Diocese, Parish Reach Accord

Episcopal News Service. December 4, 1986 [86261]

DENVER (DPS, Dec. 4) -- On Nov. 24, representatives of the Diocese of Colorado and St. Mary's Anglican Catholic Church reached agreement on distribution and use of the former Episcopal parish's property; an agreement which makes clear the diocesan rights over the property.

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled in January 1986 that the diocese, rather than the breakaway congregation, is owner. Members of St. Mary's, who voted to secede from the Episcopal Church in November 1976, subsequently asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, but the Court declined to do so.

Working with the Christian Conciliation Service of Denver, a diocesan team led by Suffragan Bishop William Wolfrum (who was not resident in Colorado at the time of the split) met a number of times this fall with representatives of St. Mary's in an effort to reach a fair and equitable settlement.

"We are very pleased that we could come to a solution that is comfortable for both sides," said Wolfrum, who explained that, while the diocese will sell three residences adjacent to the church, arrangements have been worked out for the Anglican Catholic Church to continue to use the church building and clergy house, leasing the property for one dollar a year with option to buy.

The Diocesan Executive Council unanimously agreed to terms of the settlement at its November meeting, held Nov. 22 in conjunction with the annual diocesan Council/Cabinet conference.

In a recent case which was similar but did not go to court, a separation agreement was reached between the Diocese of Dallas and the Church of the Holy Communion there, in which the parish retains its name and property while withdrawing from the diocese and the Episcopal Church. (Eds.: see DPS 86182). By local canon, the property belonged to the diocese, but a spokesman for the diocese noted the church's geographic isolation and that fewer than 50 people worshipped there.