Category : 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.

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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

Edward Fulford on the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia Court Fight

Christ Church in Savannah has always been locally owned. The church has never received financial support from the national organization. Savannahians paid for the construction of the church and the payment of its clergy.

A vote of the church membership – in the wake of serious doctrinal issues reaching even the unequivocal divinity of Christ – resulted in the separation of the local congregation from the national group.

The Episcopal Church, with the help of Superior Court Judge Michael Karpf, has seized property it neither paid for nor maintained in more than 275 years.

In any other circumstance, such an abrogation of the local congregation’s property rights would not be tolerated. That the seizure was carried out by religious leaders who have strayed from ironclad biblical teaching makes the heavy-handed action by both church and state that much harder to countenance.

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

In Savannah Christ Church officials fight judge's ruling to turn over property to Episcopal Church

Leaders of Christ Church of Savannah are asking the Georgia Supreme Court to reverse a decision earlier this week granting ownership of the historic building and property to the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.

Christ Church member and attorney Neil Creasy said church officials filed a notice of appeal Thursday in Chatham County seeking to reverse Superior Court Judge Michael Karpf’s ruling Tuesday granting the diocese “immediate possession” of the church property.

Creasy said the process should allow the congregation to remain on the property in Savannah’s historic district until the state Supreme Court responds.

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

Christ Church Savannah will Appeal legal Ruling in Georgia

Christ Church, the oldest church in Georgia, has appealed the ruling of Judge Michael Karpf, which granted control of the congregation’s property to the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.

“This is another step in what we knew would be a long process,” stated the Rev. Marcus B. Robertson, Rector of Christ Church. In order to maintain its fidelity to the historic Christian faith, Christ Church withdrew from the Episcopal Church on September 30th, 2007. “This decision, though set in the context of a legal contest, remains consistent with the commitment we made before God and one another at that time,” Robertson added.

Neil Creasy, Chancellor of Christ Church, said, “The Supreme Court of South Carolina is the only state supreme court to have ruled in a case involving facts, law and issues similar to ours. It ruled in favor of the local congregation. We are confident of a similar result here.”

Numerous messages of support have been given to the parish. “We are grateful for the prayers and words of encouragement we have received from churches and individuals from around the world,” said Sr. Warden Carol Rogers Smith.

Christ Church is a member of the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) and a congregation in the Gulf Atlantic Diocese, which came into being in August as a diocese of ACNA, covering north Florida and south Georgia.

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

The Full Text of the Georgia Episcopal Church Legal Ruling

It is a 22 page pdf–read it all.

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

Judge rules against Christ Church in Savannah

A two-year legal battle over ownership of the 276-year-old Christ Church came to a close in Chatham County court Tuesday with a judge ruling in favor of the national Episcopal Church’s claims to the historic property.

Superior Court Judge Michael Karpf rejected the argument of former members and clergy who broke away from the Episcopal Church in 2007 that the church belonged to them.

The ruling grants “immediate possession” of Christ Church Savannah and its property in the city’s historic district to the Right Rev. Henry I. Louttit, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.

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

The Leadership of Saint John's Savannah Speaks out

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), General Convention, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Georgia, TEC Parishes

Savannah Morning News: Judge hears arguments in Christ Church case

“I think the questions he asked showed the complexities of this case are not lost on him,” said Neil Creasy, an attorney for Christ Church. “I think it went pretty well.”

Diocesean bishop, the Right Rev. Henry I. Louttit, said Karpf asked “penetrating questions” of both sides, according to spokesman the Rev. James Parker.

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

WTOC: Battle over Christ Church now in hands of judge

There’s a lot at stake for one Savannah congregation. Nearly two years ago many members of Christ Church pulled away from the Episcopal Church.

Ever since there’s been a fight over who the actual church building belongs to, the congregation or the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.

Today both sides headed to court where a judge will now decide. The hearing was held in Chatham County Superior Court Judge Michael Karpf’s courtroom. Close to 100 people packed the room, all very passionate about this issue.

Judge Karpf made it very clear from the start of court Friday afternoon that this is a very complex issue and it will take time for him to make his ruling.

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

Phil Ashey: Update on court proceedings today for Christ Church Savannah

Without going into every detail, today’s hearing was on a motion for summary judgment by plaintiffs (TEC and the Diocese) asking for immediate possession of all real and personal property of Christ Church and an accounting. The arguments centered on the disposition of church property cases by “neutral principles of law” as decided by the United States Supreme Court in Jones v. Wolf. TEC and the Diocese interpret Jones v. Wolf to read that in such a “neutral principles” case, where the governing documents of a hierarchical church are clear, they are decisive. Hence the 1979 Dennis Canon-which unilaterally imposed a trust interest in favor of TEC in the property of each local church-trumps all other principles and the property belongs to the Diocese and/or TEC.

Not so fast, said the Judge. Is this Dennis Canon “severable” from the rest of the TEC canons-including matters of doctrine into which the courts cannot inquire? Does the Dennis Canon trump Diocesan canons that cut in favor of Christ Church? In response to TEC’s argument that the Dennis Canon is merely a codification of a “common understanding and practice” that the property of the local church is held in trust for the denomination, Judge Karpf asked if a “mere understanding” not expressly within the governing documents is a neutral principle? What if the rules of procedure governing the passage of a canon by General Convention were violated? What about the unilateral nature of the Dennis Canon and the lack of notice to the local congregation?

Now it was Christ Church’s turn to argue against plaintiffs motion for summary judgment and in support of their cross motion for summary judgment against TEC and the Diocese. Counsel for Christ Church argued that the plaintiff’s interpretation of “neutral principles” in Jones v Wolf was seriously flawed, and that their arguments ignored both Georgia law and the unique nature of the 1789 Georgia legislature’s grant of property to Christ Church prior to the very existence of the Diocese of Georgia.

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

Life at Christ Church in Georgia These Days

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

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

Gavin Dunbar: Honesty

Late last summer I vexed a few people in the diocese with an essay…on what we should be looking for in the next Bishop of Georgia. (A reaction I probably compounded by criticizing the lamentably sub-credal tendencies in the Presiding Bishop’s teaching.) As usual, very little of this response reached me directly. (Clergy often find it hard to speak about their disagreements. With one exception, the amicable discussions I had with critics were all at my initiative.)

In the essay I laid out four parameters I thought necessary to the unity of the Diocese: (1) adherence to the historic Faith; (2) compliance with the Windsor Report’s recommendations; (3) respect for conscien-tious dissent in the ordination of women; and (4) respect for conscience in the use of historic Anglican liturgy. To give the Diocese credit, there seems to be little controversy about the fourth parameter. That is a very positive change from the hostility that used to be directed against the old Prayer Book, and I look forward to helping the Diocese in the rediscovery of its liturgical heritage. About the first two items, I have heard little, though I do not assume that silence necessarily means assent. It was the third parameter ”“ the question of a Bishop whose orders would be acknowledged by the whole of the Diocese and Communion ”“ that seems to have made people bristle.

The chief complaint was that I was picking a fight with the diocese. Yet my original essay was explicit that there already exists a basis upon which St. John’s has been able to remain within the diocese despite our disagreements, and I expressed the hope that we could continue on what I called this “proven basis for unity in mission”. That’s not picking a fight; it is appealing to the diocese not to cause needless division.

Far from picking a fight, I have tried to forestall one. I suggested that the Diocese might request Dr Jefferts Schori to delegate the consecration to undisputed Bishops, as she has done in other cases. I also acknowledged the possibility that the diocese might accept as Bishop someone whose liturgical ministrations St. John’s could not in conscience welcome, and I offered a solution ”“ some form of Alternative Episcopal Oversight (AEO), whereby liturgical duties could be delegated by the new Diocesan to some other Bishop. This would maintain the Diocesan’s jurisdiction and respect St. John’s conscience. To my mind this solution has obvious merit, but to others it appears to threaten the integrity of the Diocese.

I think fear for Diocesan integrity goes together with the other complaint about my essay ”“ that I was imposing St. John’s theological agenda upon the rest of the Diocese. I would argue that the situation is precisely the reverse. By electing and consecrating a person whose episcopal orders are in doubt, the Diocese would be imposing its theological agenda on St. John’s ”“ the agenda that says that General Convention is free to ignore its own constitution and remake the historic Faith and Order of the church as it suits itself, thus violating its implicit covenant with its own members, with the wider Church, and ”“ let’s not forget ”“ its Lord. It is a little late to worry about the jurisdictional integrity of the Diocese when its theological integrity has already been compromised. You cannot expect to make unilateral changes in matters of essential common concern and expect unity to continue as before.

This leads me to the solution proposed by some persons, to whom I make this belated reply (with apologies for tardiness). It is not unlikely, they point out, that the person elected will be a man; at his consecration by Dr Jefferts Schori a number of male Bishops will probably lay on hands as well; if he does not receive his orders from Dr. Jefferts Schori then he will surely do so from someone else.

Problem solved? Not quite. I understand why many Episcopalians might find this an attractive solution. But consider what it really means: that the conscientious appeal for theological clarity in a matter essential to the church’s unity is met by”¦ fudge! “Embrace the ambiguity.” What more could we ask for? Except, perhaps, honesty.

Let me be clear: I do not question the sincerity of my critics, for whose courteous responses I am grateful. But honesty requires of us much more than this solution: the honesty to acknowledge that ”“ as a result of the unilateralism of the General Convention – we do not have a commonly accepted ordained ministry; the honesty to grapple seriously with the consequences of that division, instead of looking for a quick, cheap fix; the honesty to admit that this solution papers over the cracks and cannot possibly provide long-term security for conscience (For given that the number of Bishops whose orders are questionable is steadily rising, the assurance that at least one Bishop of unquestioned orders has participated in a consecration of another Bishop must steadily erode); the honesty to admit that this solution has played a long-standing part in the process of making theological conservatives into second-class citizens. Honesty is hard work, and painful: I do not like doing it any more than the next man. But it does not get easier by being put off. And it might just lead us all into a Diocesan fellowship happier and healthier for us all.

–The Rev’d Gavin Dunbar is rector of Saint John’s, Savannah, Georgia

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

Savannah's Christ Church seeks new Anglican alliance

Leaving the Episcopal Church was about more than just leaving a denomination, Gene Prevatt says.

It was also about rejecting “the corruption of the church.”

“One does not have to look too far to see the continuing erosion of our freedoms, rising paganism, and an increasing hostility to the Gospel,” Prevatt wrote in an April church newsletter to fellow members of Christ Church in Savannah.

“God has called us out, and to those who are moving away, we have said, ‘No. We will not go with you.’ This is our turning point in history.”

For Christ Church in Savannah, that turning point began just over a year ago when leaders voted to sever ties with the Episcopal Church, claiming the denomination has failed to honor the authority of the scriptures.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Georgia, TEC Departing Parishes

In Georgia A Church Is Divided, and Headed for Court

In November, the Diocese of Georgia filed a lawsuit to keep control of Christ Church’s assets, which include a $3 million historic building and an endowment estimated at $2 million to $3 million.

Its claim is based on a church law, adopted in the 1970s, called the Dennis Canon, which says that all parishes hold their property in trust for the diocese. But Christ Church, which was established in 1733, asserts that it has firm legal footing to keep control of its building and property because it existed before the Episcopal denomination, which was established in the United States in 1789.

“That would make the case a pure property case rather than a religious liberty case,” Mr. Witte said. “They will have to argue that their church is closer to the values of the late 18th century” than the Episcopal Church is today.

And that, he added, is “an argument that hasn’t been tested in federal courts.”

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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 Polity & Canons

Herbert Guerry: Litigating the Christ Church Savannah mess is a lose-lose proposition

Just when I was about to commend our Episcopal Bishop of Georgia for his moderate stance in agreeing that our orthodox friends over at Christ Church continue to hold services on the property during the dispute over its ownership, I read that, contrary to Biblical warnings against Christians going to court with fellow Christians, he has decided to litigate his differences with Christ Church.

His initial position was especially to be commended because The Episcopal Church’s (TEC’s) Presiding Bishop and other radical TEC bishops have been quick to urge the very strongest measures against those parishes that leave TEC.

Our bishop, of course, is not one of the radicals, some of whom now so reinterpret classic Christian doctrine that, even though they dress up in traditional garb and recite a somewhat familiar sounding liturgy, they are, in fact, like the pagan priests of the late Roman Empire whom Gibbon so devastatingly described as, “Viewing, with a smile of pity and indulgence, the various errors of the vulgar, they digilently practiced the ceremonies of their fathers, devoutly frequented the temples of the gods; and sometimes condescending to act a part on the theater of superstition, they concealed the sentiments of an Atheist under sacerdotal robes.”

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

Christ Church Savannah Responds to the Diocesan lawsuit Against it

Via email:

November 14, 2007– Savannah, Georgia””Today the chancellor of Christ Church released the following statement regarding the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia’s complaint regarding the status of property owned by Christ Church.

Christ Church Chancellor Neil Creasy offered the following, “While we are disappointed, we are not entirely surprised that Bishop Louttit has taken this action against us, because the national Episcopal Church has been using actual and threatened litigation to attempt to intimidate orthodox parishes nationwide. Contrary to the claims of the Diocese, Christ Church continues to own its real estate and other property as it always has. Christ Church continues to operate as an historic Anglican parish, faithful to Holy Scripture and the historic doctrine and discipline as understood by Anglicans (including Episcopalians) for nearly five hundred years. Its rector and clergy continue to serve as fully recognized Anglican priests and deacons.

“We find such aggressive legal action a departure from Christian charity, and continue to pray for the Diocese of Georgia and Bishop Louttit that a more reasonable way forward may be forthcoming. Nevertheless, we are fully prepared to defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to defend our property if the Episcopal Church and its local representatives try to silence us by trying to take it.

“At this point, the Diocese of Georgia has not communicated with us directly about the actual filing of this lawsuit, and our present response is based on media reports only. We will reserve further comment until such a time that we can thoroughly review the legal documents as they become available to us.”

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

Marc Robertson responds to Kevin Clark

I would question whether this picture of Jesus is accurate or balanced on a number of fronts, but the most important aspect to consider is Jesus’ primary role as a moral example. If Jesus came to be an example to humanity, it would appear from Kevin’s own assessment mentioned above that Jesus failed in His mission.

But what if His mission was different?

Maybe what we need is not just an example. If Jesus was only an example, then it all depends on what we do. It is all up to us to “live up to” that incredible example, and that can lead us to frustration, disappointment, even despair.

But what if Jesus was not only an example, but also a sacrifice? And this sacrifice can restore us to God, heal our woundedness, and actually give us a new heart – a heart that can learn to love? If Jesus came to be a sacrifice, then it’s not about what we do, but about what God has already done – what God has done on the cross on Good Friday.

Moreover, it is the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the grave that we celebrate on Easter that confirms God’s authority and power to transform an unloving and broken heart.

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

Kevin Clark offers his perpective on the Christ Church Savannah Decision

Is this the same Christ Church that is the 274-year-old “Mother Church of Georgia” and occupies one of Savannah’s most prime, valuable pieces of real estate, directly facing Johnson Square? ( The same square that ironically was the site on Sept. 15 of the 8th annual Savannah Gay Pride Festival.)

Is this the same church proudly named after Jesus Christ, supposedly to honor and glorify the founder of Christianity by exemplifying, illustrating and following his teachings?

Are these “Christians” angry and upset enough to break away because their church is “too liberal” and has been expanding love, inclusion and acceptance to unworthy people?


Somehow, something seems very wrong, very twisted and distorted with this scenario. Indeed, it seems utterly preposterous.

It seems only to painfully prove, once again, that some, if not most, organized religions are confused, fearful and dysfunctional. Their ideas and preachings about God and Jesus are erroneous.

They remain blind to this fact, and see only what they want to see.

They do not see the cruelty, fighting and killing going on everywhere in God’s name. They are not seeing the separation, the divisions, oppression, fear and dysfunction around us.

Worse, some of them are seeing it and playing into it, using it as a means of controlling people.

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

Savannah: Christ Church parishioners support split with Episcopalians

Christ Church leaders canceled a late morning worship service Sunday to measure the congregation’s support of their recent decision to break from the Episcopal Church.

More than 200 parishioners gathered at the downtown parish at 11 a.m. to cast ballots and find out what happens next. A vast majority of voters said they supported the split.

Senior warden Steve Dantin tried to explain to the congregation why the church aligned with an Anglican entity in Africa after its break with American Episcopalians.

“These entities represent a lifeboat. It’s a temporary measure,” Dantin said. “All of these lifeboats will ultimately be leading towards a mother ship, and the mother ship will more than likely be an alternate Anglican province in the United States.”

The meeting follows the Sept. 30 decision by church leaders – known as the vestry – to leave the Episcopal Church in the U.S. and join the more conservative Anglican Province of Uganda. Both the American and Ugandan churches are members of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Georgia, TEC Departing Parishes

Historic Christ Church Congregation Affirms Vestry Decision to Continue in the Anglican Communion

October 14, 2007- Savannah, GA. By a decisive margin of 87% the congregation of historic Christ Church voted overwhelmingly to affirm the vestry’s September 30, 2007 decision to place itself under the pastoral care of The Rt. Reverend John Guernsey, Rector of All Saint’s Church in Woodbridge, VA and a bishop of the worldwide Anglican Communion’s province of Uganda, Africa. The action followed a prolonged process of disciplined prayer and discernment.

“It saddens us that The Episcopal Church (TEC) has chosen to walk apart from the rest of the Communion. We have been an Anglican parish since the founding of the Colony of Georgia, and it is important to us that we continue to participate as members in good standing with the rest of the worldwide Anglican Communion,” said Steve Dantin, Senior Warden.
TEC, the U.S. “branch” or province of the worldwide Anglican Communion, received a final call from the Anglican Communion to return to orthodox Christianity and to signify the same by taking certain actions no later than September 30, 2007. TEC failed to comply, and thus it abandoned the communion previously existing between TEC (including the Diocese of Georgia) and Christ Church. Therefore, Christ Church appealed to Bishop Guernsey and Archbishop Orombi for their pastoral care and oversight, which has been granted.

“This has been a long and arduous journey,” said Dantin. “It was gratifying to see the large number of parishioners participate in this process. Our congregation has spoken clearly.”
Along with 33 other Anglican congregations in the U.S., Christ Church is under the authority of Archbishop Henry Orombi of the Province of Uganda, which has a membership of 9.5 million people. Christ Church is one of over 1,000 congregations representing more than 200,000 U.S. Anglicans and 1,200 clergy who are associates of the Anglican Communion Network, an ecclesial, Anglican body in the U.S. Christ Church is also an affiliate of the American Anglican Council, an advocacy group for Anglican orthodoxy in the United States.

“We look forward to working to build a biblical, missionary, and united Anglicanism in North America,” said The Reverend Marc Robertson, Rector of Christ Church. “In the meantime nothing is changing at Christ Church. Our location, mission, ministry, education and worship services are continuing as usual.”

Founded in 1733 with the establishment of the Georgia colony, Christ Church is the Mother Church of Georgia and the oldest continuous Christian congregation in the state. Christ Church predates the establishment of The Episcopal Church in the United States and the Diocese of Georgia. Early rectors include British evangelists John Wesley and George Whitefield. Located on its original site on historic Johnson Square in downtown Savannah, Christ Church continues as an active and thriving congregation.

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

The Bishop of Georgia: Christ Church dispute will go to court

A meeting meant for current members of Christ Church drew mostly former parishioners and other local Episcopalians to discuss the decision by leaders of the historic congregation to break away from the national Episcopal Church.

Bishop Henry I. Louttit led a 45-minute question-and-answer session Sunday after a special Mass at St. Paul the Apostle Episcopal Church at 34th and Abercorn streets.

About 150 lay people and priests attended. Many took turns offering words of support to the bishop and the Diocese of Georgia, as well as posing questions about who controls Christ Church’s downtown property.

The bishop assured the group that Christ Church belongs to the diocese and the national Episcopal Church. But taking control of the building, endowment and other assets will involve lawyers, he said.

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

Gavin Dunbar: New Orleans and Savannah

It was hardly a surprise but a cause for sorrow nonetheless: the House of Bishops, meeting in New Orleans, made a response to the requests of the Primates at Dar Es Salaam that offered little to repair the “tear in the fabric of the communion” caused by the consecration of Gene Robinson. They did pledge compliance in the election of bishops (no more Gene Robinsons) ”“ but then demanded that Gene Robinson be invited to Lambeth Conference in 2008. Their convoluted pledge not to authorize same-sex blessings is surely designed to permit local option (as is already happening). They demanded that the Global South Primates stop their pastoral interventions, but they had nothing serious to offer the conservative dissenters the Primates are trying to care for: the Pastoral Council proposed by the Primates was refused in favour of window-dressing; and the destructive policy of aggressive litigation against conservative dissent was not even addressed, let alone restrained.

Some will adjudge the result the best that could be hoped for under the circumstances. Others will even eagerly claim to find it satisfactory. But who really believes that is true? These are grudging assurances in words that inspire no trust, weasel words with built-in wiggle-room, a tactical maneuver, not a change of heart. The House has not renounced the imagined right of the Episcopal Church to do as it pleases, unconstrained by the teaching of the Bible, the historic Faith, or the Communion’s “bonds of affection”. They have not healed the breach their arrogance opened up, and that means it will only get worse.

The breach has now come to Savannah, in the decision by the Vestry of Christ Church to secure its future in the Faith, in the Anglican Communion, by placing the parish under the pastoral care of John Guernsey, a Virginia priest recently made bishop of the Anglican Church of Uganda in North America. This decision, made in conscience, cannot have been easy to make, and it deserves respect even from those who disagree with it. St. John’s Vestry has made no such decision, but I can testify to our respect for theirs; and also our continuing fellowship with them in the historic faith, and in “the bonds of affection”.

In response Bishop Louttit has asserted the Episcopal Church’s claim to Christ Church’s real property, on the grounds that parishes are “integral and constituent parts of a diocese and of the larger church.” But the obligations of “constituent” membership in the “larger church” run both ways. The constitutional obligations of the Episcopal Church – to uphold the Bible’s teaching, the Church’s historic Faith and Order, and membership in the Communion ”“ are the covenantal basis of its canonical claims to parochial real property. If it cannot fulfil the former, then the moral basis for the latter disappears.

–The Rev. Gavin Dunbar is rector, Saint John’s, Savannah

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Sept07 HoB Meeting, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Georgia, TEC Departing Parishes

Savannah News: Christ Church braces for uphill battle

Christ Church leaders say biblical authority rests at the center of their decision to leave the Episcopal Church.

But now that they’ve left, the only question remaining is: Who gets the property?

According to attorneys with experience in church property laws, the odds are stacked against Christ Church.

However, church leaders say historical and current documents clearly list the wardens and vestry as its owners.

The Episcopal Church claims ownership to all church properties. The denomination considers individual parishes to be held in trust by the congregation.

Macon attorney W. Warren Plowden Jr. said he has argued cases for the United Methodist Church, which also operates under a hierarchical governance system.

“In Methodist cases, the courts will look at deeds, the discipline of the United Methodist Church and, if it’s incorporated, the corporate documents,” he said.

Read it all

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

Savannah News editorial: Unfortunate split

CHATHAM COUNTY tax documents show the Protestant Episcopal Church owns six local properties. Christ Church is not one of them.

Both the Bull Street church building itself, and the nearby structure that holds the parish house, offices and children’s school are owned by the Christ Church wardens and vestry.

That’s an important bit of information, considering the local congregation’s recent announcement that it intends to separate from the Episcopal Church of the United States.

Christ Church, the 274-year-old “Mother Church of Georgia,” has had a long-running dispute with church leaders over scriptural issues.

Nationally, much press has been given to arguments over the ordination of women, the blessing of same-sex marriages and the ordination of practicing homosexuals into the ministry.

However, Christ Church pastor Rev. Marc Robertson said those issues are not central to the local church’s concerns.

Instead, they focus on the greater Episcopal Church’s unwillingness to unequivocally back such basic tenets as the authority of scripture, the divinity of Christ and the availability of salvation through Christ’s sacrifice.

American Episcopal leaders have been fairly heavy-handed in addressing those concerns.

Read it all.

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