Church In Bristol Settles Dispute With Episcopal Diocese

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the end, former members of Trinity Church in Bristol decided it wasn't worth the fight.

The parishioners have settled their legal dispute with the Episcopal Diocese by agreeing to relinquish their historic church home. In return, both the diocese and the national Episcopal Church will withdraw their lawsuit against Trinity's priest and its leaders.

The diocese took legal action last year after the congregation defected from the Episcopal Church in a theological dispute and aligned itself with a more conservative Anglican group, but refused to leave the property.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Connecticut

Posted May 29, 2008 at 10:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Undergroundpewster wrote:

“We’re saddened that they’ve left the diocese,” Curry said, “but we feel its very important to claim for the Episcopal Church those things that have been given to the Episcopal Church over the years.”

Those things were given to a different Episcopal Church, not the present junta.

May 29, 10:46 am | [comment link]
2. Brian from T19 wrote:

It’s good to see that there are still some ethical parishes around.  Best of Luck Holy Trinity Anglican.

May 29, 10:56 am | [comment link]
3. Helen wrote:

In my opinion, this was the right thing for Trinity Church to do.  It is a sacrifice that will be blessed by the Lord.  Trinity is following the Lord’s example that he gave in his life and also in the Sermon on the Mount.  Many blessings.

May 29, 11:00 am | [comment link]
4. libraryjim wrote:

I agree that Trinity took the high ground.

In return, both the diocese and the national Episcopal Church will withdraw their lawsuit against Trinity’s priest and its leaders.

I highly doubt, given past precident, that this will be the case, or the last Trinity’s priest(s) hear from 815.

Jim Elliott <><

May 29, 11:48 am | [comment link]
5. ACNApriest wrote:

This is actually the best description of the issues that I have seen from a secular press:

Like other conservative parishes in the United States, members of the former Trinity parish split with the Episcopal Church over differences of opinion about Scripture that have manifested themselves in public disagreements about the ordination of gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions.


May 29, 12:21 pm | [comment link]
6. David Keller wrote:

#1 Underground—Too bad they don’t claim the Apostle’s teaching, the Bible, 4000 years of Judeo/Christin ethics,...Well, I could go on, but you get the point.

May 29, 12:34 pm | [comment link]
7. evan miller wrote:

It’s heartbreaking that the good folks at Trinity are losing their lovely church.  I understand their having to abandon the fight due to the crushing costs of litigation and TEC’s apparant willingness to spend whatever it takes to grind down the orthodox.  Still, I know many of the Trinity parishioners will grieve for years at their loss, as I have done.  It’s very easy to say “walk away from it all” but far harder to do, even with the Lord’s help.  I pray the folks at Bishop Seabury are able to hang in and prevail in their fight to retain their church building for the purpose intended by its founders - Christian worship, not the loathsome agenda of the TEC heretics.

May 29, 1:22 pm | [comment link]
8. RalphM wrote:

“We’re saddened that they’ve left the diocese,” Curry said, “but we feel its very important to claim for the Episcopal Church those things that have been given to the Episcopal Church over the years.”

The blood is free to leave, but we’re keeping the cadaver…

May 29, 1:33 pm | [comment link]
9. William Witt wrote:

The Diocese of CT is already making the payments on a building and paying the salary of a vicar in Bristol, CT, where the rump congregation of St. John’s, Bristol (the one where Smith changed the locks) cannot afford to hire a rector and keep the building running on their own.  The number of Trinity, Bristol, parishioners that Smith and Curry can count on can be estimated from the number who appeared at an information meeting that Smith held after Trinity went to CANA.  Two Trinity members who went to CANA attended, and reported back that a total of two current Trinity members attended expressing interest in the bishop’s plan—a man and a woman both over 80.  The building will stand empty.

There can be no possible strategic or financial advantage for the diocese either to have sued the parish or to have seized the property.  The lawsuit would have been hugely expensive, and TEC likely would have lost.  Trinity is a colonial parish predating the establishment of TEC, with all of its deeds and titles, and no record of ever having ceded its property.  The building, while beautiful, is old, and expensive to maintain.  The remaining congregation of approximately two elderly parishioners will not be able to maintain it. There is already one struggling (formerly orthodox) TEC parish with a revisionist vicar fifteen minutes away, and no market for another.  If sold, the building will likely not return its value.  So, financially, this is a pyrrhic victory.  When TEC wins, it loses.

The only possible motivation for TEC’s actions is a scorched earth policy.  Those who resist the “new thing” must be made to heel.  Should they resist or leave, their ability to continue or re-establish as competition to the TEC franchise must be made as difficult as possible.  This is sheer vindictiveness.

May 29, 4:09 pm | [comment link]
10. Brian from T19 wrote:

There can be no possible strategic or financial advantage for the diocese either to have sued the parish or to have seized the property.

It’s not about strategy or money.

May 29, 4:26 pm | [comment link]
11. William Witt wrote:

blockquote] It’s not about strategy or money.

Indeed, it is not.  It is about protecting the franchise.  TEC would rather the building stand empty than that those who built it, paid for it, maintained it, and practiced the historic faith in it for four hundred years be allowed to continue being Anglicans in a way that might be competitive to the new thing.  It is really that simple.

May 29, 4:52 pm | [comment link]
12. Ricky Bobby wrote:

The heck with souls for Jesus…we need the property to sell to fund our dying church which no one atttends or contributes to anymore, but that is alright because we are all so smart we aren’t having children and won’t need near as many churches in the future…and right now we have all these law suits against the clergy and leaders of our church who don’t have ears to hear the new thing God is whispering to us…we need to love all people except those who have built and served the church for generations…those we cast into desparation and beat them up with law suits and false accussations until they give up…they don’t have near the resources to wage these legal fights that we have accumulated by strealing and selling all the assets they have previously given the church…but with selling all this proeprty we will have the money to outlast them and run every last one of them out of our inclusive church…

May 29, 7:03 pm | [comment link]
13. Anonymous Layperson wrote:

If the soulless Bishop Smith had an ounce of Christian integrity he would have negotiated a fair and reasonable settlement with the departing parishoners.  Can he not comprehend that to the greater Bristol community he looks like a nasty and vindictive man?  The parishioners won’t leave Bristol- his “competition” will still be there.  And the empty boarded-up building he greedily clings to like a desparate miser will stand in judgement of his actions…

May 29, 7:14 pm | [comment link]
14. francis wrote:

High ground, nothing.  This implies they have no right to the property. The folks are gracious and Christian and the diocese has no claim on either of those characterisitcs.

May 29, 7:49 pm | [comment link]
15. GSP98 wrote:

Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man,
  but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel. (Proverbs 20:17)

May 29, 9:11 pm | [comment link]
16. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Dr. Witt (#9, 11),

I’m glad you chimed in.  I wholeheartedly agree with you.

TEC’s “scorched earth” policy, as you aptly put it, is practically guaranteed to backfire eventually on its short-sighted, foolish leaders.  Only I don’t take Bp. Smith and the PB etc. as being “vindictive” so much as trying to intimidate other conservative church leaders who might be inclined to follow the example of those who have departed.  The diocesan and national leaders are acting like bullies.  But like schoolyard bullies, the swaggering bravado is just a front that masks a deep insecurity.  And eventually, bullies always end up being exposed and humiliated.

As we are reminded every night when we do Evening Prayer, “He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.”  So it has always been.  So it will always be.

David Handy+

May 30, 12:44 am | [comment link]
17. carol wrote:

Curry said, “but we feel its very important to claim for the Episcopal Church those things that have been given to the Episcopal Church over the years.”
That statement irks me to no end.  The Stations of the Cross, large cross over the altar, pascal candle, etc.  were given by my husband and I to the GLORY OF GOD…not the episcopal church!!!!  It is a shame that God is no longer being glorified in my previous church.  It was only on a rare occasion that I heard in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost being use…it was always a mumbled non-gender something or other. 
I would love to have taken our gifts to God to the church we are currently attending…God is truly glorfied there and the bible is read and in every pew…wow what a difference.

May 30, 6:05 am | [comment link]
18. William Witt wrote:

Curry said, “but we feel its very important to claim for the Episcopal Church those things that have been given to the Episcopal Church over the years.”

It is important to note that this statement is a simple lie.  As I wrote above, this parish predates TEC.  Trinity Bristol Society was founded in 1756.  The Episcopal Church did not even exist when this parish was founded.  The church has [or had until the diocese just stole them] all its original deeds and titles.  There is no evidence anywhere that this parish or its members ever relinquished its property to the Episcopal Church, or that its members understood themselves to be donating to the Episcopal Church rather than to the parish when they gave.

May 30, 8:02 am | [comment link]
19. evan miller wrote:

Except for pre-dating the Episcopal Church, the same applied to my old parish of St. John’s in Versailles, KY.  The deed had always been with the vestry since the church was founded in the 1850s.  It was only after +Sauls fired the vestry, reduced St. John’s to mission status, and installed his own Quisling Bishop’s Committee, that the puppets signed over the deed to the diocese.  A tragedy and a betrayal of all those generations of faithful who built and adorned the church as a fitting place for Christian worship.

May 30, 9:23 am | [comment link]
20. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

Dr. Witt, as you point out, the diocese is taking by brute force (namely, the threat of protracted litigation) something that does not and never did belong to them. If it were simply ‘taking’ it would be the act of a common thief. But by taking it through force, they are committing strong-arm robbery.

The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut: worse than a Common Thief.
The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut: same as a Common Street Thug.

The Rabbit.

May 30, 9:40 am | [comment link]
21. Br_er Rabbit wrote:

They should be thankful they’re not Islamic.
They’d have their hand cut off.
The Rabbit.

May 30, 9:42 am | [comment link]
22. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Br_er Rabbit,

Yes, TEC is shameless in breaking the 8th Commandment, “You shall not steal.”  But it’s even worse than that.  Or extortion.

The current administration of TEC is attempting to intimidate their opposition.  This seizure of the property of Trinity, Bristol, CT is nothing less than financial terrorism.  The use of brute force and coercion, that is the very opposite of their avowed message of toleration and inclusivness.  It is hypocrisy and tyranny of a very blatant and inexcusable sort. 

Is it any wonder that so many of us have no trust or respect whatsoever for the leaders of TEC?

David Handy+
So proud of the cabinet of the NRAFC

May 30, 10:20 am | [comment link]
23. Connecticutian wrote:

Here’s a Bristol Press update on how things are going for the Episcopal remnant of Trinity…

Perhaps the TEC diocese can realize some income from the dormant property by leasing it to Holy Trinity Anglican!  wink

Congratulations, Fr. Don and friends!  Grace & Peace to you…

June 1, 11:20 pm | [comment link]
24. elanor wrote:

I visiting Holy Trinity Anglican in Bristol today—what a lovely experience!  The worship was truly alive in a way I’ve seldom seen in the Diocese of CT

August 17, 11:07 pm | [comment link]
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