Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Litigation - the Diocese of Tennessee

Sadly, as the Episcopal Church (USA) continues its policy of suing every departing parish and diocese, I have to keep expanding the pages in my ECUSA litigation coverage. For now, this is the newest such page, involving the Diocese of Tennessee; I am sure it will not be the last. For some time now, it was believed that this Diocese, whose Bishop John C. Bauerschmidt counts himself among the Communion Partner bishops, would be able to follow the example of the Diocese of Central Florida, and work out an amicable resolution with the parishes that chose to leave it. Now we see that such will not be the case.

The situation of St. Andrew's parish in Nashville is unique in certain respects. For one thing, it proceeded to amend its Articles of Association under Tennessee law to remove all statements of accession to diocesan and national constitutions and canons before the adoption of the Dennis Canon in 1979. In this respect, its case parallels that of All Saints Waccamaw in South Carolina, where that State's Supreme Court recently held that amendments to its governing documents which conformed to State law were valid, and superseded the effect of any national or diocesan canons which contained no provision expressly restricting or limiting such amendments.

I will use the series of posts linked below to trace the aspects of a lawsuit based on the Dennis Canon against a church which did everything it could not to be subject to its enactment. After all, in New York and California, the courts chided the parishes for waiting twenty or more years before raising any objections to the canon. Now we have a case of a parish that did exactly what those courts said was the proper way to prevent its application to a parish even before the canon went into effect. Thus we shall see whether the courts mean what they say, or are just (as they often do) throwing out meaningless makeweight arguments to buttress the outcome they have been predisposed to favor.

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