Monday, June 28, 2010

More resignations from the newly-formed Anglican Communion Standing Committee as ACI charges TEC with doing a runaround

From the Church of England Newspaper:

The Bishop in Iran has quit the Anglican Communion’s ‘Standing Committee’.

Bishop Azad Marshall’s decision to stand down will come as a blow to the Archbishop of Canterbury who has sought to vest an unprecedented degree of authority in the new entity—formed by the merger of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council and the Standing Committee of the Primates Meeting.

The vote of ‘no confidence’ by yet another leader of the Global South group of Anglican churches serves to isolate Dr. Williams from the conservative and liberal wings of the Communion—diminishing his authority as the political centre collapses from under him.

Bishop Marshall’s withdrawal also comes the same week as the Episcopal Church presents Dr. Williams with a new crisis over the legitimacy of the standing committee, with a fight over the seating of Bishop Ian Douglas of Connecticut on the committee likely to loom large at its next meeting.

The Church of England Newspaper was unable to contact Bishop Marshall, who is traveling in Iran, to confirm his reasons for withdrawing from the standing committee, but those familiar with his decision say it follows in line with the Jan 30 announcement of his primate, Presiding Bishop Mouneer Anis of Jerusalem and the Middle East.

Dr. Anis said that after having served for three years on the standing committee he had come to the belief that his continued presence had “no value whatsoever and my voice is like a useless cry in the wilderness.”

The Primate of Uganda, Archbishop Henry Orombi has also absented himself from the meetings of the ACSC for the past year.  The African’ primates representative has not resigned his seat, but has stated he has no confidence in the integrity of the organization and will not attend meetings if representatives from the Episcopal Church are seated.

However, on June 21 the director of communications of the Anglican Consultative Council confirmed to CEN that Bishop Marshall had tendered his resignation from the standing committee.

On June 18 the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church elected Bishop Ian Douglas of Connecticut to succeed Bishop Catherine Roskam as its episcopal representative to the ACC.  Bishop Douglas had been a clergy representative from the Episcopal Church to the ACC and at last year’s ACC meeting in Kingston Jamaica was elected to the Standing Committee.

Asked by CEN in March whether he would continue as a member of the ACSC following his April 17 consecration to the episcopate, Bishop Douglas said “election to the Standing Committee by the ACC is irrespective of orders.  Therefore, if I am elected the episcopal ACC member from TEC by the Executive Council in June, then I remain on the Standing Committee.”

However, the Anglican Communion Institute (ACI) has objected to Bishop Douglas’ continuing membership on the ACSC, noting it violates the language of the ACC constitution and bylaws.

Read it all here. I supposed I question Ian's wisdom in taking on such a huge responsibility when he's now become a diocesan bishop of the oldest diocese in The Episcopal Church, never mind the fact that he's been a clergy rep, not a bishop rep.  The ACI brings up some important points - was the Executive Council not aware of these regulations?

Friday, June 25, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Diocese of Ft. Worth wins in the Texas Court of Appeals

via email:

Dear Friends,

We give thanks for the decision just issued by the Texas Court of Appeals in Fort Worth. The decision is posted on the diocesan Web site at

A statement concerning the court's decision will be issued by Bishop Iker on Monday, June 28.

Suzanne Gill
Director of Communications
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth

UPDATE - via e-mail: Statement from the Diocese of Ft. Worth:
FORT WORTH, Texas – On Friday, June 25, the Texas Second Court of Appeals granted the
Diocese's Petition for Writ of Mandamus and instructed the 141st District Court to modify its ruling of Sept. 16, 2009, to the effect that there cannot be a second Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and a second Corporation of the diocese.

In April 2009 attorneys for The Episcopal Church joined Mr. Jonathan Nelson and Ms. Kathleen Wells, representing local TEC interests, in a suit against the Diocese and Corporation. The case was assigned to the district court under the Hon. John Chupp.

Applying neutral principles of law, Friday's decision found that “a corporation cannot sue itself” and that “it is undisputed” by both plaintiffs and defendants “that there is only one Corporation and one Fort Worth Diocese.”
“[W]hile Mr. Nelson and Ms. Wells may be authorized to represent the individuals who hired them,” the appellate court said, “these attorneys have not established their authority to represent or appear on behalf of the Fort Worth Diocese and Corporation as required by rule 12 [of Texas Rules of Civil Procedure].”

The ruling dismisses that portion of the original suit that “is purportedly brought on behalf of the Corporation and [Fort Worth] Diocese.” The trial court must “strike the pleadings filed by Mr. Nelson and Ms. Wells on behalf of the Corporation and the Fort Worth Diocese and bar them from appearing in the underlying cause as attorneys of record for those named plaintiffs.” The appellate court also lifted the stay of proceedings, clearing the way for the trial court to comply.

Responding to Friday's decision, Shelby Sharpe, attorney for the Diocese and Corporation, said, "We are very gratified by the excellent and well-reasoned opinion from the Fort Worth Court of Appeals. It simply follows the plain language of the law on what is required for an attorney to represent a party in a court proceeding."

To the plaintiffs' argument that this decision could be delayed, the Court of Appeals responded that there was no need to wait for the eventual conclusion of the trial to correct the trial court's abuse of discretion, since that could add unnecessary costs to the burden of litigation initiated by the April 2009 suit. It noted, too, that the trial court judge would be “unnecessarily confused by presentations from two opposing factions who claim to be the Corporation and the Fort Worth Diocese.”

While it declined to settle the question of “identity,” the appellate court affirmed that conventions of the Diocese and the Corporation formed in 1983 and led by Bishop Iker voted in 2007 and 2008 to withdraw from membership in TEC and enter into membership in the province of the Southern Cone, and that Bishop Jack Iker and the Corporation's board were all duly elected to their positions.

Bishop Iker has responded to the ruling saying, "We rejoice in this favorable decision by the Court of Appeals, and we give thanks to God for the expertise of our legal team in enabling us to prevail in this critical issue of who can represent the Diocese and the Corporation. While we realize that our opponents will continue to pursue litigation against us, this successful first step reinforces the soundness of our legal strategy to protect our identity, our property, and our assets."

Bishop Iker requests continuing prayers of thanksgiving and guidance for our lead attorneys, Shelby Sharpe and Scott Brister. The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth was organized in 1982. It is a constituent member of the Anglican Communion and the Province of the Southern Cone. The Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker has served as the third diocesan Bishop of Fort Worth since 1995. The diocese enjoys companion relationships with the Dioceses of Northern Malawi and Northern Mexico.

Friday at the Cafe

One does wonder, has this been heard blasting from behind the windows of a certain Manhattan Penthouse lately?  Dylan in Newport in July 1965 the night he "plugged in."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Episcopal Presiding Bishop calls Archbishop of Canterbury's request "bizarre" and Church of England's canon requirements "nonsense"

From the Church of England newspaper, via e-mail:

THE PRESIDING BISHOP of the Episcopal Church has taken as a personal affront the Overseas and Other Clergy (Ordination and Ministry) Measure 1967, saying the request by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s staff that she conform to English law was “bizarre”.

On June 16 Bishop Katharine Jeffer ts Schori told members of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council that a “statement” from Lambeth Palace had requested she “not to wear a mitre at Southwark Cathedral,” when she presided at the Eucharist on June 13.

“This is apparently a requirement of one of their canons about the ministry of clergy from overseas,” she told the Church’s press office, the Episcopal News service, adding that the Act’s requirements were “nonsense.”

“It is bizarre; it is beyond bizarre,” she said.

The Presiding Bishop’s umbrage with Lambeth Palace comes amidst a whirlwind tour of the Communion, with visits this month to the General Synods of the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada, the USPG’s annual conference, and visits next month to New Zealand and Australia.

Bishops attending the Episcopal Church’s College of Bishops training programme last month, tell The Church of England Newspaper that in a late evening session the chancellor to the Presiding Bishop, Mr David Booth Beers, said the trip would help build a coalition amongst the liberal-leaning provinces of the Communion in opposition to the Dr Williams’ policies.

A spokesman for the Presiding Bishop declined to comment on reports the Presiding Bishop was seeking to build a rival American-centred Communion, saying she would not comment on “speculation and conjecture”.

Supporters of the Presiding Bishop protested that the request by Lambeth Palace that she conform to the laws governing the Church of England were a “snub” and “sexist”.

However, a spokesman for Dr Williams told CEN that “all that happened was for the agreed approach of English bishops – that women bishops presiding at a service in the Church of England do so without insignia – was communicated after permission was sought, and readily granted for Bishop Katherine to preside at the service at Southwark Cathedral.”

In protest to this request, Bishop Jefferts Schori brought her mitre to the service, but did not wear it, merely carrying it with her as she processed down the aisle.

American canon lawyer AS Haley has argued the controversy is a false one, as Dr Williams has no discretion in this matter to accommodate the Presiding Bishop’s feelings about her status as a bishop in England.

While Bishop Jefferts Schori preached at Salisbury Cathedral before the 2008 Lambeth Conference, her visit to Southwark was the first time she had both preached and presided at a Eucharist in the Church of England, Mr Haley noted. The act of officiating at a Eucharist, rather than assisting or preaching, required her to seek the permission of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

A “license to officiate under the Archbishop of Canterbury is a licence to perform an ecclesiastical function at a service within the Church of England, and neither the Arch- bishop nor Queen Elizabeth II has any legal power to licence a woman to preside as bishop over a Eucharist within the Church of England,” Mr Haley said.

To have allowed Bishop Jefferts Schori to “wear her mitre” in Southwark Cathedral would have made her “indistinguishable in function, in celebrating the Eucharist, from a bishop of the Church of England,” he said, adding that “it would have signified an authority in the Cathedral which she did not have and could not have.”

Bishop Jefferts Schori’s embarrassment followed a polite but pointed dressing down by the Archbishop of Cape Town at the USPG conference at Swanwick on June 10.

In his address entitled “Spirit and Culture at the Foot of the Cross”, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba chided the Episcopal Church say- ing that while the Episcopal Church claimed to be listening to the Holy Spirit, “within your Province there has not been enough listening to the rest of the Anglican Communion”.

The full story of George Conger's report is in the Friday, June 25th edition of Church of England Newspaper.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Presiding Bishop appoints new "ecumenical and interreligious officer" to support her ministry following Canterbury's removal of TEC reps

In light of the Archbishop of Canterbury's decision to remove Episcopal Church representation from ecumenical positions representing the Anglican Communion, the Presiding Bishop has apparently responded by appointing a position called "ecumenical and interreligious relations officer" whose job is to "develop strategies and actions supporting Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's ministry as chief ecumenical officer of the Episcopal Church."  One does wonder if even moderates and some true-liberals will pop their corks over that one.

Is it really all about "supporting Bishop Schori's ministry" now?  Is she taking the discipline personally?  And when did she become the official "chief ecumenical officer of the Episcopal Church?"  She a presiding bishop - not an archbishop.  As I recall back in 2006, the Roman Catholic Church sent their official letter from now Pope Benedict directly to the gathering at Plano Dallas and missed stopping at 815 along the way.  Oops.  Got to wonder how diocesan bishops are feeling these days as well.  They seem to continue to have the rug pulled up from under them - or is it over them?

Why create bureaucratic self-promoting positions rather than deal with the crisis at hand?  What will it take to say, gosh darn it, this isn't looking so good?  At the same time, it's hard not to recall General Convention 2006 when the House of Deputies found hastily hung flags tacked to the blue curtain backdrop that even back then seemed to mark the building of a "new communion" centered on 815.  With the Presiding Bishop now fashioning her own personal chief ecumenical officer to promote herself does not seem to bode well for the future of TEC as the only Anglican show in town.

What say ye?  Read more about it here.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

CONFIRMED: Episcopal President Bishop Schori requested not to attend Primates or Standing Committee Meetings by Archbishop of Canterbury

Apparently, the Presiding Bishop defies Rowan Williams request.  Very interesting.

From the Church of England Newspaper, via-email:

The press officer to the Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council has confirmed to The Church of England Newspaper that Canon Kenneth Kearon hand delivered a letter from Dr Williams to Bishop Jefferts Schori at the April 17 consecration ceremony of Bishop Douglas of Connecticut.

The chancellor to the Presiding Bishop, David Booth Beers, told bishops attending the May 24 to 28 Living Our Vows bishops’ training programme at the Lake Logan Episcopal Center in North Carolina that in this letter Dr. Williams had asked the Presiding Bishop to consider absenting herself from meetings of the Anglican Communion’s Standing Committee and the Primates’ Meeting in light of the Episcopal Church’s violation of the moratoria on gay bishops and those present tell CEN.

Speaking to a group of bishops during an informal after-dinner session, Mr Beers stated the Presiding Bishop had rejected the Archbishop of Canterbury’s suggestion, observing that he had no authority to remove her from the Primates’ Standing Committee as she had been elected by the North and South American primates. She also objected to Dr. Williams’ claim to have the authority to ban her from the councils of the Church.

Tip of the Tinfoil to the Anglican Super Sleuth George Conger.  Thanks, George! 

Meanwhile, the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church is meeting in Maryland where the Episcopal Church’s Standing Commission on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations is proposing that funds designated for the Anglican Communion Office be redirected toward organizations controlled by The Episcopal Church.  You can read more about it here.  Kenneth Kearon is schedule to take a Q&A with the Executive Council tomorrow.  Thanks Chip and Doug!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Late Night at the Cafe: Don't Give Up

Breaking News: Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams requests the Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Schori withdraw from the Anglican Communion Standing Committee

From the Church of England Newspaper. George Conger has the scoop:

Dr Williams’ Pentecost letter entitled “Renewal in the Spirit” represents a shift in the Archbishop’s agenda, as it calls for a return of a regime of substantive meetings to address the issues dividing the Church. And in light of criticisms made by the Global South primates and leaders of the Episcopal Church that he has arrogated to himself powers he does not rightfully possess, the Archbishop also appears to have backtracked and conceded that authority also resides with the Primates and the individual Provinces.

The Archbishop’s Pentecost letter is the public half of a campaign to rein in the Episcopal Church, The Church of England Newspaper has learned, and follows a private letter delivered to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori asking her to consider withdrawing from active participation on the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion.

A letter from the Archbishop is believed to have been given to Bishop Jefferts Schori at the April 17 consecration of the Bishop of Connecticut, Dr Ian Douglas. Neva Rae Fox, a spokesman for the Presiding Bishop said she could not comment as she was not present at the Connecticut consecration. Dr Williams’ office would neither confirm nor deny the story, citing its policy of not commenting on the Archbishop’s private correspondence.

Read it all here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A House Divided

 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. 
Mark 3:25

Yes, it is a sad day.

No one won today.  It is sad because the Virginia churches satisfied the Virginia statute 57-9 but for the definition of a branch as defined by the Virginia Supreme Court.  What this means is that we could now be back to 2006 again when the Virginia parishes followed the protocol.  It is an interesting moment.  The days continue to unfold.  It is a time of thoughtful consideration, a time of prayer and fasting, a time of listening to the Lord and to one another.

For what saddens me even more, even now, is that the Virginia Supreme Court affirmed that there has indeed been a major division in The Episcopal Church.  It is severe enough for that part of the statute to be satisfied.  This means that the Supreme Court could see and affirm that the Episcopal Church is indeed in very serious division.

I find that part of the ruling today the saddest of all.

I will tell you however, that the first person to contact me - to want to know how I was feeling and if I was okay was a loyal and perhaps somewhat progressive Episcopalian.  She's very much an advocate of what some might call innovations, she would see as acts of justice.   But what seemed to matter more to her today were not positions on issues or property or lawsuits - but the welfare of a friend.  Her outreach of hospitality meant so much and it's those kind of actions - still possible after everything that happened - that gives me waves hope, even now.

I don't know what the future holds.  Today actually may bring us back to where we started, back when we had the Standstill Agreement and were talking.  I even take Henry Burt's words of asking the ADV churches to hold Episcopal services a good one.  That had been in place when the lawsuits first were filed, but the Episcopal clergy designated to conduct the services were later warned by the then-diocesan bishop that if they did so they would be deposed.  I see this invitation from Henry as a very positive sign.

A lot has happened in the past three years.   The fact remains that the Diocese of Virginia did not affirm Glasspool's ascension to bishop - neither the bishop or the Standing Committee.  One can see in that action a desire to remain in communion.  I pray that we may, even in this late hour, find ways to reopen conversations.

Just recently, Truro hosted a wedding conducted in the main church by a current Episcopal rector in the Diocese of Virginia.  It was an amazing opportunity to work together again.

Tonight we are standing on the courthouse steps.  Our table, as even the Supreme Court of Virginia could see, is divided.  Shall we continue more division or shall we take seriously the question and admonition from the Archbishop of Canterbury himself?
"What are the vehicles for sharing perspectives, communicating protest, yes, even, negotiating distance or separation, that might spare us a worsening of the situation and the further reduction of Christian relationship to vicious polemic and stony-faced litigation?"
-Rowan Williams
Church of England Synod
February 2010

One thing I can say, after a very very busy day - is that I am grateful for all of you here at the Cafe, even in those moments that we disagree - and we do often disagree.  You take me to task sometimes and I want you to know I am listening.  I appreciate the honesty and the passion of all the regulars and visitors here at the Cafe.  For the most part, you all are good to each other.  And I want to thank you - let's keep talking, let's keep listening, let's gather around our tables and sing praises to the Lord.  For in all that we do, and all that we don't do - He remains good.

Anglican Alert: Code Red

We have a decision.  Opinion here

 FAIRFAX, Va. (June 10, 2010) – The nine Anglican District of Virginia (ADV) congregations that are parties to the church property case brought by The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia are reviewing today’s Virginia Supreme Court ruling overturning the Fairfax County Circuit Court’s ruling in the case and remanding it back to the Circuit Court for further proceedings.  The Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia had appealed a ruling in favor of the congregations to the Virginia Supreme Court.

“We are disappointed with today’s ruling and will review it as we consider our options.  This is not the final chapter in this matter.  The court’s ruling simply involved one of our statutory defenses, and these properties are titled in the name of the congregations’ trustees, not in the name of the Diocese or The Episcopal Church.  So we continue to be confident in our legal position as we move forward and will remain steadfast in our effort to defend the historic Christian faith,” said Jim Oakes, chairman of the Anglican District of Virginia, which is the umbrella organization for the nine Anglican congregations.

“As the Virginia Supreme Court's opinion recognizes, there is clearly a division within The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia.  Those divisions are a result of the actions of The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia to fall out of step with much of Christendom by choosing to redefine and reinterpret Scripture.  They chose to sue our congregations when our churches in good conscience could not continue down their path.  We are sorry The Episcopal Church has chosen to go its own way.  Their choice to be a prodigal church does not give them the right to take our houses of worship with them.  The legal proceedings have been an unfortunate distraction from all the good work our churches are doing to advance the mission of Christ.  Ultimately, we know that the Lord is in control and our congregations will continue to put our trust in Him, not in secular courts or buildings.  Our doors remain open wide to all who wish to worship with us,” Oakes concluded.

Diocese of Virginia statement here

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Time Out: Film Preview released for Part One of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Just in time!  The first preview for the next film in the Harry Potter series, Deathly Hallows Part One, that will be released this fall.  Here it is - and it rocks!

California Supreme Court Unanimously Grants Review of St. James Church’s Petition

via email:
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – June 9, 2010 – In a unanimous decision, the California Supreme Court agreed today to hear St. James Anglican Church’s appeal that it has a constitutional right to continue its property rights battle against The Episcopal Church.  By granting the St. James petition, the Court has acknowledged that this property rights dispute is far from over as the Episcopal Church has claimed, and that the Court must decide whether a defendant can be deprived of its property before it has had the opportunity to defend itself with evidence in a court of law. 

St. James petitioned the California Supreme Court following a March opinion by two justices of the California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Third Division, in which two of three justices interpreted a prior California Supreme Court decision called Episcopal Church Cases as having finally resolved the property dispute between the Episcopal Church and St. James in favor of the Episcopal Church, thus depriving St. James of any opportunity to defend its property with evidence in the Orange County Superior Court.

But a stinging dissent by the Appellate Court’s third justice called the majority’s opinion “revolutionary,” “unprecedented” and “without any basis in law.” Dissenting Justice Fybel said that this was “the only case in the history of California where entry of judgment has been ordered upon overruling a demurrer and denial of an anti-SLAPP motion.”  In the opinion, both the Court of Appeal majority and Justice Fybel urged the California Supreme Court to step in and clarify what it meant in its 2009 decision entitled, Episcopal Church Cases.

Before St. James had the opportunity to present its evidence, the Orange County Superior Court ruled in 2005 (see case summary, below) that the Episcopal Church’s allegations were legally defective.  After the trial court dismissed the Episcopal complaints, the appellate courts took years to decide what law should apply to the dispute, eventually ruling that the Episcopal complaints could go forward.

In early 2009, the California Supreme Court sent the case back to the Orange County Superior Court, where St. James for the first time answered the Episcopal complaints, raised affirmative defenses, began discovery, and looked forward to defending the property that its members bought, paid for and maintained since its founding six decades ago.  The Court of Appeal majority essentially ruled that St. James may not defend itself, and that the Episcopal Church is entitled to judgment in their favor based on their allegations alone.

St. James’s lead attorney, Eric Sohlgren, said, “St. James is extremely pleased that the California Supreme Court has heard our plea to restore justice and fairness to this case.  St. James will now have an opportunity to argue on behalf of all Californians that people should not be deprived of their property without getting the opportunity to defend their case in a court of law.  These principles go to the very heart of what Americans hold dear under our Constitution,” Sohlgren said.

The Episcopal lawsuits against St. James stemmed from a decision by the members of St. James Church in August 2004 to align themselves with another branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and end the church’s affiliation with the Episcopal Church over core theological differences involving the authority of Holy Scripture and the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles sued St. James Church, All Saints Church, Long Beach, CA, and St. David’s Church, No. Hollywood, CA, and over two dozen volunteer board members in September 2004, including for monetary damages.  Subsequently, the national Episcopal Church intervened into the lawsuits. 

Since that time, the case has progressed from the Orange County Superior Court to the California Supreme Court, which decided how such church property disputes would be resolved in California.  After a lengthy appeal from an early victory attacking the Episcopal complaints, the case was recently returned to the Orange County Superior Court for discovery and trial, but before that could happen the Episcopal Church filed a writ petition with the Court of Appeal whose majority granted the petition.  St. James petitioned the California Supreme Court to hear its appeal from the Court of Appeal decision, which the Supreme Court unanimously granted.

The California Supreme Court order granting review can be found here:

A Brief Recap:  St. James Anglican Church’s Fight to Keep its Property

In August 2004 St. James Church ended its affiliation with the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and the Episcopal Church over theological differences involving the authority of Holy Scripture and the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles brought lawsuits against St. James Church, All Saints Church, Long Beach, CA, and St. David’s Church, No. Hollywood, CA, and their volunteer board members in September of 2004. Subsequently, the national Episcopal Church intervened into the lawsuits against the three local church corporations and their volunteer board members.

In August 2005 the Honorable David C. Velasquez of the Orange County Superior Court ruled in favor of St. James Church and struck the complaint brought by the Diocese of Los Angeles. In October 2005 Judge Velasquez issued a similar ruling in favor of All Saints and St. David’s Churches. These early victories arose from early challenges to the Episcopal allegations made by the Diocese and the Episcopal Church, and as a result, no trial ever occurred and St. James never had an opportunity to defend those claims on the merits.  The Episcopalians then appealed to the California Court of Appeal sitting in Orange County on this very limited court record, arguing that under neutral principles of law they had a probability of prevailing and had alleged legally viable claims.

In July 2007 the Court of Appeal rejected nearly thirty years of California church property law by ruling that a secular court must defer to the determinations of the highest level of the church hierarchy regarding ownership of local church property, regardless of any agreements between the parties, the corporate documents, who paid for the property, or who held the deed. The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court judgment in favor of St. James, and ordered the case back to the trial court.

In August 2007 St. James filed a petition with the California Supreme Court, which the Court unanimously and quickly accepted under the name of Episcopal Church Cases. The Court heard oral argument in the case in October 2008.

In January 2009 the California Supreme Court ruled in Episcopal Church Cases that church property disputes in California must be resolved by neutral or non-religious principles of law, not by civil courts merely deferring to the decrees of church “hierarchies” or larger church bodies. As a result, every church property dispute in California now will be resolved based on non-religious factors that are unique to the dispute. While adopting this non-religious method of resolving property disputes between churches, however, the Court seemed to defer to the Episcopal Church’s alleged “trust canon,” which purports to create a trust interest in church property owned by local congregations. The Court made its ruling despite the fact that St. James purchased and maintained its property with its own funds and has held clear record title to its property for over fifty years. St. James believes that this ruling overlooked decades of trust law in California that only allows the owner of property to create a trust in favor of someone else, and will as a result have wide impact for local church property owners throughout California that seek to change their religious affiliation.

In late January 2009 St. James formally asked the California Supreme Court to modify its January decision.

In February 2009 the California Supreme Court granted the St. James request, and modified its decision to confirm both that the suit against St. James is not over and that no decision on the merits of the case has yet been made. Instead, the Court clarified that its decision was only based on the limited record before it, which will now be augmented through the normal discovery and trial process.

In late February 2009, the case against St. James Church corporation, the volunteer board members, and clergy returned to the trial court in Orange County where St. James can assert factual and legal arguments that were not addressed on appeal through discovery, depositions, motions, and trial. Using the legal standard set forth by the California Supreme Court, the Orange County Superior Court will eventually decide the merits of this dispute. For example, St. James has brought a complaint against the Diocese of Los Angeles based on a 1991 written promise that it would not claim a trust over the property of St. James on 32nd Street in Newport Beach.

On June 24, 2009, St. James filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. A response from the Court regarding its decision to hear St. James’s petition can be expected by October 2009. If the Court takes the case, a decision would be rendered by mid-2010.

On July 13, 2009, St. James Church won a significant legal battle in its property rights case in Orange County Superior Court when Judge Thierry P. Colaw denied two motions brought by the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and The Episcopal Church which sought to end the case in their favor.

In October 2009, the Supreme Court of the United States denied a petition by St. James to hear its church property rights battle with the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and the national Episcopal Church (TEC).

In November 2009, St. James returned to the California Court of Appeal for a hearing to argue that the February 2009 opinion by the California Supreme Court stated that the case is not over and that the litigants will continue their case in Orange County Superior Court.  The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and the national Episcopal Church (TEC) argued that the California Supreme Court decided the lawsuit in its favor and demanded that the church turn the property over to the Diocese.

In March 2010, two justices of the California Court of Appeal essentially ruled that St. James did not have the right to defend itself in court, conduct discovery or even have a trial, and that the Episcopal allegations alone were enough for St. James to lose its property.  Dissenting Justice Fybel said that the majority’s opinion was “unprecedented,” “revolutionary” and “without any basis in law.”

In May 2010, St. James petitioned the California Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeal’s majority opinion.

In June 2010, the California Supreme Court unanimously agreed to hear the St. James petition, ordering briefing and argument on this one issue: “Did the Court of Appeal properly direct the entry of judgment on the pleadings in favor of the national Episcopal Church under Episcopal Church Cases (2009) 45 Cal.4th 467?”

Case press releases, briefs and a detailed case history can be found at:

Archbishop Duncan: A State of the Church Address

From the amazing folks at AnglicanTV.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Anglican Communion Secretary General takes action to remove Episcopal Church officials from ecumenical posts in the Anglican Communion

From here:
Last Thursday I sent letters to members of the Inter Anglican ecumenical dialogues who are from the Episcopal Church informing them that their membership of these dialogues has been discontinued. In doing so I want to emphasise again as I did in those letters the exceptional service of each and every person to that important work and to acknowledge without exception the enormous contribution each person has made.

I have also written to the person from the Episcopal Church who is a member of the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO), withdrawing that person’s membership and inviting her to serve as a Consultant to that body.

I have written to the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada to ask whether its General Synod or House of Bishops has formally adopted policies that breach the second moratorium in the Windsor Report, authorising public rites of same-sex blessing.

At the same time I have written to the Primate of the Southern Cone, whose interventions in other provinces are referred to in the Windsor Continuation Group Report asking him for clarification as to the current state of his interventions into other provinces.

These are the actions which flow immediately from the Archbishop’s Pentecost Letter.
Looking forward, there are two questions in this area which I would like to see addressed: One is the relationship between the actions of a bishop or of a diocese and the responsibilities of a province for those actions – this issue is referred to in the Windsor Continuation Group Report para 48.

Secondly, to ask the question of whether maintaining within the fellowship of one’s Provincial House of Bishops, a bishop who is exercising episcopal ministry in another province without the expressed permission of that province or the local bishop, constitutes an intervention  and is therefore a breach of the third moratorium.

Read the whole thing here.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Standing Watch

The Archbishop of Canterbury on Building Bridges

The President of Georgetown University interviews Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, on the Building Bridges Seminar that seeks to open up conversation between Muslims and Christians.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Washington Post: Veteran Washington Times religion reporter sacked for speaking truth?

Upsetting news about comrade Julia.  From The Washington Post:
A month ago, Julia Duin, for 14 years a reporter at the Unification Church-backed Washington Times, did something journalists might admire, but their bosses often abhor. She spoke out about her employer, in print, on the record. In a Washington Post article on the potential sale of the Times, Duin said the paper felt like a "rudderless ship" and reported that a black snake -- "the real live variety" -- had turned up in the newsroom.

Duin, 54, said she was dismissed Tuesday, a decision she believes came in retaliation for her published comments. To make matters more painful, Duin was given the news while her 5-year-old daughter Olivia was visiting the newsroom. On top of that, Duin had to pack up and remove her belongings while on crutches, the result of a recent foot injury.

Don Meyer, a spokesman for the Times, did not return a call seeking comment.

Duin, who in April won the first place religion reporting award in the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association's annual contest, said Times editor Sam Dealey told her Tuesday that religion coverage had no future at the paper and that she was being laid off. Duin said she asked her boss, " 'Isn't this payback, Sam, for The Washington Post article?' He denied it. He said, 'We're doing some cost-cutting.' "

Duin said she never intended to speak ill of the employer she has loyally served: "All I wanted to do was tell the truth. Why is that such a hard thing among journalists?"

Duin's departure comes as Times executives are considering selling the financially strapped paper, which was created in 1982 by the founder of the Unification Church, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. According to current and former Times executives, a group of conservative investors has offered about $15 million for the paper. The offer would require the current owners -- led by Moon's son Preston -- to pay off the Times' debt, which is believed to be more than $6 million, the sources said. The identity of the bidders could not be determined. The paper's former editor, John Solomon, who had been trying to buy the Times, is no longer a serious contender, the sources said.
Read it all here.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

No words

From here

A dramatic reading of a recent letter written in response to the official Pentecost Letter from the Archbishop of Canterbury. Click the recording above, or click here.

NOTE: To download the latest version of QuickTime, click here. Also, Firefox or Safari work best. MS Internet Explorer belongs in the Smithsonian next to the TRS80.

Dramatic Reading Samplings:

Bob Dylan: The Baby Huey of our Generation
Post-Egypt Letter

There are others, but Apple changed the location of my website to a new server for MobileMe and I will need to move them over to the new location.

You are my hiding place