Wednesday, July 31, 2019


Marianne Williamson is right. In the more than two and a half hours of back and forth on the details of policies and procedures last night, she used her few minutes to summarize our whole national emergency in a few words:  President Trump, she said, has unleashed a "dark psychic force" of "collectivized hatred" based on racism. All the wonky talk of plans, laws and reforms in the world will not matter as long as we allow this dark force of Trumpist racism to consume our civic society. We are in a moral, not a political, emergency. The moment is now for good people to defend righteousness. Those who stand for the most basic principles of religion and democracy have to stand up and reject and stop the dark force that will destroy us as a nation committed to equality, diversity, inclusion, and justice. Our whole future as a nation is at stake. This is a moral crisis.

Watch Williamson at last evening's debate here .

President Trump is a racist. That is the opinion of the majority of Americans. To be sure he denies it. The majority of Republicans deny it. This is not surprising. Denial is a common defense mechanism. However, by any objective standard, Trump's words and actions over many years show very clearly his use of racism as a political tool, to divide up Americans and inflame support among the white racists of various stripes. The immorality of this racism is eating away at the soul of America. Bear in mind this is not just any old racism. This is the deliberate work of the president of the United States, the most powerful person in the nation and the world.  

Christians who stand by silently and allow this racism to grow become complicit in it. Even worse are those Christians who fervently aid and abet Trump's racist MO. Of all people, it should be those of faith who lead the way in condemning this "dark psychic force." The staff of the National Cathedral have spoken up and spoken out. They are leading the way for all of us. Read their official statement condemning Trump's racism: "Mr. Trump's words are dangerous," they wrote. Read the Cathedral's statement here . 

In ways, all of the candidates on the stage last night were right. All had important words to say and ideas to contribute to make a better country and world. However, none got to the core of our national problem as did Marianne Williamson. We ought to take her words to heart.

Sunday, July 28, 2019


The Betterments hearing has stirred up a lot of response from this blog's readers. The emails keep coming in, and I appreciate every one. Yesterday's letter elicited a great deal of response as it raised the issue of eviction. Can the Church side forcibly remove the officers illegally occupying the 29 parishes that are property of the Episcopal Church? If so, should the Church use eviction? Here is another thoughtful letter to this editor. This write asked to remain anonymous:

Letter to the editor:

For TEC to keep what is rightfully and legally ours, we are forced to play by the rules within the legal system. As usual, culture and politics play into a system which should be intrinsically neutral, and as always, wealthy conservatives wanting to maintain the status quo control the system. As you have stated many times, this schism has little to do with theology. It has everything to do with the entitlement of the Charlestonian aristocracy. If politics were not involved, this situation would have been legally resolved a long time ago. The DSC never had a strong case to begin with, from any perspective.

Christ would not be proud of this schism. There is no grace in this type of lawsuit, nor in the schism, itself. It is shameful that any Christian group would be destroyed by issues of social justice and self-righteousness. The leaders of TEC have showed nothing but humility and grace in their handling of this situation, but on occasion, uncharacteristic aggressiveness is required in defense of what you are. I have more recently asked myself if the Episcopal Church is how I want to identify as a Christian, and my conclusion is that, as long as I am affiliated with any church, this is where I belong. I keep remembering what brought me back to the Episcopal Church was not being told I needed the church, but that the church needed me.


Thank you very much writer, for this heartfelt and thoughtful note. The Episcopal Church in eastern South Carolina is in its greatest crisis since the Civil War. If the Church ever needed its people, it is now, in this dark hour. To paraphrase Churchill, generations from now, people will look back and say this was their finest hour.

We need to stop every so often and remind ourselves of what this schism is all about. The people who led the majority of the old diocese out of the Episcopal Church did so because they opposed equal rights for and inclusion of all homosexuals and women in the life of the church. Thus, the fundamental issue at stake in the war between the two sides today is human rights. The Episcopal Church is fighting for the principles that all people are created in the image of God and that it is the job of the church to protect and promote the dignity and respect of every human being. The independent diocese is fighting to keep homosexuals and women from places of power and influence, that is, to protect the traditional white patriarchy. DSC institutionalized homophobia in a Draconian "Statement of Faith" (drawn up by a panel of white male clergy) of 2015 and sexism by joining the Anglican Church in North America which excludes women from offices of authority. In our weariness, we must not lose sight of the cause for which the Church fights--human rights.    

I am grateful for all of the emails I have received, especially those of the last few days. Now, we want to know what you think. If an Episcopalian in eastern SC, why are you staying with the Church when it might have been easier to go along with the secessionists? Let us hear from you. If you want your note posted, say so. If you want anonymity, let me know. If you just want to vent without publication, feel free. Send to the email address above.

Saturday, July 27, 2019


The fallout of the Betterments hearing continues. On yesterday, I posted a letter to the editor concerning the hearing. I continue to receive comments about the session. Here is another letter to this editor that expresses the frustration that so many people feel nowadays in the wake of the betterments hearing:

Letter to the editor:

I for one would love to "not do my job for 18 months!" I wonder how long I would be paid?
Apparently he [Judge Dickson] is NEVER going to do his job.
Mediation has already been tried.

I wonder if money has changed hands.

The SCSC stated he is to move expeditiously; well that hasn't happened.

Again, my opinion, we have spent too much money on attorneys, tried mediation one time, and it deadlocked. It's a vicious cycle.

What has happened to the federal cases?

Can the TEC issue eviction notices for THEIR property to the priests? All they have to do is show SCSC results.

I am a frustrated cradle Episcopalian, and my patience is running out.

Like you, I'm not a lawyer. Why can't that result be all it is? Why get the circuit court involved?

Sincerely yours,
Mary R. Murray,

Thank you, Mary Murray for sharing this with us. Bewilderment and fatigue are common on both sides of this long legal war. You are voicing the feelings of a lot of innocent victims caught in this seemingly interminable conflict.

If I may offer a few comments in response to your letter:

---no one knows why Judge Dickson has done nothing for a year and a half. His job is to implement the SCSC decision. The Church lawyers tried to get the state supreme court to intervene and expedite the matter, but the justices refused to step in. Now, there is nothing to do but wait on the judge to act in his own time. 

---judging from what has happened in this long war, it is highly unlikely that mediation will work. The DSC side is still intransigent, even after they suffered a crushing defeat in the state supreme court.

---if (or when) mediation fails, the matter goes back to Judge Dickson. I say the sooner the better, in hopes he will make a decision (or decisions). This or these are bound to be appealed to the state Court of Appeals by the losing party. In all probability that will be the end of this long string of state court actions.

---As for the federal case, to my knowledge, absolutely nothing has happened there in the last six months. As with Dickson, no one knows why Judge Gergel is marking time.

---You raised the eviction idea. Many people have asked about this. Why cannot the Church diocese get the sheriff to evict the occupants from the properties that belong to the Episcopal Church? On this, I cannot say. We would have to get a lawyer to explain this to us. I do know the Church lawyers are trying to get Judge Dickson to implement the SCSC decision. This would actually carry out the physical repossession of the 29 parishes by the Church. But, as we know, nothing is happening on that front.

What are your thoughts about any or all of this? Let us hear from you. Send emails to the address above.

Friday, July 26, 2019


The Betterments hearing of last Tuesday and my post about it have prompted numerous people to share their thoughts with me by email. I appreciate all of them. One of them volunteered to have his message posted here, and I am grateful for that too. I imagine this writer speaks for many people who read this blog.

Letter to this editor:

Thank you for your summary and suggestions of the hearing on July 23. As usual, very thoughtful and well as can be, given the hesitancy or ambiguity or confusion of Judge Dickson. I have thought about preparing a mediation proposal for the Bishop and Standing Committee of the ECSC to consider, and I still might do that. However, I, like you, am very doubtful of a mediation agreement from our own ECSC, much less one that would be agreeable to the Lawrence group. I find it inconceivable and extremely perplexing that a judge can take apart a decision of the SCOSC on the grounds that it was "confusing"? To do so flies in the precedence of "common law" and the basis of our legal system. Judge Dickson, with his inaction seems to be saying that any precedent of law with a split decision is "complicated" and "confusing" and should be reviewed, mediated, or arbitrated. Roe v. Wade, Civil Rights legislation, Black/White marriage, and a host of other important legal decisions were not unanimous. Seems to me that a legal decision by SCOSC allowed to stand by the SCOTUS is a legal decision and should be allowed to stand. The Law of the land can certainly be challenged and even be overturned in rare instances, but most rulings, even those by a narrow vote, become Law and are implemented as precedence and the basis for common law. Therefore, I am not in favor of mediation in this case. The Lawrence group has had many chances to moderate, mediate, conciliate, discuss, talk, etc., and they have not shown any good faith to do so. It is time for Judge Dickson to implement the decision made by the legal system of SC. When that decision is made, I am certain that the leadership of ECSC, being led by the love of Christ and the Holy Spirit, will be generous in implementing that decision with the Lawrence group, even though they have not been so kindly in dealing with ECSC and TEC.

Sincerely yours,
the Rev. William L. (Roy) Hills, Jr., Ph.D.

Note. The Rev. Hills is a retired priest in TECSC and author of Divine Glimpses, Church Stories, Vol. I and II. Find my review of these books here .


Other than mediation, the only significant agreement made in the hearing last Tuesday was to give official recognition of the legal independence of 7 of the 36 parishes in question. The lawyers on both sides agreed with the judge that these seven should be officially registered as the property owners (that is, without trust control by TEC). These were listed by Justice Jean Toal in the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017 (p. 52), as not having acceded to the Dennis Canon:

1. Christ the king, Waccamaw, of Pawley's Island
2. St. Matthew's, of Darlington
3. St. Andrew's, of Mt. Pleasant
4. St. Paul's, of Conway
5. Prince George Winyah, of Georgetown
6. St. John's, of Florence
7. St. Matthias, of Summerton

The discrepancy between 7 and 8 comes from St. Andrew's, of Mt. Pleasant, which had two corporate entities (parish and land trust) that were listed separately. There were actually 7 parishes.

These seven parishes are now owners of their own properties outright unencumbered by trust. The necessary documents will be filed in the appropriate courthouses.

One of the seven, St. Andrew's of Mt. Pleasant is in the Anglican Church in North America's Diocese of the Carolinas. Steve Wood, rector of St. Andrew's is the bishop of this diocese. The other six are parishes of the Diocese of South Carolina, under Bishop Mark Lawrence.

What Judge Dickson did here for the 7 parishes is far more important than may appear at first glance. I suspect many people in the audience at the hearing did not pick up on the importance of what the judge did. I know it took me awhile to realize what happened. All of the initial reports of the hearing, including mine, glossed over this incident. In fact, what occurred was that Judge Dickson actually took the first step in the implementation of the SCSC decision although he did not say that at the time. Dickson's action for the 7 parishes was a hugely important moment in the hearing. Perhaps it was his low-key demeanor that masked the significance of his action.

Thus, it may be that the early reports of the hearing were wrong to say the big news was mediation. It may well be that the major story was the judge's unannounced implementation of the first part of the state supreme court decision. In the long run, this could prove to be far more consequential than an order of mediation.

The last page of the SCSC decision  of Aug. 2, 2017, listed three majority opinions. The first one was for the 7 parishes:

1) with regard to the eight church organizations which did not accede to the Dennis Canon, Chief Justice Beatty, Justice Kittredge, and I[Justice Toal] would hold that title remains in the eight plaintiff church organizations;

It was Judge Dickson himself who brought up the disposition of these parishes in the hearing and it was he who got the opposing lawyers to agree to enact this provision. There was no disagreement in the room because it was plain law in the SCSC decision.

Interesting to note too that, by settling the issue of the 7 parishes, Dickson in effect removed that from mediation that he brought up later. Although the judge did not mention the disposition of the other 29 parishes at the time, one may argue that, by default, he gave tacit recognition of their status in the SCSC decision. It would be inconsistent to implement the first of the SCSC decisions and disregard the other two (TEC ownership of 28 [29] parishes and Camp. St. Christopher).

There were 29 parishes SCSC recognized as property of the Episcopal Church by virtue of their having acceded to the Dennis Canon. TECSC now claims these as property of the Episcopal Church and has asked Judge Dickson to implement the SCSC decision regarding them. Since he enacted the first of the three decisions of the SCSC, it is reasonable to assume he may well move on to the other two at some time. When the second order of the SCSC decision is implemented, possession of these properties will move back to the Episcopal Church diocese:

1. All Saints, of Florence
2. Christ/St. Paul's, of Yonges Island
3. Church of the Cross, of Bluffton
4. Holy Comforter, of Sumter
5. Reedemer, of Pineville
6. Holy Trinity, of Charleston
7. St. Luke's, of Hilton Head
8. St. Matthew's, of Ft. Motte
9. St. Bartholomew's, of Hartsville
10. St. David's, of Cheraw
11. St. James, James Island, Charleston
12. St. Paul's, of Bennettsville
13. St. Luke and St. Paul, of Charleston
14. Our Saviour, Johns Island
15. Epiphany, Eutawville
16. Good Shepherd, of Charleston
17. Holy Cross, of Stateburg
18. Resurrection, of Surfside
19. St. Philip's, of Charleston
20. St. Michael's, of Charleston
21. St. Jude's, of Walterboro
22. St. Helena's, of Beaufort
23. St. Paul's, of Summerville
24. Trinity, of Myrtle Beach
25. Trinity, of Edisto
26. Trinity, of Pinopolis
27. Christ Church, of Mt. Pleasant
28. St. John's, Johns Island, Charleston
29. St. Andrew's, West Ashley, Charleston

Now, do not get me wrong. I am not saying Dickson has recognized the 29 as property of TEC. All I am saying is that, by deed, he recognized and enacted the first of the three orders in the SCSC decision. This has set the precedent for him to move on to the second and third. The 29 are in the second and the Camp in the third.

I welcome letters to the editor, particularly ones with thoughts about what a mediated settlement might be. What would you suggest as a compromise settlement between the two sides?

It seems to me that the possession of the 29 parishes is not negotiable because this is final law per the SCSC decision. Same for Camp St. Christopher. Recognition of the Episcopal Church diocese as the heir of the pre-schism diocese was also a majority agreement in the decision although it was not listed as one of the three orders on the last page. I would say ownership of the old diocese by the Episcopal Church is not negotiable too. As I see it, three points are off the table: ownership of the 29 parishes, of the Camp, and of the old diocese. These belong to the Episcopal Church. This would mean everything else could be up for negotiation in mediation. 

In your opinion, what should be off the table and on the table in mediation? Send me your thoughts, and let me know if you would like them to be posted on this blog. I welcome all comments whether you want them posted or not. We all would like to know what you think about this too. Your input is just as important as anyone's. Send remarks to the email address above.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019


On July 23, Judge Edgar Dickson held a hearing on the Betterments lawsuit that the Diocese of South Carolina brought against the Episcopal Church and its diocese, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, on November 19, 2017. The hearing was in the Calhoun County courthouse, St. Matthews SC. 

For an informative review of the hearing, see the TECSC press release here . For an interpretation of the meeting, see the commentary of scepiscopalians here . For the schismatic diocese's take on the hearing see their press release here .

I attended the hearing. Here are my impressions of what happened in the courtroom and what may happen next. My usual disclaimer---I am not a lawyer or legal expert, and what I say here is only opinion. My observations of the hearing and its meaning may vary from other first-hand accounts.


For the first hour and fifty minutes (10:50a.m.-12:40p.m.), the lawyers made their arguments to the judge who asked a few questions. The TEC/TECSC side presented their position seeking dismissal of DSC's Betterments suit. Thomas Tisdale, the TECSC chancellor, argued three reasons for dismissal: 1-DSC is suing the wrong party. The parish is the trustee of the property. A trustee cannot sue itself.  2-The property issue was settled by the SC supreme court in its Aug. 2, 2017 decision.  3-Timeliness. The suit was not filed withing 48 hours after the judgment as the law requires. Mary Kostel, attorney for TEC, added that under Betterments the occupants must have been under the mistaken belief they owned the property. These parishes knew that when the congregation left the Episcopal Church, the Dennis Canon meant the transfer of ownership of the local property to TEC. They knew they did not own the property. 

The DSC lawyers, Alan Runyan and Henrietta Golding argued that the 29 parishes in question never acceded to the Dennis Canon but if the court decided they did, DSC wanted reimbursements for the improvements made on the properties. They maintained the 29 owned their local properties, but in case the court decided otherwise they wanted payments. They arguments were rather short and unpersuasive because of the obvious contradiction. 

The only outcome of this period was an agreement among the two sides and the judge that the 7 or 8 parishes named in the SCSC decision as outside the Dennis Canon trust control would be legally recognized as owning their own properties.

An hour and fifty minutes into the hearing, Judge Dickson surprised everyone by suddenly bringing up the topic of mediation. He asked if there had been any mediation. Tisdale and Runyan responded that there had been mediation with Judge Joseph Anderson guiding but the effort had ended after a few meetings with no agreement. Dickson told the lawyers they would be "better served by mediation than continued appearances in court." He added, "Mediation is the only way you are going to resolve this thing." The judge asked the two sides to choose a mediator, and if they could not agree on one, he would name one. Dickson made it plain he wanted all of the issues before him to be included in the talks. There are six petitions at hand, three from DSC and three from TEC/TECSC. With this, Judge Dickson adjourned the hearing.


Judge Dickson seems highly reluctant to deal with the six petitions before him. He has had this case before him for eighteen months. He has moved from one topic to another and has made no decision at all. By asking for mediation, he is hoping the two sides themselves will settle the issues at hand.

The original purpose of the case in the circuit court was to implement the South Carolina Supreme Court decision of August 2, 2017. The SCSC remitted the decision to the lower court for enforcement on Nov. 17, 2017. (The decision was finalized when the SCSC refused a rehearing and SCOTUS refused cert.) However, two days after the remittitur order, DSC filed their Betterments suit in the circuit court. TEC/TECSC filed for dismissal of the Betterments suit. DSC petitioned for clarification of jurisdiction essentially asking Dickson to disregard the SCSC decision and decide on the issues anew. Later, TEC/TECSC asked for enactment of the remittitur under a special master and a financial accounting of the returning parishes. Thus, there were two big issues before Dickson: implementation of the SCSC decision and Betterments.

Dickson did nothing for months before asking for arguments from both sides. Finally, a year after the remittitur, he held a hearing on DSC's petition for clarification of jurisdiction (i.e. disregard the SCSC decision). Nothing came of the hearing. 

TECSC lawyers grew tired of waiting on Dickson to enforce the SCSC decision and petitioned the SCSC for a writ of mandamus which would order the circuit court to apply the law. The SCSC rfefused to grant a writ. This essentially left Dickson to do as he pleased.

Then, out of the blue, Dickson announced a hearing on the Betterments suit, and voilĂ , the meeting on the 23rd. In the hearing, DSC asked him to accept the suit while TEC/TECSC asked him to dismiss the suit. He did neither. As I just said, he called for mediation instead. Thus, Dickson has made no decision in the eighteen months he has had this matter.


There is polar opposition on ownership of the 29 parishes in question.

TEC and TECSC say the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017, settled the issue of the property, once and for all. By majority vote, the SCSC recognized TEC as owner of the parishes. Ownership came through the Dennis Canon. Four of the five justices (Pleicones, Hearn, Kittredge, and Beatty) held that the 28 (or 29) parishes acceded to the Dennis Canon. One of them, Kittredge, backed out and said the parishes revoked their accession at the schism. The other three maintained the accessions were irrevocable. This left a majority (3-2) opinion that TEC became the owner as the beneficiary of the trust held by the parishes which were the trustees. The parishes lost the properties when they broke the terms of the trust by breaking their ties to TEC.

In the view of TEC/TECSC, Judge Dickson has only one big job, to implement the SCSC decision. 

On the other hand, DSC has refused to accept the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017. They said it was fractured, conflicted, and unenforceable. They petitioned Judge Dickson to decide himself on the issues involved which they had been left unresolved by the SCSC decision. As substantiation, DSC lawyers have insisted all along (again last Tuesday) that the parishes never acceded to the Dennis Canon. Therefore, they cannot be under the terms of the Canon. Since they are not under the Canon, the parishes remain the owners of their local properties. 

Nevertheless, as back up, DSC filed its Betterments suit which recognized TEC ownership of the properties. However, they made this conditional, that is, to go into effect only if the court decided TEC owned the properties. They argued for this last Tuesday.

Bottom line on property---TEC says it owns the parishes, end of story. DSC says the parishes own their own properties because the SCSC decision is non-enforceable.

The ownership of the local properties remains the crux of the issue between the two parties.


It is easy to see why Judge Dickson wants mediation. However, it is most unlikely to reach what he wants, a settlement. Here is why:

Any settlement would have to be by compromise. Both sides see the crucial issue as non-negotiable. They both claim the 29 local parishes. Neither shows any sign of budging on this.

Mediation usually begins early on in a case as the sides see if they can resolve their differences peacefully. If he wanted mediation, Dickson could have had it eighteen months ago. Why now after all this time when the positions of the sides have hardened? The two sides have been in legal war for six and a half years.

The two sides have had at least three occasions to settle their differences. In the circuit court trial, in the offer of June 2015, and the federal court-ordered mediation of October 2017-January 2018. DSC refused all offers of settlements. In June of 2015, TEC offered to give DSC all of the 36 parishes in question in return for the entity of the diocese. The DSC leaders promptly rejected this. In the mediation of 2017-18, TECSC asked for Bishop Adams to be able to visit the 29 parishes in question. DSC flatly refused. Apparently there has been no negotiation since then. If these efforts at mediation utterly failed, why would a new round work? What has changed? Nothing that one can see. 

It seems to me given the whole package of factors involved, out-of-court settlement by voluntary negotiation is highly unlikely. It is worth a try, but I for one have no expectation of a positive outcome.

If mediation fails again, the matter will go back to Judge Dickson who will eventually have to decide what to do about the petitions before him. However he rules, the losing party will no doubt appeal to the South Carolina Court of Appeals. It is certain that this court will uphold a decision of the state supreme court. It is unimaginable that a final decision of the state supreme court would be discarded. So, the best outcome may be to get the mediation effort over asap, go back to Dickson, hope to get a ruling (or rulings) from him, and get it finally settled by the Court of Appeals. This, of course, assumes Dickson will issue a decision at some point in time, not something I would necessarily bet on today.

As for Judge Dickson's implementation of the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017, it is reasonable to be highly doubtful of such, at least from our perspective today. In other words, TEC should not automatically expect Dickson to enact the SCSC decision.

This probably leaves everything about the properties up in the air for a long time to come. I wish it were not that way. It should not be that way. This whole business is a scandal that should never have happened. 

As I sat in that beautiful courtroom on Tuesday, a sense of sadness fell over me. There were two groups of former friends strictly divided by the center aisle. The Church people sat on the right behind their lawyers. The independent diocesan people sat on the left behind their lawyers. I saw no one cross the aisle, no one speak to anyone on the other side. Dozens of people came and went speaking only to their friends, on their side. One of the original nine dioceses of the Episcopal Church lies broken and bleeding of self-inflicted wounds. This is a shame and a scandal.

Saturday, July 20, 2019


Many people nowadays feel confused and bewildered by the seemingly incomprehensible mess of the litigation surrounding the Church Insurance Company. I count myself among this group. We feel overwhelmed and lost among the forest of unfamiliar legal maneuvers and impenetrable, arcane legalese. People want to know simply, What is going on here and what does it mean for the schism? I will try my hand at a simple explanation. My usual disclaimer--I am not a lawyer or a legal expert and what I offer here is only opinion.

That said, here is what I see in basic terms:

(1) What is the Church Insurance Company?

The Church Insurance Company of Vermont is one of three insurance companies under the auspices of the Church Pension Group, a function of the Episcopal Church. Find their webpage here . CIC-VT provides a variety of insurance policies.

(2) What is the mission of CIC-VT?

CIC-VT's Corporate Charter states:  to carry out the charitable and religious purposes of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America(the "Church")...
The Corporation shall accomplish these purposes by providing, or entering into arrangements with third parties who will provide insurance and reinsurance coverage for various property and casualty risks of the Church and its provinces, dioceses, parishes, missions, agencies, institutions and other entities connected with the Church.

In other words, the CIC-VT exists to provide insurance coverage for entities of the Episcopal Church. This makes it an in-house, or, "captive" insurance company. It does not exist for non-Episcopal Church entities.

(3) Does CIC-VT provide coverage for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina?

Yes. The schism occurred on Oct. 15, 2012 and was finalized by diocesan convention on Nov. 17, 2012.
The Episcopal Church in South Carolina adopted its name in January of 2013 and its coverage by CIC-VT began.

At first, CIC-VT denied payments to TECSC. Then, TECSC went to court to force the CIC-VT to provide payments to TECSC. 

In federal court, in Charleston, Judge Patrick Duffy ruled several times that CIC-VT was required to provide coverage to TECSC.

On December 3, 2014, CIC-VT and TECSC made a settlement. The terms were confidential. They have never been disclosed but obviously CIC-VT agreed to pay something for coverage to TECSC.

(4) Does CIC-VT provide coverage for the Diocese of South Carolina?

Yes, partly.

In 2013, some of the parishes in DSC that purported to be independent of TEC, claimed overage by CIC-VT. DSC kept this out of the news.

CIC-VT denied the coverage.

In 2015, the DSC parishes (apparently 17 of them) sued CIC-VT for breach of contract and bad faith claiming that they were covered by policies of CIC-VT. Again, DSC kept this out of the news (we learned of this only in 2019).

In November of 2015, CIC-VT made a settlement with these congregations. The terms were confidential. Under the non-disclosure, we do not know what CIC-VT agreed to pay but we do know they agreed to continue providing coverage to these parishes. Yet again, DSC kept this settlement secret. It was discovered by TECSC lawyers only this year.

So, yes, CIC-VT now says it is providing payments for insurance coverage to at least some of the DSC congregations.

(5) Why is TECSC now taking legal action against CIC-VT?

To recover damages that TECSC claims CIC-VT caused TECSC by making payments to their legal adversaries.

CIC-VT admits it has been paying money to some of the DSC congregations that are in court opposing TECSC.

TECSC points out that CIC-VT's actions are aiding and abetting entities not only outside of the Episcopal Church but in active legal opposition to the Episcopal Church diocese in eastern South Carolina.

(6) What does CIC-VT want from the court now?

This is where the matter turned really strange. 

In their Complaint of June 14, 2019, CIC-VT does not dispute TECSC's Complaint of June 11. Instead, it asks the judge to tell the Company what its coverage should be concerning the 17 breakaway congregations:  that it be granted a declaratory judgment advising it as to its rights and duties under each of the Policies, specifically whether it is required to provide a defense of the Underlying Action to any of the Disassociated Parishes...

Here's the problem. CIC-VT made a court settlement in 2015 in which it agreed to provide coverage for at least some DSC churches. At that time, CIC-VT refused to ask the court for a ruling on whether the Company was obligated to cover these congregations. They went ahead and made a (secret) legal deal with the DSC churches anyway. Now, the Company is asking the court to rule on whether it is obligated to cover these congregations that it has already agreed in a legal document to cover. This makes no sense to me. As I see it, CIC-VT is now asking the judge to tell them whether they did the right thing in 2015, four years after the fact. I do not see how the settlement of 2015, apparently a fully legal document can be undone at this time. To my knowledge, no one is now contesting the 2015 settlement. So, I do not understand on what grounds CIC-VT can expect the federal judge to rule on a settlement CIC-VT entered into four years ago.

So, TECSC is now in court asking the judge to make CIC-VT pay damages to TECSC because CIC-VT helped the opposition. Meanwhile, CIC-VT is in court asking the judge to tell them whether they are obligated to continue covering the 17 DSC congregations they are covering. In other words, TECSC and CIC-VT are not on the same page. TECSC is acting against CIC-VT and CIC-VT is acting against itself. This is hard for us non-lawyers to comprehend.

It seems to me there is a major problem in the Company. Its mission is clear: to provide coverage only for TEC. It has apparently failed in this as it is providing coverage for entities not in the Episcopal Church and is actually aiding and abetting these entities that are engaged in court actions against TEC. There is something wrong here, and the church authorities over this Company ought to find out what is wrong and put a stop to it.

The legal war between the secessionists and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina has been going on for six and a half years. It has taken many twists and turns and involved countless numbers of court actions. The Church Insurance business is one of the strangest sub-texts of all. So much of it just does not make any sense, at least with what we know now.

In my view, the CIC-VT ought to be ashamed of itself. It is a function of the Episcopal Church whose very reason for being is to help the Episcopal Church. Yet, it has been helping those at war against the Episcopal Church. In a civic state, aiding and abetting the enemy in war is considered treason and treated accordingly. In the end, I suspect there is much more to this story and I only hope we learn what that is in time.

It is my hope that you understand the matter of the Church Insurance Company a little more now. As to why it matters, that should be a bit clearer too. TECSC is fighting hard to rebound in South Carolina after the disaster of the schism. This has been the most traumatic event in the life of the diocese since the Civil War. It has taxed all of the Church's efforts, strength, and stamina to weather this devastating hurricane. CIC-VT is supposed to be helping the Episcopal Church side, and it is. However, it is also helping the anti-Episcopal Church side. This is what is so hard to wrap our minds around.

Anyway, the Insurance Company business is a curious sideline of the main features of the legal war, the battles for the local properties, in the state courts, and for the entity of the diocese, in the federal court. It is a distraction but it should not divert us from dealing with the crucial issues at stake.  

Friday, July 19, 2019


The strange case of the Church Insurance Company of Vermont just gets stranger all the time. On June 21, I posted an article, "What's Going on with the Church Insurance Company?" Find it here . I noted then that TECSC had filed a "Complaint" against the CIC-VT, in U.S. District Court, on 11 June. On June 14, CIC-VT filed a complaint in the same court asking the judge to rule on its rights and duties in reagrds to the church parties in SC.

According to its corporate charter, the CIC-VT provides insurance coverage for the various entities of the Episcopal Church as a "captive" company.

Today we learned that yesterday, TECSC filed a new Memorandum in the federal court asking the judge to dismiss and deny the various motions that CIC-VT has entered in the court since its 14th of June Complaint (for a total of 4 motions, the Complaint and three subsequent motions for joinder and consolidation on July 5-6, 2019). Find TECSC's July 18 Memorandum here .

Be sure to read the informative summary of yesterday's Memorandum in TECSC's press release, found here .

TECSC's July 18 Memorandum contains explosive news. We learned that right after the schism, in 2013, some of the parishes that purported to leave the Episcopal Church made insurance claims, for legal expenses, to the CIC-VT (even though they claimed to be non-Episcopal Church parishes). At first, CIC-VT denied their claims. Then, in 2015, the disaffiliated parishes sued CIC-VT in federal court for breach of contract and bad faith. CIC-VT responded in court, on August 10, 2015, that "only affiliates of The Episcopal Church are eligible for coverage from CIC-VT." (p. 1). Strangely enough, CIC-VT chose not to seek a declaratory judgment from the court, but to make a settlement with the disaffiliated congregations which were suing the Company. Thus, the two sides made "Joint Stipulation of Dismissal with Prejudice," in the federal court, on Nov. 11, 2015. Apparently this was a confidential agreement and the terms have not been revealed. I assume that, if this case proceeds, we will discover the facts hidden in this peculiar non-disclosure agreement. 

At this point we have far more questions than answers. We need to know: Why did CIC-VT not plead for declaratory judgment? Why did CIC-VT agree to a settlement? How much did CIC-VT agree to pay each congregation and for how long? Why is CIC-VT now asking the federal judge to tell the Company what its policies and procedures should be? How can the CIC-VT continue in flagrant violation of its corporate charter which requires it to cover only Episcopal Church entities? How can CIC-VT justify paying both sides of the same legal war? If CIC-VT entered into a legal agreement with the disaffiliated parishes, how can TECSC undo such an agreement? In other words, how can TECSC stop CIC-VT from paying money to the breakaways? Is it possible that the disaffiliated congregations can be required to reimburse the Company for moneys wrongfully paid to them?

It seems to me this has the potential for becoming a scandal within the Church Insurance Company if it is true that it violated its own policies and made a legal agreement to continue that long term. At the very least, there should be an investigation into how and why the Company made payments to non-Episcopal Church entities. 

If the declared purpose of the Church Insurance Company is to help the Episcopal Church, it is going about it in a bizarre way in South Carolina. TEC is locked in a hard legal war in SC and has been for six and a half years. Although the state supreme court recognized that TEC owns 29 of the 36 parishes in question, the war is far from over. There are probably years to go and millions yet to spend before peace is declared. While CIC-VT is supposed to be helping TEC, it is actually making it harder by aiding and abetting the opposition. This needs to stop.


It is Friday, 19 July. There is nothing new to report today concerning the litigation of the schism. We are all awaiting the hearing on the Betterments lawsuit. It is to be next Tuesday, at 10:30 a.m., in the Calhoun County courthouse, in St. Matthews SC. I expect to attend.

At this point, what can we expect of the hearing? Not much given Judge Edgar Dickson's history. He was assigned the church case by the first circuit's chief administrative judge, Diane Goodstein in December of 2017, effective in January of 2018. In the eighteen months since then, he has done nothing at all to enforce the South Carolina Supreme Court's decision of August 2, 2017 recognizing Episcopal Church ownership of 29 parishes that purported to secede from the Episcopal Church. And, now that the SCSC has denied TECSC's petition for a writ of mandamus, Dickson is free to drag his feet as long as he likes. He is under no time constraint to effectuate the SCSC decision.

In addition to his inactivity, Dickson has jumped from one topic to another without explanation. In November of 2018, he held a hearing on the independent diocese's petition for clarification of jurisdiction that essentially asked the judge to discard the SCSC decision and decide the issues on his own. He said then he would address this petition alone and take up the other five petitions/motions before him later.

Then, all of a sudden, he announced he would hold a hearing on the Betterments lawsuit that DSC filed in the circuit court on Nov. 19, 2017, two days after the SCSC denied a rehearing on its Aug. 2 decision and the SCSC sent a "remittitur" to the circuit court to implement its decision. Under the Betterments suit, DSC recognized TEC as the owner of the parish properties and demanded money reimbursement for the "improvements" the secessionists made on the said properties. 

DSC entered the Betterments suit even though they had no standing to do so. Under the SC Code of Laws, only the defendant may enter a suit for reimbursements. DSC was the plaintiff, not the defendant in its suit against TEC. 

TECSC entered a motion to dismiss DSC's Betterments suit. The fact that Dickson is now holding a hearing on DSC Betterments suit should give the TEC side pause. Dickson could well have dismissed the suit on his own. He did not do that. Instead, he is holding a hearing, and doing so after telling everyone he was going to consider DSC's clarification of jurisdiction alone. Why Dickson changed his mind is a good question. Why he did not dismiss the Betterments suit is another good question. 

If Tuesday's hearing is anything like last November's hearing on clarification of jurisdiction, this is what we can expect to happen next Tuesday:

---Dickson will ask both sides' lawyers to present their arguments on the Betterments suit.

---DSC lawyer Alan Runyan will make an hour-long presentation throwing together everything imaginable into the mix. Last November, his Power Point presentation was so convoluted and verbose, I for one could not keep up with what he was talking about. After all, in the hearings, the lawyers are talking to an audience of one, the judge. My impression in last November's hearing was that the judge was left scratching his head over all of it ("looking through a glass darkly" as he said then). In this regard, Runyan won the day by preventing the judge from focusing on the enactment of the SCSC decision.

---From the TEC/TECSC side, I expect we will hear the lawyers ask for dismissal of the Betterments suit with lengthy explanations of the reasons for this.

---The hearing will go on for an hour and a half or so and will result in nothing definitive. Dickson will tell the lawyers he will continue the discussion via email and leave it at that. 

---If this hearing goes as the last one did, there will be no decision or action. The judge will retire to consider the arguments with a vague sense of where we go from here.

Bottom line---do not expect much to come of Tuesday's hearing.

I expect to be present at the hearing and to post a report as soon as possible afterwards, as I did last November. 

DSC's present overall strategy in the litigation between the two dioceses is deny and delay. So far, this has been effective. In a couple of weeks, it will be two years since the state supreme court recognized the Episcopal Church ownership of 29 parishes in question. How many have actually been returned to the Church? You know the answer to that. I expect that next Tuesday's hearing will do nothing to change this. If so, DSC will "win" again by prolonging the return of the properties. Justice delayed is justice denied; and the judges should know this as well as everyone else.

NOTE. It is Friday but I have no new garden picture to post. It has rained all morning long at my house. No chance to get a picture. However, as a gardener, I would rather have the rain than another picture, especially in July. 

Thursday, July 11, 2019


Judge Edgar Dickson has rescheduled the hearing on the Betterments lawsuit. It is now to be on Tuesday, July 23, at 10:30 a.m., in the Calhoun County courthouse, St. Matthews SC.

I expect to attend the hearing and to post a report on this blog asap afterwards.

Meanwhile, my garden flourishes. Here is a foot wide bloom of Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos 'Lord Baltimore'). 

 As always, I encourage everyone to send letters to the editor that I can share on this blog (of course, you are always welcome to send me your thoughts by email that you do not want published). The ones I have posted before have been very well-received and popular. I suppose the big topic right now is the litigation. It seems to be dragging on forever. So, send me your thoughts on any topic appropriate to the schism and, if suitable, I will post them for all to read. It might make you feel better and the rest of us too. I think people get a little tired of what I have to say and would like to hear from someone else once in awhile. So, go ahead and send me your thoughts to the email address above.

2nd. edition, 11 July

NOTE:  2nd. ed, 11 July
In my original posting, below, I said I did not see how lawyers could reasonably make contradictory arguments or present conditional positions in court. Since then, several correspondents have written to say such activity is very common among lawyers. It happens all the time. Using contradictory maneuvers and employing conditional and alternative arguments is standard fare in the legal profession. So, I have learned something new. DSC's contradictory assertions that the breakaway congregations own the properties and do not own the properties are par for the course in litigation. Too, DSC's conditional arguments in the Betterments case that they own the properties but if they do not own the properties they demand reimbursements on properties they own but may not own makes perfect sense in the context of this matter. As an academic trained to adhere to facts organized in a reasonable and logical fashion, I see the legal profession as another world. Not that there is anything wrong with that. No offense to you lawyers out there.


9 July:
There have been two recent court actions concerning the schism. The first, I addressed yesterday in Part I. It was the state supreme court's denial of TECSC's petition for a writ of mandamus ordering Judge Dickson to implement SCSC's August 2, 2017 decision. The justices said Dickson would resolve the issue in an "expeditious manner." This was a thinly veiled direction to Dickson to get on with it.

Now, I will turn to the second recent court action. On July 2, Judge Dickson announced he would hold a hearing on the Betterments suit, at 9:30 a.m., July 25, at the Calhoun County courthouse, in St. Matthews SC.

The Hearing on the Betterments Suit 

Dickson was assigned the "remittitur" of the Aug. 2 SCSC decision in January of 2018. In the year and a half since, he has taken no action to effectuate the SCSC order. Actually, Dickson has six petitions and motions before him, three from each side. For a detailed explanation of them, see my blog post here . These are the six:

3 from DSC:
1-The Betterments suit. November 19, 2017.

2-"Motion to Establish Complex Case Designation." Dec. 27, 2017. (Relates to Betterments suit.)

3-"Motion for Clarification of Jurisdiction and for Other Relief." Mar. 23, 2018. (Asks court to settle issues DSC said were not resolved by SCSC.)

3 from TECSC/TEC:
1-Motion to dismiss Betterments suit. Dec. 15, 2017.

2-Petition for the execution of the SCSC decision and for appointment of a special master. May 8, 2018.

3-Petition for an accounting. July 11, 2018.

In all the months Dickson has had the church matter, he has held one hearing, on November 19, 2018. At that time he said he would be considering only one petition, DSC's motion for clarification of jurisdiction, of Mar. 23, 2018. He said then he would put the other five on hold for the time being.

Then, out of the blue, on March 19, 2019, Dickson set a hearing on DSC's Betterments suit, for Mar. 27. Immediately thereafter, TECSC filed its petition for a writ with the SCSC and Dickson cancelled the hearing. Now, he is resetting it for this month. He is addressing Betterments even though he said last November he would deal with clarification of jurisdiction first. Dickson has issued no decision on clarification of jurisdiction and he has given no explanation of why he is moving on to Betterments at this time. 

What is the Betterments Law?

The Betterments law is found in Title 27 of the South Carolina Code of Law. Find it here .

The first section, 27-27-10, says that after a final judgment in favor of the plaintiff in an action to recover property, the defendant is entitled to recover the full value of the improvements he made on the property.  

This provision in the law should end the suit immediately. The fact is DSC was the plaintiff in its suit against the Episcopal Church. TEC and its diocese were the defendants. This was the suit that went all the way from the circuit court to the state supreme court. The law  in 27-27-10 explicitly states only the defendant is entitled to recover the value of the improvements. Since DSC was the plaintiff and TEC/TECSC the defendant, DSC has no standing to enter a Betterments suit under the SC Code. It cannot claim reimbursements.

However, if the judge chooses to ignore this or to explain it away, we move on to section 27-27-30. It says that within 48 hours after the judgment, the defendant has to file a complaint "for so much money as the lands and tenements are so made better." DSC did not file its suit withing 48 hours after the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017 nor did it list a sum of money for the improvements. The suit should be dismissed for this as well.

It seems perfectly clear to this layman that under the explicit provisions of the SC Code of Laws, DSC has no standing to enter a lawsuit under the Betterments statute. The case should be dismissed.

The Betterments Lawsuit

DSC's Betterments suit itself is interesting. It is officially entitled "Complaint (Jury Trial Demanded)," filed in the circuit court on November 19, 2017. Find it here . 

The Complaint ignores inconvenient Betterments law details and freely lists DSC as the plaintiff and TECSC/TEC as defendant, as they in fact were. However, as we have seen, only the defendant can claim reimbursement. Moreover, the paper does not list a money amount to be recovered nor a time period. 

A major point here is that if DSC is claiming betterments reimbursement from TEC, it is acknowledging that the Episcopal Church owns the property and has owned it all along. The ownership of the local properties is the whole point of the dispute between the two dioceses. If DSC is recognizing that TEC owns the property, this, in effect determines the outcome of all of the cases before Dickson. It renders moot DSC's motion for clarification of jurisdiction, of March 23 in which DSC in effect sought to discard the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017. The Betterments suit accepts the SCSC decision that TEC owns the properties. It seems to me the DSC lawyers are arguing contradictory points, that DSC congregations own the properties and that TEC owns the properties. I will be fascinated to hear how lead lawyer Alan Runyan explains this oxymoron to Judge Dickson at the hearing this month.

However, the DSC lawyers tried to provide for themselves a too-clever-by-half escape from this dilemma. On page 4 of the Complaint of Nov. 19, they say:  "The Plaintiffs [DSC and parishes] widely vary on evidence as to such agreement ("accession") and do not by this suit or otherwise admit to such agreement. To the extent, however, that a Plaintiff is determined by the Court to have so agreed, these betterment claims are made." In other words, we own the properties, but if we do not own the properties, we will change our minds and demand reimbursements on the properties we claim we own but really do not own. It is an absurd argument that may fit into the contorted avenues of litigation but really defies common sense. 

My opinion on DSC's Betterments lawsuit of Nov. 19, 2017---it has no standing and is poorly conceived, constructed and argued. It is a nuisance suit I suppose pursued to delay the inevitable.

On December 15, 2017, TECSC/TEC filed with the circuit court a motion to dismiss the DSC suit on Betterments. Find it here . 

I find it curious that Judge Dickson is going on to the Betterments suit before rendering a decision on DSC's motion for clarification of jurisdiction. It seems to me a judgment on the Betterments suit will essentially settle all six of the petitions before him because it will determine who owns the properties. But then, his ruling on his first matter, DSC's petition for clarification would have had the same effect. 

As I see it, either way the judge goes with DSC's Betterments suit means bad news for DSC. If he grants their complaint, he, and DSC, are recognizing that TEC owns the properties and always have. If he rejects their complaint, DSC will get no reimbursement from TEC for "improvements" and would still face the SCSC Aug. 2, 2017 decision recognizing TEC ownership of the parishes. So, I do not see how DSC comes out well in this suit. 

If Judge Dickson were to grant DSC's complaint for reimbursements, he would face the daunting task of deciding the time period for betterments and the amounts for each of the 29 parishes listed. This would be a mind-boggling undertaking that no one would welcome, least of all a judge with a hefty backlog.

It seems to me common sense requires Dickson to dismiss the Betterments suit. Granting it would open up a Pandora's box of problems that would require the wisdom of Solomon and ages of time to resolve. Not a happy prospect for any judge.

If all goes well, I will attend the hearing on the 25th and post a report on my blog toute de suite.


Monday, July 8, 2019


After hearing nothing from the courts for weeks on end, we received two important announcements from them in recent days. On June 28, 2019, the South Carolina Supreme Court issued an order denying the Episcopal Church in South Carolina and the Episcopal Church's petition for a writ of mandamus to order Judge Edgar Dickson, of the circuit court, to implement the SCSC decision of August 2, 2017. On July 2, 2019, word came that circuit court Judge Dickson had scheduled a hearing on the Betterments suit. It is to be held in the Calhoun County courthouse, in St. Matthews SC, on July 25, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. Let us consider what these announcements might mean for the schism, and take them one at a time. (My usual disclaimer---I am not a lawyer or legal expert and what I offer here is opinion.)

SCSC Denial of the Petition for a writ

The denial came in the form of a three-page Order of the SCSC dated June 28, 2019. Find it here . The Court said:

Petitioners [TECSC/TEC] state they filed a petition to enforce the judgment that has been pending in the circuit court since May 2018.
Because Respondent [Judge Dickson] is in the process of scheduling hearings on the matters filed in the circuit court, we are confident that Respondent will resolve the petition to enforce the judgment, as well as any related matters that are pending, in an expeditious manner. 

It is crucial to note the wording here. In the first quote, the SCSC justices pointed out the Church's petition to the circuit court, of May 2018. In the second quote, the justices referred back to this petition as they said they were confident Dickson "will resolve the petition to enforce the judgment." This implied very clearly that the SCSC justices recognized that Dickson would implement the SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017. 

Thus, the TECSC/TEC "petition to enforce," of May of 2018, to which the justices referred, is the issue at stake here. Let us return to this petition. On May 8, 2018, TECSC and TEC filed, in the circuit court, "Defendants' Petition for Execution and Further Relief on Declaratory Judgments of the South  Carolina Supreme Court and for the Appointment of a Special Master." Find it here . In essence, the Church lawyers asked Judge Dickson to carry out the SCSC decision of August 2, 2017:

The Episcopal Church and the Associated Diocese [TECSC] seek the intervention of this Court to effect an orderly transition of possession and control of the property to which they are entitled by the judgement of the South Carolina Supreme Court (p. 3)

Therefore, the Court should enforce the August 2, 2017 Opinion of the South Carolina Supreme Court, by transferring title to the parish property from the parish corporations to The Episcopal Church and the Associated Diocese, by requiring Plaintiffs [DSC] to execute any necessary deeds or instruments of title, or issuing the same by Court order. (p. 8)

The SCSC Aug. 2, 2017 ruling listed three majority decisions on its last page (77):

1) with regard to the eight church organizations which did not accede to the Dennis Canon, Chief Justice Beatty, Justice Kittredge and I [Toal] would hold that title remains in the eight plaintiff church organizations;

2) with regard to the twenty-eight church organizations which acceded to the Dennis Canon, a majority consisting of Chief Justice Beatty, Justice Hearn, and Acting Justice Pleicones would hold that a trust in favor of the national church is imposed on the property and therefore, title is in the national church;

and 3) with regard to Camp St. Christopher, Chief Justice Beatty, Justice Hearn, and Acting Justice Pleicones would hold title is in the trustee corporation for the benefit of the associated diocese [TECSC]...

As anyone can see, the August 2, 2017, SCSC decision explicitly recognized that 28 parishes were property of the Episcopal Church.

The Aug. 2 decision became final law after the SCSC denied DSC's petition for a rehearing and the United States Supreme Court denied cert. 

On November 17, 2017, the SCSC sent an order of remittitur to the circuit court. A "remit" is a direction to the lower court to implement the decision. This is different than a "remand" order which would have directed the lower court to reconsider the case. Under the remittitur, the lower court has no discretion to reconsider the state supreme court decision. The SCSC Aug. 2 decision is final and must be implemented by the lower court.

In the circuit court, Judge Edgar Dickson was assigned the case in January of 2018. 

On May 8, 2018, TECSC filed its Petition for Execution (above) to Dickson who ignored this petition for the next ten months. It was this petition that the TECSC had in mind when, in March of 2019, they asked the SCSC to issue a writ of mandamus directing Dickson to enforce the Aug. 2 order. It was TECSC's May 2018 petition to the circuit court that the SCSC justices had in mind when they denied the request for a writ.

One curious point in the June 28 denial was the justices' use of the word "expeditious." They felt sure Dickson would resolve the matter in an "expeditious manner." Unfortunately, the justices did not define what they meant by "expeditious." A common definition of expeditious would be with speed and efficiency. Dickson has had this case for eighteen months. Evidently the justices concept of speed and efficiency runs into years rather than months. In my layman's view, a year and a half of doing nothing is the opposite of expeditious.

To no one's surprise, the reactions of the two dioceses to the SCSC denial of a writ were entirely different. Find the TECSC news release here . The Church diocese gave a straightforward announcement of the high court's denial of a writ. On the other hand, the independent diocese issued a Trumpesque pretzel of truth, untruth, half truth, and misinterpretation. Find it here . It includes this:

The intent of the Petition requested by TEC was to have the Supreme Court require the Circuit Court to interpret the Supreme Court's August 2, 2017 ruling as TEC wished it interpreted. The Parishes and the Diocese opposed the Petition essentially arguing that the issues were before Judge Dickson who was using the discretion afforded him by state law to resolve them.

Baloney. The SCSC decision of Aug. 2, 2017 explicitly lists three orders. This is the law of the land. The circuit court has no "discretion" to change the SCSC order. Judge Dickson cannot retry this case. DSC is continuing to mislead its people with the myth that the SCSC did not settle the church case. In fact, the case was settled and ended on Aug. 2, 2017.

The DSC creation goes on:

At its core, the Petition was an attempt to end run Judge Dickson's exercise of his discretion in interpreting the August 2, 2017 decision in a manner that may differ from TEC's interpretation. However, the Supreme Court refused to tell Judge Dickson how he should rule in interpreting the August 2 decision...

Double baloney. The three orders explicitly given in the August 2 decision are not matters of "interpretation." They are direct and perfectly clear. Dickson has no "discretion" as to the meaning of the three orders. His only discretion is in how to implement the orders. The SCSC justices did not tell Dickson to implement the August 2 decision because they have already done that (Nov. 17, 2017 remittitur). It would have been redundant. In the June 28 Order, the justices very clearly implied that Dickson was to implement the Aug. 2 decision and to do so in an "expeditious manner." 

Unfortunately, the DSC leaders are still misinforming their people on what is happening in the courts. They are promoting the fiction that the property decision is unresolved and therefore the breakaway congregations may still keep the properties they are currently occupying. The truth is that the SCSC has settled the property issue by recognizing that 28 (or 29) local churches belong to the Episcopal Church. No amount of spin or deception can Trump this reality.

Why has DSC refused to accept the final law of the land? Good question. Obviously it is to use the legal processes to delay the transfer of the properties as long as possible which might actually be years to come. There is some logic to this strategy. Besides, it is the only card they have left to play. However, this is not the way any of the other five cases of dioceses that voted to leave TEC acted. In Pittsburgh and San Joaquin, the schismatics accepted the final court decisions. In those cases the state supreme court did not issue a decision, just to let the lower court orders stand. In South Carolina, the state supreme court actually issued a ruling on the church case, the only example in the U.S in which a state supreme court ruled on an Episcopal Church schism. Even so, DSC refused to accept it making it unique among the breakaways.

Regardless of all of DSC's wild public relations spins and ongoing delays, the basic dispute of the schism has been settled by the law. The Episcopal Church is the legal owner of the 29 parishes in question and the Camp. It is just a matter of time before the law is carried out and the Episcopal Church regains its property. DSC can deny and delay until the cows come home but they cannot undo the law.

Next, we will take up the Betterments suit.