The Episcopal Congregation of Grace has released the following statement.
More than 500 members of Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church learned joyously today that Judge Larry Schwartz of the 4th District Court has ruled in their favor in a court fight over their historic property at 601 N. Tejon St. An Anglican congregation led by Donald Armstrong took over the church property in March 2007. For nearly 2 years since then the Episcopal congregation has continued their vibrant ministry, meeting for worship, study and fellowship at First Christian Church. (Disciples of Christ) nearby at Platte and Cascade.
Upon hearing the news, the Episcopal parish's priest, the Rev. Martin Pearsall said, “Wow! I did not expect the decision to come so quickly. There is so much to do, but we are thankful that the uncertainty is over and that we can return to our historic facility. There are no winners here. We just hope to rebuild the congregation and strengthen our ties to the downtown community."
Grace Episcopal parishioners who have belonged to the church for decades look forward to returning to the Tejon St. property and rejoining their many friends there. The first Episcopal services in two years at the majestic church on N. Tejon St. will be held on Palm Sunday, April 5: the Passion and Solemn Eucharist at 8:00 am, and the Passion and Solemn Choral Eucharist at 11:30 am. This date is especially significant to the returning parishioners, as their first service after the church property was taken over by the Anglican congregation in 2007 was a Passion and Solemn Choral Eucharist held on Palm Sunday in Shove Chapel on the Colorado College campus. Among those who have joined Grace Episcopal since they left the Tejon St. property is 92-year-old Barbara Webb, whose uncle, Eugene P. Shove, gave Shove Chapel to the college. On hearing the news, she exclaimed, "I'm so delighted, I can hardly believe it!"
"We are so blessed by our association with First Christian," says Episcopal parish administrator Marti Lindberg. "Pastor David Van Heyningen, the ladies in the church office--everyone has been just unbelieveably helpful." The two parishes have combined forces in many areas, including producing a joint vacation Bible school for the youth of both churches each summer and joining to host homeless families through the Interfaith Hospitality Network. Members of both Grace and First Christian have pooled weekly food contributions for Ecumenical Social Ministries.
"The strength and effective hard work of our parishioners has been amazing, and the support we've received from other Colorado Springs churches, as well as the diocese and the national church, has helped us continue to be a vital Christian congregation during the past two years. We look forward to continuing our ministries with the help of our brothers and sisters who have stayed on Tejon Street" said Lynn L. Olney, Sr. Warden (president of the parish board).
Choirs for all ages and a superb pipe organ have been features of worship at Grace Episcopal for decades. Deke Polifka, organist and choirmaster, travelled with the choirs from North Tejon to First Christian. "The dedication of our volunteer choirs, the fine organ at First Christian, and the help of their organist, Carol Wilson--it's all helped us maintain the high quality of music that Grace parishioners have enjoyed over the decades."