Category : TEC Conflicts: Georgia

A Look Back to 2004–a Piece from Michael Carreker on Foley Beach, the Windsor Report, and TEC

(Michael Carreker was rector of Saint John’s, Savannah Georgia at the time this was written–KSH).

The workings of God’s good providence are never failing and always glorious, but none more so than the events of these last two weeks. This past weekend we hosted a conference of the Georgia Chapter of the American Anglican Council, followed by the southeastern convocation of the Anglican Communion Network, and this coming weekend is the dedication of our newly refurbished building for Christian education, Cranmer Hall.

In the first instance, it was a joy to sponsor these conferences along with Christ Church. An enormous amount of good will was shared between our parishes: extensive preparation and flawless execution. Mostly responsible for this were Patti Victor of St. John’s and Carol Rodgers Smith of Christ Church. While significant differences distinguish our churches – in a very inadequate way we might refer to us as Anglo-Catholic and to them as Evangelical – we stand together now in solidarity with those who claim the essentials of what it means to be within the Anglican Communion and the Church Catholic.

All of this might not have been possible for our churches, if by God’s good providence, Dr. [Marcus] Robertson [of Christ Church, Savannah at the time] and I had not shared in a theological seminar for a year before the chaos of General Convention 2003. That seminar, as does all proper theological thinking, helped to establish trust, charity, and mutual joy.

The meeting of the Georgia Chapter of the American Anglican Council was very encouraging. There were a number of parishes represented from the Diocese of Georgia, and a few from the Diocese of Atlanta, as well as some from outside Georgia. We also heard from a young, courageous priest (an old friend from North Fulton High School in Atlanta), Dr. Foley Beach. His story of the gradual decline in the Diocese of Atlanta away from the Catholic faith was sobering indeed. But the story of how his faithful parish has come under the pastoral oversight of an orthodox bishop, the Rt. Rev. Frank Lyon of the Diocese of Bolivia, was inspiring and hopeful.
On Monday, at the meeting of the Anglican Communion Network, Dr. Beach’s story was put in a much broader context when the Rt. Rev. Alex Dickson, retired bishop of West Tennessee, recalled for us the history of the past forty years and the gradual doctrinal decline of the Episcopal Church, something we have all come to recognize has come full force with ECUSA’s action in New Hampshire.

But what was most gratifying to me was the evidence of providence again, when we had the Rev’d Canon Michael Green, Senior Research Fellow at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, preach for us

at Evensong. Lynne and I attended St. Aldate’s Church at Oxford in the late seventies when Canon Green was the rector there. It was the time of Professor Maurice Wiles and the infamous publication of his The Myth of God Incarnate, to which, in a miraculous six weeks, a volume was published refuting Wiles’ book, entitled The Truth of God Incarnate, edited by Michael Green. He was a defender of the faith then and he is now. His sermon and the most exquisite Evensong of the Choir was another glistening of our Lord’s providence.

The rest of the Anglican Communion Network meeting saw a resolve for us to embrace the recommendations of the Windsor Report. The ACN has as its primary goal to be an orthodox Christian fellowship which holds to the supremacy of Holy Scripture, the historic formularies of the Anglican Church, and is in communion with the worldwide Anglican Church.

As for this coming Sunday, we dedicate our newly refurbished Christian education building, Cranmer Hall. I believe this must be seen within the larger context of what St. John’s has been, is, and shall be.

Our church has been devoted first of all to the worship of Almighty God. It is wonderful when you hear, as I did the other night, people speaking of Bible studies and study groups in which they have discerned through the Bible and elsewhere that the first need that they have is the worship of God. That is why St. John’s has not given herself over entirely to practical concerns, but keeps the focus of worship primary.

Cranmer Hall represents now the commitment to educate ourselves and our children more completely in the orthodox Christen faith. Its Rose window is s symbol of what such teaching means.

At its center is the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, enveloped by the Triune God. From this center, the window moves outward through the symbols of the twelve Apostles to twelve saints and worthies who made a profound influence on the development of Anglican spirituality. It is our intention to live into that heritage more fully and to share and teach it as well.

But more is required. We as a parish must prepare ourselves for greater mission work than in the recent past. We sometimes forget that St. John’s was a mission of Christ Church, and that St. Paul’s (originally St. Matthew’s and later renamed) was a mission undertaken by St. John’s. It is time now for other mission churches to be founded and for greater cooperation with Anglican Churches throughout the wider Communion. The ministry of Elliott House is set and on its way with our fourth theological seminar coming up in January. But now it is important for us to reach out in other ways to establish Christian mission in the Anglican Way. That will not happen unless we live into the theme of the Rose Window, and cultivate our heritage as orthodox Anglican Christians with missionary fervor.

Finally, the work of the Building Committee has now come to a very happy end. We should all be grateful for the many gifts and hours of labor, a labor of love, that the members of the committee have offered to the Lord and to their Church. Our Senior Warden and I have asked George Fawcett to oversee the final interior details of the building, and Martha has graciously consented for him to do so. As George represents a long family history at St. John’s, this too is a remarkable testimony to the good providence of God. And so with our profound thanksgiving, Soli Deo Gloria.

(My emphasis–KSH)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Instruments of Unity, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Georgia, TEC Departing Parishes, TEC Parishes, Theology, Windsor Report / Process

St. Mark’s Anglican Church purchases back its building from the TEC Diocese of Georgia

A few years ago I wrote an article for the Moultrie Observer regarding the purple bows that were on the wreaths on the doors at St. John’s Episcopal Church at 609 South Main Street. In 2012 there were no purple bows or wreaths on the doors, as the church sat empty when the members of St. John’s left The Episcopal Church to form St. Mark’s Anglican Church. However, 2013 will mark the return of the purple bows, and the new spiritual home of St. Mark’s Anglican.

On September 30, 2013, St. Mark’s was able to purchase the building from the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Economy, Episcopal Church (TEC), Housing/Real Estate Market, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Georgia

(Moultrie, Georgia, Observer) St. John's leaves Episcopal Church over theological rift

In a statement to his congregation on Sunday, July 29, Fr. McQueen stated that he can no longer remain in the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia due to serious theological differences with the diocese and national Episcopal Church. He invited all who were “willing to make a stand for the historic Christian faith” to join him in stepping out in faith to form a new church, St. Mark’s Anglican Church.

“It had reached a point for me personally where I believed that my adherence to the traditional, historic, catholic faith in a number of matters had been so compromised that I could not stay in the Episcopal Church. Though it is painful to leave the denomination in which I was baptized, confirmed, married, and ordained, I have no reservations about leaving. I firmly believe that God has been preparing me for this very day for a long time,” said Fr. McQueen.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Gen. Con. 2012, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Georgia, TEC Departing Parishes, Theology

Rector and Vestry Resign at Saint John's in Moultrie, Georgia

From here:

On Sunday, July 29, the Rev. Will McQueen resigned as Rector of St. John’s, Moultrie. That evening, all seven members of the vestry resigned. They worked out an orderly transition of the property back to the Diocese of Georgia. Bishop Benhase accepted the resignations and has named the Rev. Walter Hobgood as Vicar.

Also, you may find the parish website there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, --Gen. Con. 2012, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Georgia, TEC Parishes, Theology

Christ Church (Anglican) Savannah Announces Settlement

(Via email–KSH):

Christ Church Anglican (CCA) in Savannah, GA has agreed to settle a 4 ½ year legal battle with The Episcopal Church (TEC), and The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia. At the heart of the dispute was a lawsuit against CCA, the Senior Pastor and fourteen members of the 2007 Vestry (Board) including money damage claims by the Diocese against these individuals in excess of $1million. “While we never agreed that our people had any personal liability, we are pleased to see these claims dropped as this threat of personal financial loss has hung over our people for more than four years. These parishioners served as volunteer directors on a non-profit 501-C3 board and made decisions to try to stand for their beliefs and fulfill their duty to protect the non-profit corporation they served,” said John Albert, CCA Senior Warden.
In 2007, Christ Church Anglican, established in 1733 and predating the formation of TEC by 56 years and the TEC Diocese of Georgia by 90 years, conducted a congregational vote by which 87% of the congregation supported the Vestry’s decision to disaffiliate from TEC over core theological differences. Subsequently, TEC sued Christ Church Anglican, its pastor, and the 14 individual members of the 2007 board. After the Georgia Supreme Court ruling on November 21, 2011, CCA turned over possession of its three buildings (including the church building on Johnson Square) and the parking lot, all worth in excess of $6 million.

As set forth in the settlement agreement, the Church will adopt the title “Christ Church Anglican.” “We see the addition of ”˜Anglican’ to our name as a way of identifying our roots going back to our beginnings in Savannah as a Mission of the Church of England in 1733. God has given us the privilege of living out a truth we have always believed, that the Church is not the building but the people of God. God has blessed us in this struggle, as we have maintained the vast majority of our congregation while adding new members who are excited to be part of a church that seeks to live out its beliefs. Orthodox Anglicanism is alive and well in Savannah and we look forward to a bright future,” commented The Rev. Dr. Marc Robertson, Christ Church Anglican’s senior pastor.

Also included in the agreement, is a requirement that all litigation be dropped including CCA’s appeal to the US Supreme Court which asked the Court to decide whether the “neutral principles”doctrine embodied in the First Amendment permits imposition of a trust on church property when the creation of that trust contradicts the state’s property and trust laws. “It was a hard decision to give up our appeal as we are aware of the pain many other Anglican Churches which are being sued by TEC are experiencing, but we are encouraged by the fact that two other strong cases, (Timberridge Presbyterian Church, McDonough, GA and Bishop Seabury, an Anglican parish in Groton, Conn.) are going forward and feel we have supported their effort with our appeal. However, at this time we feel our primary call is to build a stronger Anglican presence in Savannah,” stated Albert.

Judge Michael Karp’s 2008 decision declared that all church property “was held in trust for the Diocese and the national church”, so other aspects of the settlement provide that CCA will relinquish any claim to the Endowment Funds worth some $2.3 million and return $33,000 of operating funds pursuant to an accounting of funds at the time of disaffiliation. The Diocese however agreed to assume a $33,000 debt obligation from CCA. “We have left all our material possessions on Johnson Square, but that which we have taken with us is far more valuable: our people, the historic faith and the Holy Spirit. We have no regrets,” said CCA senior pastor, Marc Robertson.

On December 11, 2011, two weeks before they were required to vacate, Christ Church held its final service in its historic building on Johnson Square. Following that service, the entire congregation of more than 400 people processed down Bull Street to Independent Presbyterian Church (IPC), where they were welcomed by 500 IPC members and Pastor Terry Johnson who stated “our faith is your faith and our buildings are your buildings.” Christ Church now holds Sunday services at 8 a.m., 9 a.m., and 9 p.m. at IPC and Wednesday and Friday noon services at St. Andrew’s Reformed Episcopal Church.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Georgia, TEC Departing Parishes

Christ Church Savannah turns to Supreme Court in property flap

Attorneys for Christ Church Savannah have filed documents asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in litigation they contend deprived them of the Johnson Square church property.

The 45-page document filed Thursday afternoon asks the high court to determine the law on local church property, which it contends has been inconsistently treated in five different jurisdictions considering the issue.

The supreme court may accept or reject the request for review.

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

(SavannahNow) Christ Church Episcopal files for Contempt of Court Order Against Anglican Parish

Christ Church Episcopal may be back home in its Johnson Square building, but squabbling over church property continues.

The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia and Christ Church Episcopal on Monday asked Chatham County Superior Court Chief Judge Michael Karpf to hold the Rev. Marcus Robertson and Christ Church Savannah in contempt of court.

They argue Robertson and Christ Church Savannah have failed to comply with a court order to return a $2 million endowment fund and other property after the two congregations agreed to the return of the historic Johnson Square property in December.

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

In Savannah, Anglicans move services to a nearby church

The Rev. Marc Robertson compared his congregation’s temporary move to Independent Presbyterian Church to a long visit with grandma.

“Since we don’t have a bed to sleep in, we’re staying at grandma’s for now,” said Robertson, rector at Christ Church Savannah.

Sunday marked the church’s first of many worship services to come at Independent Presbyterian at Bull and Liberty Streets following the the Anglican congregation’s ouster from historic property on Johnson Square.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Georgia

Christ Church Savannah holds its last service in its Historic Building

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

Historic Christ Church in Savannah to return to local congregation Dec. 12

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

A Savannah Morning News Article on the Georgia Supreme Court Decision

“While we were forced to take action when the breakaway congregation deprived the thriving congregation of Christ Church Episcopal of the property we hold in trust for them on Johnson Square, we know that both groups share faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of the world,” [Bishop Scott] Benhase said.

The continuing Christ Church congregation has been worshiping at another location for four years pending a final outcome of the case.

In a statement released Monday, the Rev. Michael White, rector of Christ Church, said the congregation plans to continue to worship at St. Michael and All Angel’s Episcopal Church on Washington Avenue each Sunday at 5 p.m. while it concludes administrative matters necessary in the transition back to the Johnson Square site.

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

Episcopal Diocese of Georgia Article on the Georgia Supreme Court Ruling

The Georgia Supreme Court has ruled in favor of The Episcopal Church in its case against a breakaway congregation. The Georgia Supreme Court, which heard the case on May 9, affirmed the Georgia Court of Appeals’ July 2010 in a 6-1 ruling in favor of the Episcopalians. That ruling upheld Superior Court Judge Michael L. Karpf’s October 27, 2009 judgment that the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia is entitled to legal possession of the historic Christ Church building and other Church assets for the benefit of those who remain faithful to the Diocese and The Episcopal Church.

“While we are grateful that a third court has upheld our legal rights to the property held in trust for The Episcopal Church for more than 200 years, whatever satisfaction we feel in prevailing in the courts is muted by the knowledge that this decision is painful for some of our brothers and sisters in Christ,” Bishop Benhase said referring to the congregation that disaffiliated from The Episcopal Church while continuing to occupy church property. He added, “As Christians we know that even those with whom we disagree are also seeking to follow Jesus faithfully. While we were forced to take action when the breakaway congregation deprived the thriving congregation of Christ Church Episcopal of the property we hold in trust for them on Johnson Square, we know that both groups share faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of the world.”

Read it all.

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

Christ Church Responds to Georgia Supreme Court Ruling

Christ Church, The Mother Church of Georgia in Savannah, has learned that the Georgia Supreme Court (GSC) has issued a ruling concerning Christ Church’s appeal to that body. On November 21, 2011 the GSC declared that the property of Christ Church is held in trust for the national Episcopal church and its Georgia diocese.

The litigation has been ongoing since 2007 when 87% of the Christ Church (CC) members in good standing voted to uphold the unanimous decision of its board to disaffiliate from The Episcopal Church (TEC) because of its revisionist theological trends over the last several decades. In an effort to seize the property TEC subsequently sued Christ Church, its rector and individual board members personally. TEC’s 1979 passage of the Dennis Canon claimed a unilateral trust over all property of Episcopal churches nationwide without regard to title or state property laws. Christ Church has owned the Johnson Square property since the 1700s, first by land grant from the English Royal Council and after the Revolutionary War by a charter of incorporation from the 1789 Georgia state legislature.
“Christ Church has always maintained clear title to the property and has never agreed to hold its property in trust for any entity. We are reviewing the ruling and will meet to determine our next course of action which could include an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court if warranted,” stated Jim Gardner, CC legal counsel. “At its core this case is about fundamental property rights of individual congregations in hierarchical churches,” he continued.
In his dissenting opinion, Judge S. Phillip Brown described the majority decision with these words: “Today’s majority opinion effectively eviscerates many of Georgia’s property laws, trust laws, and equity laws”¦”

“The Episcopal Church has sought to exploit the judicial system in an attempt to coerce local congregations to accept its revisionist theology,” stated David Reeves, Christ Church board chairman. “Our congregation is one of 57 individual congregations and 3 dioceses (groups of congregations) nationwide that have been sued by TEC. The conflict has been about our determination for God’s truth with all of its consequences and TEC’s will to embrace ever-changing interpretations of the historic Christian faith,” Mr. Reeves continued.

“Should Christ Church not have access to its property during any appeal process, Independent Presbyterian Church (IPC) in downtown Savannah has graciously offered to allow us to hold services in their building,” said Mr. Reeves.

Marc Robertson, Christ Church Rector said, “We are gratified and encouraged by the outpouring of support from the Christian community here in Savannah, as exemplified by the offer from IPC. As revisionist theology continues to make inroads into other mainstream denominations we foresee more opportunities for joining in fellowship and service with those congregations which adhere to the historic Christian faith. Throughout the last four years Christ Church has refused to allow the litigation to become the sole focus of its mission and ministry. Those efforts will continue even though our congregation may not have access to our property.”

A service of thanksgiving for all of the Lord’s provision for us during these last four years is scheduled for Monday, November 21, 2011 at 6 p.m. at Christ Church on Johnson Square. “It is our sincere hope that all those individuals and congregations who have so graciously supported us through this process will join us,” said Marc Robertson.

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

Georgia Supreme Court Rules Against Christ Church Savannah

Here is the opinion–read it all if you so desire (warning: long pdf).

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

(AP) A divided, historic Savannah church lands in court

Historic Christ Church, a prominent Savannah fixture since Georgia’s colonial days, now is divided in a bitter legal dispute over its future sparked by an argument about homosexuality that has riven Episcopal churches nationwide.

The congregation, which proudly embraces its nickname, “The Mother Church of Georgia,” has been wrangling over the ownership of its property in the heart of downtown Savannah ever since 87 percent of the members voted to split with the Episcopal Church in 2007. They were among dozens of congregations that broke away from the denomination in the years after the national group affirmed its first openly gay bishop.

On Monday the divided church membership battled in Georgia’s Supreme Court over who owns the $3 million property and the building. Many legal observers believe the case could reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read it all.

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

(Morris News Service) Georgia’s top court wades into Episcopal-Anglican church fight

Georgia’s top court is trying to sort out who gets to own Christ Church, the state’s oldest church, in a contest that grew out of conservatives’ disagreement with the national Episcopal denomination’s decision to have an openly gay bishop.

Monday morning, the pews were packed with bishops, clergy and parishioners as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments. The court’s justices peppered lawyers for both sides about which documents to rely on in sorting out ownership of the building.

The church was formed in 1733, and Georgia’s founder, James Oglethorpe, granted the land where it sits, on the edge of one of Savannah’s shaded squares. Among its early priests were John and Charles Wesley, authors of dozens of hymns and the Methodist movement.

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

Christ Church Savannah Responds to Georgia Supreme Court Decision To Hear Its Appeal

The Supreme Court of Georgia has determined that it will rule on the lawsuit brought against Christ Church in Savannah by The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Georgia, which seek to seize the historic congregation’s downtown property even though Christ Church has always maintained clear title to its property. Having lost in the lower courts, Christ Church appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court this past August.

“We are gratified that the Supreme Court will hear our appeal,” said David Reeves, governing board chairman of Christ Church. “Since this case will have ramifications for all Georgia churches, regardless of denomination, we think it is appropriate for the highest court in our state to rule on these issues,” he continued.

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

(Savannah Morning News) Georgia Supreme Court to hear Christ Church case

The Georgia Supreme Court agreed on Thursday to hear arguments in the ongoing property dispute pitting the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia against the breakaway Christ Church in Savannah.

The hearing will most likely take place April 4, 5 or 18, one of the only three days that month the court will hear oral arguments, according to Jane Hansen, court spokeswoman.

In August 2010, Christ Church in Savannah appealed to the state’s highest court after losing its argument in Chatham County Superior Court and the State Court of Appeals.

The Supreme Court will examine whether the Court of Appeals was wrong in its application of “neutral principles of law” and interpretation of state codes when it ruled in favor of the Diocese of Georgia.

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

In Savannah, Georgia, Christ Church tenants watch and wait through property dispute

Since 2007, the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Georgia, and its former congregation at Christ Church have been embroiled in a legal dispute over the ownership of the church property, which includes the church building, an adjacent parking lot and two separate buildings located in the downtown historic district.

The congregation, which dates to 1733, acquired three other properties in the 1900s. County records estimate their combined value at over $2.7 million.

A Chatham County judge has ruled in favor of the Episcopal Church. But, the lawsuit is pending the outcome of Christ Church’s August appeal to the state Supreme Court.

For now, the charities operating on the property believe they’ll be able to continue their mission uninterrupted and free of charge.

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

Religious groups urge Georgia Supreme Court to side with Christ Church, Savannah

Two theologically conservative groups have filed documents urging the state Supreme Court to reverse two lower courts’ decisions placing Christ Church in the hands of the Episcopal Church.

The groups argue the property rights of every Georgia church affiliated with a religious denomination could be in jeopardy if the court fails to reverse lower rulings.

“Here, the property rights of numerous PCUSA churches in Georgia will be adversely impacted if the lower court’s misapplication of law and misinterpretation of polity is affirmed,” according to a brief filed Sept. 17 by the Presbyterian Lay Committee, a conservative group working within the Presbyterian Church (USA).

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

Christ Church, Savannah, at center of lawsuit, controversy

There are technically two Christ Church congregations in Savannah. They have dueling Internet websites — and an ongoing legal contest.

The conservative members are meeting in the historic building — which is associated with figures from Georgia history including John Wesley, George Whitefield, Juliette Gordon Low and Johnny Mercer. The website of the other group states: ” Christ Church Episcopal is currently meeting at St. Michael and All Angels located on the corner of Washington and Waters Avenues in Savannah.”

The congregation dates to 1733, and the current meetinghouse — a majestic Greek temple — was built in 1840.

The group meeting there has asked the Georgia Supreme Court to review a recent ruling of the Court of Appeals upholding Judge Michael Karpf’s October 2009 decision that Christ Church holds its property in trust for the Diocese of Georgia and The Episcopal Church.

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

Christ Church Savannah files appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court

Leaders of Christ Church in Savannah have asked the state’s top court to review a July 8 Court of Appeals decision that the church’s historic downtown property belongs to the Episcopal Church.

On Wednesday, Christ Church officials appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court a recent ruling of the Georgia Court of Appeals upholding Judge Michael Karpf’s decision issued in October 2009 against Christ Church and in favor of the Diocese of Georgia and The Episcopal Church.

That decision upheld the plaintiff’s argument that Christ Church holds its property in trust for the Diocese and the national church, based on a 1979 national church canon.

The church had until Wednesday to file documents with the Supreme Court asking it to review the case.

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

WTOC on Christ Church, Savannah: A congregation divided, a historic building at stake

For Senior Pastor Marc Robertson the Christ Church sanctuary is his sanctuary to talk to God. It’s where he spends a lot of time after losing the latest appeal to house his congregation. “It was a blow, not unexpected, but a blow,” explained Pastor Robertson. “We are concerned about the message of the Episcopal Church, and sense that it is not consonant with the historic Christian faith. We would rather not see that take root in this particular venue,” he said.

The battle begins, and ends, at Christ Church off of Johnson Square on Bull Street. On the outside, the church, built in 1830’s, looks strong and stately. But on the inside, the building was once wrought with turmoil. Three years ago, members split from the Episcopal Diocese over fundamental differences in the teaching of the gospel, as well as its stance on homosexuality. Christ Church now aligns with the Anglican Diocese. “The congregation there was never asked to change beliefs or practice,” explained Reverend Frank Logue with the Episcopal Diocese. “They just believe they could not, with integrity, within the Episcopal Church. We didn’t share that feeling. In fact, we wanted them within Episcopal Church,” Reverend Logue said.

Read the whole thing.

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

An ENS article on the Georgia Appellate Court Ruling

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

Georgia Appellate court issues ruling in Episcopal-Anglican property dispute

The state’s Court of Appeals issued a ruling Thursday in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia and the national church in their two-and-a-half year property dispute with a breakaway congregation.

A three-judge panel upheld Chatham County Superior Court Judge Michael Karpf’s 2009 decision naming the Episcopal Church the rightful owners of Christ Church in Savannah.

Church members and leaders have continued occupying the historic Johnson Square house of worship since voting to leave the denomination in September 2007, when they accused the national church of straying from the Bible.

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

World Magazine on Christ Church Savannah–Bricks and mortar

Like more than 100 churches nationwide, Christ Church broke with TEC over its well-documented liberalized faith (“Other Abrahamic faiths have access to God the Father without consciously going through Jesus,” presiding bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has said). The church’s vestry voted unanimously to disaffiliate over “departure from doctrine” and to place the church under the Anglican Province of Uganda. The congregation approved, with 87 percent voting in favor out of over 300 ballots cast.

Division “happened over time,” rector Marc Robertson told me, and 30-40 disaffected members set up a congregation downriver calling itself “Christ Church Episcopal.” Last May TEC filed legal action against Robertson and the vestry, seeking to acquire the property on Johnson Square in Savannah’s historic district. TEC has filed similar actions against churches in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Texas. This case turns on state trust laws and laws of incorporation, and is complex given that Christ Church predates the existence of the state of Georgia. TEC asserts that church property should be subject to denominational “discipline,” which Christ Church forfeited when it quit the denomination, it says.

Funny things happen when a church takes a stand for the gospel. Sunday attendance at Christ Church is up and it accepted 28 new families””a record””for membership this past year. “We have a corporate sense of galvanization,” said Robertson, “and are doing well spiritually. Our biblical literacy has increased because we are driven back to understanding why we believe what we believe.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church of Uganda, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Georgia, TEC Departing Parishes, Theology

World Magazine on Christ Church Savannah–Bricks and mortar

Like more than 100 churches nationwide, Christ Church broke with TEC over its well-documented liberalized faith (“Other Abrahamic faiths have access to God the Father without consciously going through Jesus,” presiding bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has said). The church’s vestry voted unanimously to disaffiliate over “departure from doctrine” and to place the church under the Anglican Province of Uganda. The congregation approved, with 87 percent voting in favor out of over 300 ballots cast.

Division “happened over time,” rector Marc Robertson told me, and 30-40 disaffected members set up a congregation downriver calling itself “Christ Church Episcopal.” Last May TEC filed legal action against Robertson and the vestry, seeking to acquire the property on Johnson Square in Savannah’s historic district. TEC has filed similar actions against churches in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Texas. This case turns on state trust laws and laws of incorporation, and is complex given that Christ Church predates the existence of the state of Georgia. TEC asserts that church property should be subject to denominational “discipline,” which Christ Church forfeited when it quit the denomination, it says.

Funny things happen when a church takes a stand for the gospel. Sunday attendance at Christ Church is up and it accepted 28 new families””a record””for membership this past year. “We have a corporate sense of galvanization,” said Robertson, “and are doing well spiritually. Our biblical literacy has increased because we are driven back to understanding why we believe what we believe.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Provinces, Christology, Church of Uganda, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Georgia, TEC Departing Parishes, Theology

Mark Robertson Responds to the Multiple Factual Errors in the Aforementioned TEC Memo

From here:

For the sake of the faithful who read widely in the Anglican blogosphere]… I thought it best to address a number of inaccuracies found within the TEC report circulated at the C of E Synod. As a bit of preamble, I am thankful to God that He sees fit to make me a target of such libel, and that my Lent begins with His blessing: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matthew 5:11). I am flattered to receive this much ink from TEC! The document seems to imply that I secretly changed the parish charter immediately after my arrival in 1992. Actually, the change in our charter came in 2006, upon a unanimous vote from our Vestry, according to the established by-laws of the parish an in accordance with the existing canons of the Diocese of Georgia, which did not require episcopal notification. The change in charter did not alter our ecclesiastical status, but rather defined our parish theologically, not institutionally, which is the way it had existed from its founding (in 1733) until 1918. The change in charter also brought us up to date with various aspects of Georgia corporate law. The Vestry of Christ Church had for several months requested conversation with the Bishop of Georgia in order to discuss several of our theological concerns with him. After not responding to multiple requests over several months, the Bishop did indeed meet with us, and these(unproductive) discussions present the historical context of our change in our charter, though not necessarily its cause. If I was such a seditious priest, why was I appointed to assist in bringing speakers and programs to diocesan clergy conferences, or appointed dean of the Savannah Convocation (clericus), or even asked to preach at one of the Diocesan Conventions, upon the last-minute cancelation of the invited preacher? Of course, the kicker is, why would the vestry call me and the Bishop of Georgia (then the Rt. Rev. Harry Shipps) interview and approve me if I were such a destructive priest? Keep in mind that TEC was in a different place in 1992, and I am certainly willing to admit so was I. The continued theological fragmentation of TEC continued, and I believe, by God’s grace, my ability to recognize and speak to that fragmentation grew clearer.

The decision to appropriate funds from our Endowment was duly inacted through the Endowment Agreement, which is the legal instrument governing the Fund itself. It required prior public written notice to the congregation, and could have hardly been secretive.
The vote to disaffiliate from TEC was not required by our polity, but was exercised to discern a sense of confirmation from the congregation. Public notice for several weeks was put forth, describing from the by-laws what constituted a “voting member in good standing.” Anyone who wished to vote was allowed to vote, but those votes which were cast by individuals not found on our member-in-good-standing roster were received as provisional votes. The votes was 87% in favor of coming under the ecclesiastical protection of the Province of Uganda, and 13% opposed. There were 28 provisional votes cast. If every provisional vote had been in the negative, the vote would have still been well beyond a “super majority” in favor of disaffiliation. Recently, those provisional votes were opened and counted: 22 in favor of disaffiliation, 6 against. There were over 280 votes cast on that particular Sunday in October, 2007. As far as we can recognize, 22 individuals who may be recognized as somewhat active in Christ Church at the time of the vote are currently worshipping at Christ Church Episcopal.
The figures cast about regarding parish membership are most misleading. Membership roles of old congregations are hard to manage well. An on-roll membership of about 900 would be a good estimate for Christ Church today, though it means little. Our mailing list would be larger; our “members in good standing” list would be smaller. Average Sunday Attendnce (ASA) is probably the best indicator of parish involvement and common life. I checked our worship records, and our ASA for the two years prior to my arrival in 1992 are around 320-350 on a given Sunday, though the numbers were higher from September to May and quite lower in the summer. Today’s ASA at Christ Church is approximatley 375-80 per Sunday, and the variance between summer and the rest of the year is less. In our 2010 stewardship campaign, we received 28 new pledging units, the largest single-year increase in my tenure. This last Sunday, we welcomed five new families into Christ Church. We are very grateful to God for what He is doing in our midst””it is all by His grace and to His glory.
I’m not sure about intimidation. We have had a number of families leave Christ Church over the years, for all sorts of reasons. I can say this: I have never personally sued anyone; but I, along with fourteen other vestry members are being personally sued by the Diocese of Georgia and TEC, as well as Christ Church Episcopal. Would that count as intimidation?
The matter with The Rev. Susan Harrison is the most egregious mis-statement of all. Though we had substantial theoloical disagreements, it was Susan who came to me (in 2005) personlly and informed me that she would be leaving Christ Church and re-assigned to another ministry by Bishop Louttit. We prayed together, hugged one another, and she left. I kept up with her and we prayed for her regularly in Sunday worship during her battle with cancer. Upon hearing of her death, with clear support from Vestry leadership, I offered Christ Church as the venue for her funeral. When I made the phone call, the priest in charge of Christ Church Episcopal and other lay leadership from that congregation were present and discussing funeral plans. Susan’s husband graciously took my call. I went by later to visit the family and was personally informed by him that, while they were most thankful for the offer of Christ Church, they had decided upon a different venue. They repeated their thanks for our offer. I and a significant number of Christ Church parishioners attended Susan’s funeral, though I was unable to receive communion, given our sad divisions.
It is a bit awkward to launch into such personal matters on behalf of my defense. I truly believe in my heart that the Lord Himself is my defense, and though a “miserable offender,” I stand under His most gracious Lordship. Nevertheless, I believe in these conflicted and chaotic times that God is best honored with the truth, and I have done my best to offer it to the readership of Stand Firm for your edification and God’s glory.
May this lenten season bring you God’s peace and grace.
””Marc Robertson
(still) Rector of Christ Church, Savannah

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

A Copy of the TEC Memo Circulated at CoE Synod

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Georgia

Anglican bishops to speak at Savannah's Christ Church

Leaders of a new religious body affiliated with the Anglican Communion are scheduled to speak next weekend at Christ Church on Johnson Square.

The Most Rev. Robert William Duncan Jr., Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), will deliver the sermon at the 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. services Feb. 14. The church is located at 28 Bull St.

The Rt. Rev. Charles Bernard Obaikol, recently retired Bishop of Soroti, Uganda, will teach a 9 a.m. Sunday school class.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, ACNA Inaugural Assembly June 2009, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Georgia