Rehill to be honored for multitude of services

The Hon. Michael Rehill, Esq., Chancellor of the Diocese of Newark since 1991, will be honored for his many years of service at a ceremony following Friday night's convention dinner Jan. 25.   Serving as the diocese's chief legal officer, Rehill won two court cases which gained national attention during his tenure. He provided countless hours of advice and leadership to numerous officials in the diocese, had a key effect on canon law and the national Episcopal Church, and has been instrumental in making housing for the poor a diocesan priority, among many accomplishments. Judge Rehill will be installed as chancellor emeritus, as was the late Judge Ward Herbert before him. He will be succeeded as chancellor by Dean Weber, Esq., currently chancellor designate.

In a case with national ramifications, Rehill intervened as lawyer for the Newark Diocese when a conservative group of Episcopalians led by Bishop William Wantland, retired Bishop of Eau Clare, sought to misappropriate the name of the national church ("The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America"or "PECUSA"), by incorporating in New Jersey (and most other states) as "The ProtestantEpiscopal Church in the United States of America, Inc." or PECUSA, Inc." Joining with the chancellor of the Diocese of New Jersey, Rehill filed suit on behalf of both dioceses in United States District Court in Newark to enjoin the use of the name to protect the identity of the national church. As a result of that action, the defendants were permanently enjoined from the use of the name of the Episcopal Church. They later formed what is now the Anglican Mission in America.

And in a decision which gained global attention, Rehill won a landmark case in the Episcopal Church when he defended retired Bishop Walter Righter, who had ordained to the diaconate an openly gay man, the Rev. Barry Stopfel. A group of 10 conservative bishops led by Bishop Wantland and Bishop James Stanton of Dallas had filed heresy charges against Bishop Righter in the Court for the Trial of a Bishop. Only the second heresy case in the history of the Episcopal Church, the Righter case established that there is no legal or canonical or doctrinal bar to the ordination of an openly non-celibate homosexual man or woman.

Decades of church service at various levels The two highly-visible court cases are only the most obvious of Judge Rehill's decades of service to his local parish, the Diocese of Newark, Province II, and to the national church.

At the diocesan level, Rehill served as vice-chancellor from 1985-1991 before being appointed chancellor in 1991. He has served since 1983 on the Committee on Constitutions and Canons and since 1988 has been a trustee of the Episcopal Fund and Diocesan Properties of the Diocese of Newark, currently serving as its secretary. Rehill has served on the diocese's Standing Committee, 1987-1991; the Committee on the Full Participation of Women in the Church, 1987-1988; the ACTS-VIM Board, 1985-1986; Diocesan Council, 1982-1986; the Diocesan Council Budget Committee, 1982-1986; the Diocesan Financial Review Commission and Diocesan Council Planning Committee, 1984; the VIGOR Task Force, 1983; the Committee on Rules of Order and Elections, 1982-1983. He has also served on the Convention Budget Committee, 1986-1988, the Resolutions Committee, 1984-1988, and on the ACTS/VIM Committee of 100. He currently serves on the diocese's Domestic Violence Committee. In 1986 Rehill was awarded the Bishop's Outstanding Service Award, and in 1990 he received the Bishop's Cross.

At the Provincial level, Rehill is currently vice president of Province II, served as chancellor of Province II from 1993-1999, and was a lay deputy representing the Diocese of Newark from 1992-1996. A deputy from the Diocese of Newark to General Convention since 1985, Judge Rehill has served as a member of General Convention's Committee on Canons (in 1988, 1991 and 1994) and the Committee on the Constitution (1997 and 2000). He currently serves as a member of the Joint Standing Committee for Nomination of Presiding Bishop.

A life-long member of Grace Church, Westwood, Rehill served on its vestry from 1974-1979, 1983 and 1988-1993, was Warden 1980-1981 and 1984-1986, chaired its Church Structures Committee and its Stewardship efforts; served as a member of its Finance Committee, and is president of its Endowment Fund. He served as church treasurer in 1983, has been secretary of the Permanent Endowment Trust, vice president of Grace's Men's Club, ACTS/VIM lay chairman, chairman of the Diamond Jubilee Fund, served on the rector Search Committee, 1978 and 1998, and on the Personnel Committee.

Judge Rehill was key in acquisition of Episcopal House on Mulbery Street, current diocesan headquarters, by negotiating the exchange of Cathedral House on Rector Street with NJPAC. And with Eliot Knight, former president of the Diocesan Trustees and diocesan financial advisor, Rehill negotiated property transactions which led to creation of the Paul Moore Outreach Fund of the Diocese of Newark. That fund, named after former New York Bishop Paul Moore and one-time Rector of Grace Van Vorst in Jersey City, was created out of a portion of the proceeds of the Moore estate in Morris County which was sold for residential development as a result of Rehill's efforts.

Rehill also helped to establish housing for the poor as a major priority for the Diocese of Newark. He was instrumental in helping to create Diocesan sponsored subsidized senior housing in Hillsdale and Rutherford, and the new Nutley Senior Manor which is scheduled to open later this spring. Similarly he helped in the creation of low- income family housing including Resurrection House, Jersey City; and the reacquisition of Grace Church Van Vorst Houses, Jersey City. Agencies to foster housing and social services also received Rehill `s attention. He was key to establishing St. James Square Housing Corporation; Jersey City Episcopal Housing, Inc., Newark Episcopal Housing, Inc., Episcopal Community Development, Inc., and St. Barnabas Aids Resource Center, Inc.

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