Bishop Seabury Church in Groton sold to Baptist congregation

[Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut press release] The building formerly known as Bishop Seabury Episcopal Church on North Road in Groton is set on a new path to serve God’s mission in Groton and beyond. The Episcopal Church in Connecticut had maintained a parish presence on the site since 1966 when the congregation relocated there from its former home at Fort Street in Groton. Beginning on Aug. 15 the property will become the new home of Stedfast Baptist Church.

The building became available for repurposing following the departure of its worshipping community from The Episcopal Church because of theological differences. After a prolonged legal challenge, the property remained part of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut.

For the last 18 months lay and ordained leaders from the Bishops’ Office and from Episcopal parishes in Gales Ferry, New London, Niantic, Norwich, Poquetanuck, Stonington, Mystic, and Yantic worked closely together to discern what God is up to in Groton and its environs, and how the resources of the Bishop Seabury Church might best be used to extend God’s mission in Groton and across Connecticut. In a community-wide meeting in January, representatives of the neighborhood, social service agencies, other faith communities, and municipal offices all shared their hopes and dreams, needs and aspirations for Groton.

Following the community meeting Episcopal leaders pursued wide-ranging options for the property with possibilities including: housing for wounded veterans, a community center, and a soup kitchen. In the end it was decided that the best option would be to sell the building to another Christian community and use the proceeds to support a new missionary program of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut.

During this period of discernment, leaders of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut were in conversation with members of Stedfast Baptist Church, currently located at 1041 Poquonnock Road in Groton. As God would have it, the leaders of Stedfast Baptist Church, a long-time and respected Christian church in the Groton community, were looking to relocate to a new and larger facility. In a matter of months an agreement had been worked out between the two churches.

The Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, the Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, said of these developments: “I am delighted that the building formerly known as Bishop Seabury Church will continue to be a house of prayer for sisters and brothers in Christ. And I am particularly excited that the resources freed up by the sale of the building will help to underwrite a new missionary program through the Missionary Society of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut. After all, Bishop Samuel Seabury, the first bishop in The Episcopal Church, was a pioneering missionary in these parts in the early years of American independence. I can think of no better use of the money coming from the sale of the church that bears his name than to support new missionaries in Connecticut today.”

Comments

  1. Livingston Prescott Humboldt IV says:

    Whatever. And will someone explain this jargon term called “discernment”? More gobbledygookery I think. Is that like “figuring out”?

    • John Simpson says:

      Harumph, Harumph, Harumph!

    • Joseph F Foster says:

      Basically, you’re right. It’s Episcoclergy-speak for ‘we’ve got a problem, such :
      a. stuck with a church we won in court but the congregation did not come back and we can’t afford it
      b. too many people wanting to become clergy, and most of ’em aren’t very good —
      &c.
      So “discernment” is Church-speak for we’ve got to figger out what to do about these general and particular cases.

      The other side of “Discernment” is inDada. That means we’ve figgered out what we want to do and we’re going to talk and talk until we wear you down and you agree, and we can outlast you because you have to get on with the rest of your life and this IS our life.

  2. The Revd Sarah V. Lewis says:

    “Figuring out” something carries with the notion that there is just one answer to a problem or situation, like a math problem, for example. “Discernment” involves looking at a situation from several perspectives, inviting & listening to ideas & possibilities from many & diverse groups who
    will be affected by the decision/decisions to be made, encouraging discussion, being open to ideas old & new, gathering consensus, and doing all of this prayerfully, carefully, courteously, for the greater glory of God. Discernment is a way of peace & goodwill as opposed to autocracy.

  3. Alda Morgan says:

    Perhaps it’s just sentimental nostalgia, but as a former Baptist, I find this decision and sale a happy one. Bishop Seabury, although a stalwart churchman and one to whom we owe much, was far from ecumenical in his attitude toward other Protestant churches. Unlike his colleague, Bishop White of Pennsylvania (first Presiding Bishop, and the man to whom–more than any other single person– TEC owes its survival after the ravages of the Revolution), Bp. Seabury wouldn’t even allow his churches to cooperate with other Protestant churches in community ventures where the churches could work together for the benefit of the wider society! There is a kind of justice in the fact that the church that bore his name has been sold to a thriving Baptist congregation. And I, for one, am delighted to know that the proceeds from that sale will be used for missionary efforts in Connecticut. Everyone wins!

  4. Robert R. Hansel says:

    Discernment ISN’T just a bunch of folks sitting around sharing their own best ideas and suggestions in the hope of achieving consensus. It’s , instead, a prayerful process of seeking GOD’S will and trying to serve God’s purposes, as best the Holy Spirit leads us to understand then —even if, surprisingly, they might not immediately seem to be in our own best interests.

  5. Curt Zimmerman says:

    In 1999-2000, when I was interim priest at St David’s, Gales Ferry (12 miles N of Groton) Bp Seabury congregation, primarily under the vocal leadership of its rector, was at odds with former bishops and the Diocese of CT. I think a majority of its members never knew about or wished to be in the broadest mainstream of TEC. It’s been sad for a very long time. I think the building is of great design that will be very advantageous for the Baptists. I think “discernment” is a very good and accurate description of how we best engage in conversations within the church.

  6. John B Hills says:

    Do any readers know:
    – how long ago Bishop Seabury Church (as a congregation, mission, parish) was established?
    – what is the character and date of its “building….of great design”?
    – was Bishop Seabury Church a vital parish? when? what were the reasons for its vitality?
    I hope that:
    – St James’ Parish , New London, still is vital. Bishop Seabury is buried there.
    – The Diocese of Connecticut may give thought to naming another congregation “Bishop Seabury Church (or Parish)”.

  7. Theresa LaCasse says:

    Still remains a sorrow to me that the Episcopal diocese feels that it was acceptable to have ripped a building away from a vibrant, Jesus centered community. A building built without diocese funding and whose land was actually owned by the church members not the diocese. Yes the members have moved on and God will care for them but this is not something to be celebrated. Does the general public know that the diocese refused to sell the building to the community that actually worshipped there? This was a spiteful act of spiritual vengeance due to belief that sinful behaviors should be acceptable instead of following the Bible.

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