OMAHA, NEBRASKA---The Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska has settled a dispute with a local parish over whether the congregation could remain in its church building.In an out-of-court settlement, St. Barnabas parish made a cash payment to the diocese. The settlement enables the congregation to permanently remain on the church property at 129 N. 40th St. Both sides are keeping the amount of the payment confidential.
In 2007, members of St. Barnabas voted to leave the Episcopal Church. The parish disagreed with the Episcopal Church over issues of church doctrine.
Last year, a Douglas County District Court judge ruled that the people of St. Barnabas must surrender the church building, plus its rectory and other property to the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska.
The ruling came more than three years after the diocese sued St. Barnabas' priest and leaders for the church and rectory. The congregation argued that parishioners always have owned and maintained the church property.
The parish appealed to the Nebraska Supreme Court but decided it was best for the congregation to work out a settlement with the diocese, said Sean Reed, parish council president and senior warden. He said the settlement was fair for both sides.
St. Barnabas joined the Anglican Church in America, an affiliation of conservative Anglican churches. Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned earlier this year, had set up a path by which such parishes could join the Catholic Church, and St. Barnabas has put itself on that path.
The Right Rev. Scott Barker, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska, said in a statement that “while I am personally saddened by the exit of St. Barnabas from The Episcopal Church, I have little doubt that both the parish and the diocese have acted in faith and charity to end this long-running dispute. On behalf of our whole diocesan family, I wish them well.”
Hat tip to Mary Ann Mueller.