By Caley Clinton Freeman
February 18, 2009
Citing the Episcopal Church's "decision to move to the extreme left of Christianity" as a primary concern, St. Edmund's Anglican Church member and spokesman Dr. Samuel Scheibler said Tuesday the Elm Grove congregation followed state laws and canons of the church in proceeding to break off from the Episcopal church in December.
The Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee sued several members of the church Monday, arguing they must return all property and control of St. Edmund's parish after leaving to join a more conservative faith.
But Scheibler said the church had its title company, Chicago Title, conduct a title search, and the company found that the church and its property belong to St. Edmund's.
"It's not about the building, it's about our faith," Scheibler said. "The sweat equity (we've put into the church) does not belong to the diocese. We've worked hard to improve the property over the years."
The church property at 14625 Watertown Plank Road includes a cemetery where several parishioners' loved ones are buried, he said. In addition, an Elm Grove preschool rents the church building, and if St. Edmund's is forced out, it will be "devastating" to the preschool, Scheibler said.
Two thirds of the church's 84 parishioners turned out for the December vote on whether or not St. Edmund's should split from the Episcopal Church and it was unanimous among those present to leave, he said. The church held a series of discussions on the matter prior to the decision, all of which were in strict accordance with state laws and canons of the Episcopal Church, Scheibler said.
"The Episcopal Church has become increasingly intolerant of conservatives," he said. "Its creed seems to be 'trendier than thou.'"
Since the split, church members have changed the parish's name to St. Edmund's Anglican Church, a move the Diocese of Milwaukee argues is invalid. St. Edmund's has employed legal counsel locally and nationally in the case, Scheibler said.
The suit names 11 defendants, including five residents of Waukesha County. St. Edmund's denies the suit's claim that church members, including Scheibler, filed documents with the state in early December that sought to change the church's legal incorporation to one that would be covered by a different set of Wisconsin laws. Documents were not filed until late December, Scheibler said.
St. Edmund's was founded in 1874 in Milwaukee and moved to the Elm Grove location in 1947. Since its break from the Episcopal Church, St. Edmund's has grown 24 percent, he said.
"We are thriving," Scheibler said.
We Should be praying for these small Parishes and their fight to keep their property. The National Church - has a proposed budget for added litigation - Millions and Millions have been spent on legal fees this past year alone. The National "E" Church has sent families to the curb from their Pastoral Homes, closed food distribution centers and soup Kitchens all in the name of owning a vacant Church building.... which is not Christian .... which is why I guess they are sueing ... Paul instructs the Church that Christians should not sue Christians .... enough said.