Turning to the motion for summary judgment, we perceive the pivotal fact to be the deposition of respondent Moyer which the respondents acknowledge to have taken place. (Response to Motion for Summary Judgment, par. 2.) Under the rule of deference, by which civil courts do not adjudicate controversies involving the internal governance or administration of religious organizations, this Court clearly can not inquire into the propriety of this action. Another matter on which this Court will not rule is whether one ordained by a branch of the Anglican Church can be deemed to be an Episcopal priest. . . .
On the sole question of whether or not the Diocese can ask this Court to force the respondents out of Good Shepherd, the answer is clear. Their eviction, literally and figuratively, is the will of the petitioning Standing Committee and Assisting Bishop. Their decision is the result of the parties' divergent views on ecclesiastical questions and this Court can not get entangled in those controversies. The resolution of the Standing Committee dated November 6, 2002, authorized the Bishop "to take all steps reasonably necessary to secure the property of Good Shepherd for the use of the Episcopal Church." (Exh. H. to amended petition for declaratory judgment.) The respondents argue strenuously that the present action was filed prematurely because the petitioners did not follow the resolution's directive that the Bishop "endeavor to seek an amicable resolution to the disputes with The Church of the Good Shepherd, Rosemont, in order to restore the Parish and the Diocese to that unity which is ours in Christ" before moving against the respondents. Clearly, the members of the Standing Committee, as they are petitioners herein, have determined this "condition" to be impossible of fulfillment, a conclusion that would seem inevitable in light of, inter alia, the aforementioned civil case tried in 2008 between respondent Moyer and the then-Bishop.
Accordingly, the Court determines that respondent Moyer and respondents John Heidengren and Timothy Tammany no longer have any right or authority to serve as rector and vestry members of The Church of The Good Shepherd, Rosemont, Pennsylvania, and they are hereby removed from those positions.
A Declaration of the Friends of the Church Good Shepherd, Rosemont
August 28, 2011
We the undersigned believe that in the course of recent events, the leadership of the Church of the Good Shepherd-Rosemont has shifted from, and attempted to move the parish away from, its historic and stated mission of being a pillar of traditional Anglicanism. Given the present situation in the Episcopal Church, we find this understandable, but we also feel that it is lamentable.
The current leadership has stated its objective as being the establishment of an alternate house of worship under the promised Roman Catholic Ordinariate. We are well aware of why they have done this.
We are concerned, however, that insufficient attention is being paid to the needs of the parishioners who, for reasons of conscience, cannot join them. If the process of division is to be successful and amicable, marked by mutual respect, then we believe that now is the time to start thinking about it.
Therefore, we the undersigned, have formed an ad hoc committee to be known as the Friends of Good Shepherd. We hope and pray that we may be able to assist in the orderly and peaceable process of transition from the status quo in order to preserve and maintain the Church of the Good Shepherd as a viable witness to, and embodiment of the Anglo-Catholic expression of the Christian Faith in the Diocese of Pennsylvania. Several recent events have led us to take this step:
1. Father Moyer has stated publicly that he intends to leave Good Shepherd in the near, but indefinite future to join the Roman Catholic Ordinariate Members of the Vestry have been actively engaged in projects directed toward, and specific to a time when they will have left Good Shepherd to join the Roman Catholic Ordinate.
The Vestry has operated in a less than transparent manner in matters regarding operational, financial and legal information, but especially by using the parliamentary category of Executive Session to keep certain information beyond the reach of the congregation.
In Parliamentary procedure, an Executive Session is that portion of a meeting, specially called, during which minutes of the meeting cease to be kept, and the proceedings are secret. The only attendees are members of the committee and invited guests. Deliberations during an Executive Session are to remain secret and all attendees are honor-bound to maintain confidentiality. This tool is chiefly used when dealing with controversial issues which a committee does not wish to make public, or when members have been encouraged to speak openly without concern for their words being repeated outside the meeting.
2. The Rector and Vestry have turned down a formally presented proposal to work together toward a peaceable transition, and we believe that the formation of an independent committee is desirable and necessary in order to preserve and insure the continued witness and mission of the Church of the Good Shepherd as a parish in the Diocese of Pennsylvania, and the world-wide Anglican Communion;
To this end, we the undersigned members of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Rosemont, have formed and constituted ourselves as what is to be known as the Friends of Good Shepherd,whose purpose is to insure and coordinate the means whereby the aforementioned ends may be achieved. In so doing, we believe it is important that we state what this ad hoc committee is, and what it is not:
We Are Not:
Legal or elected representatives of the Church of the Good Shepherd Rosemont Parish
We Are Not:
Presuming to represent the entire congregation of the Church of the Good Shepherd but to speak for ourselves, and we hope for others, who wish to remain as members of the Parish.
Members of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd Rosemont, Pennsylvania as well as traditional orthodox Anglicans.
Attempting to exercise our legal rights, as delineated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and to work in concert with all those who strive for a peaceable transition. It is also appropriate that we say something about what this ad hoc committee will attempt to achieve:We Will:As is our right under the Law, review the accounting records to gain a better understanding of our current financial position and share such information with the members of the Good Shepherd congregation.
Examine current legal liabilities from standing litigation which could have an impact on the parish in the future, and share such information with the members of the Good Shepherd congregation.
Review past and current parish membership files with the intent of identifying individuals and families who wish to remain members of Good Shepherd, as well as those who have left the parish or may be lapsed, and might wish to return to this parish as it moves forward in its continuing role as an orthodox Anglican parish.
Develop a "healing" strategy, to be enacted immediately, in order to help ameliorate the hurt, separation, anger, conflict and other spiritual damage experienced by congregants over the last few years.
Endeavor to create a dialogue with the Diocese of Pennsylvania with the goal of returning Good Shepherd Rosemont to its historic mission of being a pillar of traditional Anglicanism.
To these ends We Hope and Pray For: A close collaboration with our Rector, the Rt. Rev. David L. Moyer and the current members of the Vestry.
We Hope and Pray For:
The cooperation of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania in assisting the healing and return of the Church of the Good Shepherd Rosemont to its historic role as a pillar of orthodox Anglicanism in the Diocese of Pennsylvania.
Barbara K. Clement
Charles F. Clement 3rd
George A. Anderson 3rd
Dr. Charles Zeiders
The Rev. Vernon Austin
Dr. Arthur Waldron
August 31, 2011
ALL PARISH MESSAGE FROM THE VESTRY
As a follow up to yesterday’s communication to the parish, the Vestry has issued the following statement for parishioners:
Today the Vestry conducted an unscheduled emergency meeting to discuss actions related to Judge Stanley Ott’s decree issued on August 25th. The Vestry met by teleconference at 11 a.m. EST and a quorum was present to conduct business. Brian Dickerson, outside legal counsel for the Vestry also participated.
First, the Vestry apologizes for any confusion on the timing of the Judge’s order in yesterday’s communication. The Court issued the order on August 25th, but it was not communicated to the Vestry until August 29th.
Second, the Vestry is fully complying with the order and spirit of Judge Ott’s Decree and the following actions were taken:
1. CHURCH OPERATIONS AND STAFFING – The elected Vestry of Good Shepherd is responsible for the general welfare of the parish, to respond to the needs and desires of the parish, and for the management of its assets and resources.
It has been confirmed that the Vestry remains the authorized corporation to conduct church business as empowered by the charter, by-laws and standing rules of the church and Diocese. The Church of the Good Shepherd, Rosemont continues to be part of the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Diocese of Pennsylvania.
The Rector - The Rt. Rev. Dr. David Moyer no longer officiates or serves in any religious leading capacity at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Rosemont.
The Vestry was thankful and grateful for Bishop Moyer’s more than 20 years of service to the parish, congregation, and spiritual leadership as our “Good Shepherd.” His leadership and convictions to our parish’s orthodoxy, apostolic beliefs, and Anglo-Catholic traditions will forever be remembered and cherished. The Vestry will work with the Moyers to ensure a reasonable and fair amount of time is given to vacate the Rectory and Rector’s office after so many years of valued service and residence.
2. VESTRY CHANGES
Resignations - The Vestry accepted the resignations of John Ewing as Rector’s Warden and Tim Tammany as Recording Secretary and Vestryman. Their years of service was gratefully appreciated.
Appointments - The Vestry named David Rawson to serve as Senior Warden with financial authority to review and approve regular operating expenses of the parish, in consultation with the Vestry.
3. VESTRY VACANCIES - Recognizing that a number of vacancies exist, the Vestry desires to fill vacancies with eligible members from the parish that would like to help lead.
Over the past years, members of the parish have cited risk of legal liability in considering Vestry service – or have resigned from Vestry service. With all litigation now concluded, counsel has confirmed that legal liability should no longer be a concern moving forward. The Vestry must and will continue to work for the good of all members of the congregation.
The Vestry invites eligible parish members interested in helping lead Good Shepherd to attend the next regularly scheduled Vestry meeting on Wednesday September 7, at 7:30 pm in the Church Library.
4. DIOCESAN COMMUNICATION - The Vestry is contacting the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania to assure full cooperation with Judge Ott’s Decree. The Vestry is actively identifying supply priests for future worship and the undertaking of a search for a new Rector.
The Rt. Rev. Rodney Michel, Assisting Bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, is expected to officiate on Sunday, September 4th. *
With the approaching end of summer and a new liturgical year, we are all saddened by the toll the filing of this lawsuit has had on our parish and Rector. We pray the diocesan leadership will accommodate and support orthodox parishes like Good Shepherd and embrace our ideological and religious differences inclusively. As Christians, we are called to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” We commit ourselves to this, and humbly ask you to join us in doing the same.
The Church of the Good Shepherd, Rosemont
Wednesday of the Twenty-second week in Ordinary Time
* PS: There will be both an 8:00 am and a 10:00 am Mass on Sunday, Sept. 4.