Bruderheim congregation readies for court battle over church property

An Alberta congregation will fight the Moravian Church in America for ownership of a rural church after an ideological split over allowing clergy of any sexual orientation to become ordained.

Late last month, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Brian Burrows granted the newly incorporated Bruderheim Community Church a temporary injunction to maintain possession of the church and associated property where it has worshipped as a branch of the Northern Province of the Moravian Church in America for more than 120 years.

The question of ownership was spurred after the local congregation decided to separate from the Moravian church after a 2014 synod — a meeting among the church’s clergy — during which it was decided that an individual could become a member of the Moravian clergy regardless of their sexual orientation.

After the synod decision, the Bruderheim congregation deliberated and decided it couldn’t accept the change. It passed a resolution in May 2016 — voting 49 to 3 — to disassociate from the Moravian church.

The congregation incorporated under the name Bruderheim Community Church in early April 2017.

“I think the people who left would say that they hold a different view of the Bible than we do. I’m not sure that that’s entirely true,” said Provincial Elders’ Conference of the Moravian Church Northern Province president Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller, speaking over the phone from her office in Pennsylvania earlier this month.

The northern province, encompassing the northern United States and Canada, is part of the larger Moravian Church in America.

“We were in dialogue with the folks from the Bruderheim church for over two years, trying to seek some reconciliation, and trying to find a way forward together,” Miller said. “They were unable or unwilling to see their way to do that.”

The new church’s pastor, Wayne Larson, declined an interview through email. Larson also declined an …read more

Source:: Edmonton Journal

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