On July 25 the Very Rev. Canon Frank R. Dunaway, III, MD, MTS, Canon to the Ordinary, announced to the diocese that the Illinois Appellate Court ruled in the Diocese of Quincy’s favor. The diocese then quickly released the following press release:
Press release: Appellate Court unanimously upholds Anglican Church decision
Contact: Father Tom Janikowski (563-505-1016)
The Illinois Fourth District Appellate Court in Springfield has ruled in favor of the Diocese of Quincy in litigation with the Episcopal Church.
Thursday the three judges of the appellate panel unanimously upheld Judge Thomas Ortbal of the Trial Court in Adams County, Ill. in his Sept. 2, 2013 decision in favor of the Anglican Diocese. The Episcopal Church, having lost the 2013 trial, appealed the decision to the Appellate Court.
The suit centered on the western Illinois diocese’s decision, in November 2008, to end its affiliation with the Episcopal Church due to theological differences centering on the person of Jesus Christ and the fundamental authority of Holy Scripture.
Lawyers for the Episcopal Church argued in front of Judge Ortbal that Quincy did not have the right to sever ties with the national church, and that the diocese’s money, endowments and property of parishes and missions belonged to the Episcopal Church. Judge Ortbal rejected that argument in finding for Quincy in the 2013 trial.
The Appellate judges affirmed the Episcopal Church is not a hierarchical church, with property held in common under the umbrella of a national church. The Appellate panel upheld the ruling that the diocese is the highest governing authority.
Central to the Appellate court decision was their affirmation that “Illinois courts have adopted the neutral-principles approach, whereby a court may objectively examine pertinent church characteristics, constitutions and bylaws, deeds, state statutes, and other evidence to resolve the matter as it would a secular dispute.”
“We have left God in charge of our defence in the litigation brought against us – we have simply prayed, carried out the work of the Kingdom, and tried to be faithful to our calling,” said the Rt. Rev. J. Alberto Morales, OSB, the Anglican Bishop. “We are so grateful for God’s protection, for the work of the judges in ruling in our favor, and for the tireless work of our gifted legal team.”
“I am overjoyed,” said Mrs. Patricia Renfro, a third-generation member of Trinity Parish in Rock Island. “It is such a relief to stop worrying about whether we’ll lose the church my parents and grandparents helped build.”
The Diocese of Quincy has grown to 31 congregations in Illinois and six other states. Quincy is a constituent member of the Anglican Church in North America. The diocese is led by the Right Reverend J. Alberto Morales, OSB, the ninth Bishop of Quincy.