- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 24, 2009

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. (AP) - A judge has ruled that a Colorado Springs church building belongs to the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado and not a breakaway parish.

The ruling was handed down Tuesday in El Paso County District Court.

Ownership has been in dispute since March 2007, when some members and leaders of Grace Church and St. Stephen’s left the national body over theological differences.

The breakaway group aligned itself with the conservative Convocation of Anglicans in Virginia but continued to worship in the building.

Rev. Alan R. Crippen, spokesman for the breakaway parish, said the group probably won’t appeal.

The group has about 1,200 members, and 500 of them regularly show up for services, he said.

Another group of about 500 chose to remain with the Diocese of Colorado and has been worshipping at a building across the street.

The breakaway parish will lose the building, trade name and Web domain. The congregation plans to meet elsewhere.

“It’s a sad day, but we look forward to a new life,” Crippen said. “We didn’t leave the Episcopal Church _ the Episcopal Church left us.”

The case has been painful, said Larry Hitt, chancellor for the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado. “Our first Sunday back in possession should be Palm Sunday (April 5) and I think the Palm Sunday celebration will be monumental.”

The church property is valued at $17 million.

The Colorado Springs’ property dispute is one of many involving conservative breakaway congregations of the church.

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