Following a hearing in the Common Pleas Court of Allegheny County on July 7, Judge Joseph James gave final legal approval to a property agreement between the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and one of its former congregations, St. Philip’s in Moon Township.
Judge James had previously ruled the Episcopal Diocese should control the property under the terms of a 2005 Stipulation but that St. Philip's was permitted to continue to use it temporarily. The agreement and today's court order resolve the longer term issues. The ruling also granted Orphans’ Court approval to the settlement, as required by Pennsylvania law governing non-profit corporations. The state Attorney General’s Office had previously indicated no objection to the settlement.
The terms of the amicable settlement, signed February 2, 2011, can now be implemented. St. Philip’s will become an independent Christian congregation while retaining its property in exchange for paying off its mortgage over time and other cash considerations. The agreement also provides for on-going access and cooperation regarding parish records, memorials, dedications and similar assets.
The agreement was reached as a way to avoid unnecessary controversy and litigation. It allows St. Philip’s and the Episcopal Diocese to continue with their respective ministry to the people of God they feel called to serve.