Attorney Alex Haley offers a detailed investigative series exploring the history, justifications, budgets and unanswered questions of Episcopal Church property litigation. It is detailed, so give yourself time to read the four current analyses. Here are some amazing discoveries:
* As suspected, the denominational leadership has raided "mission" trust funds to keep cases in the courts. Haley discovers this in minutes of the "Executive Council."
* The known litigation spending in just two years - 2006-07 - exceeded $2,000,000, followed up with another $2.9 million in 2008 , even though the legal budget authorized by the church's General Convention, ostensibly its decision making authority, allowed for just over a million dollars total for six years (2004-10).
* Meeting minutes show that auditors raised questions about the use of mission trust fund income, but that these concerns appear to have been ignored at subsequent "Executive Council" meetings.
* In videotaped depositions, the Presiding Bishop justifies the litigation this way: "I understand it as a means to preserve assets of the Episcopal Church for the ministry and the mission of the Episcopal Church." This is not, in fact, what has happened. Beyond the out of budget spending, a number of retained church buildings sit vacant, unable to attract new congregations.The church property in Binghamton, NY, was sold to a Muslim group for 1/3 of what the original Christian congregation was offering to keep it.