ATTLEBORO - Parishioners of All Saints church have been ordered by Episcopal Bishop Thomas Shaw to vacate the church property on North Main Street by Jan. 31 because of their decision to separate from the national Episcopal Church and to align with orthodox Anglicans.
The Rev. Lance Giuffrida, rector of All Saints, said parishioners will abide by the order and hold their last service at the church at 9 a.m. Sunday, then meet to decide where they will worship in the future.
"This is our last Sunday," said Giuffrida, who plans to later turn over the keys and all the parish property and assets to Shaw as head of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.
The order, he said, was not a surprise, and the parish was already preparing to leave. . . .
The Rev. Gregory Jacobs, staff officer for urban ministry development for the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, a former attorney and a consultant to Shaw, said Tuesday that Shaw's letter is consistent with the stands being taken nationwide.
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The reason for Shaw's current actions, Jacobs said, was the decision by All Saints in September to be under the jurisdiction of the Province of Rwanda and to join its Anglican Mission in America, which is not a recognized body of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
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Diocesan officials have previously said they have heard from former members of All Saints who stopped worshiping there because of Giuffrida's conservative views and who intended to return if another priest was assigned.
Jacobs said the hope is that a service will be held there by the new priest as soon as Sunday, Feb. 4.
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All Saints currently has about 120 families, or 350 to 400 individuals, he said, and almost half of those families so far have signed on to the new parish. He said he hopes the remaining families choose to sign up this Sunday.
The parishioners had hoped to keep the funds they had raised since their Anglican alignment. Jacobs said they may be entitled to keep any money that was clearly raised for Anglican purposes, but he believes that any other funds belong to the Episcopal Church.
Giuffrida said that would be a fair resolution.
While Giuffrida said he is relieved parishioners will now be able to move on, he had hoped for a different outcome: that they could have bought the parish property.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
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