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May 18, 2010


From Episcopal church to Islamic center

Since 1879 the Church of the Good Shepherd stood at #79 Conklin Avenue in Binghamton, NY.  In February of this year, the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York sold the building to Imam Muhammad Affify.  The cross has been removed from the top of the bell tower, the red doors have been repainted green, a windowpane cross has been painted over, and all Christian symbols have been eradicated.  That is symbolic in itself considering that the building now houses the Islamic Awareness Center.

But this isn’t a story about a congregation that had dwindled down to nothing, leaving the Diocese no choice but to sell church property to the highest bidder.  Quite the contrary.
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In 2006 Fr. Kennedy and other representatives from Good Shepherd met with their Bishop and explained why they felt they could no longer, in good conscience, remain in the Episcopal Church.  Despite their theological differences, Fr. Kennedy describes their relationship with the Bishop as very positive.  Good Shepherd offered to purchase the property for $150,000 in cash plus a large bequest.  A verbal agreement was reached.  Several more meetings were held throughout 2007 which were cordial and positive.

Then, as Fr. Kennedy told me, things suddenly changed.  The verbal agreement to purchase the property was rejected, and they were slapped with a lawsuit by the Diocese.  Even throughout that process, Fr. Kennedy explained, Church of the Good Shepherd made efforts to resolve the issue out of court.  But to no avail.
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For the record, the Diocese of Central New York sold—or perhaps sold out—to the Imam for a mere $50,000.  It is astonishing to note the lengths the Episcopal Church, under the leadership of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, went to in order to keep a “traditional” congregation from remaining in its buildings.

Thanks to them, #79 Conklin Avenue is no longer a house of Christian worship.

Thanks to some good Christian neighbors, Fr. Kennedy, his family and his congregation all have a home again, just down the road.


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23 comments

Allahu akhbar, Matthew!

[1] Posted by Greg Griffith on 5-18-2010 at 09:36 AM · [top]

Really, really sad!

[2] Posted by Wright Wall on 5-18-2010 at 09:37 AM · [top]

Would now be a good time to congratulate +Adams and Schori on their Pyrrhic victory? 

Prayers for the Kennedys and all at their new home; the backstory is absolutely ridiculous, through no fault of their own.

[3] Posted by Anti-Harridan on 5-18-2010 at 11:04 AM · [top]

Several more meetings were held throughout 2007 which were cordial and positive. Then, as Fr. Kennedy told me, things suddenly changed.

Been there, done that. But it is refreshing to be free of it all, to be able to focus on our Lord. Blessings to you Matt+ and all from Good Shepherd on your journey.

[4] Posted by Fisherman on 5-18-2010 at 11:21 AM · [top]

So much for Schori’s claim of fiduciary responsibility of preserving church property and assets for future episcopal generation!

[5] Posted by TLDillon on 5-18-2010 at 11:28 AM · [top]

Well, at least the property is not being used by a group that is hostile to homosexuality or is against the equality of women.

Oh, wait.

[6] Posted by DietofWorms on 5-18-2010 at 12:16 PM · [top]

The Lord God Almighty takes note.

[7] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 5-18-2010 at 12:39 PM · [top]

Greg,

Although this story is hardly news to regular SF readers, it’s good for it to be recurrently highlighted since this outrageous case is so egregious and scandalous.

But now that God has redeemed the situation by giving Matthew+ and Anne+ a much bigger and nicer church building and rectory, I’m reminded of the parallel with the patriarch Joseph and what he said to his brothers who sold him into slavery:

“You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20).  The Lord really does have an amazing way of making all things work together for good…

David Handy+

[8] Posted by New Reformation Advocate on 5-18-2010 at 01:30 PM · [top]

Did not the “closet Episcopal” judge urge the diocese to seek further damages over and above the building travesty such as tithes,endowments? Do we know the scope of these rants and the results or are they still on going?
Intercessor

[9] Posted by Intercessor on 5-18-2010 at 01:40 PM · [top]

Wow, a “closet Episcopal” judge.  Novels have nothing on Episcopalians…........

[10] Posted by dwstroudmd+ on 5-18-2010 at 02:24 PM · [top]

Anyone who is on facebook should really post this story. It is easy just click on Facebook.. I did. That should keep this in the news awhile longer.  A really, really awful situation which had some wonderful results in Good Shepherd Anglican.  God Bless Matt+ and Ann+.

[11] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 5-18-2010 at 04:22 PM · [top]

You can almost see the likes of Schori and Beers eagerly offering their throats to the knife, can’t you, in a fit of multicultural exuberance?

[12] Posted by Jeffersonian on 5-18-2010 at 04:34 PM · [top]

The cross has been removed from the top of the bell tower, the red doors have been repainted green, a windowpane cross has been painted over, and all Christian symbols have been eradicated.

This is such a sad sentence.  Like a woman stripped naked and thrown into the street.  It must be painful for those who once worshiped in that building to watch such a display.  You would think the previous owners would have removed all such items, and not let them be trampled underfoot by unbelievers.  But, then, we must not forget that God suffered the Ark of the Covenant to be defiled by pagan hands.  It was carried off to Babylon and never seen again.  These things are after all only stone and wood and metal.  In the absence of the Spirit, they have no intrinsic spiritual value.  God discards an Ark or a building without a care, but He does not overlook His own.  Not even one. 

The fate of the building reveals the nature of those who sold it.  As sad as its fate may be, it still serves the glorify the Living God - even if only as a sepulcher.  The Living are gone from its halls, and the Dead have sold it to the Dead for the price of a slave.

Let this be its epitaph.  “God was once worshiped here, but men were not willing.”  Rest in Peace.  1879-2010.

carl

[13] Posted by carl on 5-18-2010 at 04:34 PM · [top]

Although I have known about this outcome for some time, I still think of the parishioners who would have given various items and memorials—which the diocese insisted must remain with the property.  It’s most disturbing to think those are have been sold to another religion.  I hope Matt and his congregation have been able to find peace in dealing with this situation.

[14] Posted by Dorpsgek on 5-18-2010 at 05:35 PM · [top]

This was a great story. It could not have possibly put the Schori-ites in a worse light.

[15] Posted by robroy on 5-18-2010 at 05:47 PM · [top]

That story tells it all.

[16] Posted by Going Home on 5-18-2010 at 06:29 PM · [top]

I’m sure KJS/DBB consider this a great victory.  So does Satan.

[17] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 5-18-2010 at 10:09 PM · [top]

To a liberal, “Inclusion of all people” only works when you toe the line. If you don’t, you get hammered. It happens so often, I am surprised by people who are surprised by liberal behavior. In the end, the liberal’s only goal is the outcome. THEY REALLY DON’T CARE ABOUT HOW THEY GOT THERE. They don’t care who got thrown under the bus in the process, the illegality of their actions, or the huge amounts of money and credibility they lost in the process. All they care about is denying the use of the property to those lunatic rign-wing extremists that DARED to defy the grand poombah and leave. KJS does it, the anointed one does it, the liberal congress does it…

Stop being surprised by it…

Live free or die…

[18] Posted by Amazed&Graced; on 5-19-2010 at 07:00 AM · [top]

Ah yes,  “the ends justify the means.”  Now where did I first hear that?

[19] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 5-19-2010 at 08:33 PM · [top]

A “news source” has recently published a “correction” that is somewhat misleading. I will quote but not link:

” SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT. a final note about the property of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Binghamton, NY that was once the home of the congregation of Fr. Matt Kennedy and his flock. It was sold off to a Muslim Awareness group for $50,000.

VOL was told, and others also ran the story, that it was sold for a mere fraction of the church’s assessed $386,400 value. Apparently, that was not true.”

Well, no it is not. The author of the report has mangled several facts:

1. While we were still in the process of friendly negotiations, Good Shepherd went halves with the Diocese of CNY on an appraisal for the Rectory and the Church building together. Respectively they were appraised at:

rectory: 137,000 dollars
church: 207,000 dollars.

2. Throughout our negotiations and the lawsuit the diocese insisted that this was the only price they would be willing to accept for both buildings even though we told them clearly that they would never be able to sell it for that much.

“VOL has subsequently learned that when assessors went it to look at the property, they found it in such horrible condition that it was only worth $50,000.”

Not quite what happened. After the diocese had the church building on the market for about a year at 207,000K with no takers, a prospective buyer noticed some real problems with the building and a SECOND appraisal was done (not sure whether it was paid for by the diocese or the prospective buyer or both) which uncovered the fact that the plaster was pealing from the exterior of the building and that would require a significant amount of money to repair—over 100K. This buyer—also a group from another religious tradition—suggested a buy price of, I think, 60K but ended up not being able to make the purchase. That’s when the Muslims stepped in and was able to seal the deal for 50K in cash.

“Apparently, the diocese was lucky even to get that amount.”

Well, no. They could have had 150K from us had they not sued.

The author of the “correction” should know better than to accept the word of a official from a diocese that has already been caught in numerous lies and half-truths.

[20] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 5-20-2010 at 07:22 AM · [top]

Hey Matt, he *does* know better—but you know, considering it was about you and your parish, he needed to make an exception.

; > )

Heh.

[21] Posted by Sarah on 5-20-2010 at 07:43 AM · [top]

My brother pointed this out to me. There will be a mosque built on the site of the WTC. Here is the link from NY Post. http://www.nypost.com/p/news/national/mosque_madness_at_ground_zero_OQ34EB0MWS0lXuAnQau5uL

Anyone else know about this? Pretty tragic in my eyes. How awful. I bet if a Christian group wanted to put up a Christian Memorial it would not be allowed.

[22] Posted by SC blu cat lady on 5-20-2010 at 10:43 AM · [top]

SC blu cat lady,

Probably to celebrate the Islamic victory! (Even though what I heard was that it was a peace memorial—Muslims are allowed to lie to support their religion).

[23] Posted by BillB on 5-20-2010 at 10:47 AM · [top]

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