Friday, June 17, 2011

Breakaway Anglicans lose last legal avenue to claim ownership of church buildings, land

The Supreme Court of Canada said Thursday it will not hear a last-ditch appeal from four dissident conservative Anglican churches in Vancouver that hoped to hold on to their buildings and land.

In November, the British Columbia Court of Appeal, the highest court in the province, ruled that the properties are owned by the Diocese of New Westminster, which is part of the Anglican Church of Canada. The four churches are valued at about $20-million. Their congregations have broken with the mainstream church over same-sex marriage and other issues.

“We’ve always said from the get-go that we might have to choose between our faith and our buildings, and we chose our faith,” said Cheryl Chang, special counsel to the Anglican Network in Canada, the umbrella group for breakaway Anglican parishes. “Part of being Christian is to sacrifice. In the Third World people are tortured and killed for their faith. Here they take away your churches.”
One of the four parishes includes St. John’s Shaughnessy Church, one of the largest Anglican congregations in Canada. Ms. Chang said it will be very difficult for St. John’s to find a suitable building large enough to hold the nearly 1,000 parishioners who worship there every Sunday.

There are several other parishes involved in legal fights with their parishes that this case could impact, Ms. Chang said.

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Related article: Rector of Canada's Largest Anglican Church Responds to Court Decision

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