As you may be aware, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to discuss the petition involving our diocese at its conference on June 7. As the time draws near for us to hear their decision, I write to make you aware of how matters stand in this ongoing process.
Uncertainty always brings a measure of anxiety. One thing we can do to help manage that is to be clear about what will, and will not, be decided when the Supreme Court rules. It is important to know that whatever the ruling, it will likely take several months for the rest of the legal process to conclude.
Here is the best information we have now:
If the case is discussed on June 7 as scheduled, the Justices may or may not make a decision at that conference. If they do, then at least four of the nine Justices would have to vote to grant a writ of certiorari for the case to proceed. If not, certiorari is denied, and that part of the process ends.
Monday, June 11 would be the first day we might expect to hear a decision, but it could come on a later Monday. The Supreme Court’s term ends June 30.
When the decision arrives, I will call together our diocesan leadership for a time of prayer, information sharing, and discussion. I ask you all to hold the Justices and every person involved in this case in your prayers.
Again, no immediate changes will take place as a result of the Supreme Court ruling. If the Supreme Court grants certiorari, then more legal steps lie ahead. If the court rules in our favor and denies the petition, it will still remain for the state court to implement that decision before any change in the status of property occurs.
The legal steps toward implementation are already in progress, in both state and federal court, but are likely to take several months to reach their conclusion.
Meanwhile, another process also has begun, which is the important work of reaching out, establishing relationships, encouraging conversations, and inviting people who want to be part of The Episcopal Church to join together in healing and reuniting our diocese. This is an equally important process, and one that I hope you will pray for, and participate in.
I am grateful to all of you who have continued to work tirelessly in your faith communities and have been steadfast through sometimes trying circumstances.
When the property matters reach their final resolution in the courts, our prayer is that we will be joining with the people in the affected parishes to worship our Lord Jesus Christ together, as people have done in this diocese every Sunday for more than two centuries.