Saturday, June 5, 2010

Held funds released to Episcopal, Anglican parishes

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Parish endowments that were frozen in litigation between the rival Episcopal and Anglican dioceses of Pittsburgh have thawed, and the Episcopal diocese has sent checks totaling $360,000 in back interest to parishes in both dioceses.

"We were concerned that money that could have been used for ministry in these local churches had been tied up and so we're happy to have it available again so that all of our work in mission and ministry can go forward," said Bishop Kenneth L. Price Jr. of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

His diocese was awarded about $20 million in centrally held diocesan assets in a 2009 decision by Allegheny Common Pleas Judge Joseph James. Parish property is to be negotiated separately. However, the Episcopal diocese also held $2.5 million in endowment funds belonging to parishes that had pooled their money to get higher interest. The court decree indicated that parishes had the right to that money.

The litigation surrounds an October 2008 split, when the original, unified diocese voted to secede from the Episcopal Church over theological issues. The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, which is part of the theologically conservative Anglican Church in North America, has 55 parishes. The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has 28 parishes that have chosen to remain in the Episcopal Church. Due to litigation over diocesan property after the split, the investment bank Morgan Stanley froze the accounts, so that the money was unavailable to both dioceses.

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