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MJ woman's church seeks State Supreme Court ruling

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From 1971 until the early 1980s when the Bishops office closed, Gaskin served as Bishop John Vander Horsts secretary.

According to her, the Bishops office was simple: his office, her office and a closet.She got to know the Bishop well and was intimately familiar with his relationship with St. Andrews Rector at the time, Edwin Conly.

The intentions of Bishop Vander Horst are, of course, critical to the appeal, the churchs legal counsel holds.

Gaskin recalled when St. Andrews purchased the property on Woodmont and that Bishop Vander Horst approved of the sale knowingly and intelligently working together with his lawyer, Louis Farrell.

He made it right and legal. It was St. Andrews property to keep.

To have what happened so many years ago negated . . . its just wrong. And its against what the Bishop intended, Gaskin said.

While Gaskins relationship with St. Andrews spans many years, it also is the place where many memories were formed. She was married there in 1967. Her daughter was christened there and also married at the church in 1994.

Knowing the struggle in which the church is involved, Gaskin said, It would break the Bishops heart to see what has happened.

Its un-Christian.

The legal dispute between the parish and the diocese has been in process for three years, with the parish contending it owns the land and building paid for out of the pockets of parish members, and from which it has operated for40years.

According to the church, in 1966, at the request of the Bishop of the Diocese, St. Andrews purchased the propertyfrom the Diocese in an arms-length transaction.

St. Andrews maintains that at the time of the acquisition the parish received a warranty deed containing no trust or reversionary rights to the Diocese, which was intentional on the part of both the Diocese and the church.

The church contends this key aspect of the transaction has beenignored by the courts thus far, and hopes the justices of the Tennessee Supreme Court will take sufficient notice to at least hear the case.

This has been a long and difficult struggle for St. Andrews Church, said the Rev. JamesGuill, who is rector of the parish. We are very hopeful the Tennessee Supreme Court will take a close look at this case -- and consider some very critical issues we feel wereunaddressed by either the Court of Appeals or the trial court.

The dispute has its origins in 2006 when the Anglo-Catholic St. Andrews Church decided to sever ties from the Diocese of Tennessee. Three years later, the Diocese sued, claiming the property belonged to the Diocese, and has thus far prevailed in the trial court and Tennessee Court of Appeals.

For the case to come before the Tennessee Supreme Court, at least two of the five justices have to agree to hear it.

Publisher Sam Hatcher may be contacted at

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