Rector of Quincy Parish Renounces Episcopal Church as Fight for Property Continues

Episcopal News Service. March 24, 1994 [94060]

In a continuing struggle over the future of historic St. John's Episcopal Church in Quincy, Illinois, two denominations may face each other in court, now that the former rector and vestry of the parish have chosen to affiliate with the Anglican Church of America (ACA), a small denomination that broke away from the Episcopal Church in the late 1970s.

Gary Blade, senior warden of a group of former Episcopalians -- now known as St. John's Anglican Church -- wrote to parishioners informing them that the vestry had voted 8 to O to affiliate with the ACA. The Rev. Garrett Clanton, former rector of the parish, publicly renounced his affiliation with the Episcopal Church during a news conference on March 17 and was received into the ACA on March 19.

Blade said that Clanton would soon return from a sabbatical in his capacity as rector -- although as a priest in good standing with the ACA. According to Blade, Clanton will leave his post as rector of St. John's Anglican Church effective August 15, 1994, and the vestry has appointed a search committee to elect a new ACA rector to succeed Clanton.

Dissidents win initial court battle

The recent developments are the latest in a long string of disputes that have divided the 235-member parish (See story in March 10 ENS). On March 11, parishioners who wish to remain in the Episcopal Church lost a request for a temporary injunction that would have guaranteed them access to the church building and frozen all assets until the dispute with dissidents was settled.

Nevertheless, diocesan officials were undaunted in their determination to uphold the clear ownership of the building and the estimated $2 million endowment. "The denial of the preliminary injunction is only a minor setback," said the Rev. Canon J.C. Emerson, diocesan communication officer, in a March 15 press release following the judgment of the court.

Emerson said that the diocese has joined parishioners who remain Episcopalians in a lawsuit to "make the parish's case and end the illegal occupation of the property of the legitimate St. John's Episcopal Church by a renegade and dissident few."

Until the property dispute is settled, members of St. John's Episcopal Church are meeting in a space nearby.