal Church’s press office, the Episcopal News Service (ENS) reported that Bishop vonRosenberg wrote to the South Carolina clergy in April asking them to declare for him or Bishop Lawrence. A second letter was sent informing the clergy that the Episcopal Church in South Carolina Standing Committee would act on the matter on 21 June and the bishop demanded that he be informed of their decision by 1 June. ENS reported “the majority of those who received the letters have chosen not to reply.”

Anglican Unscripted Episode 78, August 9, 2013 August 10, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Church of Tanzania, Anglican.TV, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

STORY INDEX:

Silly Story Month 00:00
News from Sydney 08:06
Egypt and Zanzibar 12:06
AS Haley 18:03
Peter Ould 32:42
Closing and Outtakes 40:51

Civil court ruling for Recife schism: The Church of England Newspaper, July 28, 2013, p 6. August 1, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation.
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Bishop Miguel Uchôa

The Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (IEAB) reports that a Pernambuco judge has handed down a ruling in the property dispute in the Diocese of Recife, awarding ownership of the diocese’s assets to the faction aligned to the national church.

On 18 July 2013 the Rt. Rev. Sebastião Armando,  the caretaker bishop of the IEAB diocese released a statement announcing the secession of the diocese and over 90 per cent of its clergy and lay members in 2005 “flagrantly violated Brazilian law as well as Canon law” and the “Doctrine and Discipline” of the IEAB.

In 2005 the then Bishop of Recife, the late Rt. Rev. Robinson Cavalcanti was deposed for incivility by his fellow bishops following several years of doctrinal disputes between the evangelical bishop and the liberal majority in the House of Bishops. After he was removed from office, the province then defrocked 32 Recife clergy without trial for backing their bishop.

Bishop Armando, who retired in May but has acted as caretaker of the minority faction until a new bishop is elected in August  argued “that with the decision, the Judiciary as enforcing justice and law, has put an end to this situation which generated unprecedented legal instability in the Anglican Diocese of Recife, resulting in a deleterious effect on the entire Brazilian Anglican province, reflecting poorly on the credibility of the (church) institution and leadership in Brazil and abroad. Fortunately the law does not applaud these sorts of mistakes.”

He went on to say the ruling would not halt the IEAB’s decline, however. “Unfortunately, even with this new step, the unity of the church, so carefully cherished and painstakingly built over these 100+ years during the existence of the Episcopal Anglican Church in Brazil, once again remains shaken, leaving its faithful troubled and confused, certainly causing in many people of faith a cooling of charity, which is our biggest concern right now.”

The bishop of the majority faction now aligned with the Anglican Church in North America and the Church of the Province of the Southern Cone, the Rt. Rev. Miguel Uchôa last week told The Church of England Newspaper he had “called an extraordinary synod for this Saturday to have a united voice from the Diocese with the presence of our lawyers.”

While Bishop Armando has pushed for a civil legal settlement of the dispute closed door meetings have been held between the Recife leadership and national and local leaders of the IEAB to seek an amicable resolution to the conflict.

Bishop Uchôa told CEN there had been a number of closed door meetings between the breakaway diocese and the national leadership of the IEAB in recent months seeking an amicable resolution to the dispute. But added he would withhold comment on the court ruling for the present. “At the moment we will let them speak. We come later.”

However he noted the diocese would appeal the ruling.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 77: July 31, 2013 July 31, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, Anglican.TV, Archbishop of Canterbury, Property Litigation, Roman Catholic Church, South Carolina.
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Anglican Unscripted is the only video newscast in the Anglican Church. Every Week Kevin, George, Allan and Peter bring you news and prospective from around the globe.

STORY INDEX:

THE LAST SHALL BE FIRST 00:00
THE POPE IN AMERICA 04:13
JUSTICE FOR JUSTIN 10:34
RECIFE 15:59
SOUTH CAROLINA 21:59
FORWARD IN FAITH 25:38

Appeals Court returns Recife church property to diocese: Anglican Ink, July 31, 2013 July 31, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, Anglican Ink, Property Litigation.
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The Pernambuco Court of Appeal (Tribunal de Justiça do Estado de Pernambuco) has stayed a lower court decision giving ownership of church properties in the state to the minority faction loyal to the national Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (IEAB). The effect of last week’s decision is to return custody of the church properties to the Diocese of Recife and its bishop, the Rt. Rev. Miguel Uchôa, while the court conducts a de novo review of the dispute.

On 31 July 2013 Bishop Uchôa told Anglican Ink the diocese was ready to turn over the properties to the IEAB but on “the 21st the state high court judged our appeal and gave us a positive answer. The state high court judges will now review the case. It means that they accepted [the case for study] and said ‘no’ to the first judge who had given the [properties] to the IEAB.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Recife loses court battle over church property to the IEAB: Anglican Ink, July 21, 2013 July 21, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil, Anglican Ink, Property Litigation.
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The Bishop of Recife, the Rt. Rev. Miguel Uchôa has convened an extraordinary meeting of the diocesan synod for 20 July 2013 to discuss a civil court ruling handed down this week that awarded the diocese’s property to a faction aligned with the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (IEAB).

“I have called an extraordinary synod for this Saturday to have a united voice from the Diocese with the presence of our lawyers ,” Bishop Uchôa told Anglican Ink.

In 2005 the Bishop of Recife, the Rt. Rev. Robinson Cavalcanti was deposed for incivility by his fellow bishops following several years of doctrinal disputes between the Evangelical bishop and the liberal majority in the Province. After he was removed from office, the province then defrocked 32 Recife clergy without trial for backing their bishop. Approximately 90 percent of the lay members of the diocese followed Bishop Cavalcanti and are presently under the metropolitan oversight of the primates Anglican Church of North America and the Province of the Southern Cone.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

No decision today from Texas Supreme Court on Fort Worth case: Anglican Ink, June 28, 2013 June 28, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Fort Worth, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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The Texas Supreme Court did not hand down its expected decision in the Diocese of Fort Worth case today, leaving the breakaway diocese under the leadership of the Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker and the loyalist faction led by provisional bishop the Rt. Rev Rayford High on tenterhooks until September.

In a statement released on 28 June 2013, Bishop Iker said, “Today the Texas Supreme Court did not announce a decision in our direct appeal, and since decisions are not issued in July or early August, we do not anticipate a ruling until the end of August at the earliest. We continue to wait patiently upon the Lord, prayerfully trusting in His loving care and protection.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 74, June 4, 2013 June 4, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, House of Lords, Property Litigation, Quincy, Southern Baptist Convention, The Episcopal Church.
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Episode 74 tracks the latest news from Britain and their House of Lords Same-Sex Marriage debate — and you won’t believe what the Archbishop of Canterbury said. Your hosts also talk about the latest decision from the Boy Scouts and how it will be worked out around the country and the churches.

You won’t be surprised to learn about the new obedience rules which are being discussed for new TEC Bishops. What will surprise you is the response.

Peter Ould explains how the House of Lords operates and AS Haley explains (in very frank terms) why you don’t sign an Accord with the Devil. Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com Tweet us at #anglicantv and #au74

VIDEO INDEX
00:03 According to God’s Holy Ordinance
04:16 Be Prepared
11:47 Bishop’s Club
16:06 Marriage
27:38 Devils Accord
37:08 John Vs Jacobus
41:32 Been There Already
45:42 Closing

Contradictory rulings in US Episcopal property cases: The Church of England Newspaper, May 26, 2013 p 6. May 28, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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The Episcopal Church’s legal battles over property spawned a number of contradictory rulings and judgments over the past few weeks.

A Superior Court in Southern California has ordered a breakaway parish to turn over its property to the diocese of Los Angeles; the Virginia Supreme Court handed down a mixed ruling allowing a breakaway parish to keep its cash but not its property; while the Northern California Superior Court has rejected the claim that as a matter of law a diocese may not withdraw from the Episcopal Church without permission of the General Convention.

A decision is also expected shortly in the Fort Worth case from the Texas Supreme Court. The justices are expected to rule this month whether the Diocese of Fort Worth under Bishop Jack Iker may withdraw from the Episcopal Church.

Following three weeks of court proceedings in Illinois, the case of the Diocese of Quincy v the Episcopal Church has been placed before a judge for adjudication. A decision is expected this summer.

A decision is also expected in federal court in South Carolina on the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. After suffering a major setback in the state court, attorneys for the national Church filed a motion to remove the case to the federal courts, arguing that issues of trademark law and church/state law should be litigated in that venue.

On 25 April the Fresno Superior Court in California affirmed its 6 March ruling denying summary judgment to the Episcopal Church in its lawsuit against the diocese of San Joaquin. Judge Jeffrey Hamilton said there were disputed issues of fact to be resolved in deciding whether the diocese acted lawfully when its Synod voted in December 2007 to withdraw from the Episcopal Church.

Relying upon the neutral principles of law doctrine to adjudicate the issue judge Hamilton held the Episcopal Church had failed to show that is a matter of law the Constitution and canons of the national Episcopal Church forbad the unilateral withdrawal of the diocese from the national church.

On 1 May 2013 Judge Kim Dunning of the Orange County Superior Court in Southern California held that the Bishop of Los Angeles had no authority to give the parish of St James in Newport Beach a written waiver exempting the congregation’s property from the reach of the Dennis Canon.

She ordered the parish to hand over its $17 million property to the diocese, finding the national Church’s rules governing parish property took precedence over civil property and trust laws.

She dismissed as non-binding a 1991 letter signed by the then Canon to the Ordinary D Bruce MacPherson, later to become the Bishop of Western Louisiana, on behalf of Bishop Frederick Borsch that released the diocese’s claim to the property.

However, this waiver did not amend the parish bylaws and diocesan canons and even if it did, “the Bishop of the Diocese did not, and does not, have authority to amend any of these instruments,” the judge ruled.

The St James Newport Beach case has been in the California courts since 2004 and has twice been to the Supreme Court in Sacramento. A decision on whether to appeal this ruling has not yet been made by the parish leadership.

The Virginia Supreme Court in The Falls Church v. Protestant Episcopal Church (USA), affirmed a lower court ruling awarding all of the real and personal property of what had been the largest parish in the Diocese of Virginia to the diocese. However it ordered that funds raised by the parish after it had broken with the diocese belong to the parish.

In her decision Justice Cleo Powell held that a “fiduciary relationship” existed between The Falls Church and the national Church. The parish could not acquire an interest in its own property that was adverse to the national Church, she argued, even though the title deeds did not reflect any trust relationship between the parties.

Last week The Falls Church stated they would request a rehearing of their case, noting Judge Powell had erred in deciding the case on the basis of a fiduciary relationship, noting the issue had not been before the court.

Contradictory rulings in US Episcopal property cases: The Church of England Newspaper, May 21, 2013 May 22, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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The Episcopal Church’s legal battles over property spawned a number of contradictory rulings and judgments over the past few weeks.

A Superior Court in Southern California has ordered a breakaway parish to turn over its property to the diocese of Los Angeles; the Virginia Supreme Court handed down a mixed ruling allowing a breakaway parish to keep its cash but not its property; while the Northern California Superior Court has rejected the claim that as a matter of law a diocese may not withdraw from the Episcopal Church without permission of the General Convention.

A decision is also expected shortly in the Fort Worth case from the Texas Supreme Court. The justices are expected to rule this month whether the Diocese of Fort Worth under Bishop Jack Iker may withdraw from the Episcopal Church.

Following three weeks of court proceedings in Illinois, the case of the Diocese of Quincy v the Episcopal Church has been placed before a judge for adjudication. A decision is expected this summer.

A decision is also expected in federal court in South Carolina on the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. After suffering a major setback in the state court, attorneys for the national Church filed a motion to remove the case to the federal courts, arguing that issues of trademark law and church/state law should be litigated in that venue.

On 25 April the Fresno Superior Court in California affirmed its 6 March ruling denying summary judgment to the Episcopal Church in its lawsuit against the diocese of San Joaquin. Judge Jeffrey Hamilton said there were disputed issues of fact to be resolved in deciding whether the diocese acted lawfully when its Synod voted in December 2007 to withdraw from the Episcopal Church.

Relying upon the neutral principles of law doctrine to adjudicate the issue judge Hamilton held the Episcopal Church had failed to show that is a matter of law the Constitution and canons of the national Episcopal Church forbad the unilateral withdrawal of the diocese from the national church.

On 1 May 2013 Judge Kim Dunning of the Orange County Superior Court in Southern California held that the Bishop of Los Angeles had no authority to give the parish of St James in Newport Beach a written waiver exempting the congregation’s property from the reach of the Dennis Canon.

She ordered the parish to hand over its $17 million property to the diocese, finding the national Church’s rules governing parish property took precedence over civil property and trust laws.

She dismissed as non-binding a 1991 letter signed by the then Canon to the Ordinary D Bruce MacPherson, later to become the Bishop of Western Louisiana, on behalf of Bishop Frederick Borsch that released the diocese’s claim to the property.

However, this waiver did not amend the parish bylaws and diocesan canons and even if it did, “the Bishop of the Diocese did not, and does not, have authority to amend any of these instruments,” the judge ruled.

The St James Newport Beach case has been in the California courts since 2004 and has twice been to the Supreme Court in Sacramento. A decision on whether to appeal this ruling has not yet been made by the parish leadership.

The Virginia Supreme Court in The Falls Church v. Protestant Episcopal Church (USA), affirmed a lower court ruling awarding all of the real and personal property of what had been the largest parish in the Diocese of Virginia to the diocese. However it ordered that funds raised by the parish after it had broken with the diocese belong to the parish.

In her decision Justice Cleo Powell held that a “fiduciary relationship” existed between The Falls Church and the national Church. The parish could not acquire an interest in its own property that was adverse to the national Church, she argued, even though the title deeds did not reflect any trust relationship between the parties.

Last week The Falls Church stated they would request a rehearing of their case, noting Judge Powell had erred in deciding the case on the basis of a fiduciary relationship, noting the issue had not been before the court.

Anglican Unscripted, Episode 71, May 10. 2013 May 14, 2013

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In this week’s Episode your host talk about the latest legal heartbreak in California. Also this week, there is late breaking international news about a Bishop who accidentally invokes Scripture. AU’s Legal segment covers all of the court cases in the US, and Kevin interviews David Jenkins about his lawsuit from Bishop Byrd. #AU71 Comments: AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com

Los Angeles wins summary judgment in Newport Beach property case: Anglican Ink, May 2, 2013 May 3, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Los Angeles, Property Litigation.
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The Bishop of Los Angeles had no authority to give the parish of St James in Newport Beach a written waiver exempting the congregation’s property from the reach of the Episcopal Church’s Dennis Canon, an Orange County Superior Court Judge has held.

In a ruling for summary judgment handed down on 1 May 2013 Judge Kim Dunning ordered the parish to hand its multi-million dollar properties over to the Diocese of Los Angeles.

The decision was unexpected, Daniel Lula – an attorney for the parish — told Anglican Ink, as the matter had been set down for trial later this month. In an email to his congregation, the Rev Richard Crocker said: “We have received notice this morning from our attorneys that the court has handed down a significantly negative ruling in our court case. This of course changes the landscape of next week’s trial,” he noted, inviting the parish to a meeting with Mr. Lula “to offer explanation of what we know about the ruling at this point.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 70 April 28, 2013 April 28, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of the Province of the West Indies, GAFCON, Property Litigation, South Carolina, Virginia.
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In Episode 70, your hosts talk about their experiences from the New Wineskins Global Conference held in Ridgecrest, NC. Kevin and George also discuss (in depth) the Boston Bombing and the new hobby terrorist. In our legal segment Allan Haley tries to redeem his years of Unscripted Legal Commentary by demanding that judges follow the D**n law. Oh… and much more including Gafcon news. #AU70 AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com

Unforced Episcopal errors from the Wall Street Journal; Get Religion, April 15, 2013 April 16, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Press criticism, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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Even the best newspapers will drop a brick now and again. And today’s piece in the Wall Street Journal about the Episcopal wars in South Carolina is a real stinker.

I’ve been reading the Journal since the early 1980s when I went to New York to work as a floor clerk at the Commodities Exchange for Drexel Burnham Lambert. In those far off misty days of my misspent youth (the lark’s on the wing, the snail’s on the thorn, Reagan’s in the White House, God’s in His heaven, all was right with the world) I would start at the back of the paper every morning and work forward after I had finished with the futures prices.

As my life and interests took a different path (no more filthy lucre for me) I began to enjoy the paper’s forays into religion, art, literature and other highbrow genres. The Wall Street Journal has consistently done a fine job in covering these topics bringing a depth of knowledge and balance to its reporting — and is one of the best written, best edited English language newspapers in the business.

Hence my disappointment with today’s article entitled “Church Fight Heads to Court: South Carolina Episcopalian Factions Each File Suit After Split Over Social Issues”. The story gets just about everything of importance wrong. The lede misrepresents the underlying issue. It begins:

Episcopalians along the South Carolina coast are battling in court to determine which of two factions owns an estimated $500 million in church buildings, grounds and cemeteries, following an acrimonious split last year over social issues.

The leadership and about two-thirds of the members of the Diocese of South Carolina, based in Charleston, broke away from the national Episcopal Church last November over its blessing of same-sex unions, ordination of gay clergy and its liberal approach to other social and theological issues.

No, that is not what happened. In South Carolina the diocesan convention voted to withdraw from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church after the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church suspended the Bishop of South Carolina with the intent to depose him (remove him from the ministry). Yes, South Carolina has opposed the innovations of doctrine and discipline introduced over the past two generations — and I guess you could say, taking the long view, that social issues were subsidiary issues — but last year’s split was in response to specific actions taken by the leadership of the national church.

Farther down the article some of the details about the South Carolina fight are presented and the story gets the facts back on track.

In South Carolina, bad blood between the diocese and the national church has been building for about 15 years. It reached a breaking point last summer, when the bishop and other leaders of the diocese walked out of the triennial General Convention in Indianapolis, following the national church’s approval of policies on blessing same-sex unions. The walkout triggered a series of events, including the national church’s removal of the Rt. Rev. Lawrence as bishop, and subsequent lawsuits.

(A hint that the writer is not au courant with religion reporting is the “Rt. Rev. Lawrence” — proper style is to use the first name after the Rt Rev and then Bishop or Dr if you want an honorific before the last name.)

The story also collapses the time line of the Episcopal wars and is written as if the South Carolina lawsuit is new news when the latest lawsuit was filed about six weeks ago.

The schism in South Carolina is one of many that have erupted over the past decade between local Episcopal parishes and dioceses and their national church—particularly since the election of a gay bishop in 2003. Thousands of conservative members left their churches over such issues around the middle of last decade, a time some Southern churchgoers call “the Great Unpleasantness,” the same euphemism once used for the Civil War. Other mainline Protestant denominations also have struggled with issues related to homosexuality, with many congregations moving to leave the Presbyterian Church USA after its leadership voted to allow openly gay clergy.

The split between liberal and conservative Episcopalians has been around for almost 40 years and has witnessed dozens of lawsuits between congregations and diocese. Beginning in 2006 the national church headquarters entered the fray spending upwards of $24 million (this in addition to the fees paid out by the dioceses and parishes). Nor did the fight begin in 2003  — GetReligion‘s tmatt has written extensively on this point and I need not restate the accurate Anglican timeline here.

The reporting on the lawsuits — the purpose of the article — is dodgy as well. The article reports the diocese filed a lawsuit in December in state court, with the explanation “The group says it shouldn’t have to turn property over to a church that it believes has drifted from Biblical principles.” Well that was one of the issues — but the bulk of the pleadings and the central issue before the state court was who was the true Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina?

This is followed in the article by the response of the national church affiliated faction:

A group representing the one-third of diocesan congregants still aligned with the national Episcopal Church have joined it in filing suit in federal court, arguing the property must remain with the national church. The national church, which says it is the one upholding Biblical teachings by wrestling with difficult questions as a community, believes the suit should be heard in federal court because it argues the dispute involves the First Amendment; a hearing is expected later this spring on whether the matter will go to federal or state court.

No. This is not true either. On 31 January lawyers representing the national church faction agreed to the entry of a preliminary injunction against their client (called a temporary injunction in South Carolina) promising not to use the name, marks and insignia of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina pending the outcome of the state court proceedings.

On 6 March the national church faction brought a complaint based on the federal trademark law known as the Lanham Act (15 U.S.C. Sections 1051 et seq.) against Bishop Lawrence claiming it, not Bishop Lawrence and his faction were the true diocese. It asked the federal court to block the January state court order  in favor of Bishop Lawrence and his group. Bishop Lawrence, they argued, was infringing on their trademarks. And last week, back in state court, the attorneys for the national church filed their answer to the original lawsuit.

Religious freedom and the First Amendment are all well and good, but it would have behooved the Journal to read the pleadings rather than the press hand outs.

The choice of legal commentary is one-sided — and also manages to pawn off further frauds onto the reader while managing to omit one of the crucial elements in the story.

How the fight will be resolved is difficult to tell. The national church has prevailed in 12 similar disputes in state supreme or appellate courts since 1980, said Martin Nussbaum, a Colorado specialist in church property law who isn’t involved in the South Carolina matter.

Some religious scholars say such schisms are hurting the church’s image and distracting attention that could be devoted to reversing a decline in church membership. “Once we’re through the issue of property and gay people, the real issue is how can this church change its way of being?” said Frank Kirkpatrick, the author of “The Episcopal Church in Crisis: How Sex, the Bible, and Authority are Dividing the Faithful.”

This is untrue also. While a number of lawsuits between dioceses and parishes have gone to state supreme courts, with the diocese prevailing in many of them, in South Carolina the state supreme court ruled the other way and held the church’s national property rules, called the Dennis Canon, were of no legal effect in South Carolina. In other words, if a parish has clear title to its property in South Carolina, it can take it with it if it leaves its diocese or denomination. Omitting this crucial legal precedent in the story was most unfortunate.

It should also be added that the appellate courts have not adjudicated the issue of whether a diocese may withdraw from the national church. Attorneys for the national church have argued the legal precedents from outside South Carolina governing the relationship of the parish to the diocese should govern the relationship of the diocese to the national church. The diocese’s lawyers in South Carolina have argued this relationship is not comparable.

One might also add, contrary to the assertion in the article about declining membership, that until these lawsuits erupted the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina was one of the few Episcopal diocese to see a growth in membership over the past decade.

So far I’ve pointed out mistakes of fact, significant omissions, and unbalanced commentary — let’s look at tone. The deafness of this article — its cluelessness — can be illustrated by this line;

The breakaway group, which still calls itself the Diocese of South Carolina, continues to operate from the diocesan headquarters and retains control of many of its most recognizable parishes, including St. Michael’s, in Charleston, established in the 1750s.

The breakaway group still calls itself the “Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina” — not merely the “Diocese of South Carolina”. The “Episcopal” name, and from it the control of assets, is the question before the courts.

Not a good outing I’m afraid from the Journal.

Update: I neglected to mention a further flaw. The photo of the church used with the article is captioned as St Michael’s Church in Charleston — the photo is actually of St Helena’s in Beaufort. Hardly a fatal flaw, but I suppose it does help to pack all your errors into one story.

First printed in Get Religion.

TEC hits back in South Carolina: The Church of England Newspaper, April 7, 2013 p 4. April 9, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Fort Worth, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The national Episcopal Church has taken the offensive in South Carolina filing lawsuits in federal court and a counterclaim in state court against the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, its Bishop, clergy and lay leaders.

On Maundy Thursday the national church filed an answer to the diocese’s 4 Jan 2013 lawsuit seeking a ban on the use of its name and seal by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and her allies, and asking the civil courts to confirm that it had lawfully withdrawn from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

The national church and its allies in South Carolina denied the diocesan claims and in their counterclaim asserted that all diocesan and parish property in South Carolina belonged to them. It also brought suit against the parish officers and diocesan leaders in their personal capacities alleging they had engaged in a civil conspiracy to defraud the national Episcopal Church.

In a statement given to the Church of England Newspaper on Good Friday, Canon Jim Lewis of the diocese of South Carolina wrote there was “little to say about the counterclaims.”

“We are saddened they filed their suits on Maundy Thursday in the middle of Holy Week and that they have made the lawsuit personal by suing individuals who make up the leadership of our parishes. However we are not surprised that TEC’s filing now makes clear its intention to seize all the properties of the Diocese of South Carolina and its parishes. The court filings are consistent with the scores of lawsuits The Episcopal Church has filed against dioceses and parishes across the United States,” he said.

 On 7 March 2013 the national church asked the US District Court in South Carolina to grant a preliminary injunction to Bishop Lawrence and his allies from using the name and trademarks of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and from representing that his activities were associated with the diocese.

In a suit akin to one filed with the federal courts in Texas, attorneys for the national church argued Bishop Lawrence and his allies had violated the Lanham Act and violated federal trademark law.  The federal court in Texas has held it will not hear that case until the state court proceedings are concluded.  Lawyers for the diocese of South Carolina tell CEN they expect the federal court in their state to make a similar decision.

On 31 Jan 2013 attorneys representing the national church agreed to the entry of an order in state court that forbade the national church and its surrogates from claiming to act on behalf of the diocese.  The new lawsuit in federal court seeks to undo this legal defeat and move the case to a different court.

Final appeal dismissed in Zimbabwe property cases: The Church of England Newspaper, March 3, 3013, p 7. March 23, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa, Property Litigation, Zimbabwe.
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The Zimbabwe Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal of the former bishop of Manicaland Elson Jakazi, closing the last legal door on the Kunonga schism in Zimbabwe.

In a ruling handed down last week Justice Vernanda Ziyambi dismissed the former bishop’s application for a rehearing of his case, stating the arguments put forward were without merit. The decision now permits Bishop Julius Makoni and the diocese to begin eviction proceedings to remove the bishop and his supporters from the diocese’s cathedral, churches, schools and hospitals.

In October 2012 a three judge panel of the Zimbabwe Supreme Court heard seven appeals brought by the Church of the Province of Central Africa and the breakaway bishops of Harare and Manicaland, Dr. Nolbert Kunonga and Bishop Jakazi.  The court dismissed five of the appeals and two cases concerning Dr. Kunonga and the Diocese of Harare were taken under advisement.

Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba, sitting with Justices Vernanda Ziyambi and Yunus Omerjee struck Bishop Jakazi’s case from consideration finding he had failed to comply with the rules of the court.

On 19 May 2010 Mutare High Court Justice Chinembiri Bhunu held that as Bishop Jakazi had resigned his see to join Dr. Kunonga to form the schismatic Anglican Church of Zimbabwe, he was no longer Bishop of Manicaland. “What this means is that once [Bishop Jakazi]‘s resignation letter was received by the Archbishop of the Central African Province of Central Africa, he automatically ceased to be an employee or member of that church organization without any further formalities.”

“Having ceased to be an employee or member of the church organisation he automatically stripped himself of any rights and privileges arising” from his office, Justice Bhunu concluded However a stay of execution of the order to vacate was entered pending appeal.

While the legal fight to regain the properties may have ended with victory for the Church of the Province of Central Africa, the dioceses of Harare and Manicaland face considerable financial burdens in repairing their churches.

After the diocese regained control of its Cathedral in November, the Harare City Council disconnected its water supply. The city has demanded payment of over $55,000 in utility charges incurred by Dr. Kunonga that were unpaid at the time of his eviction. The diocese has asked the city to seek payment from Dr. Kunonga for the debts.

A city council spokesman told The Zimbabwean “It is not Kunonga who owes us but the Anglican Cathedral. We do not mind who pays it but the bill has got to be settled.”

Second legal blow for TEC in South Carolina case: The Church of England Newspaper, February 20, 2013. March 15, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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Lawyers for the Episcopal Church have conceded that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s claim that while people may leave the Episcopal Church, dioceses and congregations may not, is without merit.

The concession, Canon lawyer Allan Haley reports, comes in their acquiescence to the filing of a Temporary Injunction issued in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina court case, forbidding the national church or its allies from using the name, symbols or seal of the diocese.

Entered with the consent of attorneys representing the national church, the 31 Jan 2013 order by Judge Diane Goodstein replaces a 23 Jan Temporary Restraining Order, effectively making permanent the ban that forbid the national church and its surrogates from claiming to act on behalf of the diocese.

Mr. Haley noted the injunction remains in effect until Judge Goodstein agrees to modify it, or dissolve it, for good cause shown.

The injunction “maintains the status quo ante until the case can be tried,” he said, and “keeps the parties in the same position they were before the dispute between them arose — it is designed to prevent one of the parties from unilaterally moving the goalposts before the game can be played. At the end of the trial, the court will decide either to make preliminary injunction permanent, or else to dissolve it once and for all.”

Mr. Haley said the national church’s “capitulation”, by agreeing to the injunction, establishes “facts on the ground”.

“There is a legally cognizable “Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina,” whose legal existence began in 1785.”

“The remnant Episcopalian group may not either assume its name, or claim to be the same religious non-profit corporation under South Carolina law.”

The “Diocese has actually separated itself in law from the Episcopal Church. It exists, under its own State’s laws, wholly separate and apart from the Church of which it formerly was a member.”

The loyalist group will be a “brand-new religious entity, whose existence was not a legal reality until it met and organized itself on January 26, 2013.”

These “facts on the ground” are “fatal” to the argument put forward by the national church that people may leave, but dioceses may not, Mr. Haley said. “South Carolina is living proof of the fact that Dioceses and their associated parishes may indeed, as is their constitutional right under the First Amendment, leave.”

“We are gratified that The Episcopal Church has consented to a temporary injunction protecting the identity of our Diocese and its parishes,” said Jim Lewis, Canon of the Diocese. “We pray that sentiment fuels the prompt and reasonable resolution we all seek.

Thomas Tisdale, chancellor of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina – the faction in South Carolina loyal to the national church — did not respond to our queries.

Disloyal Episcopalians are murderers and terrorists, Jefferts Schori claims: The Church of England Newspaper, February 10, 2013 p 7. February 14, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has denounced her opponents in South Carolina as terrorists and murderers, saying those who opposed her view of church order were “wolves” and false shepherds leading the flock astray.

The 26 Jan 2013 “outrageous” remarks have changed the game in the South Carolina diocesan fight, her critics charge.  What had been a dispute over property has become an ideological war with those who do not conform now being branded as evil.

Speaking to national church loyalists at a special convention held 26 Jan 2013 at Grace Church in Charleston, Bishop Jefferts Schori began her remarks with the story of a glider pilot who had entered restricted airspace in South Carolina and found himself harassed by local officials.

“I tell you that story because it’s indicative of attitudes we’ve seen here and in many other places. Somebody decides he knows the law, and oversteps whatever authority he may have to dictate the fate of others who may in fact be obeying the law, and often a law for which this local tyrant is not the judge,” she said.

“It’s not too far from that kind of attitude to citizens’ militias deciding to patrol their towns or the Mexican border for unwelcome visitors. It’s not terribly far from the state of mind evidenced in school shootings, or in those who want to arm school children, or the terrorism that takes oil workers hostage,” the presiding bishop said.

Bishop Jefferts Schori also denounced what she saw as the arbitrary and capricious usurpation of power by local church leaders stating: “Power assumed by one authority figure alone is often a recipe for abuse, tyranny, and corruption.  That’s why Jesus challenges us to think about how the shepherd acts.  The authentic ones don’t sneak over the wall in the dead of night.  They operate transparently, and they work cooperatively with the gate-keeper himself.”

Canon Phil Ashey of the American Anglican Council stated  her remarks were “just over the top,” Canon Ashey said, adding that her “anger was not in keeping of any leader of any Christian church.”  He called upon the presiding bishop to apologize for remarks.

South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence told The Church of England Newspaper the presiding bishop’s remarks were not likely to help matters.

“One of the things I said to the Presiding Bishop when last we spoke is that if she and I could refrain from demonizing one another, regardless of what others around us are saying, we might get somewhere. Based on the words and argument of her recent sermon for the New TEC Diocese in South Carolina, I guess she wasn’t able to do it,” Bishop Lawrence said.

A spokesman for the Presiding Bishop declined to elaborate on the speech stating “As for the Presiding Bishop’s sermon, she did not identify any group in her sermon.”

Legal win for breakaway American diocese: The Church of England Newspaper, February 3, 2013 p 6. February 7, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina scored a significant victory in its fight with the national Episcopal Church last week after a South Carolina court issued a Temporary Restraining Order forbidding the national church and its allies in South Carolina from using the name, symbols or seal of the diocese.

The 23 Jan 2013 order handed down by Judge Diane Goodstein of the First Judicial Circuit Court blocked the national church from holding a rump meeting of the diocese on 26 January, forcing loyalists to gather as the “Episcopal Church in South Carolina” rather than the “Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina”.

Canon lawyer Allan Haley noted that Judge Goodstein’s order had been “granted ex parte as a matter of urgency, and holds in place only until the Court can hear argument on a preliminary injunction pending trial of the matter” and will expire on 1 Feb 2013.

Mr. Haley stated that he expected the national church’s attorneys to offer a vigorous challenge to the TRO at the 1 Feb hearing. “But it would appear that the court has already found most, if not all, of the case against them,” he added.

On 4 Jan 2013 the trustees of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and 15 congregations filed suit against the national church alleging that its agents had committed identity theft by using its name, symbols and seal and by holding out the Presiding Bishop the “steering committee” of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina as the lawful diocesan ecclesiastical authority.  The complaint further alleged the national church had slandered the title to diocesan and congregational property by stating it held an interest in all church property in South Carolina.

An amended complaint filed on 22 Jan, which added 16 additional congregations as plaintiffs, also asked for a TRO from the court.  In its request for the TRO the diocese alleged that at the loyalists special convention Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and her supporters “intended to make unauthorized corporate changes” to the diocesan constitution and canons, thereby causing the diocese harm.

The diocese stated by this order: “The judge effectively prevents TEC, a voluntary association, and the parishes who support it, from claiming to own or operate the Diocese of South Carolina, an entity that it insists it owns but whose very existence predates The Episcopal Church.”

Bishop Charles vonRosenberg, who was elected at the special convention to lead those Episcopalians in South Carolina who would remain with the national church, told the Church of England Newspaper: “Our intention is to carry out our duties on behalf of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina when we meet at the special convention, and at the same time, we intend to continue to take care in using language which might be offensive to others.”

However others in the loyalist faction called the judge’s decision “bizarre” and suggested improper influence may have been used to sway her decision. The diocese’s lawsuit to protect its name and assets was “unprecedented”, “vindictive” and “mean spirit[ed]” it said, adding that Bishop Lawrence was unfit to serve in the Christian ministry and denounced the majority factions as being “the anti-gay diocese.”

The loyalist faction turned their ire on the judge as well. “Andrew Platte, an attorney for several of the plaintiff congregations and the PECDSC Incorporated, is a recent law clerk for Judge Goodstein and has taken a important role in the recent legal attacks on Episcopalians in the Diocese. He is an associate in the firm of Speights and Runyon, which played a significant role in convincing parishes in the Diocese that the Episcopal Church might be preparing to take their property away.”

Bishop vonRosenberg, however, took an irenic approach to the conflict.  Speaking to the State newspaper, the provisional bishop-designate for loyalists in South Carolina said there was hope for reconciliation. “While we have diverged at this point in history on our paths, one day those paths will converge once again,” the bishop said.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 64: February 3, 2013 February 4, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Church of England, Church of Nigeria, Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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In this week’s episode of Anglican Unscripted your host discuss the adventure (misadventures) of Presiding Bishop Jefferts-Schori as she descended onto the city of Charleston last week. Allan Haley examines the legal details of the preemptive strike launched against TEC and Schori and how this battle was won. There is also much international news with stories on Egypt and Nigeria and no AU is complete without a story from Canterbury with Peter Ould – this time he talks about the coming wave of Same-Sex Marriage in England . Tweet #AU64 Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com

TEC attorneys will not contest South Carolina restraining order: Anglican Ink, January 31, 2013 January 31, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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A South Carolina court has made permanent the temporary restraining order entered on 23 Jan 2013 in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina case.  On 31 Jan 2013 Judge Diane Goodstein issued a Temporary Injunction that supplanted her Temporary Restraining Order which forbade any person or entity from claiming to be or using the name, symbols and seal of the diocese save for Bishop Mark Lawrence and the officers of the diocese.

Attorneys for the Episcopal Church declined to contest the TRO at the hearing scheduled for 1 Feb 2013.  The Temporary Injunction will stand until the litigation is concluded, however, either party may petition the court to modify or remove the ban.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Presiding Bishop denouces schismatics as terrorists and murderers: Anglican Ink, January 29, 2013 January 29, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina.
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A spokesman for Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has denied suggestions that her sermon denouncing as terrorists and murderers those who did not share her views on the polity of the Episcopal Church was directed at Bishop Mark J. Lawrence or the members of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

Speaking to national church loyalists at a special convention held 26 Jan 2013 at Grace Church in Charleston, Bishop Jefferts Schori characterized her opponents as “wolves” and false shepherds.

She denounced the arbitrary use of power in church affairs, stating: “Power assumed by one authority figure alone is often a recipe for abuse, tyranny, and corruption.  That’s why Jesus challenges us to think about how the shepherd acts.  The authentic ones don’t sneak over the wall in the dead of night.  They operate transparently, and they work cooperatively with the gate-keeper himself.”

The presiding bishop also shared a story of a glider pilot who had entered restricted airspace in South Carolina and found himself harassed by local officials – a situation not unlike the dispute between the diocese and the national church she observed.

“I tell you that story because it’s indicative of attitudes we’ve seen here and in many other places. Somebody decides he knows the law, and oversteps whatever authority he may have to dictate the fate of others who may in fact be obeying the law, and often a law for which this local tyrant is not the judge. It’s not too far from that kind of attitude to citizens’ militias deciding to patrol their towns or the Mexican border for unwelcome visitors. It’s not terribly far from the state of mind evidenced in school shootings, or in those who want to arm school children, or the terrorism that takes oil workers hostage,” the presiding bishop said.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

South Carolina loyalists defy ban on using diocesan name and shield: Anglican Ink, January 25, 2013 January 25, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The loyalist faction within the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has unleashed a torrent of abuse against Bishop Mark Lawrence and the diocesan leadership as well as Judge Diane Goodstein following her order of 23 Jan 2013 blocking them from using the name, symbols or seal of the diocese.

Compliance with the court’s order has also been spotty. On Wednesday, Bishop Charles vonRosenberg told Anglican Ink the loyalist group would comply with the court’s order, and a spokesman for the South Carolina steering committee, Holly Behre, told the Associated Press they would honor Judge Goodstein’s ruling and will adopt a name that will comply with the spirit of the court order until the matter is resolved.

However compliance with the Order, which went into effect at 5:11 pm on Wednesday has been slow. The group’s website www.episcopalofsc.org did not remove the shield or the claim to be the Episcopal Dicoese of South Carolina until later Thursday.

As of our going to press, the loyalists group’s fundraising site, scstewardship.com, continues to display the diocesan shield and holds itself out to be the true Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, in apparent disregard of Judge Goodstein’s order which stated in part: “No individual, organization, association or entity, whether incorporated or not, may use, assume, or adopt in any way, directly or indirectly, the registered names and the seal or mark of The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Court blocks loyalist convention for Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina: Anglican Ink, January 23, 2013 January 24, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina.
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Diane Goodstein

Judge Diane Goodstein

The First Judicial Circuit Court in South Carolina has issued a Temporary Restraining Order forbidding any “individual, organization, association or entity” from using the name, symbols or seal of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina – save for Bishop Mark J. Lawrence and the trustees of the diocese.

The 23 January 2013 order handed down by Judge Diane Goodstein effectively blocks the Episcopal Church and its allies from electing a bishop and standing committee for the minority faction loyal to the national church for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

However, canon lawyer Allan Haley notes the ruling does not prevent those in the diocese who wish to remain affiliated with the national Episcopal Church “from meeting, but they will have to adopt a different name.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Restraining Order filed against Episcopal Church in SC case: Anglican Ink, January 23, 2013 January 23, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The First Judicial Circuit Court in South Carolina has issued a Temporary Restraining Order banning Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and her allies from using the name, symbols of identity of the “Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina”.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

15 more parishes join lawsuit against the Episcopal Church January 23, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence

The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina reports that 15 further congregations have joined it in their 4 Jan 2013 lawsuit against the national Episcopal Church.

The 22 Jan statement reported that of the dioceses congregations, 31 had joined the lawsuit against the national church, 13 congregations were supporting Bishop Mark Lawrence and the diocese against the national church but had not yet joined the litigation, nine missions and two parishes had not declared how they would act, while eight parishes and eight missions had indicated they would remain affiliated with the national Episcopal Church.

“We are saddened that legal action is necessary to protect our members from an organization that uses the threat of legal action as a cudgel to keep its parishes in line,” Bishop Lawrence said.

First printed in Anglican Ink.

Tentative settlement reached in the Fort Worth 7 and Quincy 3 cases: Anglican Ink, January 9, 2013 January 10, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, House of Bishops, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.
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A tentative settlement has been reached in the “Fort Worth 7”  and “Quincy 3” cases, sources close to the proceedings report.  Details of the agreement will not been released until all parties endorse the agreement, the sources report, but the disposition of the dispute is being characterized as “amicable” AI has learned.

If the agreement is ratified, the settlement will conclude the largest mass disciplinary proceeding launched against bishops of the Episcopal Church.

In emails dated 2 and 19 Oct 2012, the Intake Officer for the House of Bishops and aide to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Rt. Rev. F. Clayton Matthews informed nine bishops they had been charged with fraud, financial misconduct, teaching false doctrine and failing to inform on their fellow bishops who held opinions on church order contrary to those advocated by Bishop  Jefferts Schori.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

South Carolina fires first salvo in legal battle with TEC: Anglican Ink, January 5, 2013 January 5, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church.
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Bishop Mark Lawrence

A South Carolina court has been asked “Who and what are Episcopalians and how is that church organized?” after the Diocese of South Carolina filed a lawsuit yesterday against the national Episcopal Church.  The 65-page complaint asks the court to issue an injunction banning Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and her allies in South Carolina from using the name or presuming to act on behalf of the diocese and further asks the court to affirm the legality of the diocese’s secession from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America.

Filed on 4 January 2013 in the First Judicial Circuit Court in Dorchester County by the trustees of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and 16 parishes, the complaint asks the civil courts to adjudicate the same general questions currently before the Texas Supreme Court in the Diocese of Fort Worth case. South Carolina has asked the court to legal scrutiny Bishop Jefferts Schori’s claim the Episcopal Church of the United States of America is a hierarchical body with final authority vested in the national church.

Yesterday’s action follows a generation of sparing between liberals and conservatives in the Episcopal Church over issues of doctrine and discipline.  However, the legal and ecclesiological issues of diocesan autonomy and national authority arose in 2006 after Bishop Jefferts Schori was elected presiding bishop. Unlike her predecessor Frank Griswold who told the Diocese of Louisiana that ultimate authority rested in the diocese, Bishop Jefferts Schori has argued that ultimate authority resides in the General Convention and in her office.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Oregon rejects the Dennis Canon: Anglican Ink, December 5, 2012 December 6, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Fort Worth, Property Litigation.
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The Oregon Supreme Court has handed down a decision in a Presbyterian Church property dispute that effectively nullifies the Episcopal Church’s Dennis Canon in its jurisdiction.

In a 29 Nov 2012 decision in Hope Presbyterian Church of Rogue River v the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Presbytery of the Cascades the Oregon Supreme Court held that a denominational trust does not encumber parish property unless the parish takes an explicit action to place a trust or lien on the property on behalf of the denomination.

Last week’s rule had immediate ramifications for Episcopal Church property disputes as lawyers for Bishop Jack Iker and the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth filed a letter brief with the Texas Supreme Court reporting the Oregon Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of “neutral principles of law” in adjudication church property disputes.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 58, December 2, 2012 December 2, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican.TV, Church of the Province of Central Africa, Property Litigation, South Carolina, The Episcopal Church, Zimbabwe.
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This week Kevin and George talk about the Artificial Ecclesiastical Diocese of South Carolina (AEDOS) and some of the miscommunication between it’s leadership. They also talk about International stories from Canada and Egypt. And what episode won’t be complete without a story about Legal Violence in Zimbabwe? #AU58 Comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com

Court throws Dr Kunonga out of Zimbabwe’s churches: The Church of England Newspaper, November 25, 2012 p 7. November 29, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa, Property Litigation, Zimbabwe.
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A three-judge panel of the Zimbabwe Supreme Court has held the properties of the Diocese of Harare belong to the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) and are to be administered by the Bishop of Harare, Dr. Chad Gandiya.

Supreme Court Judge Yunus Omerjee on 19 Nov 2012 dismissed the claims made by the former Bishop of Harare, Dr. Nolbert Kunonga and ordered that he return control to Dr. Gandiya. Dr. Gandiya greeted the news with joy.

“Today is a day of thanksgiving for the love, grace, mercy and faithfulness of our God. To God be the glory, Great things he has done! We will forever remember and sing how gracious our God is. We call upon all members of our Diocese to be gracious also in winning.”

In 2007 Dr. Kunonga broke with the CPCA to form the Anglican Church of Zimbabwe. The breakaway bishop claimed his reasons for leaving the CPCA were due to its support of homosexuality and progressive Western theology. However, the CPCA has long opposed the innovations of doctrine and discipline made by some Western churches, and notes the controversial bishop had been the subject of investigations for fraud, heresy and misconduct.

He was alleged to have ordered the murder of disloyal clergy and was a vocal supporter of the country’s strongman, President Robert Mugabe.  In return for his loyalty, the regime gave Dr. Kunonga a farm expropriated from a white commercial farmer.  The security services and police also supported Dr Kunonga, using violence to expel Anglicans from their churches who would not pledge their loyalty to him. Court rulings that ordered Dr. Kunonga to share the use of church properties with Dr. Gandiya’s supporters were ignored, and attempts by constables to enforce them were blocked by the secret police.

Last month oral argument was presented before the Supreme Court panel on the seven Anglican Church appeals. At the close of oral argument the court dismissed five appeals as defective. Two appeals that determined the ownership were taken under consideration.

At the hearing attorneys Adrian De Bourbon and Thabani Mpofu, appearing for the CPCA, argued that in a letter dated 21 Sept 2010 Dr. Kunonga had resigned as Bishop of Harare of the CPCA and that the province had accepted his resignation on 16 Nov. The formation of the Anglican Church of Zimbabe by Dr. Kunonga was a schismatic act that did not vest control of CPCA properties in the new entity.

Attorneys Tawanda Kanengoni and Charles Nyika appearing on behalf of Dr. Kunonga argued the former bishop and his board of appointed trustess for the Diocese of Harare were still members of the CPCA.  Dr. Kunonga’s letter of resignation did not conform to the canons of the CPCA and was void.  The dispute centered round who was the proper Bishop of Harare. The court held it was Dr. Gandiya.

Dr. Kunonga did not respond to email queries asking for his comments, but in a statement released after the verdict was handed down, Dr. Gandiya called upon the Anglicans of Zimbabwe to rebuild the diocese. “The first thing we ask every parish to do when you go back is to carry out thorough inspection of all our buildings.”

“Assess the damage, note what needs to be done and carry out a full inventory of what we left behind when we were evicted,” he said.

The “rebuilding of God’s people in our diocese should be a priority also. Our people were greatly traumatised by the persecution of the last five years. They are in need of healing,” also the bishop said. “Come let us work together, let us rise up and build! Renovate! Paint! Let us do it all to God’s glory.”

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Breakaway bishop appeals Supreme Court loss: The Church of England Newspaper, November 18, 2012 p 7. November 19, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of the Province of Central Africa, Property Litigation, Zimbabwe.
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Bishop Elson Jakazi has filed a motion with the Zimbabwe Supreme Court asking it to re-hear his appeal of a lower court ruling that held he was no longer Bishop of Manicaland.

Last month a three judge panel of the Zimbabwe Supreme Court heard seven appeals brought by the Church of the Province of Central Africa and the breakaway bishops of Harare and Manicaland, Dr. Nolbert Kunonga and Bishop Jakazi.  The court dismissed five of the appeals and two cases concerning Dr. Kunonga and the Diocese of Harare were taken under advisement.

Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba, sitting with Justices Vernanda Ziyambi and Yunus Omerjee struck Bishop Jakazi’s case from consideration finding he had failed to comply with the rules of the court.

On 19 May 2010 Mutare High Court JusticeChinembiri Bhunu held that as Bishop Jakazi had resigned his see to join Dr. Kunonga to form the schismatic Anglican Church of Zimbabwe, he was no longer Bishop of Manicaland. “It is an established rule that resignation is a unilateral voluntary act which takes effect as soon as the resignation has been communicated to the correct person or authority.

“What this means is that once [Bishop Jakazi]‘s resignation letter was received by the Archbishop of the Central African Province of Central Africa, he automatically ceased to be an employee or member of that church organization without any further formalities.”

Justice Bhunu concluded that “having ceased to be an employee or member of the church organisation he automatically stripped himself of any rights and privileges arising” from his office. However, the bishop stayed enforcement of his ruling pending the appeal to the Supreme Court and Bishop Jakazi remained in control of the diocese’s properties.

The Supreme Court ruling ends the stay of execution of Justice Bhunu’s order to vacate. But Bishop Jakazi has told the Manica Post that “I am not going anywhere” and would fight any attempt to evict him from the cathedral in Mutare.

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Virginia Supreme Court rejects Episcopal Church property canon: The Church of England Newspaper, November 11, 2012 p 7. November 15, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church, Virginia.
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The Virginia Supreme Court has refused to overturn a lower court decision dismissing the Dennis Canon – the national church’s controversial property laws that seek to impose a trust on congregational property in favor of the national church and local diocese.

On 26 Oct 2012 the court announced that a three judge writ panel had granted the petition of The Falls Church to hear its appeal in The Episcopal Church v. The Falls Church.  However, it also let stand the lower court ruling that the Dennis Canon has no legal effect in property disputes in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

On 16 Oct, attorneys for the Northern Virginia congregation were permitted 10 minutes of oral argument to state why they believed the court should review their case.  The church asked the court to “review the entire lower court decision for failing to follow U.S. and Virginia Supreme Court decisions applying ‘neutral principles’ of secular property and contract law to resolve disputes about church property. Our Petition also sought review on several other grounds, including some specific to the Historic Church building, where our deed pre-dates the existence of both the Episcopal Diocese and the entire Episcopal denomination, and to the ‘non-consecrated’ property.”

The Attorney General of Virginia also filed a brief with the Supreme Court in support of The Falls Church asking it to review the “lower court’s decision to override the expressed desires of a substantial majority of our donors that their contributions should not go to the Episcopal denomination or Diocese,” the parish said.

In a statement released on 30 Oct 2012, a spokesman for the Diocese of Virginia said they were disappointed by the court’s decision.  “Regardless of this development, this diocese looks toward the future with hope as we continue to serve this world in need,” said diocesan secretary Henry Burt.

Canon lawyer Allan Haley observed the diocese’s appeal sought to give legal effect to denominational property trusts.  “By its order, the writ panel expressly refused to consider the Diocese’s and ECUSA’s cross-assignments of this claimed error, so Judge Bellows’ ruling on that specific point will stand,” Mr. Haley said.

This “means that the Dennis Canon has no effect in Virginia. Instead, according to Judge Bellows, Virginia courts will look to other indicia of ‘proprietary interests in’,” such as actual ownership and control over parish property in adjudicating these claims, he said.

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