January 29, 2010

More on the Court Order

Two earlier posts dealt with the court order issued by Judge Joseph M. James today in the Calvary litigation. They are available here and here.
Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas judge Joseph M. James issued an order today in the litigation first brought by Calvary Episcopal Church against then-bishop Robert Duncan and other diocesan leaders in October 2003. (You can read that order here. This PDF version is searchable and has all pages in an upright orientation.) A year later, the parties filed a stipulation agreeing that diocesan-owned property would stay with The Episcopal Church, come what may. The stipulation also described a process to be followed if a diocesan congregation wanted to leave The Episcopal Church. Since a majority of deputies to the diocesan convention voted in 2008 to remove the diocese from The Episcopal Church, litigation has focused exclusively on the diocesan-property issue.

Although Duncan, through his attorneys, argued that the stipulation does not mean what it seems to mean, Judge James disagreed and, in October 2009, issued an order that the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh should “hold and administer the real and personal property that is subject to Paragraph One [which deals with diocesan property].” That property was inventoried by a special master appointed by the court, attorney Stanley E. Levine.

Today’s order states that:
  1. The court accepts Levine’s inventory as a list of property subject to paragraph 1 of the stipulation. It leaves open the possibility that the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh could seek additional property.
  2. There is to be both a public and a confidential version of the court order. Since the report of the special master is attached to the order, the public version includes a redacted version of the report that eliminates confidential information such as account numbers. The confidential order is under seal.
  3. Financial institutions and repositories holding diocesan funds are to take instructions only from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. A similar requirement is placed on trustees and fiduciaries.
  4. Real property listed by the special master is rightfully held and administered by the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. None of the property can be sold or current occupants removed without the permission of the court.
  5. Recipients of “altar artifacts” (presumably liturgical furnishings owned by the diocese but on loan to parishes) should take instructions regarding their disposition from the Diocese of Pittsburgh and may not sell, transfer, or move the artifacts to another location without the permission of the court.
  6. Persons or entities having taken out loans from the diocese are to take instructions for repayment from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.
  7. Defendants are to provide to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh within 20 days financial and other records needed by the diocese to hold and administer the property covered by the order. They are to provide “ongoing cooperation” to implement the provisions of the order.
  8. The order takes effect immediately, and the court “retains jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter to enforce the Stipulation and Order of October 14, 2005, the Opinion and Order of Court of October 6, 2009, and [the current] order.”
The order is followed by the report of the special master, which accounts for most of the 32 pages of the document issued today. Highlights of assets enumerated by Levine include:
  1. $22 million in cash, cash equivalents, receivables, and investments. This includes some $2.5 million in parish funds held in a common investment pool.
  2. Various trusts, not all of which have specific values attached to them.
  3. Approximately $1 million in outstanding loans due the diocese (included in the $22 million, above).
  4. A substantial amount of real property, including the “Donegal Property,” 151 acres of rural property on which Duncan once proposed building a conference center, and Sheldon Calvary Camp, a summer camp facility in Ohio on Lake Erie. Also included is Old St. Luke’s, an historic church without a congregation, and two cemeteries.
Perhaps the most interesting fact to come to light in the special master’s report is that the Board of Trustees—which is to say the Board of Trustees of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh—owns quite a few church buildings, many of which are occupied by departed congregations. Among this group is Trinity Cathedral in downtown Pittsburgh—Trinity claims to be in both dioceses—and St. Philip’s, Moon Township, one of the largest churches in the Anglican diocese.

Update (1/31/2009): My statement above about Trinity Cathedral is incorrect. See comments for more information.

15 comments:

  1. Thanks, Lionel - you are doing a great service to the church through your web site.

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  2. Lionel --

    The clarity with which you explain these issues is very helpful. Thanks for taking the trouble to keep us all informed in this way.

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  3. Thanks, Lionel. Of course, there is nothing so clear that someone can't obfuscate it!

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  4. he status of Bishop Duncan's promissory note and his and his wife's life interest in the property. This in not my area of competence and I wondered about the 3% interest rate he received. The figures are on page 4 in the footnotes of the attachment of the public record and the pdf that you provided the link for. My memory of this transaction was that it happened right on the eve of the diocesan alleged secession

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  5. Emily,

    I, too, found this footnote interesting, but I don’t have the background to understand it. I asked a lawyer friend to look at it, but he hasn’t gotten back to me.

    For the benefit of other readers, Emily referred to page 4 of the special master’s report. This the 15th page in the PDF.

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  6. Lionel:

    Are you sure about your statement regarding Trinity Cathedral? I don't see it on the schedule.

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  7. Oops! I was indeed wrong about Trinity Cathedral. The Trinity on the list is in Freeport! I saw “Sixth” and thought it was Sixth Avenue in Pittsburgh.

    I’ll try to do a more thorough analysis of the list of churches and post it later today.

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  8. The special master’s report of property owned by the Board of Trustees of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh(Schedule C)is a bit flaky. It lists 39 churches. Of these, 8 (including one historic church without congregation) are in the Episcopal diocese, 26 are in the Anglican diocese, 1 is a former church rented out by the Anglican diocese, 1 has not declared its allegiance, and 3 are churches I cannot identify. Those associated with Archbishop Duncan are: All Saints’, Rosedale; Christ Church, Greensburg; Christ Church, New Brighton; Advent, Brookline; Atonement, Carnegie; Good Samaritan, Liberty Boro; Good Shepherd, Hazelwood; Our Saviour, Glenshaw; Transfiguration, Clairton; Prince of Peace, Hopewell; Shepherd’s Heart, Uptown; St. Andrew’s, New Kensington; St. Bartholomew’s, Scottsdale; St. Christopher’s, Cranberry Twp.; St. David’s, Peters Twp.; St. George’s, Waynesburg; St. James’, Penn Hills; St. John’s, Donora; St. Luke’s, Georgetown; St. Martin’s, Monroeville; St. Mary’s, Red Bank; St. Paul’s, Monongahela; St. Paul’s, Blairsville; St. Philip’s, Moon Twp.; St. Thomas-in-the-Fields, Gibsonia; Trinity, Freeport; the former Epiphany, Avalon.

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  9. Hi!... I am not an American Episcopalian or another Anglican. I am an open minded Roman Catholic Portuguese (south of Europe) with similar ideas in terms of inclusivity than TEC!... Unfortunatly there are no Anglican churches near me... So... I am alone!... Excuse me for my bad English as a Portuguese language native!...
    Excuse me too fors!e here!... It is about the situation of Anglican Communion nowadays!...
    Imagin: Here in Portugal we have 2 legal Anglican Churches... The Chapels from the Diocese of Europe of CofE for British individuals and a small liberal, 5000 members, Broad near Anglo Catholic Lusitanian Church, as I know with high ties with The Episcopal Church in USA, to the Portuguese language native, American Episcopalian and others!... British individuals never or rarely attend for Lusitanian Services!... Good job for unity, no?!...
    It doesn't explain all, but give us un idea of the confusion inside the Anglican Communion!...
    Continue...

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  10. Of course quite poor relations between mother and sister churches, a variety of theological thinkings, rites, social views or cultural environnments and interests of various levels; including, in my modest opinion the desire of +++Rowan Williams to avoid diplomatic conflicts between the UK and its ex colonies in Africa cause of religious and moral issues; or the offer from the Roman Pope to the return of traditionalist Anglicans, are creating the appropriate environment to the end of the Communion as we know nowadays!...
    And of course, the acceptance of thieves in a serious organization like the CofE is the last thing expected to promote the break!...
    Continue...

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  11. And probably is the secret desire of lots of people... And it is probably the work ++Robert Duncan and probably the CofE General Synod presided by +++Rowan Williams is doing if they pass the proposal of the acceptance of ACNA!!!...
    But things don't stop here... As I read in the news they have a proposal in the synod to improve compatibility between Faith and Science!... And it is not very good to the conservative side!...
    And finally, if they pass both proposals?... Well, in my modest opinion it would be a total disaster!... Probably Episcopal Church and others arround the world will have to choose its own place in the religious world!...

    Excuse me to that too long commentary and have a good day!...

    God Bless you!...

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  12. And probably is the secret desire of lots of people... And it is probably the work ++Robert Duncan and probably the CofE General Synod presided by +++Rowan Williams is doing if they pass the proposal of the acceptance of ACNA!!!...
    But things don't stop here... As I read in the news they have a proposal in the synod to improve compatibility between Faith and Science!... And it is not very good to the conservative side!...
    And finally, if they pass both proposals?... Well, in my modest opinion it would be a total disaster!... Probably Episcopal Church and others arround the world will have to choose its own place in the religious world!...

    Excuse me to that too long commentary and probably duplication cause of computer problems and have a good day!...

    God Bless you!...

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  13. I'm curious to hear how Trinity Seminary is being supported. Is the Diocese giving it any support? How is enrollment? Will losing in court make supporting the seminary even more difficult for ACNA? Our supply priest today is a grad and hadn't heard of the court decision yet.

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  14. PseudoPiskie,

    I can find nothing in the Duncan budget supporting Trinity. I don’t think this represents a change, however. All Episcopal seminaries (perhaps all colleges and universities, actually) seem to be financially stressed now, and I doubt that Trinity is immune from the trend.

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  15. I've done some searching, and interestingly the conservative blogs (T19, Stand Firm, etc.) don't seem to have any mention of the decision. Hmm.

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