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March 25, 2010


BREAKING: All Saints, SC: “long standing litigation involving…national Episcopal Church has ended”

[Received via email and posted with permission]

Dear Parish Family:

As Rector of your parish, I am writing to formally report that the long standing litigation involving our church, our diocese, the AMiA congregation and the national Episcopal Church, has ended.

Our Vestry has worked long and hard with the Vestry of the AMiA congregation to find a way to end the case forever while providing a way for both churches to go forward into the future in faith and service to our Lord.

While the final agreement provides for the AMiA congregation to own the real property which was in question, it also provides for a proper use of the property by the members of our congregation who have a heritage there.  Beyond that, there are other very important and significant provisions for our congregation, which will provide assistance toward the acquisition of a permanent church home for our future, and which will provide us with some of the tradition and heritage treasured by so many among us.

This news will be a matter of rejoicing for some members of our church family and a matter of disappointment for others among us.  Understanding that difference is crucial to the proper Christian love and care we need to be showing one another at this time.  No one should be insensitive to the feelings of those who are disappointed that our church will not be returning to Kings River Road, and no one should put a damper on the enthusiasm and spirit of those who now see us free to finally pursue our Gospel ministries, free of litigation and uncertainty.  Whether in gladness or sadness, in all things give thanks to the Lord. This is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus and to do otherwise would be to quench the Spirit among us. 1 Thessalonians 5:18-19

If you would like to know more details of the agreement, you may do one of several things.

First, you can call me (222-8166) or you can speak to me face to face privately if that would be of assistance to you.

Second, you may speak to any member of the Vestry as they all have the relevant information you might need.  Since there are so many more Vestry members than just one Rector, you may have a much easier time reaching one of them than me.

Third, we will use the Sunday School hour, 9:15 to 10:15, on this Sunday, March 28, as Rector’s and Vestry Forum to talk about what has transpired. I am also inviting all the Vestry to be with us at that time, as their own schedules might permit.  This is not a formal parish meeting of any sort so please don’t feel that you need to be there.  It is simply a time and place to come to talk and learn if that would help you.

In closing I ask you to hold onto these truths:  Although some hopes and dreams may now be ending by this development, others are being born or liberated.  What has happened is not so much the “ending” of something, as we honestly acknowledge that our time and participation at Kings River Road practically ceased about six years ago.  Instead, what has been provided here are the resolution and finality we needed, whether good news or bad, so that now, either way, we may fully step out in faith and sacrifice for our Lord Jesus and the vision He is setting for us.  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

The Lord has us in His loving hands and there is nothing but goodness before us.  Peace and grace are ours.

God bless you all as we faithfully walk into the vision the Lord has set for us.

Ed Kelaher+
Rector

 

 


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46 comments

And that’s the way it should end, in a negotiated settlement. It’s a pity that the beginning and the middle weren’t handled in the same fashion.

Does this put a kibosh on 815’s appeal to the US Supreme Court?

[1] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 3-25-2010 at 04:34 PM · [top]

Wailing and gnashing of teeth at 815 2nd Avenue.

Interesting (!) that the convention of the Diocese of SC is tomorrow, AND that the Fulcrum UK Statement come out today ( http://www.fulcrum-anglican.org.uk/?524) which statement directly refers to impending aggression toward the diocese, as well as scathing comments about TEC’s intransigence.

Could be an interesting few weeks…

Fr. Darin R. Lovelace+
St. John’s Anglican
Park City UT

[2] Posted by frdarin on 3-25-2010 at 04:35 PM · [top]

“While the final agreement provides for the AMiA congregation to own the real property which was in question, it also provides for a proper use of the property by the members of our congregation who have a heritage there.”

Oh dear, dissenters and stayers reach an agreement that allows both to carry on with their ministry… What is the world coming to?!?! I can imagine KJS and DBB won’t be very happy about this ...

[3] Posted by MichaelA on 3-25-2010 at 04:38 PM · [top]

What a Christian example is set here.

[4] Posted by oscewicee on 3-25-2010 at 04:42 PM · [top]

MichaelA,

I’m not a lawyer and I’m definitely looking forward to what The Curmudgeon has to say, but my initial understanding is that this is probably it for Beers’ hopes of getting this in front of the Supreme Court.

[5] Posted by Greg Griffith on 3-25-2010 at 04:42 PM · [top]

Well done!!!

bb

[6] Posted by BabyBlue on 3-25-2010 at 04:47 PM · [top]

#4. It is definitely over.

[7] Posted by AR on 3-25-2010 at 04:52 PM · [top]

I, too, am very curious about what this does to the US Supreme Court appeal.  Would also like to ask any legal beagle among us whether TEC could bring a case to obtain property against a departing parish in South Carolina given the SC Supreme Court ruling for this state?  For instance, if Parish A leaves and the TEC doesn’t file a suit at that time, BUT later - the Virginia property cases go all the way to the US Supreme Court and (our Lord please forbid) the US-SC rules in favor of the TEC owning property . . . could the TEC go after a departing parish well after the fact?  There is probably a statute of limitations in play.

[8] Posted by Tami on 3-25-2010 at 04:53 PM · [top]

Thanks be to God for this example of how people belonging to Jesus Christ can work out their differences in a way that honors Him.

[9] Posted by BettyLee Payne on 3-25-2010 at 05:09 PM · [top]

From:  TREADING GRAIN,  Steve Wood+,s Blog

“All Saints Episcopal Church files motion with SCOTUS to withdraw the petition for Cert.  This is very good news for the Diocese of South Carolina and every parish in the Diocese – as well as beyond.

Praise God for this decision.”

Grannie Gloria

[10] Posted by Grandmother on 3-25-2010 at 05:10 PM · [top]

Does this remove the best case against the Denis Canon from being heard by the SCOTUS, and thereby pave the way for a case that TEC feels has a better chance of going its way to be heard by the SCOTUS?

[11] Posted by Undergroundpewster on 3-25-2010 at 05:18 PM · [top]

Well done, indeed!! smile

[12] Posted by Liz Forman on 3-25-2010 at 05:21 PM · [top]

#10 and #11, I guess the legal staff over at 815 decided to drop back and punt this time. I hope this means that if they lose in Virginia, they won’t be appealing that one either. We can only hope that a new rationality will prevail and the litigation will diminish, or dare I say, cease all together.
Still, those are troubles for another day. The news this day is excellent.

[13] Posted by Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) on 3-25-2010 at 05:42 PM · [top]

Sounds like 815 realized they were about to have their ..uh, lunches handed to them and bailed for a more favorable venue. I for one would like to see the supremes settle the issue before Obama gets a chance to stack the court.

[14] Posted by Creedal Episcopalian on 3-25-2010 at 05:54 PM · [top]

I fear that TEC folded to wait for a better hand. Certainly not time for us to go “all in”. Would have been nice to give SCOTUS a crack at Denis.

[15] Posted by Gulfstream on 3-25-2010 at 06:12 PM · [top]

The means Bishop Lawrence will be deposed.

TEO will want blood for dropping their suit.

[16] Posted by Bill2 on 3-25-2010 at 06:38 PM · [top]

‘This’ not ‘the’

[17] Posted by Bill2 on 3-25-2010 at 06:39 PM · [top]

So…the Episcopal real estate company actually has a pre trial settlement out of what 8,000 cases?
This means Bp. Mark is toast for bringing in a Christian solution at a reasonable cost without a hint of bordercrossing.
Intercessor

[18] Posted by Intercessor on 3-25-2010 at 06:49 PM · [top]

I’m nore concerned about cases pending in other dioceses….namely my own.  While this certainly appears to be good news for the AMiA congregation, I would hope that it would translate to other congregations outside their diocese.  I’m anxious to see what Mr Haley has to say about this development.

[19] Posted by Cennydd on 3-25-2010 at 07:10 PM · [top]

I’m sure that +Mark knows he’ll receive a warm welcome into the ACNA anytime.

[20] Posted by Cennydd on 3-25-2010 at 07:19 PM · [top]

I tremble to think how BeerKat et Alia will respond to this change of fortune.  In the background, do I hear a nasaly voice saying “Off with His Head!”?

KTF!...mrb

[21] Posted by Mike Bertaut on 3-25-2010 at 07:36 PM · [top]

Since the email says:
“the long standing litigation involving our church, our diocese, the AMiA congregation and the national Episcopal Church, has ended.”
Presumably the TEC involvement has also been settled.  I can’t imagine settling a case otherwise than with all parties, although I can’t speak for American practise.

[22] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 3-25-2010 at 07:52 PM · [top]

I delight in a negotiated settlement, but I am puzzled as to who the negotiating parties were.

[23] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 3-25-2010 at 08:32 PM · [top]

A settlement is indeed good news.

8, Tami, wrote:

Would also like to ask ... whether TEC could bring a case to obtain property against a departing parish in South Carolina given the SC Supreme Court ruling for this state?

Yes.  It is a basic part of the practice of law to try to distinguish a case based on the facts.  All Saints had a number of things that may make their case unique, and it is possible to imagine several reasons why a different set of facts would lead to a different result.  Certainly the recent SC Supreme Court decision was significant, but it is really the next case in SC that will determine how broad a decision it was.  (Especially when the law changes, as it did fairly significantly with the Waccamaw case, it often takes more than one case to make things clear—one to announce a new rule or analysis; another one or two to make clear how to apply it.)

Re: the U.S. Supreme Court, many here seem to assume that it was TEC who made the decision to pull the plug.  That fits the general (and I think unjustified) assumption that “shadow” or “continuing” congregations are puppets, incapable of making their own decisions.  It is true that there were reasonable reasons for TEC to call it quits—the chances of this case being heard were slim, and they may be content to wait for a better case to attempt to clarify and test South Carolina law and/or to seek U.S. Supreme Court review. 

But as others have observed, it was not TEC that chose to petition for certiorari.  Thus if the petitioner congregation decided it was time to bail, they could have made the decision alone.  This may be the rare situation where TEC had no effective way to torpedo a settlement (particularly when the diocese already had stopped helping with the litigation).  It sounds like there is no confidentiality requirement in this settlement.  Perhaps discussions will shed some light.

As for those who mention Virginia, we can all only speculate.  My guess is that there’s not a snowball’s chance in heck of a quick end—certainly not before the Supreme Court of Virginia rules, and probably not before a decision on a petition for certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court.  And while the odds are always long, there are aspects of the Virginia litigation that make it a much more favorable candidate for the U.S. Supreme Court than the Waccamaw case. 

We’ll see.

[24] Posted by DavidH on 3-25-2010 at 09:04 PM · [top]

From Schori:  How DARE they!  They can’t DO this to me!

[25] Posted by Cennydd on 3-25-2010 at 09:13 PM · [top]

#24, DavidH - thank you for answering my question.

[26] Posted by Tami on 3-25-2010 at 10:22 PM · [top]

After reading the Curmudgeon’s analysis, I realize this resolution is the result of a diocese(like SC) allowing the Holy Spirit to lead them in their election of a bishop vs. making a political statement as the majority of TEC dioceses routinely do. May God continue to bless His faithful people.

[27] Posted by iambutone on 3-25-2010 at 10:23 PM · [top]

I, too, have read Curmudgeon’s post.  A negotiated settlement comes a lot closer to Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven than ongoing litigation. May God bless both All Saints (ECUSA) and All Saints (AMiA).

[28] Posted by Jill Woodliff on 3-26-2010 at 01:09 AM · [top]

I agree with the Curmudgeon’s analysis and find this to be wonderful knews. My only caveat is that I dont believe this necesarilly precludes TEC from attempting to have the US Supreme Court review another case applying the South Carolina Supreme Court decision. I am sure they will try.

I also have a question. As part of the implementation of the Denis Canon, most Dioceses implemented regulations that required the creation of what amounts to an express trust (as opposed to an implied trust) in favor of the Diocese or in some cases the national church. Did SC do this?

[29] Posted by Going Home on 3-26-2010 at 01:16 AM · [top]

I wonder if the letter written by The Very Reverend Peter C. Moore to the Post and Courier in rebuttal of the Forum’s full page ad had anything to do with the Episcopal congregation’s
settlement of the case.

[30] Posted by Marie Blocher on 3-26-2010 at 02:56 AM · [top]

Having read the Curmudgeon’s piece I see that the decision to withdraw may have been from the parish alone, although who knows where the funding for their litigation may have come from.  Not cheap appealing to SCOTUS I imagine.

Prayers for South Carolina as they hold their diocesan convention today and for Bishop Lawrence who deserves better from all sides.  We would count ourselves as lucky to have someone of his calibre over here.

[31] Posted by Pageantmaster ن on 3-26-2010 at 04:53 AM · [top]

Thanks be to God ! Hallelujah !  At long last.  When All saints filed the petition for review by the SCOTUS, I was somewhat surprised. I am glad that Father Ed Kelaher, his vestry and All Saints’ (AMiA)  vestry were able to come to a negotiated settlement. Great news for both congregations.  May both congregations continue to go forward in the Lord’s service and prosper.

[32] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 3-26-2010 at 06:09 AM · [top]

#23.
The negotiated settelement was between the two vestries, All saint’s Waccamaw (Diocese of SC) and All Saint’s Waccamaw (AMiA). As I am not part of either parish, I don’t the influences and timetable for the negotiated settlement between the two vestries. 

#29, I am not sure that any diocese actually did that. Perhaps some did ??  Many did not?? Many, including Diocesean Chancellors, had never heard of the Denis Canon until this case which started several years ago. For a South Carolina view point, read chapter 31 in Mr. Nick Ziegler’s book, When Power and Conscience Meet or The Curmugdeon post in which Mr. Haley mentions Nick Ziegler’s role (the Curmudgeon quotes from Nick’s book -chapter 31) as Chancellor of the Diocese (SC) at the time All Saint’s filed their lawsuit against the diocese.

However fascinating the above background is…. it no longer matters. The South Carolina Supreme Court has ruled that The Denis Canon has NO EFECT in this state. If I understand Mr. Haley correctly, then from the date that the clerk of the SCOTUS files the dismissal of the petition for review, the Denis Canon will be officially dead in this sate. What a great Easter present to both Dioceses.

Thanks Pageantmaster.  Your prayers are much appreciated. If I could clone Bishop Lawrence for you, I would! We do need more Bishops like him.  I wonder how it went for him at the House of Bishops meeting that just ended? I have been praying for him and all bishops this week. 

May God’s spirit be with Bishop Lawrence and all the delegates at the 219th Diocesean Convention today.

In closing, Thanks be to God and Alleluia! Alleluia!

[33] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 3-26-2010 at 07:30 AM · [top]

OOPS! I that should be-  I don’t KNOW the influences and the timetable of the negotiated settlement…...  <sigh>

[34] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 3-26-2010 at 07:33 AM · [top]

What an honor to be mentioned obliquely in one of Mr. Haley’s blog posts, even if he chose to ignore the substance in favor of a flip remark.

His devotees need to keep in mind that much of what appears on his blog is more advocacy than analysis.  Nothing wrong with advocacy, of course (it’s what lawyers do most of the time), but it would be foolish to accept statements like

the Dennis Canon will be everywhere and forever ineffective…. The Dennis Canon will, in short, be dead in South Carolina.

as serious or careful legal analysis.

[35] Posted by DavidH on 3-26-2010 at 09:14 AM · [top]

RE: “What an honor to be mentioned obliquely in one of Mr. Haley’s blog posts, even if he chose to ignore the substance in favor of a flip remark.”

Hey DavidH, I assume he was treating your remarks as “advocacy” rather than analysis as well—we wouldn’t want to think of your effusions as “serious or careful legal analysis” either.  ; > )

[36] Posted by Sarah on 3-26-2010 at 09:20 AM · [top]

Careful, DavidH:  Your bias is showing!

[37] Posted by Cennydd on 3-26-2010 at 09:51 AM · [top]

DavidH, you completely changed the Curmudgeon’s statement by omitting the words “within the borders of that state” after “ineffective”.  As an “old” lawyer, I know serious analysis when I see it, and the Curmudgeon has it, contrary to your effort to make it seem he said something else.

[38] Posted by Rewster on 3-26-2010 at 10:35 AM · [top]

Ahh Sarah, always nice to prompt a post from a mistress of the quick dismissal. 

Cennydd, all I can suggest is that you read post 24 again, hopefully noticing this time that it’s actually quite calm, discussing legal possibilities as opposed to making grand pronouncements with righteous certainty.

Rewster, calm down—wouldn’t want an “old” person needlessly overexcited.  There was no attempt to alter what Mr. Haley said—merely a quick conclusion that “within the borders of that state” was redundant in a short quote that also included “in South Carolina.”

[39] Posted by DavidH on 3-26-2010 at 06:18 PM · [top]

“Righteous certainty?”  Hah!  More like the TRUTH!

[40] Posted by Cennydd on 3-27-2010 at 01:03 AM · [top]

33—All Dioceses had knowledge of the action of the General Convention in adopting what is known as the Denis Canon. Many Dioceses, perhaps most, adopted resolutions as Diocisian conventions requiring, among other things, new property to be acquired in the name of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese for the benefit of the parish, reflecting the language of the Canon. In some cases, Dioceses passed resolutions requiring a parish to recognize this interest in order to get newly required Diocisian approval of mortgages on existing property. As a result, many growing parishes ended up with a hodgepod of deed ownership discriptions, some reflecting the express trust, others which didnt.  The parishes that were best positioned for subsequent property litigation litigation were old churches that had not made recent property acquistions. I didnt know the history in South Carolina—I just knew this occured in other southern states.

[41] Posted by Going Home on 3-27-2010 at 01:57 AM · [top]

Cennydd, 40, I’m not sure what you do for a living, but if you can find TRUTH in predicting the future (which is what one is doing when discussing how existing case law will be applied in future cases), perhaps you’re in the wrong business.  As for me, aside from matters Biblical, I label other people’s opinions about future events differently.

[42] Posted by DavidH on 3-27-2010 at 07:35 AM · [top]

Unfortunately, David H. is correct, TEC could still bring an action in SC.  The ability to do something, does not mean it will meet with success.  I doubt it will re-litigate the Dennis Canon in SC if the opinion goes beyond the specific facts applicable to the Pawley’s Island case. TEC is forum shopping, however, and looking for the right vehicle to get to the SCoUS.  Beers plan is obviously to get a high court imprimatur on his theory that TEC is hierarchial, top down, and not a mere federation of equal dioceses.
TEC it has much greater chance of success in a Federal court.  The Georgia Supremes have yet to get to the Christ Church Savannah case.  Right now there are probably insufficient number of the highest state courts rulings on the applicability of the Dennis Canon in particular cases to merit a petition to the US Supremes on diversity of opinion.

[43] Posted by aacswfl1 on 3-27-2010 at 07:55 AM · [top]

Why would TEC want anything to go to the US Supreme Court?  They are prevailing in most states to lose on the Federal level on the Denis Canon would draw those victories and the intimidating scorch earth tactics employed into question.

[44] Posted by chips on 3-28-2010 at 09:34 PM · [top]

Ho hum.

[45] Posted by Cennydd on 3-28-2010 at 11:39 PM · [top]

well perhaps everyone can move on now

[46] Posted by ewart-touzot on 4-8-2010 at 10:32 AM · [top]

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