No Ordinary Year for the US Ordinariate

2012 was full of milestones for the new ordinariate, and 2013 will feature more,  including a February visit by Archbishop Gerhard Müller, prefect of the  Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

National Catholic Register:

Washington — When Father Scott Hurd, vicar general of the Personal  Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter — a home in the Catholic Church for  former Episcopalians and Anglicans — reflects back on 2012, he points to a  period of rapid and exciting growth marking its first year of existence.

On New Year’s Day 2012, Pope Benedict XVI erected the ordinariate, which  allows former Anglicans to retain certain treasured traditions within the  Catholic Church. It was created in accord with Anglicanorum  Coetibus, the Pope’s apostolic constitution permitting former Anglicans  to come into the Church corporately instead of as individuals.

On the same day, the Holy Father named Msgr.  Jeffrey Steenson, a married Catholic priest and the former Episcopal bishop  of the Episcopal Diocese of Rio Grande, as the first ordinary.

Newspapers have since featured stories of former Episcopal churches being  received into the Catholic Church as groups in beautiful Masses that included  Vatican-approved prayers that they had long cherished from the Anglican Book of  Common Prayer, a landmark of the English language.

“The joy and blessing of all these people being received into the Church is  at the end of the day what this is all about — it is about unity in Christ,” Father Hurd told the Register.

Father Hurd is a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington who has a  three-year appointment to serve as vicar general to the ordinariate.

The ordinariate recently received an especially high-profile former  Episcopal priest, Larry Gipson, former dean of the Episcopal Cathedral Church of  the Advent in Birmingham, Ala., and also former rector of the 8,000-strong St.  Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, where former President George H. W. Bush  and his wife, Barbara, were among his parishioners.

The former Episcopal rector, who holds a master’s degree in divinity from  Yale University, hopes to become a Catholic priest.

Three Ordinariates

The Chair of St. Peter is one of three ordinariates for former  Anglicans.

The Personal Ordinariate of Our  Lady of Walsingham, under the patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman, one of  the great English converts, was established in the United Kingdom in 2011. (A  group of Anglican  nuns just joined the Church in the Walsingham Ordinariate). The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the  Southern Cross, under the patronage of St. Augustine of Canterbury, was  established in Australia in June.

The Chair of St. Peter also administers a newly created ordinariate deanery  in Canada, which  Rome approved in December. Msgr. Steenson appointed Father Lee Kenyon, a  former Church of England priest who brought his entire Anglican parish into the  Catholic Church in 2011, as dean of Canada’s new Deanery of St. John the  Baptist.

“It has been an amazing year,” said Susan White of Arlington, Va., a former  Episcopalian who is active in the ordinariate. “Every time I turn around, there  is news of more folks, clergy and lay, swimming the Tiber, their carefully  preserved Anglican treasures tied to their backs to offer to Rome. We are so  blessed to be able to bring our riches with us.”

Eric Wilson, a former Episcopalian who is now a communicant of St. Luke’s  Catholic Church in Bladensburg, Md., echoed that sense of gratitude: “It’s been  a tremendous blessing this year to experience firsthand Pope Benedict’s vision  for Christian unity being lived out on a daily basis.”

St. Luke’s parishioners entered the Catholic Church last summer, after an  intense period of discernment.

“Whether it’s the many holy priests we’ve seen ordained or the hundreds of  converts growing in the faith, the ordinariate’s success has exceeded all  expectations — a sure sign that the Lord is at work,” Wilson said.

The Year Ahead

Looking forward, Father Hurd added, “To a certain degree, next year will be  more of the same. There are communities in transition, and some still in  discernment [as to whether to become Catholic and part of the ordinariate], and  we have a second wave of clergy aspirants who are starting the process.”

As of late December, the ordinariate included 1,600 laypeople, 28 priests and  36 communities. There are 69 additional applications from men who hope to become  Catholic priests of the ordinariate.

Deacon Ken Bolin, 38, a West Point graduate and military chaplain who has  served in Iraq and Afghanistan, is among those candidates who have already  completed their priestly formation and expect to be ordained as Catholic priests  through the ordinariate this March.

“The ordinariate is a great answer to Christ’s prayer that we should all be  one,” said Deacon Bolin, a transitional deacon, who holds the rank of major in  the U.S. Army.

Currently stationed in Anchorage, Alaska, he hopes to be ordained in March.  He is especially excited that he has been granted permission to be the priest  who performs the rites of initiation when his wife, Sharon, and their three  children are welcomed into the Church.

The ordinariate makes it possible for married former Episcopal and Anglican  clergymen such as Deacon Bolin to become Catholic priests. But, eventually, the  ordinariate will have a celibate priesthood.

The ordinariate — which is something new in the history of the Catholic  Church — also devoted 2012 to establishing legal and organizational policies to  build a foundation for future growth. It will soon have income from parish  assessments similar to diocesan assessments. “

Now that we have reached this point, we will be on a firmer financial  footing,” Father Hurd predicted.

Diocesan Generosity

Father Hurd stressed that the generosity of Catholic dioceses and  ordinariate staff members — many of whom work without pay — has made the  ordinariate possible. He expressed gratitude to the U.S. bishops for their  financial and spiritual support.

While some ordinariate priests, such as Father Mark Lewis of St. Luke’s  Catholic Church in Bladensburg, Md., who is renowned for his preaching and the  high caliber of music at his church, are able to function full time as clergy,  others mostly rely on income generated from work in Catholic institutions such  as schools or diocesan offices.

“Anyone who puts forth an application to become an ordinariate priest must  have an adequate source of income to take care of his family,” said Father  Hurd.

While the ordinariate has spent a lot of energy on establishing a secure  foundation, it has been buoyed by many promising developments. Recently, it  received an anonymous donation of land to build its first chancery. The donor  spent $5 million to purchase five acres adjacent to the ordinariate’s principal  church, Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston.

The ordinariate is seeking additional donors for construction of the  chancery. It currently operates out of a small office at St. Mary’s Seminary in  Houston, where Msgr. Steenson teaches theology, with most of its small staff  scattered around the United States. Father Hurd said that quite a few members of  the staff have donated their time free of charge.

The ordinariate is planning a pilgrimage to Rome for priests and families in  February. “We will set out to discover the apostolic foundations of the Church  of Rome, to participate in the wonderful tradition of Lenten stational Masses  organized by the Pontifical North American College and to meet some of the  architects of the ordinariates,” Msgr. Steenson reported in an online “update  from the ordinary.”

He also expressed the hope that the pilgrimage to Rome would include an  opportunity to thank the “Successor of St. Peter himself for the gift of Anglicanorum Coetibus.

Archbishop Müller’s Visit

A symposium on the ordinariate is planned for February at St. Mary’s  Seminary in Houston, and Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, who played an  essential role in establishing and supporting the ordinariate, and Archbishop Gerhard Müller, the prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and  secretary to the Anglicanae Traditiones commission, will be featured  speakers.

“The three ordinariates operate under the aegis of the Congregation for the  Doctrine of the Faith,” explained Father Hurd, “and for Archbishop Müller to  make his first U.S. visit as head to the symposium is not only a great honor for  us, but also a vote of confidence for the great things that have happened over  the last year.”


Britain’s First Atheist ‘Church’ Opens Its Doors


On Sunday, Britain’s first atheist church held its very first meeting at The Nave, a former church-turned-performance space, in Islington, North London.

According to the Islington Gazette, stand-up comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans founded the so-called godless church because they wanted a space where non-religious folks could commune and edify one another.

The Huffington Post UK explains that the church, dubbed “Sunday Assembly,” has been “championed as [a] chance for disillusioned former believers, nostalgic atheists and anybody searching for a sense of community, to meet and ‘turn good intentions into action.'”

According to the Independent, about 200 worshippers showed up to the service, held on Jan. 6. The congregation focused on the theme of “Beginnings,” deliberating over ways that success can be achieved by letting go of past failures and avoiding “mental booby traps.” Instead of a sermon, the church invited Andy Stanton, a popular children’s book author, to talk about overcoming the odds and achieving success; and instead of praying together, those gathered were encouraged at one point to close their eyes and meditate on their fears of inadequacy and failure.  With Jones taking the stage as MC, the congregation was also treated to some stand-up comedy. A rendition of Oasis’ “Don’t Look Back In Anger” was even sung during the gathering.

Going forward, the “Sunday Assembly” is scheduled to meet on the first Sunday of every month.

Not everyone is open to prospect of an atheist church, however. Some have accused Jones and Evans of pulling an elaborate publicity stunt; others argue that the conflation of atheism and religious practices is troubling.

“How can you be an atheist and worship in a church? Surely it’s a contradiction of terms. Who will they be singing to?” London Catholic parish priest Rev. Saviour Grech said to the Islington Gazette. “It is important to debate and engage with atheists[,] but for them to establish a church like any other religious denomination is going too far. I’m cautious about it.”

And it’s not just religious individuals who have expressed concern. As The Huffington Post UK notes, atheists too have voiced unease: “Critics have suggested by holding the meeting in an old church, (albeit deconsecrated) and by following a format of songs interspersed by reading and addresses, the comedians are at risk of turning atheism into its own sort of religion.”

Rest here.

A ‘church’ without God? How progressive…



Annual Litigation Summary for the Episcopal Church (USA)

To their shame…

These are lawsuits initiated by ECUSA.

A.S. Haley writes:

It is a fact well known to certain Episcopalians—both those who have left the Episcopal Church (USA) and those who have remained—that ECUSA and its dioceses have followed a pattern of suing any church that chooses to leave for another Anglican jurisdiction. But the full extent of the litigation that has ensued is not well known at all, either in the wider Church, or among the provinces of the Anglican Communion.

Your Curmudgeon proposes to do what he can to rectify this situation, by publishing an annual update on this site of the current status of all past and present cases in which ECUSA or any of its dioceses has been or is involved, from 2000 to date. Feel free to link to this post, to email links to it to other Episcopalians, and to send it to your Bishop—and feel free to post any updates or corrections in the comments.

The lawsuits initiated by ECUSA and its dioceses to date are first listed below, followed by a list of the six cases begun by a diocese or parish against the Episcopal Church. The listing endeavors to be as complete as I can make it. The first 78 cases, grouped by the State in which they each originated, are the legal actions filed since 2000 (of which I am aware) where the Episcopal Church (USA) and/or one of its dioceses played the role of plaintiff—the party who initiates a case in court by filing a complaint to seize the assets and real property of any church choosing to leave ECUSA.  Please note that wherever possible the actual citation of any published decision in the case has been given. Also, please note the dates for the later cases, which demonstrate the acceleration of litigation by ECUSA and its dioceses in defiant rejection of the Primates’ call for a moratorium on litigation at the Dar es Salaam meeting.

1. Against Christ Anglican Church in Mobile, Alabama (plaintiff was the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast—-the suit settled in 2001 before trial).

2.-4. Against St. John’s Episcopal Church in Fallbrook, California (CA); St. Anne’s, in Oceanside CA; and Holy Trinity, in Ocean Beach, CA (plaintiff in all three cases is the Diocese of San Diego).  Trial court ruled against the two latter parishes following the decision by the California Supreme Court in the St. James Newport Beach case; parishes decided not to appeal.

5.  New case by TEC against St. John’s Episcopal Church in Fallbrook, CA:  Dale W. New, Richard L. Goodlake and the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego v. The Rev. Donald L. Kroeger, et al. (following its decision in the St. James case (No. 6 below), the California Supreme Court ordered republished the decision of the Fourth Appellate District [167 Cal.App.4th 800, 84 Cal.Rptr.3d 464 (2008)], awarding the property to the plaintiff Diocese of San Diego; the defendants did not seek further review)

6-8.  Against St. James Anglican Church, Newport Beach CA and two others;  Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and ECUSA v. St. James (Newport Beach) et al. (lead case), Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and ECUSA v. All Saints (Long Beach) et al., Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and ECUSA v. St. David’s (North Hollywood) et al.;  Episcopal Church Cases, S155094  (Diocese of Los Angeles is plaintiff, joined by ECUSA; following its decision overruling the defendants’ demurrers and reversing the trial court’s grant of a motion to strike [45 Cal.4th 467, 87 Cal.Rptr.3d 275, 198 P.3d 66, cert. denied, 130 S.Ct. 179 (2009)], the California Supreme Court subsequently reversed a judgment entered against St. James and ordered that the case go forward; litigation is now in the discovery phase). Trial court rulings against the other two parishes are currently on appeal.

9.  Against St. Luke’s of the Mountains Anglican Church, et al, La Crescenta CA; Patricia Huber, The Right Rev. Sergio Carranza, The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Los Angeles, The Right Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop Diocesan of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles v. The Rev. Dr. Ronald W. Jackson, St. Luke’s of the Mountains Anglican Church, et al. (Fourth Appellate District ruled in favor of Plaintiff Diocese of Los Angeles [175 Cal.App.4th 663, 96 Cal.Rptr.3d 346]; parish decided not to appeal further)

10.  Against St. John’s Anglican Church in Petaluma, CA ; Episcopal Diocese of Northern California v. St. John’s Anglican Church, Petaluma (Sonoma County Superior Court; parties agreed to settle following California Supreme Court decision, parish moved to another location and is now a member of ACNA); (Diocese of Northern California was plaintiff)

11.  Against Bishop John David Schofield and the diocesan investment fund in the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, CA (ACNA); Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, The Rt. Rev. Jerry A. Lamb and The Episcopal Church v. Bishop John-David Schofield and The Episcopal Foundation of San Joaquin (Fresno Superior Court; case involves the Diocese of San Joaquin withdrawing from the Episcopal Church); (the TEC-established and -funded Diocese of San Joaquin is the Plaintiff); case is back in Superior Court after successful appeal by Bishop Schofield to the Fifth Appellate District [190 Cal.App.4th 154, 118 Cal.Rptr.3d 160], in discovery phase, with trial in late summer 2013)

12.  Against Trinity Anglican Church in Bristol, Connecticut (CT) (Plaintiff is the Diocese of Connecticut; case settled in 2008; congregation left property to the Diocese)

13.  Against The Rector and former vestry of Bishop Seabury Church in Groton, CT; (Plaintiff was the Diocese of Connecticut; parish lost decision in trial court, and Connecticut Supreme Court recently affirmed that decision [302 Conn. 408, 28 A.3d 302]; parish’s petition to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied in June 2012, along with a Presbyterian case from Georgia [132 Sup.Ct. 2773])

14.  Against Redeemer Anglican Church in Jacksonville, Florida (FL): Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Florida v. Lebhar, Case No. 16-2006-CA-002361 (Duval Cnty. Fla. Cir Ct.) (plaintiff was the Diocese of Florida; parish left property to go to other premises)

15.  Against Christ Church in Savannah, Georgia, GA; Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia, Inc., The Episcopal Church, et al. v. The Rector, Wardens and Vestrymen of Christ Church in Savannah, et al., (Civil Action No. CV07-2039KA, Superior Ct., Chatham County). (Plaintiffs Diocese of Georgia and ECUSA, joined subsequently by shadow congregation formed by the Diocese, won in Court of Appeal and recently in Georgia Supreme Court [290 Ga. 95, 718 S.E.2d 237]; congregation handed over keys to property on 12/12/2011 and later dismissed petition to U.S. Supreme Court)

16.  Against All Saints Church in Attleboro, Massachusetts (MA) (plaintiff was the Diocese of Massachusetts; the case settled in 2007)

17.  Against St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Morehead City, North Carolina (NC) (plaintiff was the Diocese of East Carolina and those members of the parish who had not voted to join AMiA; following a jury mistrial, plaintiffs obtained summary judgment which was affirmed on appeal in Daniel v. Wray, 580 S.E.2d 711 [N.C. App. 2003])

18.  Against the Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton, New York (NY); The Diocese of Central New York v. The Rector, Church Wardens, and Vestrymen of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Index No. 2008-0980 (N.Y. Sup Ct. Broome Cnty) (Plaintiff was the Diocese of Central New York, joined by TEC; trial court ruled in favor of Diocese, parish chose to move to other premises, and Diocese eventually sold church buildings to Muslim group for a mosque)

19.  Against St. Joseph’s Anglican Church (formerly Trinity Church of East New York) in Brooklyn, NY, which originally separated from ECUSA in 1977, before the adoption of the Dennis Canon (plaintiff was the Diocese of Long Island, in a second action brought in 2005 after it lost its first suit, filed in the early 1980’s—-the case settled early in 2008, and St. Joseph’s kept its property in exchange for a below-market value payment of $275,000)

20.  Against St. James Anglican Church in Elmhurst (Queens), NY (plaintiff was the Diocese of Long Island; summary judgment against the parish in March 2008 was not appealed)

21.  Against All Saints Protestant Episcopal Church in Rochester, NY;  Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, et al. v. Harnish et al., Index No. 2006-2669 (N.Y. Sup Ct. Monroe Cnty.) (plaintiff was the Diocese of Rochester; N.Y. Court of Appeal ruled in favor of Diocese, based on NY statute giving effect to Dennis Canon [11 N.Y.3d 340, 899 N.E.2d 920 [2008])

22.  Against St. Andrew’s in Syracuse, NY; Diocese of Central New York, et al. v. St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Index No. 2006-4606 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Onondaga Cnty.) (plaintiff originally was the Diocese of Central New York, and TEC’s Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society later intervened—-Diocese refused to settle the lawsuit by leasing property to parish, so parish walked away in 2007)

23.  Against the Church of St. James the Less, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (PA); In re Church of St. James the Less, 585 Pa. 428; 888 A.2d 795 (2005); (Plaintiff was the Diocese of Pennsylvania, and ultimately prevailed in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2005; historic church building remains still empty as of 2013)

24.  Against Church of the Epiphany Herndon, Virginia (VA); The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia v. Church of the Epiphany, Herndon, CL 2007-1235 (Circuit Court for Fairfax County, Va.); (Plaintiff is the Diocese of Virginia – see news for cases 35-45 below)

25.  Against Truro Church Fairfax VA; The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia v. Truro Church, CL 2007-1236 (Circuit Court for Fairfax County, Va.); (Plaintiff is the Diocese of Virginia – see news for cases 35-45 below)

26.  Against Christ the Redeemer Church, Chantilly VA; The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia v. Christ the Redeemer Church, CL 2007-1237 (Circuit Court for Fairfax County, Va.); (Plaintiff is the Diocese of Virginia – see news for cases 35-45 below)

27.  Against Church of the Apostles, Fairfax VA; The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia v. Church of the Apostles, CL 2007-1238 (Circuit Court for Fairfax County, Va.); (Plaintiff is the Diocese of Virginia – see news for cases 35-45 below)

28.  Against The Falls Church, Falls Church VA; The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia v. The Church at The Falls – The Falls Church, CL 2007-5250 (Circuit Court for Fairfax County, Va.)(formerly Case No. 07-125, Circuit Court for Arlington County, Va.); (Plaintiff is the Diocese of Virginia – see news for cases 35-45 below)

29.  Against Potomac Falls Church, Potomac Falls VA;  The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Virginia v. Potomac Falls Church, CL 2007-5362 (Circuit Court for Fairfax County, Va.)(formerly Case No. 44149, Circuit Court for Loudoun County, Va.);  (Plaintiff is the Diocese of Virginia – see news for cases 35-45 below)

30.  Against Church of Our Saviour, Oatlands VA; The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia v. Church of Our Saviour at Oatlands, CL 2007-5364 (Circuit Court for Fairfax County, Va.) (formerly Case No. 44148, Circuit Court for Loudoun County, Va.);  (Plaintiff is the Diocese of Virginia; parish settled with Diocese in 2011 by agreeing to a five-year leaseback of the property, and to disaffiliate from ACNA)

31.  Against St. Margaret’s Church, Woodbridge VA;  The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia v. St. Margaret’s Church, CL 2007-5682 (Circuit Court for Fairfax County, Va.) (formerly Case No. CL 73465, Circuit Court for Prince William Cnty., Va.);  (Plaintiff is the Diocese of Virginia – see news for cases 35-45 below)

32.  Against St. Paul’s Church, Haymarket VA;  The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia v. St. Paul’s Church, Haymarket, Case No. CL 73466 (Circuit Court for Fairfax County, Va.) (formerly CL 2007-5683, Prince William County, Va.);  (Plaintiff is the Diocese of Virginia – see news for cases 35-45 below)

33.  Against Church of the Word, Gainesville VA:  The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia v. Church of the Word, CL 2007-5684  (Circuit Court for Fairfax County, Va. )(formerly Case No.  CL 73464, Circuit Court for Prince William County, Va.);  (Plaintiff is the Diocese of Virginia; parish agreed to settle with the Diocese in early 2011 on terms similar to those with the Church of Our Savior, Oatlands)

34.  Against St. Stephen’s Church, Heathsville VA;  The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia v. St. Stephen’s Church, CL 2007-5902 (Circuit Court for Fairfax County, Va.)(formerly Case No. CL 07-16, Circuit Court for Northumberland County, Va); (Plaintiff is the Diocese of Virginia – see next entry for update)

35-45.  Against Truro Church and all of the Virginia Anglican churches affiliating with CANA above, Plaintiff is the Episcopal Church (USA); The Episcopal Church v. Truro Church, et al., CL 2007-1625 (Circuit Court for Fairfax County, Va; case was tried again in Circuit Court in 2011 following reversal by Virginia Supreme Court in 2010 of trial court’s earlier decision in favor of parishes; trial court ruled this time in favor of Diocese; all defendants have surrendered their property to the Diocese, with Truro leasing theirs back for a limited time; only The Falls Church has appealed to the Va. Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the appeal in 2013)

46-50.  Against St. Luke’s Church in Akron, Ohio (OH) and four other northeast Ohio parishes; The Episcopal Diocese of Ohio, et al.v. Anglican Church of the Transfiguration, et al., Civil Action No CV 08 654973 (Cuyahoga County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas); (plaintiff is the Diocese of Ohio; trial court granted summary judgment in its favor, and parishes have left their properties)

51.  Against Church of the Good Shepherd, San Angelo, Texas (TX)  (Plaintiff is the Diocese of NW Texas; parish lost below and in the Court of Appeal, and after arguments in 2012, is awaiting decision by the Texas Supreme Court)

52.  Against St. Edmunds Anglican Church, Elm Grove, Wisconsin (WI) (Plaintiff is the Diocese of Milwaukee) (trial court granted summary judgment against parish in 2011; parish later vacated the property, which remains vacant)

53-54. and ?? Against the 50+ churches of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican- Southern Cone).  Plaintiff is the TEC replacement Diocese of Pittsburgh, arising out of an earlier lawsuit initiated by Calvary Church, Pittsburgh against Bishop Duncan and the Diocese of Pittsburgh to prevent them from leaving TEC. The judgment by the trial court required the Anglican Diocese to turn over all of its property to the remnant Episcopal Diocese, was affirmed by the Commonwealth Court in early 2011, and review was later denied by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  Two parishes have since settled with the remnant diocese, which demanded that they disaffiliate from the Anglican Diocese; one moved out of its property rather than agree to such terms.  Negotiations are ongoing to settle the claims of the remnant diocese against the properties of the other parishes.

55.  Against St. Barnabas Anglican Church, Omaha, Nebraska (Plaintiff is the Diocese of Nebraska; trial court denied parish’s motion for summary judgment, and granted summary judgment to the Diocese; appeal is pending once a final judgment is entered )

56.  Against the Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker and the other trustees of the Corporation of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, in the 141st District Court of Tarrant County, TX (Plaintiffs, the remnant diocese and its appointed bishop, were later joined by the Episcopal Church, and the lawsuit was subsequently broadened to include all individual parishes of the remnant diocese as cross-complainants, and all individual parishes of +Iker’s Episcopal Diocese as cross-defendants; the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the remnant diocese and its bishop in early 2011 is on a direct appeal to the Texas Supreme Court, which heard arguments in October 2012 and has not yet published its decision)

57.  Against St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church of Ft. Worth, in Hood County District Court, TX (Plaintiff is the remnant diocese of Ft. Worth and Bishop Ohl, its provisional bishop; plaintiff seeks to have the proceeds of a trust fund left to St. Andrew’s, which remains with Bishoip Iker and his Diocese, turned over to the remnant group; the trial court stayed the proceedings pending the outcome in the case described in the previous paragraph)

58.  Against the Rt. Rev. Jack Leo Iker individually, for alleged trademark infringement, in federal district court in Ft. Worth (plaintiffs are the remnant diocese and its bishop; court stayed proceedings pending the outcome of the main case [No. 55 above])

59.  Against The Rt. Rev. Jack Iker, individually, and unnamed agents and representatives acting with him as part of the Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth, in federal district court in Ft. Worth (Plaintiffs are TEC funded and supported members of the vestry of All Saints Episcopal Church, Ft. Worth, as reported in a letter of January 21, 2009 published by Stand Firm; the grounds alleged are very similar to those alleged in the suit described in the previous paragraph; suit is on hold pending the outcome of the main case [No. 56 above])

60.  Against St. Andrew’s in the Pines Anglican Church, Fayette County, Georgia, Superior Court, Civil Action No. 2007-V0272C, October 2007 (Plaintiff was the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta; parish left its property behind and formed a CANA congregation)

61-69. Against St. Columba’s Fresno, and its rector and its vestry members, in Fresno County Superior Court (2010); St. Francis Anglican Parish of Turlock, and its rector and its vestry members, in Stanislaus County Superior Court (2010); St. Michael’s Anglican Parish of Ridgecrest, and its rector and its vestry members, in Kern County Superior Court (2010); the Rector, Wardens and Vestrymen of St. John’s Parish in Porterville, California, in Tulare County Superior Court (2010); St. James Church, Sonora, and its rector and its vestry members, in Tuolumne County Superior Court (2010); the Rector, Wardens and Vestrymen of Redeemer Parish in Delano, California, in Kern County Superior Court (2010); the Rector, Wardens and Vestrymen of St. Paul’s Parish in Visalia, California, in Tulare County Superior Court (2010); St. Paul’s Anglican parish in Bakersfield, California, and its rector and its vestry members, in Kern County Superior Court (2010); the Wardens and Vestry of St. John’s, Stockton, and its rector and its vestry members, in San Joaquin County Superior Court (2010); (plaintiffs are the remnant diocese of San Joaquin and its bishop; suits seek an order turning over control of all parish property to the bishop of the remnant diocese; Superior Court of Fresno County denied a motion to consolidate all nine cases with the one alrerady pending there [No. 11 above]; cases are in various stages of discovery)

70-78. Against the rectors and vestry members of the same nine parishes in Nos. 61-69 above, in the same Superior Courts, respectively (2011) (these are complaints in intervention in the process of being filed by the Episcopal Church)

As a matter of fairness, I also list the number of cases where the Episcopal Church (USA) or one of its dioceses is the defendant and not the plaintiff. There are only six instances, as shown below. But in all but the first, it was the diocese (or ECUSA) which triggered the filing of a lawsuit by moving to take control of the individual church’s assets, and the legal actions that followed were essentially a defensive response against those moves.

1. The earliest instance of a parish starting a lawsuit was in 2000, after a dispute arose between All Saints Parish, Pawley’s Island, South Carolina (SC), the Diocese of South Carolina, and TEC in connection with the formation of the Anglican Mission in America. The suit eventually found its way to the South Carolina Supreme Court, which in September 2009 issued a decision finding that the Dennis Canon did not create any kind of a trust interest in parish property under South Carolina law, and ruling that the property remained with the parish despite its disaffiliation from the Episcopal Church (385 S.C. 428, 685 S.E.2d 163).

2. An action was brought in 2005 in federal district court by six parishes and their rectors (the “Connecticut Six”) against the Diocese of Connecticut, whose bishop had suspended the priests in question and taken over some of the church properties. The court dismissed the lawsuit the next year, and the diocese has since brought the actions listed as Nos. 12 and 13 above.

3. Grace Church & St. Stephens, Colorado Springs, Colorado, sought declaratory judgment against the Bishop and the Diocese of Colorado. However, in that suit, the plaintiff church sought a simple declaration that the diocese had no right, title or interest in its property, in response to an attempt by the diocese to freeze the church’s bank accounts. The response of the diocese was to file a counterclaim against the church, its rector and 17 of its vestry and leading parishioners seeking millions of dollars in damages. The trial court granted judgment for the Diocese following a trial in 2009, and the parish chose not to appeal, but to move from the property to a new location.

4. The Diocese of the Rio Grande and St. Francis on the Hill (El Paso, TX): St. Francis began the suit with a claim for declaratory relief in response to the threat of suit by the diocese to take their property.  Eventually the trial court granted summary judgment to the Diocese, and the parish left its property.

5. The Diocese of Quincy sued the Episcopal Church in 2009 for declaratory relief after the latter had asked the diocese’s bank to freeze its accounts.  The case is still in the trial court, where the Church, joined by the remnant diocese, brought a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court denied, holding that there was a triable issue of fact as to whether the Church is “hierarchical” as it claims.  Trial is set for April 2013.

6. The Diocese of South Carolina sued the Episcopal Church in January 2013 in the Court of Common Pleas for Dorchester County after the Church began “abandonment of Communion” proceedings against the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence, which action triggered the Diocese’s immediate withdrawal.  The suit was filed before TEC could fulfill its announced intention to sue the Bishop and the Diocesan trustees for the Diocese’s property and bank accounts, once it reorganizes a new Episcopal diocese at a special convention called for later in January 2013.

A particular Bible verse comes to mind, having read all of the above:

When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers…

1 Cor 6:1-8


Gafcon II Set

For Nairobi in October. And they’ll huff, and they’ll puff, and they’ll do little else…

The second Global Anglican Futures Conference – Gafcon II – will be held in Nairobi this October, the chairman of the primates’ council of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, reports.

In his New Year’s Day message to the Anglican Church of Kenya, Dr. Wabukala stated that he was “very happy” to report that “in October this year, we are expecting the second Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON 2) to be held here in Nairobi and we look forward to welcoming Anglican leaders from around the globe. I believe this will be a strategic moment in the reshaping of the Anglican Communion to fulfil our vision for global mission and a time when we will experience a foretaste of that glorious gathering of the people of God which Isaiah prophesied.”

Rest here.

Wikipedia has more on Gafcon here.



Our Father Is Younger Than We…

Grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

~ GK Chesterton