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Quincy Press Statement on Court Win

Quincy Press Statement on Court Win

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Diocese of Quincy statement of Sept 12, 2013 on its trial court victory over the Episcopal Church
Diocese of Quincy statement of Sept 12, 2013 on its trial court victory over the Episcopal Church

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Published by: geoconger on Sep 13, 2013
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10/04/2013

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The Diocese of Quincy

Affiliated with The Anglican Church in North America
601 West Florence Avenue • Peoria, Illinois 61604-1517

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For More Information, contact:
Canon Frank Dunaway 309-657-6586 frankdunaway@gmail.com CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE RULES THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH HAS NO LEGAL CLAIM TO PROPERTY OF THE DIOCESE OF QUINCY Diocese will regain access to endowment funds frozen by the denomination in 2009

PEORIA, ILL. September 12, 2013 – For the first time in four years, the Diocese of Quincy will soon be able to access its endowment fund, which The Episcopal Church (TEC) had attempted to seize after the diocese separated from the denomination. Diocesan funds will now be released thanks to a decision by Adams County Circuit Court Judge Thomas J. Ortbal, who ruled that TEC has no claim to the local property because the diocese “met its burden of proof … that it has title and ownership of the accounts and deed titled in the Trustees. Reviewing its actions under neutral principals of law, [the diocese] established its withdrawal from association with [the denomination] was compliant with the applicable corporate charter, bylaws, as amended, as well as the not for profit corporation laws.”

The diocese sued TEC in 2009 after it withdrew from the national Church over fundamental religious doctrine and the denomination retaliated by attempting to seize the diocese’s endowment. The assets were frozen, pending a court decision on ownership. About 80 percent of the diocese’s members voted to leave the denomination because it had moved radically away from historic Anglican theology. “We are grateful that Judge Ortbal invested hundreds of hours to review all the arguments and case law in this matter, and that he determined that the members of the Diocese of Quincy have a right to worship in the churches they have built and maintained, said The Rev. Canon Frank Dunaway. “TEC’s legal position was that we gave up our rights when we joined The Episcopal Church. We are thrilled that the court protected those rights. And we look forward to using the diocesan endowment as it was intended – to defend our faith and perform good works.”

TEC’s lawsuit follows a pattern of litigation filed against parishes and dioceses that separate from the denomination. TEC has sued more than 100 parishes and five dioceses that declared their independence. The denomination has consistently said that departing parishioners have a right to leave, but no right to property that these churches built and financed. Through the years, TEC has seized church buildings and other property. Several churches have been sold. Others – including some landmark properties – remain vacant because the congregations either were forced to leave or too few parishioners remain with TEC to support the upkeep. TEC has a strict policy against selling seized church buildings to congregations that leave the denomination. The Quincy decision is one of several recent setbacks for TEC: • This month, the Texas Supreme Court overturned a lower court decision that had awarded property of the Diocese of Fort Worth to TEC. The high court effectively told the lower court that the case must be reheard. • Last month, a federal judge in South Carolina dismissed a federal trademark suit filed against the Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, whose diocese left TEC last year. The decision acknowledges the authority of the Circuit Court of South Carolina to decide the rightful owner of the diocese’s names, symbols and property. • In June, a California judge denied TEC a summary judgment request that would have nullified the decision by two former TEC churches to leave the denomination. The judge referred the matter for trial.
Ironically, the Quincy congregations that voted to remain associated with TEC, and named themselves the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy, recently merged with the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. About the Diocese of Quincy Established in 1877 as part of the Province of the Episcopal Church, the diocese in 2008 voted to move within the Anglican Communion to the province of the Southern Cone, a temporary move until the new province of the Anglican Church in North America was established.

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