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Legal dispatches

Legal dispatches

News from the Diocese of Fort Worth:

On December 1, 2014, Plaintiffs The Episcopal Church, Local Episcopal Parties, and Local Episcopal Congregations filed a joint motion for partial summary judgment in the 141st District Court, the Honorable John P. Chupp presiding. As the motion states:

“Defendants are former Episcopalians who served as officers of The Episcopal Church’s Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. They gained access to more than $100 million of property in that capacity. They committed to use that property only for the benefit of the Church and its Diocese, and without those commitments, they never would have had access to the property. Now, Defendants have broken those agreements and purported to take the Episcopal Diocese and its Congregations, and along with them, all the property, out of The Episcopal Church and into another denomination.

The article concludes:

Under the Court’s Scheduling Order, the breakaway defendants also filed a motion for summary judgment on December 1. Each side will file a response to the other side’s motion by December 22 and then file a reply to the other party’s response by January 23. A hearing on the motions is set for February 20, 2015.

This on the heels of news out of Illinois last week that

The Illinois Supreme Court … denied a petition by the Episcopal Church to review the ruling of a lower court which had found that certain property of the former Episcopal Diocese of Quincy now belongs to a breakaway group organized as the Anglican Diocese of Quincy.

Bishop Lee is quoted responding,

“My first concern is to attend to the pastoral needs of the faithful Episcopalians in the Peoria deanery, who have shown such grace and fortitude as the legal process has unfolded. We are aware of our legal options and will consider them in due course.”

 

Posted by Rosalind Hughes

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Chaz Brooks

It's all a pretty tawdry affair, but these suits do, at least, save the patrimony of the Church for the faithful and discourage schismatics.

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Thomas Coates

God grieves at our divisiveness, but apart from the very human concerns of property, there's much larger issues of justice: The marginalization of women in ministry, and the exclusion of LGBT persons in these break-off dioceses. Actually, in many cases, there is a rolling-back of who is allowed to fully participate in the Body of Christ (in ordained ministry, in the life of the church, in liturgical practice). There are LGBT youth growing up in these conservative "dioceses", with affirming voices being silenced and pushed out, as in Ft. Worth, TEC-continuing churches are few and far between.
Further alarming is the break-off dioceses' work in Africa with church leaders who advocate the persecution of LGBTI persons, and the break-off dioceses active work against The Episcopal Church here in the US. It would be wrong to not pursue property recovery, while at the same time seeking unity and welcoming clergy and congregations back into The Episcopal Church as they are willing and able to return (understanding that many weren't exactly given choices by their patriarchal bishops) .

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Sheila Barnes

I agree with Kenneth. I hate that we are doing this. I hate that our church leaders are taking this material stance. I know how much the congregants put into establishing, financing, building, equipping and maintaining each individual Episcopal church while also being expected to send financial support up the chain. To say they have no right to these things is incredibly wrong, but to take them to secular court is even worse. It's a terrible witness to the world, which must think this quite petty.

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Kenneth Knapp

I think we should just let it go. I always thought that one of the main teachings of Christianity was letting go of our acquisitive ways. We can't be truly faithful until we have given up our quest for money and power. It is hard to teach that while the church is so jealously fighting for its power and property.

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JC Fisher

What about Rome? I think the RCC would carry HEAVY weight in these issues, if they were to come in decisively for national church hierarchichal claims [God knows how much THEY have to lose if decisions go the local (schismatic) control way!]

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