Judge: Anglican parish must vacate Grace church by April 3
March 25, 2009 - 11:21 AM
A judge ruled today that the Anglican parish that's been meeting at Grace Church, 631 N. Tejon St., must vacate the building by April 3 at 5 p.m., setting the stage for the exiled Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal parish to hold its first service in the gothic church on Palm Sunday.
Judge Larry Schwartz also ordered the Anglican parish priest, Donald Armstrong, to vacate the rectory, where he lives on Electra Drive in the Skyline Way area, within 45 days from today. This revised the original order issued on Tuesday, which stated that Armstrong would have to vacate by April 1.
Schwartz asked the attorneys of the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado and the Anglican parish to agree on the appointment of a receiver, who would oversee and manage the transition of property between the parishes. If the attorneys do not agree on a receiver by 9 a.m. Thursday, Schwartz will appoint one. Concerns have been raised by the diocese that staff of the Anglican parish were walking out of Grace Church carrying boxes, and it was unknown if this was personal property or church property.
Schwartz encouraged both sides to work together to get through this transition. "If we act like adults, this can all be resolved," he said.The orders were made during a motion hearing this morning at the Fourth Judicial Court. The 4 ½ week trial to determine legal ownership of the majestic gothic church downtown concluded March 11. During the trial, the Anglican parish, which has occupied the property since March 2007, argued that since 1973 it's been its own corporation holding legal title to the church property. The diocese argued that the Anglican parish was part of the Episcopal Church until its secession two years ago. According to ecclesiastical law and Colorado legal precedent, an Episcopal parish never holds title of its property, and if it leaves the national body, it must vacate church property.On Tuesday, Schwartz ruled that the church property belonged to the Colorado Episcopal diocese, not the Anglican parish.
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