Monday, August 10, 2009

Property Dispute Indicates Widening Church Gap

From Philadelphia-

A local Episcopal parish that is defending its property against a claim from the Episcopal Church is filing a brief in a similar California case.

The Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont filed an amicus brief in a case against St. James Anglican Church Newport Beach, where the local Episcopal diocese is claiming St. James' property because the church withdrew from communion with the Episcopal Church. The amicus, or friend of the court filing, outlines Good Shepherd's side of the Montgomery County dispute for the court's benefit. St. James has appealed a previous ruling of the California Supreme Court to the Supreme Court of the U.S.

"We see our amicus brief for St. James, Newport Beach as an act of witness to our parish motto – non ministrari, sed ministrare – not to be ministered unto, but to minister," said Bishop David Moyer, the rector at Good Shepherd. Bishop Moyer added that the brief was filed out of "thanksgiving for the many blessings we have received from near and far in our struggles for the Gospel and the Catholic religion."

Earlier this year, the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania filed an action in the Montgomery County Orphan's Court to claim Good Shepherd’s real estate. The diocese asserts that the property “is held in trust for the Episcopal Church and the Diocese,” and accuses Bishop Moyer and the Good Shepherd Vestry of acting outside the discipline of the church. The case against Good Shepherd is unprecedented, since in other property disputes with the Episcopal Church around the country, the parish in question has left the church, but continued to hold the property. Good Shepherd has never left the Episcopal Church, the foundation for the diocese's argument in the property case.

"I think probably the first thing to recognize here is that in many of these cases around the country these cases are dealing with a parish or diocese that has withdrawn from the Episcopal Church," said Paul Danello, a lawyer with Baker and Daniels, a law firm in Washington that is defending Good Shepherd.

More here-

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