AAC: A Precedent for Negotiated Settlements
By The Rev. Canon Phil Ashey, J.D.
Chief Operating and Development Officer
American Anglican Council
Dear Friends in Christ,
This week I am simply going to introduce a story which is astounding in its possible ramifications for those who are seeking to leave TEC, those bishops and dioceses in TEC which have chosen to sue departing congregations and individuals, and those on both sides who are currently weighing the options.
I have known Raymond Dague for almost ten years. He is not only an articulate and accomplished litigator, but he is an attorney who seeks to practice law as a vocation, a way of offering his work to Christ and for Christ. I have been privileged to work with him in the Christian Legal Society (before I came to the AAC), and appreciate him as a friend and brother in Christ. Raymond represented St. George's Anglican Church, their clergy and leadership in the negotiations with TEC Bishop Councell and the Diocese of New Jersey. I hope you will read this story carefully - because it does demolish the assertion by TEC Bishops that they must depose departing clergy, that they must sue individual vestrypersons and trustees of departing congregations, and that they must observe a "scorched earth" no-holds barred, winner-take-all legal strategy in suing departing congregations.
In fact, this story puts the lie to the oft-heard assertion that bishops are bound by Mrs. Schori, Mr. Beers, 815 and "fiduciary duty" to eschew any negotiated settlements. As you will see, Mrs. Schori and Mr. Beers were fully informed along the way as this negotiation proceeded.
Is this a precedent for negotiated settlements and a forbearance of arms? Is it an isolated case, or does it herald a new day? Raymond Dague himself draws the best conclusion:
"[This case] goes to prove that when the parties both desire to find an amicable way to sell a formerly Episcopal Church to an Anglican Church which has disaffiliated from TEC, that a way can be found. There is no legal bar to such a sale, nor is such a sale, even at a fraction of the assessed value of the property, in violation of the fiduciary duty of the diocese or TEC. Where there is the will to be gracious and settle without lawsuits, there is a way that it can be done, because it was done here. Perhaps the Helmetta experience might be repeated. It need not be an isolated incident if both parties in other cases have the good will to try it."
Read Raymond Dague's full memorandum here.
Yours in Christ, and in prayer,
Found here at the AAC website