Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Court to rule on status of Georgia church

From Religious Intelligence-

The fate of the ‘mother church’ of the Diocese of Georgia in the USA is in the hands of a Savannah court after arguments were presented last week in litigation over the secession of Christ Church, Savannah from the Episcopal Church.

On Sept 30, 2007, the vestry of Christ Church voted to quit the diocese and move under the oversight of Uganda’s US Bishop John Guernsey, after the US House of Bishops ignored the primates’ request for the Episcopal Church to conform to the Communion’s teachings on human sexuality.

Founded in 1733, the landmark church in downtown Savannah is the oldest church in the state of Georgia and numbered among its early rectors John Wesley and George Whitefield.

The primates in Dar es Salaam had given the Episcopal Church the “final call” to “return to the central tenets of Christianity,” the vestry said. The failure to conform to the church’s historic teachings had left the parish no choice but to secede, as “our first allegiance is to the Lord Jesus Christ and God’s word revealed to us in the Holy Bible,” the parish’s senior warden said after the split.

Georgia Bishop Henry Louttit responded that while people may leave the Episcopal Church, congregations may not, and moved to depose the church’s clergy and replaced the parish vestry. Litigation ensued and on Aug 14 the Chatham County Superior Court heard a motion from the diocese and the national church seeking summary judgment against the congregation seeking immediate possession of the building and assets of the parish.

During the two-hour hearing before Judge Michael Karpf, lawyers for the national church and diocese argued that in property disputes within “hierarchical churches” the court must defer to the church’s canon law. The court must therefore follow the Episcopal Church’s 1979 “Dennis Canon,” which created a trust on all parish property in favour of the diocese and national church, and grant them possession.

More here-

No comments: