Church

Anglican vs. Episcopalian Legal Fight May Be Nearing an End

In a Fresno courtroom Monday, Anglican Bishop John-David Schofield’s presence loomed large in the long, legal battle between the U.S. Episcopal Church and the breakaway Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin.

Schofield, who died in October, is a key witness in a Fresno County Superior Court civil trial that will determine who owns dozens of pieces of property — the Anglican diocese or the national Episcopal Church?

The bishop gave his videotaped deposition in late 2011, long after he led 40 of 47 parishes in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin away from the national Episcopal Church to form the Anglican Diocese of the San Joaquin.

Rest here.

 

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Church

Parish Weighs Order to Surrender its Church

Sad news for the people of St Barnabas in Omaha:

An Omaha congregation that left the Episcopal Church over issues of doctrine and homosexuality now faces a tough decision about its midtown church: Should congregants stay or should they go?

A judge ruled last week that the people of St. Barnabas Church must surrender the 97-year-old church building, with all its artwork and other trappings, plus its rectory and other property to the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska.

The ruling by Douglas County District Court Judge Joseph Troia came more than three years after the diocese sued St. Barnabas’ priest and leaders for the church and rectory at 129 N. 40th St. It is one of many such property disputes around the nation between the Episcopal Church and disaffected congregations.

The judge’s order gives the St. Barnabas congregation, which is moving toward joining the Roman Catholic Church, until late October to hand over the keys. But the diocese’s lawyer, D.C. “Woody” Bradford, said it won’t push to enforce that deadline.

People on both sides said they hope for negotiations that could lead to the congregation’s staying in its current home, though not as an Episcopal church. St. Barnabas leaders also are considering an appeal.

“What we’re hoping is that now that they have won the lawsuit they’ll be more willing to sit down with us and talk about what’s real,” said the Rev. Robert Scheiblhofer, rector of St. Barnabas.

Bradford said Nebraska Episcopal Bishop J. Scott Barker “wants to resolve it as amicably as possible, without any hindrance of their desire to become a Catholic Church. … I’m sure we’ll come together and work something out.”

St. Barnabas is one of dozens of Episcopal parishes around the nation whose members have chosen to leave the Episcopal Church. They have done so for a variety of reasons, most having to do with their parishioners’ and clergy’s beliefs that the U.S. church has drifted from traditional Anglican faith.

Long known for tolerating a wide variety of theological views, the Episcopal Church has struggled in recent years over issues that confront other denominations as well, including the ordination of women and of openly gay clergy…

Officials of the Nebraska Episcopal Diocese have said that St. Barnabas members were free to leave the denomination, with church leaders’ blessings, but that they could not continue to use their buildings…

They also are considering other options, including moving out and finding a different church building…

HT:  Michael Frost (in via e-mail).

 

Church

Bishop David Moyer Plans to Subpoena Msgr Jeffrey Steenson

An ever sensational (try to read through that) Dr David Virtue reports: TAC Bishop Moyer Serves Subpoena on Friends and Enemies.

The deposed former priest of the Episcopal Anglo-Catholic parish of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont, PA, David L. Moyer has given notice that he will serve a subpoena on former friends and enemies including one to “Jerry Steenson”, the new Ordinary of the Ordinariate of the Roman Catholic Church for documents relating to a lawsuit brought by his former attorney, John H. Lewis Jr., for fraud and defamation.

The proposed subpoenas, which contain seven pages of instructions, definitions and document requests, bear no obvious relationship to the question of whether Moyer defamed Lewis or filed a frivolous lawsuit against him several years ago. For example, it boggles the mind to think that “Jerry Steenson” might have documents,” an individual who resided and worked outside Pennsylvania for most of the last ten years, to see if they bear on whether Lewis was defamed by Moyer or whether Moyer filed a frivolous lawsuit against him.

Indeed, and ironically, in a suit where Moyer has been accused of defaming someone, the reference to “Jerry” (his name is Jeffrey) seems to be designed to denigrate and insult the former Episcopal Bishop of the Rio Grande who crossed the Tiber several years ago – a move that Moyer himself has sought, but did not obtain the required votum needed for him to join the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter because of serious impediments.

Moyer’s plan to subpoena “Jerry Steenson” seems designed to harass and punish him as the messenger who delivered to Moyer news that Moyer would not receive the required votum from Archbishop Charles Chaput of the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Now Moyer cannot proceed with training he needs for the Catholic priesthood. Perhaps Moyer’s next subpoena will be delivered to Rome itself…

In fact, the subpoena planned for me seeks each and every document I might have relating to Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson.

Some questions come to mind. Why is Moyer trying to uncover information about Steenson? Is he so aggrieved at being rejected by Steenson for the Ordinariate that he intends to launch an investigation into Steenson – an investigation that plainly has no relationship to Lewis’ lawsuit?

At another level, is the planned subpoena to me nothing more then an effort to chill VOL’s news -gathering efforts in connection with a topic of tremendous interest to our readers? Shame on you, Moyer.

VOL will not be bullied into silence and we will not cease our efforts in uncovering the truth about what happened at the Church of the Good Shepherd, the $1.5 million spent on legal fees, and other matters including property issues.

Good grief! Talk about burning bridges…

I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!

The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters.

– 1 Cor 6:5-8

Church

EWTN Sues US Government

Over contraception mandate.

Catholic media network EWTN sued the federal government Feb. 9, challenging the Obama administration’s rule requiring many religious ministries to subsidize contraception and sterilization in their health plans.

“We had no other option but to take this to the courts,” EWTN President and CEO Michael Warsaw said in an announcement about the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court on Wednesday. “There is no question that this mandate violates our First Amendment rights.”

“Under the HHS mandate, EWTN is being forced by the government to make a choice,” Warsaw explained. “Either we provide employees coverage for contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs and violate our conscience or offer our employees and their families no health insurance coverage at all. Neither of those choices is acceptable.”

Senior attorneys at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed the suit on behalf of the media network, against the Department of Health and Human Services, department secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and other government agencies involved with the federal contraception mandate…

Read the rest here.

EWTN is providing further information about the mandate and its lawsuit at www.ewtn.com/hhsmandate.

 

Church

Vicar ‘Sues God’

Over campaign of hate:

A vicar dubbed ‘the man who sued God’ has commenced a landmark employment tribunal which could see a change to a centuries old law.

Rev Mark Sharpe, 44, has asked employment judges to decide whether he is entitled to bring a claim to an employment tribunal as an employee or worker following allegations he was driven from his parish by a campaign of ‘intimidation from toxic parishioners’.

Currently the law states that Church of England clergy, as office holders, are “employed by God” and not eligible to bring actions for unfair dismissal. In a move reminiscent of the Billy Connolly film ‘The Man Who Sued God, Rev Sharpe is now asking to be allowed to sue for constructive dismissal.

Rev Sharpe claimed his pet dog was poisoned, animal excrement was smeared on his car, his car tyres were slashed and home phone lines cut.

In addition, he says glass was smashed on the driveway, heating oil was stolen and he was threatened on the doorstep of the rectory by a parishioner.

He said he and wife Sara were forced to install CCTV cameras at the rectory after being constantly plagued by prowlers following their move to Hanley Broadheath in Worcestershire, in 2005, with their four children.

At one point he said he was even told off by a church official for having a beard, despite there being no rule against it and beards being worn by several of his superiors.

He resigned from his post as rector of Teme Valley South, near Tenbury Wells, in September 2009.

Mr Sharpe, who is being supported by the faith workers section of the Unite union, claims he was effectively forced out of his parish and that the bishop and diocese of Worcester did nothing to protect him…

More here.