Christ Church, Savannah, the “mother church” of Georgia, had a majority of its parishioners vote to leave the Episcopal Church in 2007. The ensuing court case has finally arrived in the state Supreme Court and oral arguments began yesterday. According to reports the courtroom pews were packed with people from both sides.
“[Paul] Painter [an attorney for the departing parishioners] argued the congregation should be able to keep the $3 million building and property because the grant from Oglethorpe, as King George’s agent, makes it unique from other cases of Georgia churches that broke from their own national organizations.
State laws on church property were drafted for smaller, rural churches, he said.
Mary Kostel, an attorney for the Episcopal Church, countered by saying the congregation volunteered to join the denomination when it formed after the American Revolution, and in doing so, it gave up its right to the property to the national organization by agreeing to follow the national rules.
‘If Christ Church didn’t want to turn over its records to the bishop, the financial records when he visited, too bad,’ she said. ‘… Once they were in the church, their property was subject to review and care of the larger church.’”
Read the full account here.