Thursday, May 15, 2008

No Summary Judgment In Colorado Episcopal Church Property Dispute

In Grace Church & St. Stevens v. Bishop and Diocese of Colorado, (CO Dist. Ct., May 13, 2008), a Colorado state trial court judge rejected summary judgment for either side in a counterclaim arising out of a lawsuit over ownership of an historic church building in downtown Colorado Springs. An article on Virtue Online sets out the background of the case. In May 2007, by a vote of 93% in favor, Grace Church and St. Stephen's voted to move its affiliation to the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. After the congregation sued asking a judge to declare that Colorado's Episcopal Diocese no longer owns the assets of the parish, the Diocese filed a counterclaim against vestry members. They in turn asserted a defense based on immunity of non-profit directors. At issue is whether the corporation that is plaintiff ever formally owned the property at issue. The court indicated that in Colorado, church property disputes are resolved through neutral analysis, but that no neutral analysis can be undertaken until the relevant facts are known. (See prior related posting.)