A local congregation that left the Episcopal Church six years ago may be leaving its church building as well.
An appeals court ruled last week that the property at 3700 Woodmont Blvd. in Nashville, currently home to St. Andrew’s Parish, belongs to the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee.
Leaders of St. Andrew’s say the congregation bought the property from the diocese in the 1960s and should be able to keep it after becoming part of the Anglican Church in North America, a conservative rival to the Episcopal Church.
But an Episcopal Church denominational rule, known as the Dennis Canon, says that all church property is held in trust for the denomination. So even if church members vote to leave the denomination, they can’t take the property with them.
The two sides disagree on the nature of the dispute. St. Andrew’s sees it as a simple property matter — they have a deed to the property, so it is theirs. The diocese says that St. Andrew’s agreed in the past to abide by the denomination’s rules and so has to forfeit the property.