Fri., March 23, 2012 5:11pm (EDT)

Church Dispute Goes To Supreme Court
By Orlando Montoya and Andrea Cervone
Updated: 2 years ago

SAVANNAH, Ga.  —  
Christ Church on Savannah's Johnson Square has been the subject of a legal dispute for four years.(photo Wade Rockett)
Christ Church on Savannah's Johnson Square has been the subject of a legal dispute for four years.(photo Wade Rockett)
A Savannah congregation is asking the nation's highest court to hear its case in the fight for ownership of Georgia's first church.

After separating from the Episcopal Diocese four-years-ago, the congregation of Christ Church fought and lost a lawsuit.

Georgia's Supreme Court ruled, the $3 million downtown Savannah sanctuary belonged to the Episcopal Diocese.

But Christ Church senior warden John Albert says, similar trials all over the country have produced different results.

"We have felt all along that this issue would ultimately have to be decided at the U.S. Supreme Court," Albert says "You've had adverse rulings similar to ours in California, in New York and Connecticut, but you've had the local church ruled for in two courts in Louisiana and the South Carolina Supreme Court."

Episcopal Dioceses spokesman Frank Logue says, he's not surprised by the appeal and is confident the Supreme Court will uphold lower court rulings.

"I think in many ways the members of the church have gone on," Logue says. "Week by week, day by day, as they continue to worship, this isn't what's on their minds."

The congregation broke from the denomination in 2007 after the Episcopal Church ordained its first gay bishop.

The breakaway group's legal filings ask the Supreme Court to rule on what its lawyers argue are inconsistent judgements on laws relating to church property.