Time for prayer about the future of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina

I became a proud permanent resident of Charleston two years ago. While living in Virginia, the parish I attended decided to leave the Episcopal Church of the United States as part of the CANA organization, which transferred its allegiance from the ECUSA bishop in New York to bishops in Africa. Full Story

“The Kingdom of God Begins NOW!”

Since: May 07

The Mountain Empire

#1 May 22, 2013
"These issues have already been decided in Virginia and other states. Appeals have been made all the way to state supreme courts, and in the end, the parishes that left ECUSA failed in their attempts to retain use of their church buildings. These legal precedents are the primary source that any judge in South Carolina will use to render decisions on cases to be decided here.

If you consider the legal precedents, you will ultimately lose your church and many hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. Wouldn’t it make sense to consider an alternate path?

Fortunately, for believers, there always exists the opportunity for forgiveness and reconciliation."

Or as Jesus says>

25 If someone sues you, come to terms with him quickly, while you and he are on the way to court; or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer of the court, and you may be thrown in jail! 26 Yes indeed! I tell you, you will certainly not get out until you have paid the last penny.
George

Jacksonville, FL

#2 May 22, 2013
There are major differences between the cases already decided and the factspresented in the South Carolina case(s). Whether those differences mandate a different result remains to be seen. In South Carolina, the accession clause was removed from the church's constituion and bylaws by the diocesan convention. The diocesan bishop quit- claimed any interest in any parish property whether the parish was staying or leaving. The South Carolina Supreme Court has already held that the Dennis canon, in and of itself, cannot create a trust interst in the property. I think these differences are important and MAY produce a different outcome. Personally, I hope they do. But I think everyone would still rather see a peaceful resolution of conflicts that avoid having secular courts deciding religious questions.

Since: Aug 09

Location hidden

#3 May 22, 2013
George wrote:
...
In South Carolina, the accession clause was removed from the church's constituion and bylaws by the diocesan convention. The diocesan bishop quit- claimed any interest in any parish property whether the parish was staying or leaving. The South Carolina Supreme Court has already held that the Dennis canon, in and of itself, cannot create a trust interest in the property. I think these differences are important and MAY produce a different outcome. Personally, I hope they do. But I think everyone would still rather see a peaceful resolution of conflicts that avoid having secular courts deciding religious questions.
I see what you are saying.

However, I disagree with your characterization of these issues on a few points.

First, with regard to what you point out above, through the intent of the partisan diocesan convention and the action of quit-claim deeding, the bishop attempted to divert the ownership of property and assets away from the effect of the Dennis Canon.

They knew what they were doing and it wasn't pretty. The chain of title and fiduciary obligation was deliberately whipstocked.

In my opinion, this was done on the recommendations of the Diocesan counsel. I wasn't there, so I don't know. But, this is a real property dispute and the strategy used was a deliberate attempt to take the issue through the secular courts - on the part of the rogue bishop. The national Church has responded as expected.

I think you are right in that the Dennis Canon in and of itself does not create a trust interest in property and assets. The Diocese, by recognizing the Dennis Canon, acknowledges the jurisdiction of the whole "Body of Christ," being spiritual AND physical, yet inseparable in purpose of function. In this recognition, the hierarchichal trust is created.

If the Diocese and its administrators had decided at the time of the Dennis Canon's establishment that the Canon could not be acknowledged and tolerated, the move to divorce from the Church at that time would likely have to have been permitted. Lawsuit may have followed from ECUSA-TEC, anyway. But, at least the Carolinians could have said, "No. We do not permit the hierarchy to make this hegemonius claim and to establish their purview - even to the point of claiming ownership in trust of all of the assets we, ourselves, have placed in a stewardship that only we can direct."

But, of course, that was why the Dennis Canon was established; foreseeing that a schism could occur in which a local Diocese could independently try to claim property and assets as its own, after determining that [it] didn't like the way the national consensus was leading the whole Church.

The secular courts cannot decide religious questions. This is their charge. The Constitution specifically requires that the government stay out of establishing religious principle. But, that does not mean that the courts cannot better define the line that divides a determination of spiritual conduct from a maintenance of stewardship that includes physical property and financial assets. That is the difference between the former monarchichal government underpinned by the fiat of the King's word and the American idea of a representative republic.

Yes, we have established a two-way street. But, there are still rules of the road that must be followed to allow for the orderly passage of traffic.

When Lawrence quit-claim deeded the properties, knowing full well who was going to be in charge of those properties at the local political level, he crossed over the double yellow line.

A peaceful resolution of conflicts, in which the national Church accedes to Bishop Lawrence's demands for capitulation by degrees is exactly the outcome that Lawrence has planned and desired to achieve in the first place.

I think the national Church will go ahead with court supervision.

Rev. Ken

Since: Aug 09

Location hidden

#4 May 22, 2013
MiddleWay wrote:
"These issues have already been decided in Virginia and other states. Appeals have been made all the way to state supreme courts, and in the end, the parishes that left ECUSA failed in their attempts to retain use of their church buildings. These legal precedents are the primary source that any judge in South Carolina will use to render decisions on cases to be decided here.
If you consider the legal precedents, you will ultimately lose your church and many hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. Wouldn’t it make sense to consider an alternate path?
Fortunately, for believers, there always exists the opportunity for forgiveness and reconciliation."
Or as Jesus says>
25 If someone sues you, come to terms with him quickly, while you and he are on the way to court; or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer of the court, and you may be thrown in jail! 26 Yes indeed! I tell you, you will certainly not get out until you have paid the last penny.
The fate of Bp. Lawrence's vision of adverse and independent possession funded by TEC is likely to become similar to the fate of Lot's wife.

“The Kingdom of God Begins NOW!”

Since: May 07

The Mountain Empire

#5 May 23, 2013
RevKen wrote:
<quoted text>
The fate of Bp. Lawrence's vision of adverse and independent possession funded by TEC is likely to become similar to the fate of Lot's wife.
Amen.

The clergy are being called by the TEC Bishop to ask them where they stand.

“The Kingdom of God Begins NOW!”

Since: May 07

The Mountain Empire

#6 May 23, 2013
George wrote:
There are major differences between the cases already decided and the factspresented in the South Carolina case(s). Whether those differences mandate a different result remains to be seen. In South Carolina, the accession clause was removed from the church's constituion and bylaws by the diocesan convention. The diocesan bishop quit- claimed any interest in any parish property whether the parish was staying or leaving. The South Carolina Supreme Court has already held that the Dennis canon, in and of itself, cannot create a trust interst in the property. I think these differences are important and MAY produce a different outcome. Personally, I hope they do. But I think everyone would still rather see a peaceful resolution of conflicts that avoid having secular courts deciding religious questions.
This will go to federal court as a violation of trademark.....
George

Jacksonville, FL

#7 May 23, 2013
RevKen wrote:
<quoted text>
..... But, this is a real property dispute and the strategy used was a deliberate attempt to take the issue through the secular courts - on the part of the rogue bishop. The national Church has responded as expected.
I think you are right in that the Dennis Canon in and of itself does not create a trust interest in property and assets. The Diocese, by recognizing the Dennis Canon, acknowledges the jurisdiction of the whole "Body of Christ," being spiritual AND physical, yet inseparable in purpose of function. In this recognition, the hierarchichal trust is created.
If the Diocese and its administrators had decided at the time of the Dennis Canon's establishment that the Canon could not be acknowledged and tolerated, the move to divorce from the Church at that time would likely have to have been permitted. Lawsuit may have followed from ECUSA-TEC, anyway. But, at least the Carolinians could have said, "No. We do not permit the hierarchy to make this hegemonius claim and to establish their purview - even to the point of claiming ownership in trust of all of the assets we, ourselves, have placed in a stewardship that only we can direct."
But, of course, that was why the Dennis Canon was established; foreseeing that a schism could occur in which a local Diocese could independently try to claim property and assets as its own, after determining that [it] didn't like the way the national consensus was leading the whole Church.
The secular courts cannot decide religious questions. This is their charge. The Constitution specifically requires that the government stay out of establishing religious principle. But, that does not mean that the courts cannot better define the line that divides a determination of spiritual conduct from a maintenance of stewardship that includes physical property and financial assets. That is the difference between the former monarchichal government underpinned by the fiat of the King's word and the American idea of a representative republic.
Yes, we have established a two-way street. But, there are still rules of the road that must be followed to allow for the orderly passage of traffic.
When Lawrence quit-claim deeded the properties, knowing full well who was going to be in charge of those properties at the local political level, he crossed over the double yellow line.
A peaceful resolution of conflicts, in which the national Church accedes to Bishop Lawrence's demands for capitulation by degrees is exactly the outcome that Lawrence has planned and desired to achieve in the first place.
I think the national Church will go ahead with court supervision.
Rev. Ken
The problem I see with this approach/analysis is this: 815 NEVER asserts its alleged interest in property being sold or mortgaged. If its beneficial interest is always there, 815 would have to have agreed to every transaction that takes place in every diocese and it never has done so. Instead, it has always been the job of the diocesan bishop, standing committee etc. I understand why it feels the need to do so now with whole dioceses leaving, but a neutral principle of law should not have to depend on whether the PB, GC or house of bishops determines in their discretion to change the rules after a transaction has takne place. This is related to the error made by the California judge in the over-broad ruling I referenced in another post.

Since: Aug 09

Location hidden

#8 May 23, 2013
George wrote:
<quoted text>
The problem I see with this approach/analysis is this: 815 NEVER asserts its alleged interest in property being sold or mortgaged. If its beneficial interest is always there, 815 would have to have agreed to every transaction that takes place in every diocese and it never has done so. Instead, it has always been the job of the diocesan bishop, standing committee etc.
...
George,

I understand. Without an actual, written Trust Agreement that spells out the duties and authorities of the stewardship of the local Diocese and also defines the hierarchical Church as an attached and named beneficiary, it sure leaves the water murky.

But, don't you think that the writers and advocates of the Dennis Canon realized this murkiness. I do. I think they realized that schisms were on the horizon and decided to do something about it, kind of like Lawrence's move to QCD property to the individual parishes.

Only, the Dennis Canon came first; before Lawrence's acts of QCD. At some point in this division, the issue of ownership of real property - according to what is written on the deed - has to be evaluated against the historical commitment of the Diocese and Parish to become an integral part of ECUSA/TEC.

I do not believe that ANY claim based upon the whim or will and belief-intent of the individual gift-giving Episcopalian can be made to sway the determination. All gift monies are pooled. They are gifts, given without strings attached and even recognized by the IRS as such. You can't be an "indian-giver" (pardon the saying).

That is the quality of stewardship. By the same token, the Church argues (correctly or incorrectly) that ownership of these assets has ALWAYS, since declaring union with ECUSA, been inferred and intended to be by the "Whole." In that stead, the Dennis Canon is simply a Declaration or Confirmation of the original and obvious.

In a way, the action of QCDing the properties was two-fold. One reason is to clarify the murky water. But, make no mistake about it. That peculiar attempt at clarification was politically understood to result in a claim to properties on Lawrence's side of the aisle.

The second effect of QCD was to literally re-cloud the title in adverse possession to the detriment of the intent of the Dennis Canon. The intended result is that a decision of clear ownership can only be decided by either court or settlement. In Lawrence's vision, an eventual "half of a loaf" is better than none. Hence, hints offered for settlement.

MiddleWay makes a good point. If Federal Court suit by TEC to reclaim Trademark is successful, Lawrence is forced to argue for title from a weakened position of foreign ownership that was specifically created as a receptacle for lands and assets taken without justification.

This really is a matter of stewardship and ownership and title and adverse possession, even if murky. The Dennis Canon does count.
And, actions such as QCDing properties might actually work against the Lawrence followers, being understood and seen as a preemptive strike against TEC.

Also, you write, "... a whole diocese leaving,..."

That is a mischaracterization. Lawrence claims it. But, a significant part of the membership and clergy of the Diocese, albeit a minority, has not left TEC.

Institutionalized bigotries and hypocrisies have become deeply rooted in the Traditions and dogma of our Church and other Churches, just like they had become under the Pharisees during the time of Jesus' Ministry.

These long-held discrepancies must be brought into the Light. When they are, they cannot stand.

An example is the Church of England which is now agreeing to admit homosexuals as bishops; but only if ... the candidate declares that he has not engaged in any same-sex relationship. In other words, they are trying to legitimize hypocrisy and lack of integrity. Ridiculous.

Rev. Ken
George

Jacksonville, FL

#9 May 23, 2013
RevKen wrote:
<quoted text>
George,
... the Church argues (correctly or incorrectly) that ownership of these assets has ALWAYS, since declaring union with ECUSA, been inferred and intended to be by the "Whole." In that stead, the Dennis Canon is simply a Declaration or Confirmation of the original and obvious.
Also, you write, "... a whole diocese leaving,..."
That is a mischaracterization. Lawrence claims it. But, a significant part of the membership and clergy of the Diocese, albeit a minority, has not left TEC....Rev. Ken
Two resonses:
First - as to the first -- that is the position TEC now argues. It has never argued that in the past and its prior actions belie the claim. If the "whole" was intended to own all properties, why has the whole never insisted upon that right/obligation in the past? That is the reason for my comment about the hundreds and thousands of transactons involving property that have taken place in the past two hundred plus years with only the authorization of the diocese. Even since the Denis canon was adopted, transactions get done every day by parishes alone and/or with the authoriization of the diocese.
Second - that depends upon one's perspective. It is just as truthful to say that the diocese left TEC and several parishes then left the diocese to try to reaffiliate with TEC. It is the flip side of the same coin and the answer depends upon whose ox is being gored. For the sake of argument, suppose every single member stood with Bp. Lawrence. Would TEC argue the a Diocese of South Carolina still existed? Of what would it consist? If the church is the people - not the buildings or other properties - would there still be an Episcopal church in South Carolina?
Listen to the Word

Kingman, AZ

#10 May 23, 2013
TEC only wants the property and money. They will get it if they go to court. The one thing they won't get is the people -- not that they care. They can be saved more easily and effectively in a truly Christian church. TEC will obviously again use the secular courts instead of the Word of God because it is the only way they can laugh all the way to the bank.

A new TEC slogan might be, "Give members the boot; give us the booty."

“The Kingdom of God Begins NOW!”

Since: May 07

The Mountain Empire

#11 May 24, 2013
Listen to the Word wrote:
TEC only wants the property and money. They will get it if they go to court. The one thing they won't get is the people -- not that they care. They can be saved more easily and effectively in a truly Christian church. TEC will obviously again use the secular courts instead of the Word of God because it is the only way they can laugh all the way to the bank.
A new TEC slogan might be, "Give members the boot; give us the booty."
You shall not steal

You shall not covet.

Since: Aug 09

Location hidden

#12 May 24, 2013
Listen to the Word wrote:
TEC only wants the property and money. They will get it if they go to court. The one thing they won't get is the people -- not that they care. They can be saved more easily and effectively in a truly Christian church. TEC will obviously again use the secular courts instead of the Word of God because it is the only way they can laugh all the way to the bank.
A new TEC slogan might be, "Give members the boot; give us the booty."
A fully cynical viewpoint, intended to defend the institutionalized bigotry.

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