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Massachusetts Diocese, Parish Settle Lawsuit: TLC 8.08.07 August 8, 2007

Posted by geoconger in AMiA, Living Church, Massachusetts, Property Litigation.

The Diocese of Massachusetts has settled its lawsuit against the former rector and members of All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Attleboro. On Aug. 1, the diocese discontinued litigation against the Rev. Lance Giuffrida and members of the vestry of All Saints’ Anglican Church, a parish of the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMIA), in consideration of payment of an undisclosed sum.

Both sides hailed the agreement. The Rev. Gregory A. Jacobs, diocesan staff officer for urban ministry development, said the settlement will help support the remnant of the parish that chose to remain in The Episcopal Church. The agreement “will allow the continuing congregation at All Saints’ Episcopal Church to grow their ministry as they continue to be a vital presence in the faith community of Attleboro,” he said.

Fr. Giuffrida also lauded the agreement, writing to his congregation on Aug. 4 that the agreement was fortuitous.

“In a shorter time than seemed possible, God has removed every obstacle from our paths,” he said, reporting both the settlement of litigation and the purchase of a redundant Methodist church for the AMiA congregation.

In September 2006, the congregation voted to withdraw from the Diocese of Massachusetts and affiliate with the Rwandan-backed AMiA. Following negotiations, the congregation turned over the property to the diocese in January.

However in late June, the diocese filed suit against the former rector and 18 vestry members, alleging they had diverted $196,863 from parish coffers to the newly formed AMiA congregation. The diocese also sought damages against Fr. Giuffrida, seeking repayment of a $10,000 home equity loan given by the parish to its rector and $7,600 in salary paid during the transition from The Episcopal Church to the AMiA. The leaders of the breakaway group denied the allegations.

Fr. Giuffrida told the Attleboro Sun Chronicle the agreement included a hold-harmless agreement binding both parties, repayment of a $10,000 home loan, and the return of some prayer books.

First published in The Living Church.

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