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.”