Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Christ Church of Savannah leaves Episcopal Church

The leadership, called the "vestry," of Christ Church, the Mother church of Georgia, has voted to leave the Episcopal Church and put itself under the authority of a bishop in Virginia who is under a conservative bishop in Uganda, Africa.
Church leaders defended their decision on their website, saying that they are not leaving the Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church has left them by denying the authority of scripture. While not directly mentioning the issue of the ordination of homosexual bishops, the liberal rejection of Biblical sexual morality is a major factor in Christ Church's decision. This is a local result of an international split, as the Anglican worldwide communion has called on the Episcopal Church in America to discontinue ordaining gay bishops, but the Episcopal Church has not agreed to make such a pledge.
The Episcopal Church will probably take Christ Church to court and try to seize their property. Unlike Baptist churches, which are owned by the local congregation, the denomination generally owns the property of local Episcopal churches. Bishop Henry I. Louttit issued a statement asserting the denomination's claim to the church's property.
"Christ Church is and will remain a parish of the Episcopal Church in this diocese and will continue to occupy its present facilities," he said.
Who will win a court case? Christ Church points out that they were in existence 50 years before there was an Episcopal denomination. The congregation was founded in 1733 when Oglethorpe founded the new colony of Georgia, thus making Christ Church the oldest congregation in Georgia. They feel that since the vestry of the church had possession of the property long before there was an Episcopal Church in America, they have strong legal reason to keep control of their local church. "We are confident of our ownership of the property," said the pastor, known as "rector," Rev. Marc Robertson.
See an article in the Savannah Morning News that discusses the legal case for and against Christ Church keeping ownership of their building.
This brave congregation needs the prayers of other Christians as they seek to be faithful to their Christian heritage, no matter what may happen in their future.

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