Monday, November 21, 2011

Georgia Supreme Court rules against Christ Church Savannah

UPDATE:  With thanks to our friends at SF, you may read the court opinion and the dissenting opinion here.

From here:
Christ Church, Savannah, GA
Christ Church, the oldest Episcopal church in Georgia, was founded in 1733, when James Oglethorpe, an English general, designated the property on Bull Street as a place of worship, the state Supreme Court said.

When the national Episcopal Church named the Rev. Gene Robinson as its first openly gay bishop in 2003, the Savannah congregation voted to leave the national church and move under the leadership of an Anglican diocese in Uganda.

The breakaway congregation refused to give up the Savannah church building and property, valued at $3 million, prompting a lawsuit by the national church and the Georgia diocese.

The Georgia Supreme Court ruling on Monday upheld lower court rulings that the Savannah property belongs to the national church.

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution "allows (the local congregation) and its members to leave the Episcopal Church and worship as they please, like all other Americans. But it does not allow them to take with them property that has for generations been accumulated and held by a constituent church of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America," the Georgia Supreme Court ruled in a 6-1 vote.

Christ Church is considering whether to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, its lawyer, Jim Gardner, said in a statement.

"At its core this case is about fundamental property rights of individual congregations in hierarchical churches," Gardner said.

If the church loses access to the building during the appeal, it will hold services in another downtown Savannah church building, the statement added.

In 2003, the 2.1 million member Episcopal Church, the U.S. arm of global Anglicanism, triggered what many observers describe as an ongoing schism by consecrating Robinson as bishop of the New Hampshire diocese.

Read it all here.  Anglican Curmudgeon has commentary on the ruling of "implied trusts" here.  More on Christ Church here with their official statement here.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

If the post could be amended to provide a link to the decision, it would be helpful and appreciated.

Scout

Rod said...

Quoth ye press: "In 2003, the 2.1 million member Episcopal Church..."

Should be revised to, "In 2003, the then 2.1 million member Episcopal Church

Anonymous said...

Ouch. So the Episcopal Church has won everywhere but South Carolina? Please tell me there is a new strategy being considered. It's time for a new chapter.

John said...

Baby Blue. Your headline is ambiguous. Which Christ Church congregation do you refer to? The disenfranchised faithful Episcopalians or the usurping "Anglicans."

Anonymous said...

Could it be???

Yep - a Thanksgiving Troll...

John said...

I really do object to being called a troll.
My opinion of the Episcopal/Anglican schism is as valid as any other on this site. The church I attend was almost torn apart by all this stupidity. We survived and are growing no thanks to the now Bishop Anderson and his ACNA cohorts.
When I see false advertising, such as the headline for this situation in Georgia,I attempt to enlighten without being objectionable.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

BabyBlue said...

Oh dear, it's not even Thanksgiving yet and we've gotten out the cream pies. Let's remember we're sitting at tables (or up at the Cafe bar) and not throw the food, especially the cream pies.

That being said, I did find a link to the ruling, Scout and now have the link at the top of this post. :)

bb

Anonymous said...

Many thanks, BB. A friend had forwarded it in response to my comment, but I lacked the technical facility to send it on. I think it merits a thorough read.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Scout

PS for John and Anon 2008: The term "troll" in blogdom means someone with whom a numerical majority of commenters disagree. Without "trolls" the discussions would be mere echoes, and no one would learn anything.

Anonymous said...

The term "troll" is not applied to someone who merely disagrees with the majority. Rather it applies to one who uses "charged" terminology with the intent of eliciting an emotional, negative response. Some would add "for the purpose of starting a fight."

The reader can decide if that was the intent above. If pies are to be thrown today, toss a pumpkin pie my way.

A blessed Thanksgiving to all!!!

RalphM

Anonymous said...

It has been my experience that some people have a very short fuse on these issues and are easily "trolled" (to use Ralph's definition) by remarks that in any other context would be rationally regarded as thought-provoking, unconventional, or non-conformist. There can't be "trolls" in the sense that Ralph uses the term if everyone deals conscientiously with the ideas being exchanged and simply ignores comments that they think are non-substantive. I have seen the term used very loosely to describe commenters who are running against the current of the site or the thread, even though there is nothing particularly impolite or incendiary in the comment. It is a process of countering disparate views with epithets, rather than discussion.

Scout

John said...

Exactly! I may strongly disagree with the message, as I did with the headline, but I never use profanity or epithets to express my differences.
I thought that the use of 'troll" in this case was derogatory and being a bit of an old fogey, I maybe overreacted.
Now I'm off to my son's house for dinner with all the family. What could be better than that on this day.
Have a gracious Thanksgiving.

Anonymous said...

Please don't take this as being trollish (which is, of course, a way to make certain some wonder) - but the anon that's the 3rd comment makes me wonder. Is it not time for the ACNA churches to rethink? More than the "we have always wanted to negotiate and TEC won't" position - which may be valid (although there are plenty who will vigorously disagree) - is it not time to rethink what the goal is? Litigation isn't working - and ACNA can complain about being sued - but it's agreeing to participate in the litigation by holding on to the property.

I guess I'm saying - is it not time to accept that courts aren't ruling for those who leave, so those who leave must reconsider - in radical terms - where they're being lead, what the goal is, and how best to be faithful stewards?

Thanks for listening.

Anonymous said...

December 2, 2011...Christ Church will return to the Episcopal Church. (article in Florida Times-Union)...I am indeed very happy to read this!!!!

Anonymous said...

I expect the Episcopal congregation to be gracious and welcoming. I am certain of it.