Diocese officials tell unhappy parishioners to leave
05/06/2005 / Associated Press
Almost 90 percent of the congregation at St. Nicholas' Episcopal Church want to disassociate with the national Episcopal Church. Instead, diocese officials have given the unhappy parishioners until June 1 to leave church property.
They are upset by the 2003 decision naming the first openly gay bishop, Gene V. Robinson of New Hampshire, and by the approval of same-sex marriage blessings.
A parish vote was taken in March in which the overwhelming majority said they want to remain part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
The order to leave church property came after negotiations between the two sides in the parish and Bishop Wallis Ohl of the Diocese of Northwest Texas, the Midland Reporter-Telegram reported in Friday editions.
The title to the church property is vested in St. Nicholas' church, but, according to the denomination, is held in trust for the diocese and the national Episcopal Church, said the Rev. Jonathan Hartzer.
Ohl informed the congregation of his decision in a letter Tuesday.
"I believe that in the long run, delaying the decision would have been much more difficult for all involved. The animosity between the factions of what currently constitutes St. Nicholas' Episcopal Church was not ameliorating; in fact it was becoming more exacerbated with each passing week," he wrote. "I do not believe that is good for the souls of those wishing to remain or those who wish to depart the Episcopal Church to remain in the close proximity relationship that currently exists."
Among those asked to leave are Hartzer and the Rev. Jon Stasney, the church's rector.
Bishop Ohl: "As the old preacher said, 'brothers and sisters it's Friday; but Sunday's coming.'" Source: Reflections on the House of Bishops - March 2005 (pdf)