Monday, May 18, 2009

Motions Precede May 27 Pittsburgh Hearing

Well done by The Living Church-

With a May 27 court hearing drawing closer, lawyers for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh in The Episcopal Church filed a motion on May 8, arguing that a 2005 stipulation order between the diocese and the rector and wardens of Calvary Church, Pittsburgh, makes clear “that only a diocese that is part of The Episcopal Church may continue to hold and administer property.”

In a related development, lawyers representing The Episcopal Church filed a separate motion on May 12 arguing that all property is subject to the constitution and canons of The Episcopal Church and may only be used by it for mission.

The Episcopal Church was permitted to file its motion after it sought permission to be added to the case through complaint-in-intervention at a hearing April 17. At that same hearing the two sides agreed that the hearing on May 27 would proceed “assuming arguendo for the purposes of such hearing that the withdrawal of the Diocese was valid.” That issue will be considered later, if necessary.

Lawyers for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh in the Southern Cone contend that the 2005 stipulation order only applied to the property of individual congregations which might seek to leave the diocese. If the Alleghany Court of Common Pleas finds as a result of the May 27 hearing that the stipulation order does apply to the diocese, then the Southern Cone diocese may be forced to turn over all diocesan endowments and property to the diocese affiliated with The Episcopal Church.

On the other hand, if the court finds that the stipulation order applies only to congregations, then the Southern Cone diocese will still need to respond to the May 12 complaint for declaratory judgment made by The Episcopal Church.

In other news from Pittsburgh, the Rt. Rev. Robert H. Johnson has agreed to continue as an assisting bishop of the Episcopal diocese through the annual convention in the fall. Bishop Johnson originally planned to stay through July. He agreed to remain in Pittsburgh at least one week a month into autumn after being asked to do so by the diocesan standing committee.

“He has been extremely influential in bringing us together and helping us rebuild. We’re pleased to have his extraordinary pastoral presence for another three months,” said the Rev. James Simons, standing committee president.

The actual motion can be found here-

No comments: