By Kirk Petersen

After 11 years of litigation, the parties have reached a settlement in the largest lawsuit over the property of the former Episcopal Diocese of Quincy. The suit was filed after the Quincy bishop and 18 of the 22 congregations of the small diocese voted to leave the Episcopal Church (TEC) in 2008 and form the Anglican Diocese of Quincy, part of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

The settlement was announced by the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, which reunited with the remnants of the Quincy diocese in 2013. In a letter to what is now the Peoria Deanery, Bishop Jeffrey D. Lee of Chicago said: “I give thanks for your perseverance and courage through the past eleven years, and I am grateful that this settlement will benefit God’s mission in the Peoria Deanery for many years to come.”

It was “a very good settlement for both sides,” Tad Brenner, chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of Quincy, told TLC by telephone. “Both sides walked away from this, not completely satisfied, but very happy that the hostilities had ended.”

The financial terms of the settlement are confidential, but “there is no exchange of real estate,” Brenner said.

Four churches that remained with TEC in the Quincy split will benefit directly from the settlement funds: St. James, Griggsville; St. James, Lewistown; the Episcopal Church of St. George, Macomb; and All Saints, Rock Island. Lee said “other funds recovered in the settlement will be held in the Bishop’s Funds for the benefit of the entire Peoria Deanery.”

The funds in question presumably are from financial assets previously held by the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy. At the time of the 2013 merger with the Diocese of Chicago, TLC reported that Quincy held approximately $4 million in assets that had been frozen as part of the litigation.

Quincy was one of five dioceses where theologically conservative bishops led many of their congregations out of the Episcopal Church a decade or more ago, and some individual congregations in other dioceses also left. Numerous lawsuits were filed between TEC and the departing parties, with TEC taking the position that the buildings and other property of the departing churches were held in trust for the local diocese, and must be turned over to TEC.

Lawsuits are continuing in the South Carolina and Fort Worth dioceses, and suits elsewhere have been settled or adjudicated with mixed results. Litigation also continues with two congregations in the ACNA Diocese of Quincy that are not part of the settlement, regarding the property of Grace Episcopal Church in Galesburg and Christ Church in Moline.

Brenner said the settlement will allow the parties to put their money and human talent to more productive uses. “Both sides are working towards the Great Commission, we’re just doing it in slightly different manners,” he said.