This pastor took many of his parishioners and left the main church because it was too liberal. Apparently he put some money away hoping to start another church in the area and now they are prosecuting him for taking the money.
This is a shame because most pastors work very hard and make very little money. This pastor has a 22 year old disabled daughter.
The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts and All Saints Episcopal Parish in Attleboro are suing the breakaway All Saints Anglican parish and its pastor, the Rev. Lance Giuffrida, over money the diocese claims was wrongfully used.
The civil suit filed this week in Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River alleges the Anglican parish used or kept about $200,000 that rightfully belonged to the Episcopal parish that remained at the North Main Street church after the Anglicans left in late January on the order of Bishop Thomas Shaw.
The suit asks not only that the money be repaid, but also that Giuffrida personally be ordered to repay a $10,000 loan initially granted to him by the parish to help him buy his house when he was first hired several years ago.
There was an article in yesterday’s local newspaper here about a meeting coming up between an official of the Episcopal church and locals in which the issue of property ownership is to be discussed. Looks like this is going to be a long, nasty battle. Truly heartbreaking. But it appears that the issues (gay ordination, etc) are worth the fight.
In what way is this a shame? The man made his choice to leave the denomination entirely, knowing the rules and doubtless aware that he had a daughter with disabilities. He took actions knowing that there would be consequences. The group of congregants also left voluntarily and, if they did so without investigating the ramifications of their actions thoroughly, then they showed surprisingly little wisdom.
Suppose a priest and part of a congregation decided to leave the Roman Catholic Church and affiliate themselves with the Southern Baptist Convention because they felt that the Roman Catholic Church was too liberal in some area, taking a large chunk of the parish budget with them. Would the RCC then say “oh, well, okay, yes, if our actions bother you, certainly. You can keep the building and don’t worry about the money you collected under the name of the RCC–go ahead and use it to fund a Baptist Church and pay yourself as a Baptist minister, even though we still have a Catholic congregation that didn’t want to separate and plans to remain in the building and continue as a parish? It was just sitting around and we didn’t really need it anyway. Oh, and you want to use that money to buy a new church since we said we might need to keep the old one? Sure, go right ahead, we will pay instead for the folks you left behind to rent somewhere else.”
Would you expect the RCC to say to a priest who has publicly declared that he is no longer a Catholic, “sure, we will continue to pay your salary and fund a pension plan for you and provide health care coverage even though you say you are now a Baptist minister and have voluntarily chosen to dissociate yourself from us?”
Perhaps the terms of the loan made from the diocese to help him buy his house included a clause that it would become payable in full if he separated himself from employment with the denomination. It would not surprise me.
It does not appear from the news reports that the “money he put away” came out of his personal salary. It came from the coffers of the church. If the money was indeed collected expressly and openly to fund a new congregation, then they should have records showing that and should have no problems. Under IRS laws, funds given for one purpose cannot simply be then used for some other purpose at the whim of the recipient, particularly if they were designated for a specific purpose.
As to the pension plan, it depends on whether and when and to what extent he was fully vested. That varies from employer to employer.
Joyful- The problem is that according to the constitution and cannons, all the money, real estate, even the prayer books, in the parish belong to the Diocese, which in turn belongs to the national church (though many of the conservatives would be happy to give up the 1979 BCP). They can try making the case that by virtue of the recent decisions the Episcopal Church has become something other than what it was before, but I doubt that will hold in court.
This situation is probably made worse/more confusing because, for better or worse, Episcopalians do often have a strong sense of “ownership” of their parishes. The laity are intimately involved in the the governance, money matters, real estate, etc. of their parish. Yet, these people should know that they are doing so on the behalf of the Diocese/National Church. Again, though, it’s hard for people to walk away from the parish when they’ve invested so much (emotionally, as well as financially) into their parish.
So it IS sad for these people to walk away. If I were in their shoes, and keeping the “stuff” mattered too me, I’d ride it out a little while longer and see what happens at the next Lambeth conference and the resulting effects that has on the US churches. Many folks think we will be disinvited from the Anglican Communion, or something to that effect. If that happens, many more parishes and even Dioceses will try to leave. If that happens, the break-away folks might have a better chance of retaining some of the property.
OTOH, if they feel that their souls are in danger from belonging to such an apostate group (which they always have been, right, my RC friends :)? ), they should shake the dust off of their feet and walk away.
I understand why he is upset. Many people feel the ECUSA (now TEC) was hijacked by liberal eccentrics many of whom are now more concerned that people accept gay and womens ordination etc than issues of beleif in the Trinity. In one sense that property should belong to the betrayed congregation and not doing so is immoral. But some of the liberal Bishops are frankly greedy (in some cases vengeful) and my understanding is that they have put people on notice that they are going to turn attorney’s loose to sue those trying to leave with anything into the ground. There have been bizarre cases of an empty church with a hefty mortgage left to the Bishop while the congregation goes off to start a new church.
Now the other side. The diocese has legal ownership of all the property and funds. The Bishop has a fudiciary responsibility to go after those funds and property. Whether or not the Rt. Reverend Shaw is a nice guy or not he MUST go after those funds and property UNLESS there is some canon in his diocese permitting negotiation, etc. If he did not he would be legally liable. It may have nothing to do with his personal character at all.
As Karen pointed out…if you had a group of Latin Rite churches in a diocese (or sedevacantists) and they decided they were leaving the RCC to join another group and wanted to take their churches and funds with them…you can bet the RCC would go after them (especially if was more than a church). That Priest should have gotten legal advice about how to set up a fund (etc) that could have been used by the congregation after they left (eg some sort of foundation or trust). Just setting aside money in a seperate account he made a BIG oops.
originally posted by Karen NC
In what way is this a shame?
I just feel bad for this minister who invested his life working for a church and these parishioners who often fund that church and work in the community and yet felt they could no longer stay in their own church because it became liberal.
They couldn’t take the building they invested in so they tried to take some cash hoping to be able to have a new start. I am not sure if the picture is of the new church they were purchasing but if it is, it is run-down.
I do agree the catholic church would probably do the same. Although I am not sure if some of the sedavacandists took their churches when they split?
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.