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Through a Glass Darkly
Abstract: On the other side of the mirror, an Episcopal priest is defrocked for opposing denominational tolerance of gay clergy.
In June, Connecticut Episcopal bishop, Andrew D. Smith, defrocked the Rev. Donald L. Helmandollar of Trinity Episcopal Church in Bristol Connecticut and ordered the congregation's lay leaders "to vacate the property of Trinity Church, Bristol, and release every claim on the assets of this parish by July 8, 2007." The parishioners had objected to the Episcopal church's position regarding homosexuals in the clergy.
Much of the disagreement concerns the denomination's 2003 decision to name Gene Robinson, who is openly gay, as the bishop of New Hampshire.
Dissatisfied with the Episcopal Church's acceptance of gay clergy, Trinity is one of several dozen Episcopal congregations that have joined more conservative Anglican groups overseas, including the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, which reports to the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion.
After the congregation aligned with the Nigerian Communion, the Connecticut diocese removed Father Helmandollar as a priest, ordered him to leave the rectory and threatened dissident worshipers with eviction. The Convocation of Anglicans in North America continues to recognize Father Helmandollar as a priest in good standing.
Expecting the diocese to send a priest with a letter demanding access to the pulpit, Father Helmandollar delcared "Without a court order, they aren't getting it."
The congregation traces its roots to 1747, 38 years before the first generalconvention of the Episcopal Church in the United States and claims that its real estate and other property have always been held in the congregation's name.