Christ Church, which started with a land grant from King George of England, finds itself embroiled in theological differences not unreminiscent of the 18th Century. ...I don't pretend to understand the legal aspects of this, but for the civilian courts to be asked to adjudicate what is, essentially, a matter of a religious body's governance, cannot be a good thing.
In 2007 the congregation, under its rector The Rev. Marc Robertson, voted with an 87 percent majority to leave the Diocese of Georgia and The Episcopal Church and come under the protection of the Anglican Province of Uganda until the orthodox realignment in North America crystallized.
As a result, The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia and TEC have sued Christ Church, trying to seize its funds and buildings, particularly the church on Johnson Square because of its symbolic significance as the "Mother Church of Georgia" and the pulpit of Wesley and Whitefield. Legal expenses from defending this platform for the Gospel have run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. ...
TEC and the Episcopal Diocese claim the property based on a church law, adopted in the 1970s, called the Dennis Canon, which says that all parishes hold their property in trust for the diocese.
Christ Church, however, was established in 1733, and asserts that it has legal title to its building and other property by the Crown grant prior to the existence of the Episcopal Church...
Today there is a shadow congregation composed of persons who want to remain in TEC and other former members of Christ Church. This shadow church was cobbled together by the Episcopal Bishop and others to assist in claiming the name and assets of the parish. The split has divided families and friends.
The situation is not dissimilar to that in the Diocese of Virginia where a number of parishes are in legal dispute over properties, many of which precede the formation of the Episcopal Church. So far, the orthodox, who maintain they are the rightful heirs both spiritually and ecclesiastically, are winning in the courts.
I believe I recall at the height, or rather depth of the Catholic abuse cover-up scandal, legal machinations by some diocese or other, (perhaps more than one,) that an anti-Catholic might call jesuitical, insisting that oh no, that property we've always grasped with an iron fist?
No, not ours, that belongs to the parishes.
They just have to do exactly what we tell them to with it, and we can take it away from them at any time, etc.
The existence of the "shadow congregation" is the saddest thing of all, in my view.