Friday, December 24, 2010
St. George's Anglican Church to retain property following historic settlement with The Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey
HELMETTA, NJ:New Precedent Set in Episcopal Church Property Settlement Wars. St. George's Anglican Church to retain property following historic settlement with The Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey
By David W. Virtue, www.virtueonline.org,December 23, 2010
In a landmark decision, the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey has settled out of court with St. George's Helmetta allowing the parish to leave the Episcopal Church, keep its property and join with another Anglican jurisdiction.
Details are sketchy, but it is understood from a source that a down payment of $30,000 was made by the parish with periodic payments to be made over the next several years.
NJ Bishop George Councell, a liberal, has shown himself to be gracious in demonstrating that deals can be cut without expensive litigation costs. VOL was told by a source that his chancellor and Episcopal leaders at church headquarters in New York City were not supportive of his actions, but he stood up to them and settled with the parish.
The parish will retain all its church buildings and tangible property with complete independence from The Episcopal Church (TEC). The congregation has affiliated with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) under Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) under Archbishop Robert Duncan.
In early January and February of 2008, the Episcopal congregation, known as St. George's Church in Helmetta, NJ, cut its ties to TEC and the Diocese of New Jersey over theological differences.
Fr. William Guerard, St. George's parish priest, however, maintained an amicable relationship with Bishop Councell throughout the division.
The priest transferred to CANA as an ordained Anglican priest without being required to renounce his ordination vows - unlike many other Anglican clergy from other dioceses who have left TEC for CANA and other Anglican jurisdictions.
Beginning in January, 2009, St. George's Anglican Church began negotiations with the Diocese of New Jersey which ended in an agreed monetary settlement.
Reflecting on the settlement, Fr. Guerard said, "Our constant prayer throughout these two years has been for God's will to be done. We are all thankful that this has been accomplished peacefully, and we pray it will set a precedent for other churches going through similar situations.
"Let us return to the work of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus our Savior who has come to bring us light, peace, and salvation."
"We are extremely grateful that the congregation of St. George's Anglican Church is able to retain its property. This is an incredible blessing and witness to others that Christians can resolve these matters amicably. We are also thankful that the church has been able to maintain a cordial relationship with the Diocese of New Jersey. I trust and pray that St. George's Anglican Church will continue to serve the Lord through mission and ministry for many years to come," said CANA Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns.
Final sale of St. George's church property took place on Tuesday, November 23, 2010.
Bishop Councell was unavailable for comment.
CANA is a founding member of the Anglican Church in North America, an Anglican province that includes over 600 congregations.