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TEC Executive Council Forgives $6 Million San Joaquin Debt

TEC Executive Council Forgives $6 Million San Joaquin Debt

PHOTO: San Joaquin Bishop David Rice

By David W. Virtue, DD
October 25, 2017

The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church has passed a resolution forgiving nearly $6 million in loans and interest owed by the Diocese of San Joaquin, according to a report in The Living Church

One council member said the diocese "bore a disproportionate burden of the disputes" on sexuality and doctrine and the departure of bishops in San Joaquin and four other dioceses in the past decade.

"When a single diocese bears a disproportionate burden, you don't then send them the bill," said Russell Randle of the Diocese of Virginia, who was part of the council team that negotiated with San Joaquin in the past eight months. Some of the costs were driven by decisions made at the churchwide level, including efforts at reconciliation before turning to litigation.

The TLC had previously reported that an agreement called for San Joaquin to pay the Episcopal Church $1 million by Dec. 31 and to begin paying its full 15 percent assessment in 2019. In exchange, the church will forgive the remainder of the debt ($5,875,000), which consisted of $6,175,000 in loans and about $700,000 in interest.

Randle told the council there are 21 viable congregations in the diocese, which has only two full-time priests. Most congregations are being served by part-time or retired priests. The diocese will be able to sell 25 buildings that it recovered in the litigation, but some of them have "big, unmet capital needs."

This begs the question how the diocese could ever repay the loan with only two viable parishes! With 19 parishes served by part-time or retired priests, there is no way the diocese could ever repay the loan. Even selling 25 empty buildings would not be enough to repay the national church.

A canon lawyer told VOL that TEC has spent some $45 million in lawsuits since 2000 with an additional $15 million spent by the dioceses. With $60 million already spent, millions more will continue to be spent litigating in South Carolina, Pittsburgh and Ft. Worth.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said the other dioceses affected by departing bishops and congregations -- Fort Worth, Pittsburgh and South Carolina -- are bigger and have other resources to draw on. "If we were to require the repayment of the full loan, ... it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for that diocese to really come alive again," Curry said.

The Bishop of San Joaquin, David Rice, is from New Zealand and is one of six provisional bishops in TEC

The other five are:

+Bruce Caldwell -- Lexington
+Gladstone Adams -- The Episcopal Church in South Carolina
+Catherine Waynick -- Eastern Michigan
+Scott Mayer -- TEC Fort Worth
+Sean Rowe -- Bethlehem
Rowe, Bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania, will be the provisional bishop of Western New York's diocesan convention in 2018.


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