- The Washington Times - Monday, January 14, 2002

A local dispute over an Accokeek, Md., church is evolving into a national issue now that 28 Episcopal bishops have filed amicus curiae briefs for and against the small parish.
Twenty-six bishops, led by Episcopal Bishop Peter J. Lee of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, filed an amicus brief at the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond last week against Christ Church, a small parish that has defied Washington Bishop Jane Dixon.
"We have a bunch of bishops in the Episcopal Church doing the mambo dance in the Fourth Circuit," said Charles Nalls, attorney for Christ Church.
Bishop Dixon, who contends that she has complete authority over the parish, sued the church in June in order to have its pastor, the Rev. Samuel Edwards, removed. Because Mr. Edwards opposes women's ordination, she opposed his hiring by the parish in the spring on the grounds he was not "duly qualified."
A District Court judge agreed with her and ordered the priest evicted by Nov. 30.
In mid-December, two conservative Episcopal bishops filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the church, which is appealing the ruling. Bishop Jack L. Iker of the Diocese of Fort Worth and Robert Duncan of the Diocese of Pittsburgh said the federal court system should not be ruling on an internal church dispute. They also said bishops' powers in clergy selection are limited.
The 26 bishops filed their amicus curiae brief on Jan. 9 with the help of Russell V. Palmore Jr., chancellor for the Diocese of Virginia. They said church conflicts can be enforced, but not reviewed, by civil courts.

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