This was the first parish I served following seminary. I worked with youth and children there and I have a fondness for the people of this strong parish. ed.
Parish Will Fight For Property
By David W. Virtue
The 150-family evangelical church of St. Francis on the Hill has voted unanimously to formally leave the Episcopal Church.
Their attorney, Richard Munsinger, immediately filed a motion for summary judgment in the District Court of El Paso seeking a decision on title to the property, which is owned by the parish situated in Northwest El Paso.
The Rev. Dr. Felix Orji, the Nigerian-born rector of the parish, told VOL late last night that his vestry voted overwhelmingly to take the parish out of The Episcopal Church having waited two years for The Episcopal Church to repent and for the Diocese of the Rio Grande to leave TEC. "They have refused to repent of their heterodoxy, and to repent of their homosexual positions," he told VOL.
"On November 19, 2006, the congregation voted by 90% to begin the process of leaving TEC. There has been no repentance, now we must go. The Episcopal Church has not changed by deposing Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan and it is clear to us the Diocese of the Rio Grande is not thinking of leaving TEC."
Orji said he will come under the ecclesiastical authority of CANA, a Nigerian Anglican Province church plant in North America and Bishop Martyn Minns, but his parish has not yet voted on what it will do.
"We have started losing members. People are leaving, they are tired of waiting. So the vestry decided to act on the mandate, the congregation gave two years ago. The vestry was mandated to monitor and make a decision on behalf of the parish. We held four town hall meetings to find out what people thought and an overwhelming majority voted to leave TEC. The full vestry voted unanimously in favor of going."
Orji said he talked with Rio Grande Bishop Pro Tempore William Frey who told him that parishioners could leave the church, but they could not take the property. Ownership will now be decided in court.
Orji said the ongoing persecution of orthodox Christians in The Episcopal Church is reprehensible. "The issue is that Scripture (the Bible) is no longer considered authoritative, that is the fundamental issue."
The Nigerian priest is no stranger to controversy. He was a priest for six years at St. John's, Shaughnessy, in Vancouver, BC, working with orthodox rector the Rev. David Short, in the revisionist Diocese of New Westminster under Bishop Michael Ingham. Ingham recently deposed Short.