Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Breakaway congregation returns building to Episcopal Church

A Petaluma congregation that split from the Episcopal Church over the issue of gay ordination but retained a 118-year-old church building has agreed to return the property to the church, ending a nearly three-year stalemate.

Under terms of a settlement, St. John’s Anglican Church will move out of the building at 5th and C streets by July 1 and give up claim to about $450,000 in endowments.

In exchange, its leader, the Rev. David Miller, will receive a greater share of ownership of his family’s Petaluma house, which was purchased in part with church money.

The Rev. Norman Cram, whose Episcopol congregation has been waiting in borrowed space to take over the building, said he looked forward to “a focus on ministry.” His first service in the church is July 1.

“It’s been a tough struggle,” said Cram, leader of St. John’s Episcopal, who sued Miller’s congregation last year over rights to the property. “It’s so nice to have the litigious process behind us.”

A spokesman for St. John’s Anglican, administrator Mike McIntosh, declined to comment beyond saying a new location for his group has not been selected. The congregation’s last service in the building will be Sunday, June 28.

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