First, see this earlier report about a legal action in which Calvary Church asked a court to appoint a monitor to “inventory and oversee property held or administered by the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.”.
Today, there was a news report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Episcopal Diocese prepares for secession vote.
In response to a lawsuit led by one of its parishes, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has agreed to have a court-appointed neutral party inventory all of its property and assets as it prepares for a final vote on seceding from the Episcopal Church.
The agreement between representatives of the diocese and Calvary Episcopal Church, Shadyside, came after a hearing yesterday before Joseph M. James, president judge of Common Pleas Court. In 2005, he oversaw a settlement after Calvary sued the diocese to prevent the transfer of property from the denomination to individual parishes…
The diocese will pursue “a fair and equitable distribution of property” if the realignment resolutions pass, said its spokesman, the Rev. Peter Frank.
The diocese also agreed yesterday to permit parishes that oppose secession to divert diocesan support payments to escrow accounts that would remain in the Episcopal Church.
The agreement assumes that new leaders affiliated with the church will be elected for Pittsburgh if Bishop Duncan secedes.
“It is highly likely that Bishop Duncan and the other leadership of the diocese will purport to separate from the Episcopal Church, and it is our position that the court order of Oct. 14, 2005, addresses what will happen in that regard,” said Walter DeForest, attorney for Calvary.
“It is certainly the position of Calvary that the new leadership of the diocese will be in charge of those assets.”
And later in the day, a press release was issued by the Diocese of Pittsburgh: Statement on the Sept. 8 Court Hearing.
“On Sept. 8, there was a hearing before Judge James in the Calvary litigation. Calvary took the position that the Realignment vote will violate the 2005 Stipulation and that Calvary was entitled to the appointment of a “monitor” to take over the financial affairs of the Diocese. Calvary first initiated this request in a July 2008 filing. Since July, we have documented with the Court the Diocese’s strong opposition to Calvary’s position, and the fact that Diocese has consistently complied with the Stipulation since it was signed, and will continue to comply with the Stipulation after the Realignment vote. The Diocese always has been, and remains committed to administering Diocesan assets for the beneficial use of all parishes and institutions of the Diocese, regardless of any parish’s position on Realignment.
“The relief Calvary sought — a court-appointed monitor who would effectively run the financial affairs of the Diocese — was not what was done yesterday. To the contrary, we proposed the appointment of an independent third-party (called a “Special Master”), who will have no role regarding the operation of the Diocese. Rather, the Special Master will review all Diocesan financial records and make recommendations to the Court regarding which property is covered by which provisions in the 2005 Stipulation (i.e., what is Diocesan property and what is parish property). The appointment of a Special Master has no impact on whether TEC or its representatives can make any claim to any property. These issues will be addressed at a later date. We have clearly stated our position that the minority who oppose Realignment are not entitled to seize the assets of the Diocese. If necessary, we will vigorously pursue this position in litigation…
Second, this press release GROUP ANNOUNCES PANEL TO ARGUE CASE FOR STAYING WITH EPISCOPAL CHURCH was issued by Across the Aisle. See this earlier report on that group.
One of the speakers on that panel,The Rev. Bruce Robison, Rector, St. Andrew’s, Highland Park, has written this Reflection on San Joaquin and Pittsburgh.