NEW

Letter to the Editor: Welcome the Afghani Refugees but Know the Problems

Welcome the Afghani Refugees But Know the Problems   Dear Sir, There is widespread sympathy for resettling Afghans into Britain fleeing from tyranny and persecution and I am supportive of it. Many of them are Muslims and will have every facility to follow their...

Letter to the Editor: Irrational Optimism

  Irrational Optimism Dear Sir, I read the latest [anon.] article from Anglican Futures, EC8087. It is helpful and clear but, for me, there is a deep undercurrent of a seemingly determined [irrational?] optimism. The article outlines the overall workings of...

Letter to the Editor: Covid Restrictions

  Covid Restrictions Dear Sir,  I refer to the letter in Issue 8084 entitled ‘Power belongeth unto Christ’ which Scripturally outlines where all power belongs and exposes the inconsistencies of our Government and their COVID restrictions on the public worship of...

Free Presbyterians Protest COP26 Visit of Pope Francis

Free Presbyterians Protest COP26 visit of Pope Francis  The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland has sent a protest to the First Minister urging her to resist political and diplomatic ties with the Pope, ahead of the COP26 summit of world leaders in Glasgow in...

Episcopal Church Pays $4,500,000 to Diocese of Ft Worth

Episcopal Church Pays $4,500,000 to Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas By Suzanne Gill With encouragement from the 141st District Court, the Diocese entered into mediation with The Episcopal Church (TEC) in early June to settle claims of the Diocese for attorneys’ fees and...

Pilgrim’s Process: Common Grace by Peter Sanlon

Pilgrim’s Process  By Peter Sanlon Common Grace Loving God is so important for satisfaction and joy in life, that it is easy to mistakenly think only spiritual concerns are important in life. There are many ways for this error to arise: We can think the only truly...

Church in Wales Embraces the Zeitgeist

The Church in Wales Embraces the Zeitgeist Meeting on Monday 6 September, the Governing Body of the Church in Wales, voted to approve same-sex blessings but stopped short of approving marriage. The change does not allow for same-sex marriages in a Church in Wales...

The History of Christianity in Britain and Ireland

The History of Christianity in Britain and Ireland From the first century to the twenty-first Gerald Bray Apollos, 2021 (ISBN: 978-1-78974-120-9, 693pp) Throughout his long academic career Bray has ably straddled both doctrine and ecclesiastical history, so it is no...

Anglican Futures: Knitted Together In Love

Anglican Futures "Knitted together in love" - Should Christian Communities be 'Thicker'? The terms 'thick' and 'thin' have been used by sociologists and political scientists to describe cultures  for decades.  Thick cultures are socio-centric; they tend to be...

Formularies for What? Center for Reformation Anglicanism

Formularies for What? Part 1 By Chuck Collins I eavesdropped on a conversation once in which a very nice lady said, “I love being Episcopalian; you can believe anything and still be one!” She would agree with William James who famously said, “Anglicanism remains obese...

Report from Anglican Ink on Episcopal Church Legal Spending

Report from Anglican Ink on Episcopal Church Legal Spending

By Jeff Walton

This report follows on the announcement that the Diocese of Fort Worth received $4,500,000 from the Episcopal Church to cover the expenses incurred by the Diocese after it left the Episcopal Church in 2008.

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth was sued by the Episcopal Church in 2009. The diocese went on to become a founding member of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). Litigation effectively concluded in February, after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up a TEC appeal following a unanimous Texas Supreme Court ruling in favor of the diocese.

“The Diocese made every attempt to avoid this litigation, beginning before its dissociation from TEC in 2008,” Bishop Ryan Reed wrote in a statement provided by the diocese on August 28. “Unfortunately, negotiations ended abruptly after three church properties were released to TEC-majority congregations when the Presiding Bishop and local TEC leaders brought suit in April 2009, foreclosing on the possibility of any other settlement”.

As I’ve written before, Episcopal litigation is not chiefly about money or church property, although those are both items under dispute. The denomination and Episcopal dioceses have expended enormous sums of money on legal fees, even taking a net financial loss in some instances despite court victories that awarded ownership of properties. Instead, litigation is chiefly aimed at preserving the exclusivity of the Episcopal Church’s Anglican Communion franchise. As former Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told NPR in 2012, the only people who cannot buy Episcopal church buildings are the Anglicans.

“I’ve had two principles throughout this,” Jefferts Schori stated. “One, that the church receive a reasonable approximation of fair market value for assets that are disposed of; and, second, that we not be in the business of setting up competitors that want to either destroy or replace the Episcopal Church”.

Christians of other denominations (especially those within the United Methodist Church) should take note and pursue a negotiated path forward, like the proposed Protocol for Separation, rather than squander ministry assets in litigation as the Episcopal Church has done.

Episcopalians and departing Anglicans have been in legal conflict in several parts of the United States as churches and five separate dioceses disaffiliated with the denomination in the mid-2000s onward.

Those departing to ultimately join the ACNA have won lawsuits in Texas and Illinois, while losing lawsuits in New York, Virginia and California. Those in Pittsburgh were able to negotiate an agreement benefitting both remaining Episcopalians and Anglicans, while a South Carolina case is ongoing: a district court there handed down a court order favorable to Anglicans in June 2020, which now awaits state Supreme Court review.

In 2015, attorney A.S. Haley (then a layperson in the Episcopal Church) calculated from audited statements and monthly financials that TEC had spent a total of $35,317,343 on legal matters from 2000-through 2015. By adding in the church’s projected three-year budget for legal expenses, loans to dioceses, and outside expenses, he arrived at an estimated total of $42,675,000 through 2018.

I reached out to Mr. Haley, who kindly updated those numbers:

“ECUSA [TEC]’s final three-year totals are now online. They are much more opaque than they were in previous years — for example, they no longer show cumulative detailed expenses for any but the current year. Their audited statements bury the legal costs in the expenses of ‘Administration.’ As best as I can tell based on the budget changes approved by the Executive Council in late 2017, my $42.7 million estimate was on target for expenses through 2018.

“For the 2019-2021 Triennium, the last adopted budget revision shows that they project $4,138,979 of legal expenses through 2021, plus $333,366 in Title IV [Disciplinary] expenses, or about $4.5 million for the period 2019-2021. But that figure must now be doubled, because of the $4.5 million it was just announced that ECUSA would reimburse the (Anglican) Diocese of Fort Worth for its expenses in the lawsuit brought against it by ECUSA”.

Haley totals those figures to arrive at the number of $51.7 million which TEC will have spent on litigation and related expenses from 2000 through 2021 — and that doesn’t begin to take into account the amounts spent by individual Episcopal dioceses, such as Los Angeles, TEC San Joaquin and TEC Pittsburgh.

Fort Worth is the second largest diocese by membership in the ACNA and counts 55 congregations in Texas and Louisiana. The diocese, which holds to an Anglo-Catholic form of churchmanship, disagreed with the direction of the Episcopal Church in matters of scriptural authority and human sexual expression.

Diocesan leaders are grateful that the major distraction of lawsuits and court battles is concluded.

“As we put more than a decade of litigation behind us, we can once again devote ourselves to sharing the transforming love of Jesus Christ and our mission to equip the saints for the work of ministry,” Reed noted. “We look forward now in hope and trust for Christ’s leading.”

[Editor’s Note: This article reports expenditures by the national church, officially known as the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Episcopal Church (DFMS). It does not include litigation expenses by Episcopal dioceses against departing parishes, which potentially number much higher. Others have estimated that number in excess of $200 million, but this article is limited to that which can be seen nationally through a review of audited financial statements).

Used by permission and first published at: www.anglicanink.com

Previous

Next