The Gazette, Colorado's newspaper, published an article on the extension granted to the schismatics. The article contains several intersting bits:
- A judge on Wednesday ordered the Anglican parish that's been meeting at Grace Church, 631 N. Tejon St., to vacate the building by April 3 at 5 p.m., setting the stage for the exiled Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal parish to hold its first service in the gothic church on Palm Sunday.
Judge Larry Schwartz also ordered the Anglican parish priest, Donald Armstrong, to vacate the rectory, where he lives on Electra Drive in the Skyline Way area, by May 8. This revised the original order issued on Tuesday, which stated that Armstrong would have to vacate by April 1.
The motion hearing in Fourth Judicial Court was held to resolve issues involving transition of the parishes into and out of Grace Church and those involving security of the $17 million property, among other issues.
Schwartz urged both sides to work together to get through this transition. "If we act like adults, this can all be resolved," he said.
The Episcopal and Anglican groups split two years ago, but the reason is disputed. The Anglican parish, which on Wednesday renamed itself St. George Anglican Church, claims it left the national body because it had become too liberal in its interpretation of Scripture; in 2003, the church consecrated a gay bishop, setting off a firestorm of criticism from Armstrong and others.
The diocese, on the other hand, has accused Armstrong of financial misconduct, and it says the split was the only way the parish could retain him as rector.
On Tuesday, Schwartz issued his order that the Tejon Street church and other properties belonged to the Episcopal Church and not to the congregation that split from the church in 2007 but continued to worship in the building. Hours later, Armstrong called police when a security team hired by the diocese showed up on Grace Church property to guard contents within the
This incident was the impetus for the motion hearing on Wednesday.
At the hearing, Schwartz asked the attorneys of the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado and the Anglican parish to agree on the appointment of a receiver, who would oversee and manage the transition of property between the parishes. The attorneys were unable to agree on a receiver, and will try again Thursday.
Concerns have been raised by the diocese that staff members of the Anglican parish were taking church property. Some Episcopal parishioners snapped photos of Anglican staff carrying boxes out of the church to document possible thefts.
"Nothing should be removed from the church without receiver or court approval," Schwartz told the attorneys during the hearing.
The 4½ week trial to determine legal ownership of the majestic gothic church downtown concluded March 11. During the trial, the Anglican parish, which has occupied the property since March 2007, argued that since 1973 it's been its own corporation holding legal title to the church property. The diocese argued that the Anglican parish was part of the Episcopal Church until its secession two years ago. According to ecclesiastical law and Colorado legal precedent, an Episcopal parish never holds title of its property, and if it leaves the national body, it must vacate church property.
Schwartz ordered that the Tejon Street church and other properties belonged to the diocese and that the church must no longer use the name Grace Church & St. Stephen's.
The fight over ownership began March 26, 2007, when the Anglican group, at the time called Grace Church & St. Stephen's, seceded from the national church. The group aligned with the conservative Convocation of Anglicans in North America, or CANA. A few months later, the CANA parish filed a lawsuit to determine ownership of the property, and on Feb. 10 the longest church trial in Colorado history began.
Gregory Walta, attorney for the Anglican church, said at Wednesday's hearing that the parish will comply with the order to be out by April 3. "If we are allowed to proceed without interference, we are confident we'll be out of the church" in the proscribed time, he said.
The Rev. Alan R. Crippen II, spokesman of the Anglican church, said the vestry is seeking another building in which to hold their Palm Sunday service on April 5.
As for the Episcopal congregation, which for nearly two years has been holding services at First Christian Church downtown, members said they are overjoyed to be holding Palm Sunday service at Grace Church, despite perhaps having only one day to prepare for the occasion.
"We are just glad to be back," said David Watts, junior warden of Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal. "It will be a joyous service."
The article is found here.