In 1977, 1,600 bishops, clergy and lay people met in St. Louis and formed the "Congress of St. Louis under the leadership of retired Episcopal bishop Albert Chambers. This began the Continuing Anglican Movement with the adoption of the "Affirmation of St. Louis. Many other conservative groups have continued to break away out of frustration over the Church's position on homosexuality, the ordination of openly homosexual priests and bishops, and abortion — or rather, the way the Episcopal Church has viewed the place of Scripture in determining doctrine on those issues. In addition to those which have affiliated with one of the Continuing Anglican churches or the Anglican Church in North America, there are also congregations that have joined one of the Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions, "Old Catholicism, or the "Roman Catholic Church.
Five diocesan conventions have voted to withdraw from the Episcopal Church: the Diocese of San Joaquin, the Diocese of Fort Worth, the Diocese of Quincy, the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and the Diocese of South Carolina. This does not include individual congregations that have also withdrawn, as in the "Diocese of Virginia where members of eight parishes voted to leave the Episcopal Church. Included were the historic "Falls Church and "Truro Church. These congregations then formed the "Anglican District of Virginia, which became part of the "Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA).
The first diocesan convention to vote to break with the Episcopal Church (which has 110 dioceses) was the "Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin. On December 8, 2007, the convention of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin voted to secede from the Episcopal Church and join the "Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, a more conservative and traditional member of the Anglican Communion located in South America. The diocese had 48 parishes. A minority of parishes and individuals reorganized the diocese and remained in the Episcopal Church.  On July 21, 2009, the Superior Court of California ruled that the diocese cannot leave the Episcopal Church and that these acts were void, however, not until 2016 was litigation fully resolved and did those who remained in the Episcopal Church gain control of the property. On October 4, 2008, the convention of the "Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh also voted to leave the Episcopal Church and join the Province of the Southern Cone. This split occurred after the "House of Bishops, "deposed Robert Duncan from office in September 2008. Duncan had led the diocese for 11 years. One third of the parishes and members of the Pittsburgh Diocese remained in the Episcopal Church and had received recognition as the Episcopal Diocese within a week of the convention vote.
The conventions of the "Diocese of Quincy in Illinois and the "Diocese of Fort Worth voted in November 2008 to leave the Episcopal Church. On November 15, 2008, the convention of the "Diocese of Fort Worth, under the leadership of "Jack Leo Iker and with the vote of 80 percent of the voting clergy and laity, also voted to align with the Province of the Southern Cone. As in the earlier cases, the remaining Episcopalians reorganized as a diocese. In response to the departure of Iker and the Fort Worth diocese, Jefferts Schori declared that Iker had "abandoned the communion" and joined with the local diocese in suing Iker and followers, seeking to reclaim church buildings and property. On November 16, 2009, the appellate court issued an order staying the litigation while certain procedural issues were decided by the appellate court. On April 27, 2010, the Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth heard oral argument on issues that may determine whether the litigation will be allowed to proceed at the trial level.
Two years later the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina declared that an earlier vote by their Standing Committee was now in effect and that they had left the Episcopal Church. The Diocese then held a special convention in November 2012 to affirm that action. However, Bishop Lawrence and his followers did not immediately join the Anglican Church of North America and remained a free standing diocese. They almost immediately sued in South Carolina Courts, claiming they were doing so to protect their property. The court ordered those staying in the Episcopal Church to refrain from calling themselves the Diocese of South Carolina. That group then sued in federal court to recover their name. Both the state court case and the federal case remain in litigation.
Jefferts Schori has criticized these moves and stated that "schism is not an "honored tradition within Anglicanism" and claims schism has "frequently been seen as a more egregious error than charges of "heresy." In Pittsburgh one member of the Standing Committee remained in the Episcopal Church and some members of each of the other governing bodies also remained. Those remaining in the Episcopal Church were recognized immediately by the Presiding Bishop and executive Council of the Episcopal Church as the continuation of the old diocese and began rebuilding without further help from the church. A lawsuit filed in 2003, settled in 2005, reopened in 2007 and decided 2009 with final appeals in 2010 awarded the name and diocesan property to those who remained in the Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh. In the other four dioceses diocese where parishioners have voted to leave, the Presiding Bishop provided interim listeners and presided at an organizing convention. In all four cases, both those who left the Episcopal Church and those who remained claimed that their organizations were the "real" Episcopal Diocese. In 2016 the California Supreme Court refused to review lower court rulings recognizing those who had remained in the Episcopal Church as the legal owners of the property and name. Courts in Illinois ruled against the Episcopalians and awarded the property to the ACNA diocese.
Church property litigation
In 1993, the Connecticut Supreme Court concluded that former parishioners of a local Episcopal church could not keep the property held in the name of that parish because it found that a relationship existed between the local and general church such that a legally enforceable trust existed in favor of the general church over the local church's property.
On December 19, 2008, a Virginia trial court ruled that eleven congregations of former Episcopalians could keep parish property when the members of these congregations split from the Episcopal church to form the "Anglican District of Virginia (ADV). The Episcopal Church claimed that the property belonged to it under the canon law of the Episcopal Church after appeals reached the Virginia Supreme Court, a new trial was ordered which resulted in a decision returning the property to the Episcopal Church. Subsequent appeals by those who had left the Episcopal Church were unsuccessful including an appeal by one parish to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2014.
Other rulings in Colorado and California have ordered congregations that have voted to change their associations within the Anglican Communion to return their properties to the Episcopal Church. On January 5, 2009, the California Supreme Court ruled that "St. James Anglican Church in "Newport Beach could not keep property held in the name of an Episcopal parish. The court concluded that even though the local church's names were on the property deeds for many years, the local churches had agreed to be part of the general church.
Property litigation in Pittsburgh began before the split when Calvary Episcopal Church filed suit against Duncan in 2003 in order to ensure diocesan property remained in the Episcopal Church. A second parish, St. Stephen's in Wilkinsburg later joined Calvary as a plaintiff. This resulted in a signed stipulation specifying that diocesan property would remain the property of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh in the Episcopal Church U.S.A., In 2009, the Judge of the Court of Common Pleas ruled that the 2005 agreement signed by Duncan to settle the Lawsuit brought by Calvary Church meant that diocesan property belonged to those remaining in the Episcopal Church. This was confirmed in January 2010 with a decision including a schedule of property to be returned. The group that left changed its name to the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, but appealed the decision. In 2011, a panel of judges from the appellate court in Pennsylvania affirmed that ruling, and the full appellate court declined to review the ruling. The state supreme court also declined to hear an appeal. The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh announced that it would not pursue further appeals.
Those interested in the history might wish to visit the "Historical Society of the Episcopal Church or "National Episcopal Historians and Archivists (NEHA)
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