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ROCHESTER: Irondequoit congregation turns over keys to property

By Mary Frances Schjonberg
9/30/2006
[Episcopal News Service]  All Saints Anglican Church has vacated its Irondequoit, New York, building and started to meet in the chapel of Reformation Lutheran Church in Rochester.

The move came 10 days after a New York State Supreme Court judge decided in favor of the diocese in the issues concerning the former Episcopal All Saints' Church.

State Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Fisher ordered the leadership of those who left All Saints Church to turn over to the diocese all real and personal property, including church records on baptism, marriage, confirmation, death and membership.

Eugene Van Voorhis, lead lawyer for All Saints, told the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle newspaper that the congregation vacated the building September 22, the same day they returned keys to the diocese.
 
He said the church is planning to appeal the court ruling.

"The church is its people and not the buildings where they worship," All Saints rector David J. Harnish said in a printed statement.

The congregation has been at odds with the diocese over the 2003 ordination of a gay bishop in New Hampshire. All Saints refused to pay the assessment that it owed the diocese, and continued to use the building after the congregation was declared “extinct” by the diocesan convention last fall.

The diocesan convention in November 2005 dissolved All Saints' "because of its refusal to live by the norms, or canons, of this diocese," according to a statement issued by the diocese in March.

"The members of former All Saints' Church have always been free to leave the diocese and Episcopal Church but not to remain in diocesan property or take diocesan property with them," a statement issued after the ruling said.
The statement noted that the ruling reinforced "an important principle," namely that all property and records of churches are held in trust by the parish for the diocese in which they exist, and the Episcopal Church.

Members of the former congregation have since said that it had joined the Anglican Church of Uganda.