Pittsburgh Update

Pittsburgh Update publishes weekly summaries of recent developments in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, The Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion that affect or could affect Pittsburgh Episcopalians. Emphasis is on reporting, not interpretation. This is a service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh. This site is in no way affiliated with the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh or the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

News for Week Ending 12/6/2010

Ga. court rules against presbytery

The Layman Online reported December 2, 2010, that a Georgia court has reversed a lower court decision in favor of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta in a property case. The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled November 30 in favor of the congregation of the Timberridge Presbyterian Church of McDonough, Georgia. The congregation left the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (PCUSA) for the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and has been seeking to retain the church property. Although the presbytery prevailed at the trial court level, the recent decision found that the presbytery did not have the right to control the Timberridge property under neutral principles of law. The court rejected the notion that there was an implied trust in favor of PCUSA. According to The Layman online,
“In applying neutral principles of law as required by the United States Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of Georgia, we cannot ignore relevant statutes, documents of the local body, or the actual language of the relevant deeds, in favor … of the rules of the national body,” the judgment states. “The narrow approach urged by the presbytery would result in a de facto ‘rule of compulsory deference to religious authority in resolving church property disputes, even where no issue of doctrinal controversy is involved,’ as disapproved by the United States Supreme Court in Jones v. Wolf … ”
It is unclear whether this decision could have any bearing on parish property cases involving The Episcopal Church. In particular, the Dennis Canon was developed to establish an explicit trust in favor of the church, rather than rely on an implicit trust.

ENS highlights congregations in rebuilding dioceses

Episcopal News Service reported November 29, 2010, on activities in the four dioceses that have experienced a split in recent years, Pittsburgh, San Joaquin, Fort Worth, and Quincy. You can read the story here. The story hightlights All Saints Episcopal Fellowship in Bridgeville.