David Trimble assesses potential strategies behind Bishop Stacy Sauls’ memo

Posted by The_Elves

Blogger David Trimble has an excellent follow-up to the Sauls' memo on non-ECUSA churches which Greg Griffith posted on Stand Firm yesterday:

Bishop Sauls' memo begins:
Subject: REQUEST FOR INFORMATION FROM HOB TASK FORCE ON PROPERTY DISPUTES REGARDING OVERSEAS INTERVENTIONS

Re: Overseas Anglican Interventions in TEC

Dear colleagues,

The HOB Task Force on Property Disputes is attempting to catalogue all cases of congregations in all Episcopal dioceses claiming to be overseen by bishops of the Anglican Communion other than bishops of The Episcopal Church. This would include AMiA, CANA, Uganda, Kenya, Bolivia, the Southern Cone, etc. but not so-called Continuing Churches. We would like to have this information as complete as possible before our September meeting.


Here's an excerpt from David Trimble's analysis:

The "test case" method of litigation has been honed by class action attorneys, who will seek to get their best cases to trial in their best jurisdictions, hoping that a big win will intimidate their opponents into settling the remainder of the cases. This is why an individual win in a drug case in Mississippi or Illinois, for example, has such great impact on the remaining scope of cases throughout the country. Similarly, a big win by TEC in any of these cases could serve to give other parishes second thoughts about tilting at this particular windmill.

Likewise, the e-mail could in and of itself have the purpose of discouraging dissenting parishes from trying to take their property, the "chilling effect" mentioned above. I note that the e-mail seeks information on all dissenting parishes that are under alternative (non-TEC) primatial oversight and separately requests information on "status of property". Given that TEC seems on the surface to be less concerned over dissenting and departing membership than it does about losing buildings, this is a significant point of distinction.

Another is for +Sauls to be able to advise the HOB of the scope of potential litigation and the probable expense were TEC to escalate the litigation and sue more parishes nationwide. This, of course, would run into multi-millions, for the law firms TEC uses do not come cheaply. I would be stunned if TEC has not already incurred legal fees in the range of a million dollars or more. As a lawyer worth his salt, +Sauls should be in position to give his client, the HOB, an analysis of the whole picture, not only of pending litigation, but of potential litigation. The Dar Communique specifically asks TEC to forgo litigation against American parishes, and this e-mail could be an information-gathering effort to put some clear names and numbers on exactly what such forbearance would mean to TEC, and/or the overall cost to TEC were it to let these parishes go and stop fighting versus continuing the lawsuits.

An Anglican optimist or a ComCon could take this last point to mean that the HOB may be considering compliance with this point of the Dar Communique as a concession/compromise to allow the ABC an easier time to claim that TEC is in compliance. While this would not meet the "immediate cessation of litigation" request, it would be something TEC could dangle as a compromise of their previous position. Or, it does lend itself to very idle speculation that the upcoming HOB meeting could turn into a negotiation for the separation of the orthodox from TEC, or at least negotiation of some procedures or provisions for the orthodox, with the ABC acting as mediator.

The full text is here.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Departing Parishes* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

12 Comments
Posted August 30, 2007 at 5:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Tom Roberts wrote:

The ironic thing here is that 815 already has this information in hand, or for lack of it. Compliant parishes submit parish reports each year. Non affiliated ones don’t. Compare the lists, diocese by diocese, each for succeeding years and then contact the diocesan offices and ask “did St Joe’s close down or affiliate with other entities?”

If Schori is correct, this ought to take one person about a week. On the other hand, if she is wrong, then it might be an endless task.

August 30, 6:48 am | [comment link]
2. TonyinCNY wrote:

With all the lawyering that he does, how does Saul have time to be bishop?  I mean preaching, teaching, being a shepherd to his priests, prayer, study, you know, those things we are ordained to do.

August 30, 7:06 am | [comment link]
3. Makersmarc wrote:

One slight correction:  It’s not “their” property to begin with.

August 30, 7:10 am | [comment link]
4. Katherine wrote:

An interesting analysis.  I don’t think the Global South Primates are going to buy a “deal” coming out of the HOB meeting if there is one.

August 30, 7:37 am | [comment link]
5. RalphM wrote:

While it’s not the point of the article, I can’t shake the model of the Berlin Wall for the way TEC seeks to retain parishes…

RalphM

August 30, 8:30 am | [comment link]
6. Anselmic wrote:

Not unlike Israel occupying the Golan Heights and Gaza Strip, possession of a strong position allows negotiation from strength and thus allows the stronger party to obtain what it really wants in the end.  At some level someone within the HOB must know that TEC does not gain by ownership of a string of empty buildings; is it perhaps setting up its ability to give in areas with which it does not care, but keep those things it really wants?

Negotiate from strength so that you can intimidate in order to get what you want.

About as far as you can get from the example of Jesus.

August 30, 8:54 am | [comment link]
7. libraryjim wrote:

But Jesus did say in our dealings with the world we are to be “as harmless as doves, yet as wise as serpents”.  When dealing with an entity who only wants our eradication (sort of like Hamaas with Israel), one has to be very careful how one approaches and makes deals with them.

August 30, 10:15 am | [comment link]
8. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

“Du vill be included un du vill LIKE it!”

August 30, 12:14 pm | [comment link]
9. CanaAnglican wrote:

#7. Dear Jim,  I do not know of one reasserter who prays for the eradication of TEC.  On the contrary, I know many who still pray for the enlightenment of that body.  Many also are staying in TEC beyond any reasonable expectation trying to turn them around.  Others of us see it a lost cause and have left.  But we have not left with malice.  All the malice seems directed at us.  With the covering of Christ, we can bear it.    —Stan

August 30, 12:15 pm | [comment link]
10. Alice Linsley wrote:

Tony, I live in Sauls’ diocese and have many contacts within the diocese.  There isn’t much left here to “shepherd” so he needs this to keep busy.  Even some who share Sauls’ gay rights agenda don’t approve of the way he does business.

August 30, 2:23 pm | [comment link]
11. Makersmarc wrote:

And I know of absolutely no one who prays for the “eradication” of anyone else, including reasserters.  To equate the Episcopal Church with a terrorist organization like Hamas (#7), who brutally murders and uses children as shields, is among the most absurdly ridiculous mischaracterizations I’ve seen and it is completely uncalled for. 

Despite the sometimes incomprehensible rhetoric of those like Akinola who have made the statement that the EC threatens peoples’ lives, the only people I’m aware of who have actually had death threats against them are the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson and others who voted for his confirmation.  Those threats are not made by anyone of reasonable mind, from whatever direction, but are made from those, even within our own church, who are vehemently opposed to him.  Sounds far more like Hamas to me than a Church who understands what it means to pray for those who are working for it demise.

August 30, 4:13 pm | [comment link]
12. TENTEX wrote:

Mr. Sauls is not helping anyone to want to join his so-called “church” by wanting to sue former members.  There will come a point when someone will countersue him and Mr. Beers too, and clean them out.  Sauls should stop while he is still ahead.  It has been ten months since I left TEC with my parish, in order to join CANA.  Life is GREAT without TEC!

August 30, 6:04 pm | [comment link]
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