Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Appeals Court upholds Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh

Updated again Saturday morning

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports: Court upholds Episcopal Diocese’s claim to assets.

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has upheld an Allegheny Common Pleas decision awarding centrally held property of the Episcopal diocese that split in 2008 to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh rather than to the rival Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.

About $20 million in endowment funds and other assets is at stake. The ruling has no direct impact on ownership of parish property, other than indicating that Anglican parishes must apply to the Episcopal diocese to negotiate for their property, rather than vice versa.

The Anglican diocese has not decided whether to pursue a further appeal.

Lionel Deimel has further details of this, see Details of Commonwealth Court Ruling.

The full text of the judgment can be read from a PDF file here.

There is now a fuller story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Episcopal diocese wins a legal round.

Episcopal Bishop Kenneth Price Jr. welcomed the decision, which arrived the day his diocese reached the first settlement with an Anglican parish. It required that parish to cut ties with the Anglican diocese for five years.

“We are pleased with the court’s findings and hope this will be the final legal challenge concerning this issue,” he said.

He invited Anglican congregations “to join us in negotiating a settlement to our differences.”

Archbishop Duncan, who is also primate of the theologically conservative Anglican Church in North America, hasn’t decided whether to appeal.

“The decision of the appellate court is deeply disappointing,” he said. “In the next hours and days the bishop and standing committee will pray and take counsel about our corporate path forward.”

The Episcopal Diocese has issued this press release: Appeals Court Upholds Diocese in Assets Case

Update This press release has been issued: A Pastoral Letter to the Clergy and People of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh which includes the following paragraph:

…The Standing Committee met on Wednesday night, February 2nd. Three important decisions were made. First, we will petition the appellate court for a re-hearing, which means the lower court’s ruling will not yet be final. Second, the Standing Committee and Diocesan leadership (Bishop’s Office, Trustees and Council) will do everything we can to keep all our congregations working together. Third, the Standing Committee will work tirelessly for a negotiated end to the strife between the Anglican and Episcopal Church Dioceses…

Pittburgh Post-Gazette Anglican diocese asks court to rehear case

The filing, which must be made within 14 days, is not an appeal but an outright request for the same court to hear the case over, citing errors of fact in the ruling which was authored by Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer.

“There are some points of fact that are incorrect in the ruling,” said David Trautman, a spokesman for the Anglican diocese. “We are giving the court a chance to correct those errors.”

He did not specify the errors the Anglicans contend are in the ruling.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 2 February 2011 at 11:01pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA
Comments

TBTG! (I hope they're listening in South Carolina)

God, grant us reconciliation in Your time.

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 3 February 2011 at 6:42am GMT

I wonder if 'Archbishop' Duncan had set high hopes on taking the assets of his former diocese with him. Be interesting to see how long ACNE, sorry ACNA, can survive. Like so many breakaway movements claiming to be the 'authentic' expression of the Episcopal/Anglican church they are usually too diverse a community to survive in the long term.

Like the Anglican Mainstream grouping there are biblically conservative Evangelicals who would be happy in the Diocese of Sydney alongside conservative Anglo-Catholics who are contemplating joining the Ordinariat of OLW or staying put if they can get what they want out of synod.

Ironic that the issue that drew them all together was the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson, when so many of those conservative Anglo-Catholics are gay. One of the most notable of whom bangs on about how dreadful it all is and yet shares his Vicarage with his partner. And he is just one among many..... their hypocrisy is breathtaking.

Posted by: John C on Thursday, 3 February 2011 at 8:58am GMT

Also hope the Virginia court is listening.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Thursday, 3 February 2011 at 1:07pm GMT

Not a good week for +Duncan and ACNA. +Duncan stated in his communication with the GS steering committee that it was his intent to take the property with him. (I believe it was the "secret memo" revealed in the Calvary litigation that contained this) I am going on memory here but I believe it was 2007. On another front, given the primates recent "working document", where does this leave ACNA. If the GS is to continue its opposition "in place" rather than to create a new communion (likely to split moderates and conservative GS members), what group will be providing ACNA with the "parents seal of approval?" it needs? ACNA members can not claim membership in the current communion or in a non-existent GS one. Will its communion credibility, then, be derived from individual church "communion with" agreements and will that be enough for its member churches...eg. Anglican diocese of San Joaquin which was promised by Bishop Schofield that it would remain in communion with Canterbury. Also interesting that +Duncan should object to the agreement that parishes choosing to leave the Episcopal diocese (now THE diocese in question) desist in joining ACNA or Anglican Dio Of Pittsburgh for 5 years. He may not have legal standing to do so. I assume the parishes would but should parishes choose to accept these conditions to get a better deal, this would seriously impact his diocesan numbers and income stream.

Posted by: EmilyH on Thursday, 3 February 2011 at 2:13pm GMT

An additional note on Bishop Duncan's bad week... On the subject of the church contacting the agreement to remove itself from the ACNA Anglican diocese and ACNA, Joan Gundersen reports: "Only one Pittsburgh parish in the ACNA diocese had more members and St. Philip's represented 9.7% of the ACNA diocesan membership.

Posted by: EmilyH on Thursday, 3 February 2011 at 2:22pm GMT

If TEC votes to forego the proposed covenant, TEC very well could be viewed as a breakaway, like +Duncan. Interesting times, no?

Posted by: Bill Easter on Thursday, 3 February 2011 at 5:05pm GMT

One wonders who - in their right mind - would be persuaded to take that completely unsupported argument to appeal.

It's very sad. As I remember it Bob Duncan promised they could keep everything, they would be in communion with Canterbury etc etc. I just feel so sad for all those folks he misled.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 3 February 2011 at 6:24pm GMT

EmilyH: can you tell me what the following are all about?

'Also interesting that +Duncan should object to the agreement that parishes choosing to leave the Episcopal diocese...desist in joining ACNA or Anglican Dio Of Pittsburgh for 5 years.'

and

'On the subject of the church contacting the agreement to remove itself from the ACNA Anglican diocese and ACNA, Joan Gundersen reports: "Only one Pittsburgh parish in the ACNA diocese had more members and St. Philip's represented 9.7% of the ACNA diocesan membership.'

I've clearly missed something in this story.

Thanks.

Posted by: Lister Tonge on Thursday, 3 February 2011 at 10:42pm GMT

FWIW, comments on Kendall Harmon's thread on the topic of the settlement Emily mentions between the Episcopal diocese and St Philip's, include "There was very little recognizably Anglican about St. Phillip’s to begin with"; "St Philip’s and the other largish evangelical congregations that have left TEC/ACNA around Pittsburgh in recent years are what some call 'Sydney Anglicans'", and "I doubt St. Philip’s is eager to adopt any episcopal oversight."

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Friday, 4 February 2011 at 1:12am GMT

If Archbishop Duncan was logical, he would now be taking the congregation who have defected from his schism to court. But no, we learn he has allowed them to leave! His whole Empire is breaking up around him..such is the record of continuing Anglicanism in the US.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Friday, 4 February 2011 at 7:26am GMT

For Lister. I am referencing two separate events and, although one must take the slant of Mr. Haley, principle litigator for the Anglican Diocese of the San Joaquin/Schofield) into consideration, his description of both here: http://accurmudgeon.blogspot.com/ is helpful and better than I can do.

Posted by: EmilyH on Friday, 4 February 2011 at 2:01pm GMT

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette is now reporting that the Anglicans will ask that the court reconsider its ruling http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11035/1123025-100.stm#ixzz1D1ADxYlF

Posted by: EmilyH on Friday, 4 February 2011 at 7:06pm GMT

"If TEC votes to forego the proposed covenant, TEC very well could be viewed as a breakaway, like +Duncan. Interesting times, no?" - Bill Easter

No. Rejecting *proposed* rules is in no way similar to breaking *existing* rules.

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 4 February 2011 at 7:19pm GMT

>>>One wonders who - in their right mind - would be persuaded to take that completely unsupported argument to appeal.

Pentecostals anticipating a "breaker anointing," of course!

(http://frjakestopstheworld.blogspot.com/2008/04/what-is-pittsburghs-anticipated-breaker.html)

It pays to remember that most of the so-called "orthodox" are anything but.

Posted by: JPM on Friday, 4 February 2011 at 8:12pm GMT

What will also prove interesting is what will become of the "Archbishop's" palace. It is located on the Diocesan property and was supposedly given over to the Duncans by the diocese before its attempted withdrawal from TEC, for their exclusive use as a residence for as long as one of them was alive.

Posted by: Hermano David | Brother Dah•veed on Friday, 4 February 2011 at 9:19pm GMT

Exactly, JCF.

"Break away" from what?

There is no international Anglican Church. TEC exists as a legal body, this "covenant" church of Williams', does not.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Saturday, 5 February 2011 at 4:34am GMT
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