Episcopal Church Properties • FBI Malware Warning • Statute of Limitations: News Roundup
    This week’s headlines that affect churches and church leaders.
    Episcopal Church Properties • FBI Malware Warning • Statute of Limitations: News Roundup
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    Episcopal Church in South Carolina Will Reclaim $500 Million Worth of Properties. “The Episcopal Church in South Carolina is preparing to reclaim control of more than two dozen properties worth an estimated $500 million after the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal brought by a breakaway group of conservative Anglican congregations. ‘We are grateful for the clarity that this decision offers, and hopeful that it brings all of us closer to having real conversations on how we can bring healing and reconciliation to the Church, the Body of Christ, in this part of South Carolina,’ said the Rt. Rev. Gladstone B. ‘Skip’ Adams III, bishop of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, known as TECSC, in a statement. In the same statement, TECSC Chancellor Thomas S. Tisdale Jr. said there would be no ‘immediate change in the physical control of the properties’ because of the Supreme Court denial. . . . This latest development marks an important victory for the Episcopal Church. The denomination had initially lost in a lower court ruling that sided with the breakaway group, but a state high court decision overturned that ruling last year. Occupants of the 29 properties appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the high court decided not to get involved” (“Justices deny bid from dissident South Carolina churches to keep buildings,” Religion News Service).

    The Supreme Court’s initial denial to review this case was covered in last week’s News Roundup.

    FBI Warns Against Sophisticated Malware Strain. “The FBI recently made a formal PSA about a piece of malware called VPNFilter that is infecting routers used in homes and small businesses at an alarming rate. The difference in this strain versus others is that no one is quite sure what the impact will be, since it is a very sophisticated piece of malicious software. . . . The malware uses default credentials to infect routers, meaning that it can be avoided by changing passwords and other security on devices. It ‘sniffs’ network data where an infected device is physically located, gathering the passwords, usernames, and other credentials on that network. This can include supervisory control and data. And VPNFilter malware can serve as a relay point to hide the origin of incoming attacks that later use that information. This software installs itself in three stages, and the impact of the third stage is not well known. The FBI has advised that everyone should reboot their routers, under the belief that this will mitigate the malware and prevent the third stage from executing in the future. However, this is not entirely correct in a technical sense. Security engineers at Cisco Talos and Symantec recommend that people who own affected devices do a factory reset. This will remove the malware, but it also restores the router to all original settings” (“Half a Million Routers Are Infected with Malware—Is Yours?”, CapinCrouse).

    Learn best practices for IT at your church with this book.

    Calls for Abolishment of Pennsylvania’s Statute of Limitations Come in Wake of Church Abuse Report. “A renewed push for legislation to abolish Pennsylvania's statute of limitations in sex abuse cases will follow the publication of a sweeping grand jury report on allegations of child sexual abuse and cover-ups within six Roman Catholic dioceses around the state, a lawmaker said Tuesday [June 12]. Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, said he will be prepared to seek a vote in the state House of Representatives on legislation that carries provisions sought by victims. The House two years ago overwhelmingly approved Rozzi's legislation to lift time limits for authorities to pursue charges of child sexual abuse and for those onetime child victims to sue their attackers and institutions that covered it up. Rozzi's bill also would have established a two-year window for victims to sue for damages if they are now older than the current legal age limit. Currently, state law bars onetime child victims from suing for damages if they have turned 30 and bars authorities from filing criminal charges if the person making the claim of child sexual abuse has turned 50,” (“Push to nix Pennsylvania statute of limitations to follow church sex abuse report,” TribLIVE).

    Be sure to familiarize yourself with this review of how states define mandatory reporters and key reporting processes.

    We're always preparing the best and fastest ways to bring you the news in the context of expert advice. For more regular updates, follow us on Twitter or on Facebook.

    Emily Lund is assistant editor for Church Law & Tax.

    This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

    Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

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