The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut expressed sadness over "faithful individuals" belonging to a breakaway congregation who decided to depart a property after losing multiple suits to obtain it and failing to get a Supreme Court review.
The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas said Friday that former parishioners and clergy of Bishop Seabury Episcopal Church in Groton chose to leave after being given six options to remain. The congregation announced the last worship service at the location will take place on Sunday, August 5.
On August 12, the Bishop Seabury Anglican Church will meet for its next Sunday service at a nearby hotel, according to the congregation's site.
"I am sad to see these faithful individuals leave The Episcopal Church. We are diminished by their departure," Bishop Douglas said.
The choices given to the congregation - which joined the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a "missionary district" of the Anglican Church of Nigeria - included, but were not limited to:
- returning to the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut
- remaining in The Episcopal Church under Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight
- renting the building as an independent congregation unaffiliated with any religious organization seeking to supplant The Episcopal Church.
Rev. Dr. Stephen J. Brewer of Bishop Seabury also expressed "sadness" in a sermon over the departure last week.
His sermon alluded to the congregation's upcoming change.
"Let us respond to life's troubles, to the difficult headwinds, amid all night struggles, with the faith God gives us. Let us remember what God has done for us in the past and will continue to do for us, in our present circumstances," he said in conclusion," he said.
Among the differences between the departing parishioners and the Episcopal Church are the ordination of women, changes to the Book of Common Prayer, and the full inclusion of lesbian and gay people in the life of the Church.
The diocese said representatives from the bishop's office will receive the keys, parochial records and all parish property in August according to a schedule worked out with a lay leader who is departing.