From the Hartford Courant: Leaving A Church Behind

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was the last Sunday service at Christ Church. Unable to go "further in a church that continued in a false gospel," the entire congregation, including the rector and church leaders, will sever ties with the national Episcopal Church and reform under a new name: New Hope Anglican Church.

One of the "Connecticut six," the half-dozen churches in the state diocese that disagree with national leadership on departure of scripture, including the appointment of a gay bishop, the congregation will trade its historic building on the town green for a free community room at the Thomaston Savings Bank around the corner.

The Sunday service will be held at the bank, starting Jan. 6, until they find or build another house of worship.

"We need to celebrate today, but we need to recognize there is a dying," the Rev. Allyn Benedict said in his final homily at the church. Reading off an overhead projector, church members sang hymns enthusiastically, clapping and raising hands in acknowledging their faith. They hugged one another, wishing peace.

Read it all.

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

12 Comments
Posted December 31, 2007 at 4:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Statmann wrote:

I would guess that Bishop Smith is quite pleased. He has been relieved of one of the Connecticut Six and has acquired a $7,000,000
pieceof property. And he lost a parish with only about a Plate & Pledge of $160,000 which certainly was not a big contributor to the diocesan bidget. This may well contribute substantially to his Golden Parachute.  Statmann

December 31, 6:42 pm | [comment link]
2. Oldman wrote:

Too often,  people, myself included, assume that a church building is the Church of God. Perhaps, because that generations come and go, but the building remains to gather other believing people to worship God. However, when the Church building becomes more important than God and His people, the building is nothing but stones and mortar.

The TEC and its apostate leaders sue for buildings, wrongfully assuming that the building is the Church in that place.  It is not!

Christian People are the church in a town or spot in a city. They will still be the Church of Jesus Christ no matter where they worship together.

December 31, 7:29 pm | [comment link]
3. TomRightmyer wrote:

I can’t find Christ Church Watertown CT on the national church chart list.

December 31, 9:34 pm | [comment link]
4. Statmann wrote:

Dear TomRightmyer,
    I was able to print the 1996-2206 data some weeks ago but now the chart is gone as you pointed out. Memory must be very short in Connecticut.  Statmann

December 31, 9:48 pm | [comment link]
5. Choir Stall wrote:

Ah Yes,
Seminary classes in TEC for 2008 will stand out in world Christianity. New offerings for Fall: “Flipping Distressed Ecclesiastical Real Estate”, “Turning a Gothic Dump Into a Great Steakhouse”, and my favorite, “It’s Now Just Storage”. And General Convention will pass insane resolutions tilting at windmills while the House is burning down.

December 31, 10:06 pm | [comment link]
6. William Witt wrote:

I would guess that Bishop Smith is quite pleased. He has been relieved of one of the Connecticut Six and has acquired a $7,000,000 piece of property.

Actually, Smith is now relieved of 3 1/2 - 4 of the original CT Six.  The core members of St. John’s, Bristol, moved to Trinity, Bristol after Bishop Smith’s July 13, 2005 invasion.  Trinity moved to CANA earlier this year.  Fr. Gil Wilkes of Christ Church, East Haven, retired from TEC on Sept 30, and began a new CANA parish (Christ Church, Anglican) with the bulk of the membership going with him.

Of the original CT Six, that leaves only Bishop Seabury, Groton, and St. Paul’s, Darrien, that have not left TEC and affiliated with CANA.

Interestingly, the ACN website lists Bishop Seabury as CANA, but I have yet to have this confirmed.

BTW, Christ Church, CANA, is where Kevin Kallsen and I shot Anglican Report.  It is, I think, misleading, to suggest that Bishop Smith now has a $7,000,000 piece of property.  What he has is an English Country style stone church, a rectory, and a Common Green.  As with all old churches, the building is expensive to maintain.  It seems unlikely that Smith will be able to start a new Episcopal Church here and make it a going concern.  The location is residential and the building historic, so he cannot really raze the building, and replace it with a shopping mall.  I would doubt that he would find a non-Episcopal/Anglican church who would be willing to pay him the assessed value for the property.

So what he has is an empty piece of real estate that will be expensive to maintain.

January 1, 11:41 am | [comment link]
7. Allyn Benedict+ wrote:

Yes. all Christ Church property is in a very restricted historic district. Nothing can be changed. Period. By the way, we gave the material provision of Christ Church back to the Father for his kingdom. I’m sure he can deal with it. We trust that he will find a way to use it for his glory.
Just to note, friends, that the new Anglican church in watertown (New Hope Anglican) is not affiliated with CANA, nor will it be. The final decision concerning affiliation has not been made, but will most likely be with either the New England Convocation of the ACN, or Kenya, with +Murdoch providing oversight in either case.

January 1, 12:31 pm | [comment link]
8. Chris wrote:

further to #6: this whole valuation of church property thing is wildly distorted, partly for the reasons W.W. outlines.  Only in the (rare) instance where the property could be turned over to a developer is the property really worth what the appraisers say it is.  In reality, there are few qualifying entities (i.e. other churches) who can buy it, and they are not able to pay what a developer would.

January 1, 12:36 pm | [comment link]
9. William Witt wrote:

Just to note, friends, that the new Anglican church in watertown (New Hope Anglican) is not affiliated with CANA, nor will it be.

Mea culpa.  After noting that Trinity, Bristol, and Christ Church, East Haven had joined CANA, I must have anticipated a pattern that is not there.  I note now that the news story about New Hope, Anglican does not mention CANA.

January 1, 2:47 pm | [comment link]
10. Planonian wrote:

Good for these folks for leaving with their integrity intact. They shook the dust off their sandals (i.e. the rest of us in TEC) and trusted in God and the strength of their convictions.

So how come we hear so much more about “reasserters” who lack such integrity trying to take the family silver with them when they leave ? It makes regular, old Episcopalians like me wonder if you have any courage of your convictions. How come most of you don’t feel the way that was expressed so forcefully in #2 above ?

January 2, 5:54 pm | [comment link]
11. scott+ wrote:

I wonder if they will paint over the TV set?  After all that very fancy set should be saved wink

January 2, 8:03 pm | [comment link]
12. Connecticutian wrote:

Diocese has now made a statement, via eNews mailing:

Changes at Christ Church, Watertown

The rector and congregation of Christ Church, Watertown, have left the Episcopal Church, Diocese, and parish property to start “New Hope Anglican Church.” Their final service was December 30. Bishop Smith met with the rector the Rev. Allyn Benedict, church leaders, and the congregation last October and with Benedict several additional times. Smith said that the meetings and the process have been marked with “extreme grace.”

The Rev. Susan McCone has been appointed to serve as priest at Christ Church, Watertown. She will lead 9 a.m. Sunday services beginning January 6. (Supporters are welcome.) Mr. Ed Seibert of Christ Church, Guilford, has been hired as the diocesan liaison to other tenants in the buildings.

January 4, 10:03 pm | [comment link]
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