A Fourth Judicial District Court judge ruled today that a majestic $17 million stone church and other property at 631 N. Tejon Street belongs to the Episcopal Church and Colorado Diocese.
It’s a defeat for Grace Church & St. Stephen’s, a congregation that broke from the Episcopal Church in 2007 but continued to worship at the property.
Judge Larry Schwartz issued a 28-page ruling that concluded, among other things: “The Diocese over most of its 135 years existence demonstrates a unity of purpose on the part of the parish and general church. ... The trust created through past generations of members of Grace Church & St. Stephen’s prohibits the departing parish members from taking the property with them.”
UPDATE: CANA responds:
The Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) issued a statement in response to the ruling issued today by the El Paso County District Court in Colorado Springs, CO, concerning the ownership of Grace Church & St. Stephen’s. Judge Larry Schwartz ruled that title to the property of Grace Church & St. Stephen’s is vested in the Episcopal Church of the United States and in the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado.
“While we are of course disappointed with today’s ruling, we will continue with our ministry and mission work in Colorado Springs and around the nation,” said CANA Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns. “The Gospel is not spread by church buildings or church property. It is the living Christ that works in people, and we are praying for the orthodox Anglicans in Colorado Springs that the work of the Lord will continue.”
“We remain steadfast in our effort to defend the historic Christian faith across the country. There is clearly a division within The Episcopal Church which broke its relationship with the worldwide Anglican Communion and fell out of step with much of Christendom by choosing to redefine and reinterpret Scripture,” Minns concluded.