Court rules in favor of Grace and St. Stephen’s

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District Court Judge Larry Schwartz has ruled that the historic Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church property is held in trust for the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church and has ordered the breakaway congregation that took possession of the property two years ago to leave.

Schwartz’s opinion states:

“I find and conclude that, like [Bishop and Diocese of Colo. v. Mote, 716

P.2d 85 (Colo. 1986)], the founding documents, various bylaws, relevant

canons of the general church and consistent parish loyalty to the diocese

over most of its 135 year existence demonstrate a unity of purpose on the

part of the parish and of the general church that reflects the intent that all

property held by the parish would be dedicated to and utilized for the

advancement of the work of [the Episcopal Church of the United States of

America]. While freedom of religion recognizes the right of any faction

within a church to leave that church whenever they choose, the trust that

has been created through past generations of members of Grace Church

and St. Stephen’s prohibits the departing parish members from taking the

property with them.”

The 500 members of the Episcopal congregation have been worshipping at First Christian Church for nearly two years while the case worked its way through the court.