Category : TEC Conflicts: Connecticut

(Groton Patch) In Connecticut, a Meeting To Consider the Future of TEC's Bishop Seabury Church

The Bishop of the Connecticut Episcopal Diocese said Tuesday he would meet with area clergy next week to discuss the future of the Bishop Seabury Church in Groton.

The building has functioned as a church since it as built more than 30 years ago, and was the subject of a lengthy court battle.

The congregation of 750 members, called Bishop Seabury Anglican Church, split with the Episcopal Church in 2007, then wound up in court over whether it could continue to use the building.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut, TEC Departing Parishes, Theology

In Connecticut, Former Episcopal Parish Holds Last Service In Church

[Ron] Gauss’ parish parted ways with the Episcopal Church of the United States in 2007 after the church ordained an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire and then chose a woman as presiding bishop. The state Supreme Court in 2011 ruled that Bishop Seabury Church was to return everything ”” the 6.5-acre church site, the sanctuary and its contents ”” to the Episcopal diocese. The church appealed the decision to theU.S. Supreme Court, which in June declined to hear the case.

Gauss described the mixed feelings among the parishioners ”“ confusion, anger and sadness ”“ but he was planning to express a different and greater understanding on Sunday.

“I don’t have any animosity,” Gauss said. “I don’t have time to be angry. I have too many people to take care of.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut, TEC Departing Parishes

Diocese of Connecticut P.R. on U.S. Supreme Court declining review of the Bishop Seabury case

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut, TEC Departing Parishes

Connecticut's Bishop Seabury Church appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court

Because of the uncertainty, Bishop Seabury Church claims local churches cannot predict whether courts will recognize them as property owners, and that no local church can affiliate with a denomination without risking the loss of its property.
The church also claims in its petition that the uncertainty forces both churches and denominations to wage costly legal battles over property, and discourages local churches from expanding their buildings. The ruling, the church claims, also discourages local churches from acting in accordance with conscience on whether to remain affiliated with their current denominations.

“God is faithful, and we know the Lord will lead and guide us regardless of where we worship,” said Gauss in a statement. “But we also believe it’s time for the U.S. Supreme Court to decide once and for all whether the state courts have to enforce church canons or can decide these cases based on ordinary property and trust law. We believe the First Amendment is on our side.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut, TEC Departing Parishes

(AP) Connecticut. court says Anglican parish can't keep property

Bishop Ian T. Douglas of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut said Friday that he wants to meet with the parishioners to discuss their options, ranging from rejoining the Episcopal faith to leaving the property.

“It’s a sad circumstance when other Christians are forced to resolve their disputes in court, because that draws significant resources away from our work in the wider world in service of God’s mission,” Douglas said. “It’s been a long and bad process. There are no victors here.”

Parishioners released a statement saying they were going to talk with their lawyers about what to do next. They didn’t say whether they were considering appealing to a federal court.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut

(AP) Connecticut Supreme Court Hears Episcopal Dispute

Lawyers for a Groton parish and the Episcopal Church have clashed before the state Supreme Court over whether the parish can keep its building and land after breaking ties with the national church.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut

Hartford Courant: Praying for a Sale for Houses of Worship

A typical house is tough enough to sell in a recession-hampered housing market. But when a house is a house of worship, the job often becomes one that smacks of the Biblical trials of Job. The challenges just seem to multiply.

Take the case of Trinity Episcopal Church, an imposing, steepled stone structure boasting elaborate stained glass windows that was a longtime center of worship in Bristol. It fell victim to the split in the church and was put up for sale for $850,000.

“It needs some work,” says Jack Spaeth, the canon for stewardship and administration for the Episcopal diocese of Connecticut. “But the right buyer is out there, whether that is a faith community or a transformed use.”

Spaeth knows of which he speaks; a former real estate agent who manages property and finances for the diocese, he has handled several church sales in the past few years. “Many of these are Gothic structures that are expensive to maintain,” he says. “It’s not just your standard cinderblock.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Housing/Real Estate Market, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut, TEC Departing Parishes

Karen Wescott Mystic chimes in on the situation with Bishop Seabury Parish in Connecticut

We haven’t formally disaffiliated from the Episcopal Church. We added the other affiliation in order to obtain godly episcopal care. The opposition wants the court to order our Anglican bishops to not set foot in our building without their permission. The judge refused.

Also, 35-40 (not 25) of us attended court. At the most recent hearing, Father David Cannon – so-called “priest in charge” – had nobody with him except attorneys, because there are no dissenters in the parish.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut, TEC Departing Parishes

In Connecticut Bishop Seabury parishioners take it day by day

Members of the Bishop Seabury church, including the man who led them away from the Episcopal Diocese in 2007, are taking it Sunday by Sunday.

About 25 parishioners from the Groton church attended a court hearing in Waterbury Thursday to learn whether they would be able to remain during an appeal of a judge’s ruling that the church and all of its property must be turned over to the diocese.

The group will be allowed to stay, at least for the near future.

“It’s better than nothing,” said the Rev. Ronald Gauss, who traveled by bus to the hearing along with about two dozen others.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut, TEC Departing Parishes

Central New York Episcopal Diocese sues former parish again

Back in 2003, the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York consecrated a gay bishop and allowed others to perform same-sex blessings.

The Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton, an Episcopal parish at the time, disagreed with this move and severed ties. Last year, the Diocese sued for Good Shepherd to leave the church building on Conklin Avenue, and in December, a state Supreme Court judge ruled in their favor.

On Friday, both sides were back in court.

“We’ve kind of moved on as a congregation and this is almost looking backwards now. So we were dreading it but here it is,” said Father Matthew Kennedy, Good Shepherd’s head pastor.

This time, the feud centers around a will by former Good Shepherd member Robert Brannan. He died in 1986 and left behind money in a trust fund for his parish.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Central Florida, TEC Conflicts: Central New York, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut, TEC Conflicts: Florida, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Conflicts: Georgia, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles, TEC Conflicts: Ohio, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh, TEC Conflicts: Rio Grande, TEC Conflicts: San Diego, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Conflicts: Virginia, TEC Data, TEC Departing Parishes, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils, TEC House of Deputies

Hartford Courant–Episcopal Schism: Both Sides' Leaders Unsure Of Next Step

Connecticut Episcopal Bishop Andrew Smith, who has struggled with defections of individual churches within his diocese in recent years, said he cannot yet gauge the significance of this development in the ongoing struggle for the soul of the Episcopal Church.

“It’s immensely sad. It really is,” Smith said. “It’s also unprecedented. I think what would give any persons or churches pause [before leaving the Episcopal Church] is the reality that although they are calling this a new province, it is not in communion with the [Anglican Communion].”

That may be wishful thinking on Smith’s part.

The bishop has watched as several of his churches, which were part of a group called the “Connecticut Six,” left the diocese and affiliated with more conservative bishops. The diocese is still embroiled in a lawsuit with one of the churches ”” Bishop Seabury Church in Groton ”” over who owns the church property. The diocese recently defrocked Bishop Seabury’s priest, the Rev. Ronald Gauss.

Both Gauss and the Rev. Donald Helmandollar ”” whose Bristol congregation also left the Episcopal Church but chose to give up its property to avoid a legal battle ”” believe the creation of a new province will give other conservative churches the push they needed to leave.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Proposed Formation of a new North American Province, Common Cause Partnership, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut

Episcopal Schism In Groton Leads To Property Dispute

After a five-year spiritual and practical journey that has led them further and further away from the Episcopal Church, [the Rev. Ron] Gauss and his parish, Bishop Seabury Church, are now fully severed from the denomination they once proudly claimed as their own.

Gauss, who was suspended from the priesthood last May, was deposed ”” which means removed from the priesthood ”” by Connecticut Episcopal Bishop Andrew Smith on Nov. 20.

Smith said Gauss was suspended because he “abandoned the Episcopal Church” by aligning his church with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a mission of the conservative Anglican Church of Nigeria.

“Yes, there’s sadness. I never figured it would get to this point,” Gauss said. “But it’s not the same church I was ordained to, either.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, CANA, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut

Diocese, Episcopal Church file complaint against Groton Connecticut parish

The Episcopal Church has entered into a suit in support of the Diocese of Connecticut against the former rector and vestry members of Bishop Seabury Episcopal Church in Groton, Connecticut. The motion was granted by Connecticut’s New London Judicial District Court on June 24. The Diocese of Connecticut filed a similar suit April 30 in the same court.

Both complaints ask that the court prevent the defendants, who have left the Episcopal Church, from retaining church property. Additional plaintiffs are Bishop Seabury Church and its priest-in-charge, the Rev. Canon David Cannon.

Since becoming a parish in 1955, Bishop Seabury Church — which is named for the first Episcopal bishop and Groton native Samuel Seabury (1729-1796) — has been connected to the diocese in various ways, including through participation at annual conventions and receipt of gifts and loans.

Former rector the Rev. Ronald S. Gauss and some former members of the congregation, including vestry members, affiliated with the conservative Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) in November 2007. According to the complaints, Gauss has refused to relinquish control of the church property, including keys to the buildings and parish records to Cannon.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut

In Connecticut Trinity Episcopal still without a flock after lawsuit

Despite the fact that the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut recently won possession of the Trinity Episcopal Church property on Federal Hill, the pastor in charge will still be holding services at a host church.

The Rev. Stanley Kemmerer said he is not immediately initiating services at Trinity, but will instead continue to hold them at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church.

“As of now, we will be worshipping at Gloria Dei as we have been,” Kemmerer said.

He said only “a handful” of Trinity parishioners have been coming to the Episcopal services at Gloria Dei, which he holds every Sunday at 5 p.m.

“There just haven’t been many,” Kemmerer said.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut

Church In Bristol Settles Dispute With Episcopal Diocese

In the end, former members of Trinity Church in Bristol decided it wasn’t worth the fight.

The parishioners have settled their legal dispute with the Episcopal Diocese by agreeing to relinquish their historic church home. In return, both the diocese and the national Episcopal Church will withdraw their lawsuit against Trinity’s priest and its leaders.

The diocese took legal action last year after the congregation defected from the Episcopal Church in a theological dispute and aligned itself with a more conservative Anglican group, but refused to leave the property.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut

In Connecticut Episcopal Split Comes Down To Locked Groton Church

When the Rev. David Cannon, the priest-in-charge of Bishop Seabury Church in Groton, showed up to start his job two weeks ago, he walked around the outside of the building, trying every door. All locked.

He could hear people moving around inside, so he knocked. No answer.

Eventually, Cannon found his way to the office building, adjacent to the church, where he called out for the Rev. Ronald Gauss, who still heads the parish in defiance of Episcopal officials. The two men have known each other for many years ”” were on friendly terms, even ”” and Gauss knew why Cannon was there, but that didn’t make this any easier.

Cannon was there to take over Gauss’ church ”” and Gauss was having none of it.

“I wanted access to the church. I wanted the books, the keys, the right to celebrate communion there,” Cannon said. “I asked not once, not twice, but three times. I was refused all three times.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut

Episcopal Priest denied Access To church In Groton

When the newly appointed “priest-in-charge” of the Bishop Seabury Church, the Rev. David Cannon, came to the church Tuesday morning, he was denied entry.

He was not given the keys or granted access to records.

Cannon, however, said he does not have any hard feelings. He accepted the appointment well aware of the ongoing tug of war between church parishioners and the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut.

Bishop Seabury parishioners have voted themselves out of the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A., instead affiliating themselves with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, which is based on more conservative beliefs, including opposition to the ordination of an openly gay bishop.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut

Connecticut Episcopal Diocese Appoints 'Priest-In-Charge' To Groton Church

Monday, the diocese informed the Groton church it had appointed a new “priest-in-charge” of Bishop Seabury, which recently ended its 132-year history with the Episcopal Church over differences in biblical interpretation.

“Our basic concern here is to continue to provide the services of a priest for the parish,” said Bishop Suffragan James E. Curry, who sent an open letter to the parishioners of Bishop Seabury announcing the appointment of the Rev. David Cannon, a retired priest from Preston.

Cannon, who served as vicar of St. James Church in Preston from 1964 to 2000, is likely to find it difficult to minister to his new flock ”” at least for the foreseeable future.

Gauss ”” who retired as rector of Bishop Seabury on Dec. 1, according to Curry ”” is still very much in charge there and said Monday that the church will continue on as it has been, regardless of Cannon’s appointment.

“We’re just going to go on,” Gauss said. “When the bishop earlier in the year fired the vestry, we then met and re-elected the vestry. And I have a civil contract with the parish.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut

Quiet Deal May End Bristol Church Furor

A bitter and potentially expensive battle over the question of who owns a historic Episcopal church in Bristol may be drawing to a quiet close.

Lawyers for a Bristol congregation, which defected from the Episcopal Church to join a more conservative Anglican group last year, and the Connecticut Diocese are negotiating an end to litigation over the church property, according to church sources.

Members of the Trinity Church parish and its pastor, the Rev. Donald Helmandollar, probably will vacate the property once the diocese’s lawsuit against Trinity is dismissed, the sources said.

Neither Helmandollar nor Connecticut Episcopal Bishop Andrew Smith would discuss the negotiations, citing the sensitive nature of the relationship between Trinity and the diocese.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut

From the Hartford Courant: Leaving A Church Behind

It was the last Sunday service at Christ Church. Unable to go “further in a church that continued in a false gospel,” the entire congregation, including the rector and church leaders, will sever ties with the national Episcopal Church and reform under a new name: New Hope Anglican Church.

One of the “Connecticut six,” the half-dozen churches in the state diocese that disagree with national leadership on departure of scripture, including the appointment of a gay bishop, the congregation will trade its historic building on the town green for a free community room at the Thomaston Savings Bank around the corner.

The Sunday service will be held at the bank, starting Jan. 6, until they find or build another house of worship.

“We need to celebrate today, but we need to recognize there is a dying,” the Rev. Allyn Benedict said in his final homily at the church. Reading off an overhead projector, church members sang hymns enthusiastically, clapping and raising hands in acknowledging their faith. They hugged one another, wishing peace.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut

Connecticut Church Fight Heats Up

According to the lawsuit against Trinity, the property in Bristol is held in trust for the diocese and does not belong to the parish. When Trinity chose to align itself with the Anglican convocation, the lawsuit says, its members lost their rights to control the property.

Trinity parishioners and Helmandollar, who was removed from ministry by Connecticut Bishop Andrew Smith in June, insist they have the right to continue worshiping at the Bristol church.

Attorney Howard M. Wood III, who is representing Trinity, said the national church’s decision to intervene in this case is “consistent with the national [church’s] policy of looking over the shoulder of local counsel to insure that the national’s policy of no compromise and no selling the buildings to churches … is followed through.”

He also accused the national church of using the “strategy of intimidation and punishment of local church leaders” by canceling their liability insurance and suing them personally.

“It is the massive resources of the national church and the liberal diocese against the small weekly offerings of the local church, with the result that the reason the local church was consecrated – the ministry of the Gospel – suffers,” Wood said.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut

Chicago Tribune: Anglican gay-bishop stance is put to the test in Chicago

Though Anglican leaders have urged the U.S. church to stop electing gay bishops who are in committed relationships, a lesbian priest is among five finalists for bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. Meanwhile, dissidents in the diocese will turn out Sunday in suburban Wheaton to hear Archbishop Peter Akinola, conservative leader of Nigeria’s Anglican Church and the fiercest critic of the Episcopal Church’s stance on gays.

His visit irked Bishop William Persell of Chicago, who said the event was potentially damaging to the church amid the “highly charged political rhetoric in our nation and around the world” about issues dividing the Anglicans.

“It’s unfortunate that he would come into the diocese of Chicago without so much as the courtesy of contacting me,” Persell said. “I think it’s a dangerous time for the communion.”

At their meeting in New Orleans, the U.S. bishops will discuss how to respond to a directive from Anglican leaders to stop consecrating gay bishops and to ban blessings of same-sex unions until the global church reaches a consensus. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, titular head of the communion, will be there, facing U.S. bishops for the first time since the 2003 consecration of openly gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

That the Wheaton event is being held at the same, critical moment is one illustration of how new alliances between American conservatives and overseas clergy have pushed the Anglican Communion to a possible breaking point.

But for many Episcopalians, the separation in the church has begun. Already, the dioceses of Quincy, Ill., Ft. Worth, San Joaquin, Calif., and Pittsburgh have begun planning to leave the Episcopal Church.

Still, Bishop Keith Ackerman of Quincy said he was holding out hope that Williams would take definitive action to preserve the communion.

“We are asking Rowan Williams to be bold and represent the worldwide Anglican Communion and not just the Episcopal Church,” he said. “The Episcopal Church has engaged in behavior that has caused a rupture in the communion, and I feel saddened by that.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Primates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007, Same-sex blessings, Sept07 HoB Meeting, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut

If at first you don't succeed….

The Diocese of Connecticut is one of the diocesan websites we visited on our diocesan news trawl last night (see “it’s awfully quiet…”, below). Although Connecticut didn’t have any recent news that we could find about the HoB meeting or the Sept. 30 deadline to respond to the Primates, we did check out the page for their upcoming Diocesan Convention in mid-October. Of particular interest was the Resolutions page, and especially the anti-B033 Resolution.

Well, well. If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. Last year Connecticut also had an anti-B033 resolution, as did at least 8-10 other dioceses. Connecticut was one of the few dioceses [a more complete list is here] where such a resolution failed. So, they’re trying again….

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut, TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils

New Anglican Church leader in Connecticut starting fresh

An Episcopal priest at odds with church leaders over many of their views, including on homosexuality, is breaking from the ranks by retiring Sept. 30 to start a new congregation, Christ Church Anglican.

The Rev. Gilbert Wilkes, rector of Christ and the Epiphany Episcopal Church in East Haven, said Saturday his new congregation will meet for the first time Oct. 14 with services at 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. at a middle school in East Haven. His church will be part of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America – or CANA – founded to offer disaffected Episcopalians a theologically friendly church structure.

“I hate to see him leave the Episcopal Church – he’s been an exemplary priest and pastor,” said Diocesan Bishop Andrew E. Smith. “We’ve always had a great relationship.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, CANA, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut

Connecticut Parish Accused Of A Trespass

[Donald] Helmandollar said the parish plans to rebut the lawsuit’s assertions. The lawsuit was no surprise, he said, but the idea that church leaders would use a lawsuit to resolve the issue still struck an emotional chord.

“It just feels kind of strange to be sued personally, for myself and my vestry members, by your church, or what used to be your church,” he said. “It just doesn’t sit well.”

The lawsuit follows months of skirmishes between the parish and the diocese, part of a wider dispute unfolding within the Episcopal Church nationwide related to the 2003 election of an openly gay man as bishop of New Hampshire and the church’s blessing of same-sex unions.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut

Episcopal Diocese files lawsuit to try to retain Bristol church

The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut is suing in an attempt to regain possession of a local church that broke ranks with the diocese over the appointment of an openly gay bishop.

The congregation of Trinity Episcopal Church in Bristol voted in May to join the more conservative Anglican Church of Nigeria.

The diocese’s lawsuit, filed this month in New Britain Superior Court, argues that Trinity’s rector, the Rev. Donald Helmandollar, and other church leaders gave up their legal rights to control the parish, its records and furnishings.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut

In Connecticut, Parish Divide Continues

Trinity Episcopal Church could be called a house divided: Its defrocked pastor led a heavily attended prayer and song service at the church Wednesday night, while Episcopal Bishop Andrew Smith tried to muster parishioners to meet with a new pastor at a church in Plainville.

Smith promoted his meeting in a letter to parishioners last week as a way to discuss the dispute between Trinity and the Episcopal Diocese and “begin to identify new leadership for the parish so that we can move forward in our life in Christ within the doctrine, discipline and worship of The Episcopal Church.”

But the message didn’t draw much of Trinity’s membership, which earlier this year joined Pastor Donald Helmandollar in a defection from the Episcopal Church, related to its 2003 installation of a gay bishop.

The bishop’s session at the Church of Our Savior in Plainville drew a dozen people at most, and Smith refused to allow a reporter to attend, declaring it a closed meeting.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut

A Diocese of Connecticut Email Update on Trinity Church, Bristol

On Pentecost Sunday, May 27, some members of Trinity Episcopal Church, Bristol, including its rector the Rev. Donald Helmandollar, voted to align themselves with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA). CANA is an initiative of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, a foreign province acting outside the bonds, customs and traditions of the Anglican Communion.

Bishop Andrew Smith first learned of the vote through an Internet posting. He phoned Helmandollar and later received a letter dated May 27 stating that “he and the parish” had formally aligned with CANA.

Bishop Smith brought the matter to the clergy members of the Standing Committee and, with their advice and consent, released Helmandollar from the responsibilities and privileges of a priest in The Episcopal Church under Title III, Canon 9.8. Formal notice of the action was sent out on June 20.

After confirming that the wardens and vestry of Trinity had all also voted to align with CANA, Bishop Smith removed them from their positions under Title I, Canon 17.8 of the Canons and Constitution of The Episcopal Church.

The Bishop asked the CANA group at Trinity to vacate the buildings and surrender control of the assets by July 8. Through an attorney, the CANA group has stated that there will be no compliance and has further announced an intention to bring trespass charges against any Diocesan personnel who help recover possession of Parish property for the use of loyal Episcopalians. The Diocese has now turned the task of recovering the Parish property over to its attorneys.

On July 12, Bishop Smith wrote and sent a letter to members of Trinity Episcopal Church, inviting all who wish to continue as Episcopalians to meet with him to discuss the situation, meet a priest-in-charge for Trinity, and begin to identify new leadership.

“Trinity Episcopal Church has a long and solid history as a parish of this Diocese,” he wrote. “Its founders and members over the generations have built the parish within the family and tradition of The Episcopal Church. I truly regret that some members have seen fit to try to tear the congregation from the fabric of the Church and now lay claim to its property and assets.

“Please know that regardless of what may have been said by others, a parish in The Episcopal Church is a constituent member of the Diocese of which it is part. That is a matter of Canon law, and in Connecticut it also is a matter that has been determined by the civil courts. Trinity Episcopal Church, Bristol, is and remains a parish of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut.

“… Please do pray for the whole Church of God in these times. I am praying for all the members of Trinity Episcopal Church. My hope is that we may pray, reason and work together to serve Christ in our day, as a blessing to God and a clear witness to Christ’s redeeming love in this world.”

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut

Connecticut Parish and Diocese Experience Growing tension

From the New York Times:

In Trinity’s case, parishioners say their situation is different, since the church traces its roots to 1747, 38 years before the first general convention of the Episcopal Church in the United States.

Moreover, Trinity’s real estate and other property has “always been held in its own name,” according to a letter sent Monday by the parish’s lawyer, Howard M. Wood III, to Bishop Smith. Mr. Wood also warned that “any interference with the property rights of Trinity Church Society will be met with a claim of trespass.”

Local police are aware of the situation at the church but believe a showdown on Sunday is unlikely. “We had a discussion with the diocese, and it appears that there isn’t going to be any action taken on Sunday,” said Lt. Thomas Grimaldi, a spokesman for the Bristol police. “They’re going to take the legal route.”

John W. Spaeth III, a top administrative aide to Bishop Smith in Hartford, dismissed the notion of a confrontation. “There are canonical ways we will work with to seize the property,” he said. “We’re not people who move quickly. We’re people who are thoughtful and try to negotiate.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut

3 Parishes in Connecticut approve merger

ENFIELD – Three of the four Episcopal parishes in the North Central Episcopal Regional Ministry have voted to merge and form one single parish, church officials said Monday. Parishioners of St. Mary’s and St. Andrew’s churches in Enfield and Calvary Church in Suffield voted for the merger at a special meeting on June 25.

The North Central Episcopal Ministry or NCERM, which was formed in November 1991, consists of St. Mary’s, St. Andrew’s, Calvary Church, and Grace Church in the Broad Brook section of East Windsor. Grace Church, which had decided to join the new parish in December, reversed its decision and voted not to join in the merger.

St. Andrew’s, at 28 Prospect St., had voted against the merger in December, but changed its position and decided to join.

[…]

The new parish, which has yet to be named, will temporarily be located in St. Mary’s Church at 383 Hazard Ave. while officials look for a new location, Bushnell said.

The parish will have almost 650 parishioners from Enfield, Somers, Suffield, and Windsor Locks, Bushnell said.

“The reality is that the congregations were small, independent, and struggling,” Bushnell said of the reason for the merger.

The churches were struggling in terms of finances as well as the small number of parishioners, he said.
In a letter to parishioners, Bushnell expressed his disappointment that Grace Church decided not to join the new parish.

“The joy I feel at the decision of three NCERM parishes to join together in a single new large parish is diminished by the prospect that our friends at Grace Church have declined to join us in this new venture in Christian mission,” Bushnell wrote.

Bushnell said he did not know why Grace Church declined to join the new parish.

The new parish is in the process of applying to the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut for acceptance as a single parish and if granted approval, the new parish will be admitted to the union at the Convention of the Episcopal Diocese in October.

The full article is here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Latest News, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut