Thursday, February 1, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Raymond J. Dague 315-422-2052
The Episcopal Diocese of Central New York has filed yet another motion in its ongoing lawsuit to take over St. Andrews Church in Syracuse, New York. The motion is a procedural move for partial summary judgement on one of the various grounds for the lawsuit. Even if the diocese wins this round of motions, the parish will still be in their property at 5013 South Salina Street in Syracuse, New York for the time being. The latest filing yesterday comes just over a week after the diocese refused to negotiate with the parish. Several weeks ago, St. Andrews Church became the first parish in the country to be targeted by the new presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, The Rt. Rev. Katherine Jefferts Schori. Her lawyers filed papers to try to sue the parish in mid-January.
The diocese filed the lawsuit against St. Andrews Church last July to take the property from the congregation which has been a Free Church since 1903. The New York courts have ruled that free churches affiliated with an Episcopal diocese can leave their affiliation with the Episcopal Church and retain their church building, but the Central New York bishop has requested that his lawyers to challenge that ruling in the Syracuse court. The Diocese sued the local church because the parish transferred its allegiance from Bishop Gladstone "Skip" Adams III of Syracuse to the Anglican Archbishop of Rwanda over a dispute of Biblical interpretation concerning whether homosexual behavior is a sin.
"The latest filing by the diocese is a clear attempt to wear down our people," said Raymond Dague, attorney for the parish. "We have already offered to give the bishop our buildings if he will just give us time to build another place to worship, but apparently Bishop Adams would rather see our church padlocked than give us any breathing room."
Until now, St. Andrews Church and its priest, Fr. Robert Hackendorf, have successfully resisted the attempt by the diocese to seize the parish through legal action, both last July and again last September. The lawsuit by the Episcopal Diocese sued the individual members of the church’s governing vestry in addition to suing the local congregation. In September, the judge dismissed the lawsuit where the diocese sued individual members of the parish vestry, and also denied a request for a preliminary injunction against the local church. The lawsuit against the parish and the rector was allowed to continue.
The bishop of Virginia recently filed legal papers against 11 parishes which left his spiritual authority for the oversight of the bishops of the Anglican Province of Nigeria. The national Episcopal Church office in New York City has also filed papers against St. Andrews Church and the Virginia congregations in what is expected to be a nationwide avalanche of litigation by the Episcopal Church and some liberal dioceses against local congregations.
Bishop "Skip" Adams and the Virginia bishop are at odds with those parishes over homosexual bishops and the authority of Scripture which has for years engulfed the Episcopal Church. St. Andrews adheres to the traditional teaching of the church that sex outside of marriage is prohibited by the Bible, while the Bishop Adams, Presiding Bishop Schori, and the Virginia bishop have been outspoken supporters of the actively homosexual bishop of New Hampshire and a more liberal view of the Scriptures.