Former Episcopalians who have been ordered by an El Paso County judge to leave their historic property will begin anew on Palm Sunday as St. George's Anglican Church.
The new church is formed by the majority of congregants from Grace Church & St. Stephen's in Colorado Springs who split from the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado. St. George's is the fourth breakaway Anglican parish to be established in the county.
"We are moving to a beautiful location situated among rocks not unlike where Jesus' tomb was located, and like him we will be resurrected to new life as a congregation, with a new name, and a new future," commented the Rev. Donald Armstrong, rector of the new parish. "This biblical similarity is not lost on us."
Last week, District Judge Larry Schwartz ruled that the $17 million property of Grace Church & St. Stephen's belongs to the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado and not the breakaway parish.
The ruling came after a two-year long dispute over property ownership since Grace Church & St. Stephen's – one of the oldest Anglican churches in Colorado – voted to secede from the Episcopal diocese in May 2007.
The parish has cited "theological revisions and controversial sexual ethics" for leaving The Episcopal Church – the U.S. arm of the global Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church heightened controversy in 2003 when it consecrated its first openly gay bishop.
While leaving The Episcopal Church, the parish joined the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) – a network of breakaway Anglicans and an offshoot of the Church of Nigeria – to align with traditional Anglicanism and to stay biblically faithful.
Now called St. George's Anglican Church, the parish has found a new church home where they will worship at beginning April 5.
Members and leaders of St. George's say the new facility will free up funds for more evangelism and Gospel work.
"We have some exciting ideas and plans ahead," said Jon Wroblewski, senior warden (chairman) of the church's governing board. "As in the story of the Good Samaritan, our Christian service starts with our closest neighbors. We look forward to reaching out to our new community in Mountain Shadows by offering a place for its families to worship and to nurture their faith for Christian love and service."
St. George's joins three other Anglican churches in the county that were established after severing ties with The Episcopal Church. The newest parish plans to host a joint service with the other Anglican churches on Good Friday.
St. George's Anglican Church is among some 700 congregations forming a new Anglican province in North America. The new province is seen as a rival body to The Episcopal Church as well as to the Anglican Church of Canada.
"This Anglican common cause partnership in mission and ministry is most exciting to me," Armstrong said in a statement. "Together we are focused on the gospel basics of evangelism, discipleship, and service. There is a great spirit of renewal in our congregation and with our sister Anglican congregations in this city. It's a spirit that is contagious."