Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Two Resolutions That We've Put Forward in South Dakota

Diocesan Convention here is Oct. 3 - 5 in Chamberlain. Please pray - especially that the Holy Spirit will open eyes, ears, hearts and minds.

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#01 REQUEST FOR ACCOUNTING OF EPISCOPAL CHURCH LAWSUITS

Submitted by The Reverend Timothy & Melissa Fountain, Dale & Ingrid Dobrovolny, Ron & Tammy Briggs, Jane Hassenstein

RESOLVED, that the One Hundred Twenty-second Convention of the Diocese of South Dakota requests that the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church provide the denomination with the following information:
a. the dollar amount spent by TEC on litigation against dioceses, parishes, groups of churches and individuals since General Convention 2006;
b. a list of the church accounts and/or budget items from which these funds were taken;
c. an accurate comparison of dollars spent on litigation versus dollars spent on Millennium Development Goals since General Convention 2006;
d. the proposed amount of money for litigation to be presented to the 2009 General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

RESOLVED, that the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese of South Dakota communicate this request to the Presiding Bishop no later than November 5th, 2008.

RESOLVED, that the Presiding Bishop’s response (or lack thereof) be reported to the clergy and people of the Diocese of South Dakota prior to the Bishop Coadjutor election in 2009.

Explanation: Earlier this year, I sent a letter to the Bishop, Standing Committee Members and General Convention Deputies of this Diocese, objecting to the Episcopal Church’s campaign of litigation against people all across the United States. I did not receive a single reply (not even an acknowledgement) of my letter.

Meanwhile, the Episcopal Church has lost a number of large cases that it initiated against churches in Virginia and California, and is currently appealing those cases at even greater cost. Funds designated for Native American ministries (including South Dakota), for overseas missionary support, and for other programs have been cut while the money spent on litigation continues to be spent without any accounting to the church.

The last General Convention (and this Diocese) voted to make the United Nations Millennium Development Goals the mission priority of the church. There needs to be an accurate accounting to show that Episcopal Church spending is true to this stated goal and not being diverted to unreported projects.

Our diocese, parishes and missions practice good stewardship by keeping and publishing accurate information about their finances. There is simply no excuse for concealing the use of money that has been donated by faithful Christians for God’s work. This is especially true when programs are being cut and needs are going unmet.

Impact on Budget: Potentially positive if the national church stops funding lawsuits and restores money to local mission and ministry.


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#02 - REQUEST THAT THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH REPLACE LAWSUITS WITH NEGOTIATION AND/OR MEDIATION WHERE POSSIBLE

Submitted by The Reverend Timothy & Melissa Fountain, Dale & Ingrid Dobrovolny, Ron & Tammy Briggs, Jane Hassenstein

RESOLVED, that the One Hundred Twenty-second Convention of the Diocese of South Dakota requests that the Episcopal Church adopt a policy of negotiation and/or mediation prior to initiating lawsuits over property.

RESOLVED, that the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese of South Dakota communicate this request to the Presiding Bishop and Executive Council of the Episcopal Church no later than November 5th, 2008.

RESOLVED, that the Ecclesiastical Authority of this diocese report the national church’s response (or lack thereof) prior to the election of a Bishop Coadjutor in 2009.

Explanation: Because of controversial issues, some dioceses and congregations wish to separate from The Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church has sued hundreds of these dissenters, including individual lay people, all around the country. Whether or not one agrees with the dissenters, the following facts need to be addressed by church leaders:

a. The Bible says that litigation between Christians is “spiritual defeat” for all involved (I Corinthians 6:1-8);
b. Our Baptismal Covenant calls us to seek both “justice” AND “peace”;
c. The laws are different in every state, which forces many lawsuits, at great cost, with no consistent results;
d. The Episcopal Church has lost several large cases already, and is now spending unreported amounts of money to file appeals;
e. There have been efforts (Overland Park, Kansas and Plano, Texas are two examples) in which negotiation worked. The Episcopal dioceses received payment for property and other significant compensation, and the dissenters were allowed to keep their property;
f. It is common in Labor, Family and other types of courts to use negotiation as a means to avoid the expense and relationship damage of litigation;
g. The current policy of The Episcopal Church, (suing without negotiating), is very expensive in a time when resources are scarce, is not effective in retaining property or resources, and it works against good will for future reconciliation within the church.

Impact on Budget: Potentially positive as negotiation is less expensive than litigation, and the national church and dioceses would gain immediate and future income from negotiated property settlements.


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Also sent this cover letter to all Senior Wardens around the diocese:

September 1, 2008

Dear Friend in Christ,

I am writing you because you are a leader entrusted with the well being of God’s people – both their spiritual well being and the good stewardship of the church’s resources.

Are you aware of the following facts?

The Episcopal Church has sued congregations and even lay people all around the country, in cases costing millions of dollars.
TEC is losing many of these cases and going on to file even more expensive appeals.
The proposed diocesan budget shows that General Convention is cutting its grant to the Diocese of South Dakota by 5% in 2009.
The proposed Diocesan Budget places the burden on congregations to give more and uses endowment money to make up for what TEC is taking back to use on unaccounted actions.
National church funds for Native American ministries and Overseas Missionaries were cut last year.

I am part of a concerned group that has submitted Diocesan Convention Resolutions, asking for TEC to give full accounting of its lawsuits and to adopt more Christian means of conflict resolution. These Resolutions should be present at your Deanery pre-Convention meetings this month. It is my hope that you will take them seriously and ask questions about how the church’s money is being spent. This has significant implications for our diocesan budget in 2009.

Please share this information with your diocesan convention delegates! This information is NOT being reported by TEC or in diocesan news, and many clergy are afraid to speak up.

May Christ Jesus bless your service in His Name. If you have questions, feel free to be in touch with me: (605) 332-1474,
rector.gsc@midconetwork.com .

Tim+
The Rev. Timothy Fountain

7 comments:

cp said...

Does this mean you are going to show up this year?

TLF+ said...

Yes. Will be there in various incarnations.

David Handy+ said...

Bravo, Tim+. Way to go. It's absolutely scandalous and reprehensible how the national administration is (mis)behaving. I'm glad you're raising a stink about it and calling attention to this intolerable state of affairs.

David B. Beers, the Chancellor on the staff of the national headquarters, is the kind of absolute, integrity-less jerk that spawns the ever-popular jokes that mock lawyers as the scum of the earth. Of course, there are more than a few notable exceptions, i.e., some lawyers of sterling integrity and genuine Christian character, including my beloved uncle, Richard Braithwaite, who passed away earlier this week, and Tacey Braithwaite, the wife of my cousin, Tom Braithwaite, M.D. But David Booth Beers is a discredit to his profession and a notorious example of all that's wrong with the Episcopal Church.

You really are a flagplanter, Tim. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

and I wish you and yours the best of luck in providing the SD convention entertainment like they have never seen before!

Pat Kashtock said...

Wow Timothy -- That is awesome.

What is the likelihood these will pass in SD? When I saw the one in Sarah's post, I thought perhaps that SD was asking TEC to account, but now see you are bringing these forward.

Prayers for blessing, o brave ones!
Pat Kashtock
Take It for What It's Worth

The Underground Pewster said...

Resolutions are not mandates. Requests for information from T.E.C. might work better if written on an attorney's stationary.

It is ridiculous that donors to a non-profit organization such as a Church cannot get detailed financial accounts on request. Our local parish books are very open. The National Church must open up as well or face the consequences of a drop in donations.

TLF+ said...

Head-in-the-sand is a prevalent posture here... so passing these resolutions is iffy. But the info has been hidden from people here, and now it is out in the open and at least some folks will have to deal with the issue.

What favors passage is that the nat. church funds Native American and Diocesan ministry here - and both grants have been cut with real impact on the diocese. So maybe folks will respond to that.

No, these are not binding. But if they go unanswered it tells people more about TEC.

I read Ezekiel 2 alot. This is a case of, "Thus says the Lord", whether or not the people listen, our duty is discharged.