Skip to comments.Court Denies Diocese Right to Seize Parish Property (CNY Diocese)
Posted on 07/20/2006 5:21:36 PM PDT by sionnsar
SYRACUSE: A superior Court judge today denied a restraining order of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York in its efforts to seize the church building, the parish hall, and the rectory to prevent it from being sold.
The diocese had filed a lawsuit against St. Andrew's Church in Syracuse, its priest, and the members of the parish governing board, asking for a restraining order, but in a court hearing today, Supreme Court Judge Edward Carni at the Onondaga County Courthouse denied the restraining order, allowing the congregation to continue worshipping in their present buildings.
St. Andrews Church is a member of the Anglican Communion Network which seeks to be faithful to the traditional teachings of the Church.
Said Judge Carni, "Any attempt to sell this real estate must be approved by a Superior Court judge. You have agreed that no property will be sold unless the application is made to justice James Murphy. This, I think, gets most parties where they want to go," he concluded.
The judge left open the door to the diocese collecting monies at a later date "if the plaintiff is successful."
When VOL called the diocese, Ms. Kathleen McDaniel, Executive Assistant to the Bishop said the parish rector of St. Andrew's, the Rev. Christopher T. Hayes III was no longer there.
This is the second parish in the diocese to come under fire from liberal Episcopal Bishop Gladstone "Skip" Adams. Last year the bishop inhibited Fr. David Bollinger, priest for 20 years at St. Paul's, Owego, NY for alleged financial irregularities, and because the priest revealed sex abuse charges by a previous priest of his parish.
The Episcopal Church's ratification of homosexuality in the church was the "lightning rod" that has separated St. Andrew's parish from the diocese, said Raymond Dague, parish attorney. In 2004, Adams voted for the consecration of New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay man.
In February the parish of 175 members filed an amendment to its certificate of incorporation, requesting that ecclesiastic oversight shift from Adams to Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini, Primate of the Anglican Church in Rwanda and putative head of the Anglican Mission in America, a group of orthodox Episcopalians who broke away from The Episcopal Church five years ago for its apostate teachings.
Dague, the attorney for the parish represented the defendants, said that such an order would have effectively shut the church down.
"If you can't pay the priest's salary, the electric bills, the phone bill, the secretary, and the organist, and even a lawyer to defend this lawsuit, it is pretty hard to run a church," said Dague. "For Bishop Skip Adams and the Episcopal diocese to try to stop a parish from conducting its weekly worship goes beyond mean-spirited."
He said it is the diocese's position that the diocese, not the parish, owns the real estate. Therefore, he said, the parish should not be able to transfer ownership of the property.
Dague said he does not know if the restraining order would freeze the church's money completely. He said St. Andrew's is not planning to sell the church but wants to make sure the parish still has access to money to pay the day-to-day operating expenses.
In a statement to the press, Dague said, "In suing the parish the bishop treats the scripture about not suing your Christian brother in a secular court (1 Corinthians 6:1-8) just the same as he treats the scripture about homosexual behavior being a sin (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). The people behind this lawsuit are perfectly consistent in their contempt for God's word. This is an attempt to destroy a biblically faithful congregation because some of the leaders of the Episcopal Church just can't live with a parish being faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
(A good read!)
Interesting strategy, for churches which want to leave TEC without giving the homosexuals all the material treasures of their heritage!
Think about it: The donors clearly did not want to contribute to the TEC, but rather the parish. Now TEC is claiming that when a parish leaves TEC, all property reverts to the diocese, and whem the diocese leaves TEC, all property reverts to Her Dark Majesty.
What to do?
Donate all property to a third party, with the agreement that it be made available for certain narrowly defined worship activities. This may mean sharing facilities with some Lutherans or something, at worst. (The problem is with the sharing, not with the Lutherans. I got nothing against modern Lutherans.) After some period of time, the property can be donated back. The third party can even be some sort of trust, if not a Legal Trust.
Not that simple. After the departure ca. 1977 of a number of churches AND their property, (P)ECUSA enacted the Dennis Canon which stated that all property was henceforth held in trust by/for the diocese and the national church.
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