Executive Council unanimously passed a resolution forgiving nearly $6 million in loans and interest owed by the Diocese of San Joaquin.
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.
As TLC previously reported, the agreement calls 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.”
In the closing news conference, 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 Rt. Rev. Edward Konieczny, Bishop of Oklahoma, also took part in the negotiations.
“The Bishop of San Joaquin, David Rice, and the chancellor, Michael Glass, extend to you their most profound and greatest thanksgivings for the work that you’ve done” and for the council’s support, Konieczny told council members.