September 30, 2011

Connecticut Supreme Court Rules against Groton Church

The Associated Press reported today that the Connecticut Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut and against the breakaway congregation of Bishop Seabury Church in Groton. The defendant congregation is currently part of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America and the Anglican Church in North America. AP explains, in part,
Justices rejected an appeal of a lower court ruling by the Bishop Seabury Church in Groton, which like dozens of parishes nationwide split from the national Episcopal Church after the 2003 appointment of Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. Bishop Seabury Church's governing board voted in 2007 to join the more conservative Convocation of Anglicans in North America.
Bishop Seabury Church was one of the “Connecticut Six” that attempted to leave the Episcopal Church diocese in 2004. The 6-0 decision cited the Dennis Canon as creating an explicit trust in favor of The Episcopal Church.

Parishioners, on the other hand, complained that ownership of the property should allow them to do as they wish with it. Apparently, the congregation has not ruled out pursuing the case in the federal courts.

Actually, two related decisions were handed down by the Connecticut Supreme Court today, which, admittedly, I have not yet had time to read. They can be found here and here. (Warning: there are more than 50 pages of opinion to read.) A statement from the diocese is available here.

One has to wonder when dissidents trying to leave The Episcopal Church with parish property will learn that the law is not on their side. One would also like to know where all the funds to support this fruitless litigation is coming from. One also has to wonder if the point of the litigation is to win or simply to wound The Episcopal Church.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting question about the purpose of the litigation. It seems to me that a key motivation is validation. The dissidents sincerely believe that they are right and the Episcopal Church is wrong. And they are using litigation as a mechanism to prove that they are right. The cost of the litigation is secondary for them to the quixotic possibility of being proven right.

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