Skip to comments.Council Authorizes Legal Aid to Dioceses [against parishes]
Posted on 07/29/2005 12:25:48 PM PDT by sionnsar
The Episcopal Church spent more than $500,000 last year funding diocesan lawsuits against parishes and covering excess expenses incurred in Title IV real estate disputes.
The treasurer of the Episcopal Church, N. Kurt Barnes, told The Living Church that the Episcopal Church recorded approximately $386,000 in expenses in legal fees, investigations and trials for disciplinary actions under Title IV actions and incurred $122,000 in expenses associated with legal support to various dioceses last year.
The $508,000 in expenses outside the general budget of the Church was authorized by an Executive Council resolution submitted by the Standing Committee on Administration and Finance. Resolution A&F 074, titled Extra-Budgetary Expenditures in Title IV and Legal Assistance to Dioceses, was approved at the February meeting of Executive Council in Austin, Texas.
Resolution A&F 074 stated: Resolved, That expenses associated with Title IV investigations and trials and legal support for dioceses in excess of the previously budgeted amounts in 2004 and 2005 be considered as extra-budgetary items funded with surpluses accumulated from prior trienniums.
The resolutions Explanation stated, It is extremely difficult to predict the events or costs of Title IV investigations and trials or legal assistance required to support dioceses with real property disputes. It is, therefore, requested that expenses in excess of $100,000 in each of 2004 and 2005 be paid by utilizing surplus funds accumulated during previous trienniums.
While actual costs expensed in 2004 were $508,000, the resolutions estimate for that year was $235,000 for Title IV related litigation and investigations and legal support. The 2005 estimate was $125,000.
Funds from this extra-budgetary fund were envisioned as being able to assist dioceses pursue litigation against parishes that sought to withdraw from the Episcopal Church and take their property with them. Dioceses as diverse as Missouri, Los Angeles, South Carolina, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania have had highly publicized disputes over the ownership of parish property.
The treasurers office declined to itemize the expenses reimbursed by individual diocese.
I know that property disputes are seen as important by many, but I've never believed in them. I realize that people built these parishes and that their forebears were married and buried there, but if things are such that one can't stay in a particular religious body, it is much more powerful to just walk away. Christ never promised us that following him would be without cost.
I was in an Orthodox parish some years ago with a very bad (by Orthodox standards) problem of pastoral misconduct. We handled it by the book, and the diocese fixed the problem, like bishops should. But even in the darkest days where we wondered if we would have to leave and form a new parish, we never talked about trying to keep the parish property.
We would have walked away, and left the priest, the diocese, and a half-dozen parishioners with a piece of property that they would have had no ability to maintain. We would have started over in homes and storefronts or whatever. It's just money.
A parish is much more than a building.
500K sounds too little. Someone is holding billing.
Christ did in fact throw the money changers out.
I doubt they stayed gone for long. Over time, Christians were no longer welcome in either the temple or the synagogues, and they built their own...
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