NEWS PROVIDED BY
Anglican Office for Government and International Affairs
May 30, 2023
IRVINGTON, N.J., May 30, 2023 /Christian Newswire/ -- What should have been a joyful Pentecost Sunday at Christ Anglican Church in Irvington New Jersey, turned into absolute mayhem as an outside group belonging to the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) sawed off door locks and broke into the church to occupy the building and claim it as their own. The illegal conversion of the property was the result of an outrageous and unconstitutional ruling by New Jersey Superior Court Judge Jody Lee Alper. Judge Alper who was hearing a civil suit between two groups of individuals who used to attend the same parish but one side had been excluded from membership and attendance by order of its Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Ken Ross. Those excluded along with their attorney, Charles Chikezie intentionally misled the court by saying they had no idea who the bishop of the church and that the defendants wanted to attend church in the building owned by Christ Anglican Church but with their own pastor from Nigeria.
Despite objections and letters from Bishop Ross and The Most Reverend Dr. Foley Beach, Archbishop of the Anglican Church of North America, explaining the history of this situation, principals of church governance, and reiterating the exclusion of the defendants from the church, Judge Alper doubled down on her unconstitutional decision.
On Sunday May 21, the Pastor of the Christ Anglican Church returned in the evening to lock up and found that the excluded group caused significant damage to the building, including rendering the wooden stairs leading to the sanctuary unsafe. They also broke music equipment and even destroyed door locks. As a result of the damage and the need for repairs to make the church safe, Bishop Derek Jones, who is acting Assistant Bishop overseeing Christ Anglican Church, ordered the church closed until the building could be made safe for all parties. New locks were installed and a notice of the Bishop's decision was sent to Attorney Chikezie and the local authorities.
Christ Anglican Church was forced to worship online but the excluded group emboldened by their erroneous interpretation of Judge Alper's order stormed the building on Sunday May 28th and sawed off all the locks exposing the church to potential theft and further destruction. The Irvington Police were on the scene but refused to arrest those guilty of breaking and entering and related crimes or even to file a report. The police officers simply stood by and watched as the building was unlawfully seized.
For months, Christ Anglican Church has asked for the Irvington police to enforce the law. The Pastor, Vestry, and church members have been repeatedly, harassed, assaulted, threatened. This unconceivable pattern of destruction of Christ Anglican Church property at the hands of the excluded group dates to December 2022, and at times this was done right in front of Irvington police officers.
Add to the insidious nature of this unlawful activity, several of the defendants either work for the city of Irvington or are in relationships with members in Irvington government, which could explain why more than two dozen official requests for intervention by the Irvington Police Department fell on deaf ears. Unbelievably, to date, the Irvington Police have refused to make a single arrest in this matter. The Police have also refused to speak with Anglican Church in North America officials, even hanging up repeatedly on representatives from the Archbishop's office and the Anglican Office for Government and International Affairs.
What happens to churches across the county if more Judges are allowed to make unconstitutional rulings such as this one forcing Churches to hand over their property and denying church members constitutional and civil rights?
How safe are communities of faith when local police refuse to enforce the law, collude with offenders, and will not protect people from repeated violent attacks?
Hopefully what's unfolding in New Jersey is an isolated incident and not the beginning of a new pattern. The Attorney General of the State of New Jersey should open an investigation into judicial and Irvington municipal misconduct. No Church in the United States of America should ever have to experience the injustice that Christ Anglican Church has experienced. No person of faith should ever be fearful of attending their own house of worship in their local community. Perhaps things will change soon, and peace can be restored.
The Anglican Office for Government and International Affairs is currently monitoring the situation unfolding in New Jersey. You can learn more about the AOGIA by visiting AOGIA.org.
SOURCE Anglican Office for Government and International Affairs
CONTACT: Rev. Canon Justin Murff, 202-277-7878, email@example.com