09 January 2009

TEC wins another round in court

Once again the judicial system has ruled in favour of the National Church in a lawsuit.

The State Supreme Court sided with the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York, which means members of the Church of the Good Shepherd, must vacate their building in Binghamton.

The congregation was notified of the decision Thursday night and began moving their belongings from the church on Conklin Avenue.

In the case of the Diocese of Central New York v. The Rector, Church Wardens and Vestrymen of the Church of the Good Shepherd, the court held that
Title to all real and personal property of Good Shepherd including the church building and rectory rests with the Diocese and that the Diocese is entitled to immediate possession thereof.
The court also stated they will not look into the validity of the Dennis Canon.

Savvy readers will instantly recognize that the Church of the Good Shepherd is the parish whose rector is Matt Kennedy. Kennedy is one of the most well known and chief slanderers of TEC. He is also a prolific poster at SF. His URL is probably the most virulent of all the schismatic sites on the web.

Here is a video news clip from the local news.

In this victory for TEC, because of Fr. Matt's viciousness in attacking TEC, it is very difficult not to feel a since of vindication and righteous retrubition. But I feel very sorry for Fr. Matt, his wife and their congregation.

Here is the press release from Good Shepherd to it's congregation

As you may or may not have heard, the judge has ruled and we have lost our building and all of our assets. There is, at the moment of this writing, no time specified for our departure. We expect an order to arrive sometime in the next few days that will give us some indication of how long we will remain here. It could be a matter of days, it could be a month or more, we simply do not know. When we do, we will get the information to you as soon as possible. Pay attention to the website, the blogsite, Sunday announcements and your phone messages for news. In the meantime, we must prepare our hearts and minds to go.

This little white church on the corner of Livingston and Conklin has been a part of all our lives and the lives of those in our neighborhood for many years. Some of us have spent our whole lives here. This is painful news.

This may seem especially difficult given the fact that there is no discernible good in the future of this building. It will, we presume, no longer be used to feed people or to proclaim the Gospel. It seems as though we have lost. But we must remember what we know about God, what He has revealed about His character:

The Lord passed before him [Moses] and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” Exodus 34:6-7

God is gracious, merciful, loving and provident towards his children. His greatest provision was sending his own Son, Jesus, to die on our behalf. As sons and daughters of God through faith in Jesus Christ, the darkness is never final. The light is greater than the darkness. God's providence is greater than the destruction of sin. Jesus died but he also rose from the dead. So it is for His people. There is no “end” or “death” or “despair” for us because we know that in all things God works for his glory and for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). Because God is faithful to his promises, we look to our future knowing it to be one full of hope. God has been faithful to us in the past. He is faithful to us now. He will be faithful to us in the future

We have been praying for the better part of a year now, asking for God's guidance and direction. God has answered our prayers. He has closed one door and now all that remains is to go forward into the new future and new home God has prepared. Our location will change. Our mission will not. We will continue to share the good news of eternal salvation won by Jesus Christ. We will continue to serve our neighbors, feed the hungry, and help the poor, just as we have in the past.

But there is something else that we must do that, at least for the moment, may be far more difficult: Love those who are forcing us out. Perhaps they do not know what they are doing. Perhaps they do. Either way, ask God to forgive them and pray that he will give us the grace to do the same. Anger is not always sinful but it can easily and quickly become so. Unchecked anger leads to bitterness, hatred, and resentment and all of these things hurt our relationship with God and damage our capacity to reflect his love and beauty into the world. Just as God has been merciful to us, daily forgiving our sins and wickedness, so we must, by his grace and help, return good for evil and pray for those who persecute us.

The vestry is very sad, but we are also thankful. Our future is now clear. What wonderful things God has in store for us. He has set us free from the bondage of this lawsuit and free, finally, of the turmoil in the Episcopal Church. We are not only thankful to be free, but thankful that we have been tested and found worthy by his grace of suffering loss for the sake of Christ, of being purified by sacrifice. We know that what we have been enduring is only preparation for greater things to come and that all of this being worked out for the good of those who love Christ.

And we love Christ. This has been the defining mark of our church body. Let Christ be our banner and our seal, the Rock to which we cling. Let Christ go before us and behind us. Above all let His holy name be praised.

The above statement was issued by Fr. Matt, the wardens and the vestry.

As soon as I locate the court's decision, I'll post the URL.

Remember that, regardless of how wrong they were, they are grieving. Please pray for the Kennedys, the Church of the Shepherd, and the schismatics.

This is the third major ruling in favour of TEC. So far, the only unfavourable ruling has been in Virginia where the courts allowed a Civil War era law dealing with slavery to be used to determine ownership of church property. But even there, the case has not been completely settled.

This is also the third time a court has stated they will not entertain arguments about the Dennis Canon. The consistency certainly looks bad for the the schismatics.

If you are going to comment on this post, do not gloat. I will remove any comment that does so.

UPDATE: Some of you may notice that I changed the title of this post. To use a Pentecostal phrase, I was under conviction for the previous title. I apologize to Fr. Matt for any distress my original title may have caused him. I also wish him and his congregation all God's blessing as they move into a new phase of their spiritual journey.