Wednesday, March 6, 2019


St. Philip's Episcopal Church, of Charleston, (one of the 29 parishes legally under the Episcopal Church), has posted its 2018 annual report on the Internet. Find it here . The "Financial Report" is on page 24.

In the middle of the page we find this:

...roughly half of the TEC Legal Fees were eligible for partial insurance reimbursement from the Church Insurance Co., of Vermont, totaling some $111,749. This is what our attorneys have invoiced that Insurance Company in the federal case that were paid by St. Philip's during 2018.

A couple of points to be made here. In the first place, how is it that a self-declared non-Episcopal Church has insurance coverage from one of the Episcopal Church insurance companies? This is curious because on January 6, 2014, Judge Patrick Duffy, of the U.S. District Court, in Charleston, ordered the Church Insurance Company of Vermont to cover at least part of the Episcopal Church dioceses's legal costs. This involves millions of dollars (the exact amount is covered in a non-disclosure agreement). How could it be that the same insurance company would pay both sides of the dispute? This would be paying to oppose itself.

It is important to note that the parish lawyers "invoiced" the Company. In other words, they sent a bill to the Company. That does not necessarily mean the Company will pay. Time will tell.

On another point, the report indicates that St. Philip's legal fees in 2018 amounted to about $222,000. This is just for the parish and does not apply to the diocesan legal costs. The diocese reported in its 2019 budget it spent $969,186 on legal expenses in 2018. St. Philip's is one of the 36 parishes involved in the lawsuit against the Episcopal Church. Judging from what St. Philip's paid, the accumulated costs of the 36 parishes would be much greater than the app. $1m the diocese paid in the one year. Thus, when considering how much the breakaway diocese has paid for legal costs, one has to consider two tracks of payments, one by the parishes for themselves and one by the parishes for the diocese (note in the Report that St. Philip's is paying the diocese $50,000 more next year). If the total cost of the legal fees (parochial and diocesan) for DSC in 2018 alone was at least $2m, one could reasonably deduce that DSC has spent as much as $10m, maybe even more, for the entire course of the litigation that has been going on for some ten years now. There is more to come.

One wonders about the wisdom of St. Philip's church authorities. The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled very clearly that St. Philip's is property of the Episcopal Church. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that by refusing to take the case. It is just a matter of time before Judge Dickson implements the state supreme court order. The good people of St. Philip's are throwing good money after bad by continuing to pay lawyers at this point. St. Philip's Church will be returning to the Episcopal Church diocese soon, probably within the year.