Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lent and Lawsuits, Part 3 - Homeless in Binghamton

In my previous installment of "Lent and Lawsuits" (Part 2, March 7, 2010), I made reference to:
The Diocese of Central New York, where the church building of St. Andrew's Church, in Vestal, was taken over by the Episcopal diocese shortly before Christmas of 2007 and is now vacant and for sale, while St. Andrew's congregation is worshiping elsewhere and thriving. The Church of the Good Shepherd, in Binghamton, also had its building taken in a lawsuit by the diocese. That building also sits vacant while the Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd continues to worship and grow in a new location.

There has been a further development with regard to the former church building of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton: FrontPage Magazine today published the news that the building the Episcopal Diocese refused to sell to the departing Anglican congregation, and instead sued them for, has now been sold to a Dawah—an Islamic Awareness Center.

Faith J. H. McDonnell, of the Institute for Religion and Democracy, writes in the article:
It was not as if the people of Good Shepherd had been expecting to keep their church building at no cost. Before the legal proceedings began, Good Shepherd offered to purchase the church building and rectory from the diocese. The diocese refused to sell, and during litigation told the court that the parish was no longer using the property for the purposes for which it had been intended by the Episcopalians who built it in 1879 and who had spent money to maintain it over the years. The Episcopal Church has at various times declared that it will sue every congregation that departs from the denomination in order to preserve the “devotion and witness of Episcopalians of the past for Episcopalians of the future.” That has not quite turned out to be the case in Binghamton, though, unless the “Episcopalians of the future” are part of the Ummah, the Muslim world. Which, come to think of it, does not seem all that far-fetched.

Although the Diocese of Central New York refused to sell the Church of the Good Shepherd to the Anglicans for whom it had been home, they were happy to sell it to a Muslim group for $50,000, a third of the amount that Good Shepherd had offered. According to the Rev. Tony Seel, the Diocese even added a legal caveat to the sale stating that the new owners of the property could never re-sell the building to the original congregation (emphasis added).

The property had been standing vacant and padlocked for many months, when on March 17, 2010, Kennedy passed by his former church building. He saw a crane removing the cross from the bell tower. The former Good Shepherd Church had red doors, symbolizing the blood of Christ as well as the blood of the martyrs. Now the doors had been painted green, and the new owners had covered over the glass that had formed the horizontal arms of a cross-shaped window on the church door. Over the back door was a new sign that said “Islamic Awareness Center.”

That's right, folks. The Episcopal Church would rather have a church building become a night club, an antique store, or a mosque than to allow it to be used by a group of Christians with whom they disagree.

Am I the only one who is thoroughly, righteously indignant that the so-called leadership of the Episcopal Church is spending the tithes and offerings of God's people to wage a jihad of litigation against fellow Christians? I don't think so.


1 comment:

Dale Matson said...

Dean Munday,
If TEC was an individual would we be looking at someone no longer acting in accord with his/her own core belief system? The leadership does not reflect the mind of the constituent members of TEC. KJS and the Diocese were not carrying out their fiduciary responsibilities (as KJS refers to it) when they sold the property at one third the listed value when the full amount was offered. The real issue is fear of competition. They don't want the Gospel message preached near their inclusive and innovative version.