< Episcopal News and Current Events -- News About ECUSA: Bishop Wolfe to Lead Protest Rally in Wichita Episcopal News and Current Events -- News About ECUSA: Bishop Wolfe to Lead Protest Rally in Wichita
Today's Quote

A Prayer For This Web Site
Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices; Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and write what many read; that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
"For those who Influence Public Opinion,"
Book of Common Prayer, page 827

In our church, neither a person's gender nor their sexual orientation matter; what does matter is how they serve Jesus Christ as Lord.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Bishop Wolfe to Lead Protest Rally in Wichita

The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas announced Friday that he will lead a rally next weekend in support of a charity imperiled by Sedgwick County's plan for a new downtown arena.

The county plans to demolish the Episcopal Social Services building to make room for the construction of the $184 million, 15,000-seat sports and entertainment center approved by voters in 2004.

Officials of the charity say the $500,000 the county has offered for their building is not enough to buy comparable space downtown to continue their work helping the poor and the disabled.

'As a result, the people who will suffer are those who always suffer -- the poor, the homeless and those in greatest need,' Bishop Dean E. Wolfe said in a statement e-mailed to The Eagle on Friday.

County officials have moved to condemn the Episcopal Social Services building and say they won't increase their offer.

They said that would be unfair to other property owners in the arena zone and open a floodgate for them to challenge their offers.

'I understand where they're coming from in light of the fact they think the appraisal is unfair,' Commissioner David Unruh said of the Episcopalians.

But he said the county's offer was based on an independent appraisal, as were all the offers for property in the arena zone.

'We haven't deviated from what our plan was at the start of the process,' he said.

Diocese spokeswoman Melodie Woerman said the idea for a rally emerged in recent meetings with priests of the Southeast Kansas Convocation, a group of a dozen Episcopal churches with 3,500 members in Wichita and nearby communities.

Overall, the diocese covers about the eastern 40 percent of Kansas and has 12,000 members in 46 churches, she said.

The rally is scheduled for Sept. 9 in front of the Episcopal Social Services building, 233 S. St. Francis, at 5 p.m.

'This is a pretty dire situation,' Woerman said. 'If we can bring some light to it, it probably would be a good thing.'

Episcopal Social Services is the only building in the arena zone that was not appraised by Grubb & Ellis/Martens Commercial Group, which had a potential business conflict of interest with the charity.

Officials of Martens Group and Hudson Consulting Services, which performed the appraisal, said they are prohibited by their county contract from discussing the case.

Episcopal Social Services provides an array of assistance, including a daily free hot lunch, an employment center, and counseling for troubled teens and their families.

The charity also runs the area's only free, large-scale 'representative payee' program, managing rent and bills for people with mental illness or disabilities.

'It serves the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable citizens, and in return, the city and county need to support those efforts that serve the common good,' Wolfe said. Episcopal Social Services 'has done its part, but the county commissioners haven't done theirs.'

Church and charity officials said they're especially troubled that the county paid $915,000 to acquire a similar-size building that housed a bar less than a block from the center.

'Anyone familiar with the facts of this situation can see clearly the inequity in how ESS's building has been treated,' Wolfe said. 'The only fair thing is for the county to call for additional appraisals.'

Unruh said the charity will get the chance to make that case when the condemnation goes to court.

As part of that process, the county will have to pay for three independent appraisers to re-appraise the property and report their findings to the court, he said.

'The judge will determine what the fair price is at that point,' Unruh said. 'The process allows for exactly what the bishop is asking for.'

Copyright © 2006 The Wichita Eagle, All Rights Reserved.


Post a Comment

<< Home