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More US Parishes Quit: CEN 6.08.07 p 3. June 7, 2007

Posted by geoconger in CANA, Church of England Newspaper, Colorado, Connecticut, Dallas, Florida, Panel of Reference, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church.

Parish defections and litigation are continuing to mount in the United States, with five parishes quitting the Episcopal Church last month for oversight from Nigerian and Ugandan bishops.

Members of the Diocese of Colorado’s largest parish ratified the March decision by their rector the Rev. Donald Armstrong, and the vestry to join CANA.

On May 26 the Grace & St Stephen’s Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado announced that 370 of the parishes 822 members had caste ballots in the secession referendum, with 348 voting to leave and 22 to stay. The Diocese has condemned the vote, saying it was illegal and non-binding, arguing that while individuals may leave the Episcopal Church, congregations may not.

The congregation which claimed over 1500 communicants before the conflict between the parish and diocese reached a head in March, has divided with approximately three quarters of the worshippers loyal to the parish leadership and a quarter loyal to the diocese—meeting in a chapel of nearby Colorado College under the cure of an assistant priest of the parish who did not support the secession.

Litigation over the £9 million property between the parish and diocese is on-going.

CANA announced last week that three other US congregations had quit the Episcopal Church to join the Nigerian missionary district led by Bishop Martyn Minns. One of the Connecticut 6 parishes—a group of traditionalist parishes involved in a long-running dispute with diocesan Bishop Andrew Smith, quit the diocese on May 29.

Founded in 1754, before the creation of the Diocese of Connecticut, Trinity Church in Bristol will seek to retain its property, Bishop Minns said, while moving under Nigerian oversight.

Members of Holy Trinity Church in Garland, Texas, in the Diocese of Dallas, have withdrawn from the Episcopal Church, forming Holy Trinity Anglican Church. In Florida the parishioners and vicar of St. Cyprians Episcopal Church, a predominantly African-American congregation, have quit the diocese to form Christ the King Anglican Church in St. Augustine, led by their former priest in charge, the Rev. David Allert.

The parish at the center of the Panel of Reference’s report on the Diocese of Florida has also been forced out of its church buildings following a court order from a Florida judge.

Last month a court ordered the secessionist clergy and members of the Church of the Redeemer in Jacksonville led by the Rev. Neil Lebhar to vacate their property, turning it over to the control of Florida Bishop John Howard. Approximately 90 percent of the congregation has followed Mr. Lebhar, with only 10 families remaining at Redeemer under the supervision of a vicar appointed by the Diocese.

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