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We lost our church today

We lost our church today

A parishioner of All Saints Episcopal Church in Fort Worth writes of the eviction of the congregation in an op-ed today in Baptist News Global. A splinter group took possession of the church property last week.

In February the US Supreme Court declined to take the appeal of the Texas Supreme Court decision giving custody of All Saints and other churches to a splinter group. The court has also declined to take appeals by splinter groups elsewhere in the country, leaving the outcome of hierarchal church property disputes up to local courts for now.

An extract from Wende Dwyer-Johnsen’s op-ed in BNG

We lost our church today.

We were required to hand over the keys to our beloved building — a marvel of limestone and exquisite stained-glass. A church founded and built by Episcopalians and grown over the decades. Taken away today.

It was our house of worship, the place where for more than 75 years generations of Episcopalians engaged in spiritual sustenance. We were evicted today.

The building was taken by those who left the church 12 years ago in disagreement with Episcopal Church doctrine. There was a bishop who didn’t want to welcome everyone. He didn’t want to abide by the hierarchy of the Episcopal Church, despite having taken a sworn vow to do so. He decided to re-write bylaws to his own liking and pull people away from the Episcopal Church and into his personal belief that women should not be priests and that LGBTQ folks have no place in the church.

Over those ideals he was willing to break apart whole communities of congregants and, in fact, split an entire diocese.

In an accompanying article, BNG explains the property disputes in hierarchical denominations to a Baptist audience familiar with the free-church tradition.

 

Spectrum News recently covered the evictions of the Episcopal congregations.

 

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mike geibel

It is sad when parishioners lose their beloved church. This article brings back memories of St. James in Newport Beach, California where the congregation split after the consecration of B+ Robinson, and the majority left and sued for ownership of the Church. The California Supreme Court ruled that congregations choosing to leave the Episcopal Church will lose the church property they financed with donations and sweat equity because in California, the diocese (Corp Sole) is named on the deed, not the parish or congregation.
 
The remaining loyal parishioners forged ahead under a new priest despite financial struggles given their fewer numbers, only to have B+ Bruno of the LA Diocese sell the property to developers for luxury condominiums to help pay the costs of the litigation against St. James and other breakaway congregations in So. Cal.  B+ Bruno EVICTED the loyal parishioners and told them to migrate to other Episcopal Churches in the area, but they continued worship in an outdoor park. B+ Bruno was later convicted of CANON misconduct and suspended for three years, but when replacement Bishop Taylor for LA took over, he told the congregants the sale brokered by Bruno was binding—nothing he could do except sell and collect the $15 million payment. The buyer eventually backed out of the deal, and B+ Taylor relented and let the parishioners return—but it took about 2 years. 

Putting the money interests of the church hierarchy above ministering to the souls and needs of congregants is an ugly business which has no real winners but many losers.

Thomas Rightmyer

If the report from the ACNA diocese is correct congregations in the General Convention Diocese of Fort Worth declined to negotiate with the ACNA Diocese of Fort Worth. They lost the court case and chose to leave the property. Eviction is the wrong word. Abandonment is a better description of the case.

Tom Ford

It’s been reported that All Saints cleaned out the the church of anything movable including the Christos Rex and statues seen in this photo. They were ordered by the court to return everything. It’s hard to fathom such meanness; however there is a photo of the empty reredos.

David Mu

It’s all simple if you believe; no priestess can ever be an liar, and that goes also for her herd of piglets. Well – that is until the lies can no longer be hidden with threats, and other rude behaviors. It’s the shadow of Lilith, and the current crop is proving to go the whole hog space.

Eric Bonetti

I’m indeed sorry that loyal Episcopalians have lost their churches. But this illustrates why the church hierarchy needs to take clergy discipline seriously. As the Texas courts noted, the diocese changed its canons years ago to essentially remove the Dennis Canon, and no one did anything about it.

It is remarkably hard to ignore something like that for years, then suddenly come zooming back, asking the courts to take the matter seriously.

PS There is a virus on the site. Be sure not to accept any downloads or pop ups.

JoS. S. Laughon

Thankfully generations of Christians worshiping in the Anglican tradition will continue unbroken

Joe Francis

What a one-sided article. You state that the BIshop decided to impose his own personal beliefs into the matter.This is completely false. For almost 2000 years, the catholic church and Christianity world-wide prohibited females and practicing homosexuals from the priesthood. You should know that.

Paul Powers

It’s an opinion piece by someone who has been directly affected by the court’s decision. It doesn’t pretend to be objective. Even if you agree with the outcome, I hope that you have some compassion for those who are hurt by it.

Joe Francis

I do indeed sympathize with the folks who left their churches.I would feel sad and despondent if it happened to me, and I would exhaust every option available before leaving. This brings up a critical question. Why did no congregation try to work out a purchase or lease from the diocese?

Paul Powers

I don’t know what was discussed in negotiations between the parties, or whether the ACNA diocese would have been willing to discuss such an arrangement.

JoS. S. Laughon

Joe they really cannot fathom that the decline of TEC or the introduction of controversy into the wider Anglican Communion, causing division and discord has anything to do with them or other rich (largely) white progressives from the Global North

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