[Binghamton, New York] For some 130 years, the city was the home to the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd. But recently, the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York sold the pretty little church building on Conklin Avenue to the Islamic Awareness Center [for] a third of the amount that [Christians] had offered.
-- From "Homeless in Binghamton" by Faith J. H. McDonnell, posted at FrontPageMag.com 3/30/10
Unlike the diocese, the Church of the Good Shepherd has grown every year under the care of Episcopal priest team of husband and wife, the Reverends Matthew and Anne Kennedy. But in 2007, Good Shepherd made the difficult decision to join the dozens of congregations that were leaving the Episcopal Church while remaining in the wider Anglican Communion of which the Episcopal Church is a part . These parishes are referred to as departing churches, but they argue that it is the denomination that has departed — from orthodox, biblical Christianity. The Kennedys were deposed (ceased to have authority as priests) in the Episcopal Church, and received as priests in the Anglican Church. And the Diocese of Central New York began an aggressive lawsuit against the church for all of the property.
Reverend Matt Kennedy wrote that, “In 2008, while the lawsuit raged, the Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd grew and expanded significantly.” The church was impacting the neighborhood through a soup kitchen that served the homeless and through block parties. Good Shepherd’s “weekly bible studies were packed with new people” and an increasing number of students from Binghamton University were coming to the church, Kennedy recounted.
On January 8, 2009, the lawsuit was decided in the diocese’s favor. The diocese was “entitled to immediate possession” of the church building and to the rectory, home to the Kennedys’ growing family since 2002. The Kennedys and all of the people of Good Shepherd hurriedly removed their property from the church building as they were warned that the diocese did indeed intend to take immediate possession.
Although the Diocese of Central New York refused to sell the Church of the Good Shepherd to the Anglicans for whom it had been home, they were happy to sell it to a Muslim group for $50,000, a third of the amount that Good Shepherd had offered. According to the Rev. Tony Seel, the Diocese even added a legal caveat to the sale stating that the new owners of the property could never re-sell the building to the original congregation.
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