The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, faced with the prospect of conservatives bolting the denomination over its support for gay rights, is taking a newly tough stance against would-be schismatics, filing suit to freeze the bank account of a breakaway group in Attleboro.
The diocese, which filed the suit Tuesday in Bristol Superior Court in Taunton, is alleging that in the months leading up to a split in Attleboro, the parishioners secreted away about $200,000 that rightfully belongs to the Episcopal Church.
“It’s our contention that property and assets were taken,” said the Rev. Gregory A. Jacobs, staff officer for urban congregations and ministry development in the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. “It’s not an insignificant amount of money, and without that money it’s difficult for this congregation to plan for its financial future.”
The breakaway parishioners, who have formed a new congregation affiliated with the Anglican Church of Rwanda, declined through their attorney to respond yesterday, but the two sides are already scheduled to meet in court next week.