Homeless in Binghamton

During its peak as a thriving little manufacturing center filled with stately homes and mansions, Binghamton, New York, was nicknamed the “Parlor City.” Today many of those same mansions are funeral parlors. History appears to be repeating itself in modern day Binghamton. For some 130 years, the city was the home to the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd. But recently, the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York sold the pretty little church building on Conklin Avenue to the Islamic Awareness Center.

In selling Church of the Good Shepherd’s building to the Muslim group, the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York was killing two birds with one stone. First, they placed an enormous obstacle in the path of the now-Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd. Second, they offered a big inter-faith embrace to their Muslim brothers and sisters who needed a property from which to extend the Dawah (the invitation to Islam). That’s a good day’s work for a diocese that has been losing church members for the past ten years or more.

Unlike the diocese, the Church of the Good Shepherd has grown every year under the care of Episcopal priest team of husband and wife, the Reverends Matthew and Anne Kennedy. But in 2007, Good Shepherd made the difficult decision to join the dozens of congregations that were leaving the Episcopal Church while remaining in the wider Anglican Communion of which the Episcopal Church is a part . These parishes are referred to as departing churches, but they argue that it is the denomination that has departed — from orthodox, biblical Christianity. The Kennedys were deposed (ceased to have authority as priests) in the Episcopal Church, and received as priests in the Anglican Church. And the Diocese of Central New York began an aggressive lawsuit against the church for all of the property.

Reverend Matt Kennedy wrote that, “In 2008, while the lawsuit raged, the Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd grew and expanded significantly.” The church was impacting the neighborhood through a soup kitchen that served the homeless and through block parties. Good Shepherd’s “weekly bible studies were packed with new people” and an increasing number of students from Binghamton University were coming to the church, Kennedy recounted.

On January 8, 2009, the lawsuit was decided in the diocese’s favor. The diocese was “entitled to immediate possession” of the church building and to the rectory, home to the Kennedys’ growing family since 2002. The Kennedys and all of the people of Good Shepherd hurriedly removed their property from the church building as they were warned that the diocese did indeed intend to take immediate possession. At the same time, the church was trying to find another place to worship and to host their soup kitchen for the homeless, the Shepherd’s Bowl. The monsignor of the nearby St. John’s and Andrew’s Catholic Church opened his parish kitchen to the feeding program so that the meals for the homeless would not be interrupted. But for the first week, attendance was scant. Signs on the old building directing the homeless to the new soup kitchen had been taken down, apparently, by the Diocese when they were padlocking the church to keep out the Anglicans.

As it turned out, almost all of the wider church community in Binghamton reached out to Good Shepherd. Kennedy relates that the list of pastors and churches that helped or in some way encouraged them is “fairly exhaustive.” “Presbyterians, Baptists, Free Methodists, Methodists, Catholics, Orthodox, Pentecostal, non-denominational…the outpouring was incredible,” says Kennedy. In particular, the pastor of the neighboring Conklin Avenue Baptist Church immediately offered the Anglicans temporary space for worship in his church’s gymnasium. Then, thanks to a very generous offer from the Catholic monsignor, St. Andrew’s church and rectory, which were left vacant when the parish merged with St. John’s, became the new home of the Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd.

It was not as if the people of Good Shepherd had been expecting to keep their church building at no cost. Before the legal proceedings began, Good Shepherd offered to purchase the church building and rectory from the diocese. The diocese refused to sell, and during litigation told the court that the parish was no longer using the property for the purposes for which it had been intended by the Episcopalians who built it in 1879 and who had spent money to maintain it over the years. The Episcopal Church has at various times declared that it will sue every congregation that departs from the denomination in order to preserve the “devotion and witness of Episcopalians of the past for Episcopalians of the future.” That has not quite turned out to be the case in Binghamton, though, unless the “Episcopalians of the future” are part of the Ummah, the Muslim world. Which, come to think of it, does not seem all that far-fetched.

Although the Diocese of Central New York refused to sell the Church of the Good Shepherd to the Anglicans for whom it had been home, they were happy to sell it to a Muslim group for $50,000, a third of the amount that Good Shepherd had offered. According to the Rev. Tony Seel, the Diocese even added a legal caveat to the sale stating that the new owners of the property could never re-sell the building to the original congregation.

The property had been standing vacant and padlocked for many months, when on March 17, 2010,

Kennedy passed by his former church building. He saw a crane removing the cross from the bell tower. The former Good Shepherd Church had red doors, symbolizing the blood of Christ as well as the blood of the martyrs. Now the doors had been painted green, and the new owners had covered over the glass that had formed the horizontal arms of a cross-shaped window on the church door. Over the back door was a new sign that said “Islamic Awareness Center.”

The former Church of the Good Shepherd is now a “Dawah organization,” with representatives ready to meet with schools, parent-teacher associations, and other community organizations to introduce Islam and Muslims. The Islamic Awareness Center states that it will “explain Islam’s message of peace, share Qur’an and Hadith, and answer questions.” It also offers “programs suitable for children using a puppet show,” it adds.

Binghamton appears to be well into dhimmitude from the looks of the June 2008 commemoration of the birth of Mohammed, celebrated on the courthouse lawn at City Hall. At this inter-faith love fest Binghamton mayor Mathew Ryan gushed, “I applaud your efforts to create a dialog, a dialog that celebrates diversity, tolerance, and understanding and unity, and I applaud the efforts of The International Quranic Open University.” But even if the Dawah “invitational” approach to Islam should fail, just up the road about 40 miles there is another option.

In Hancock, New York, “Islamberg” is an Islamic military training facility and home to the aforementioned International Quranic Open University. Islamberg is also headquarters of Muslims of America, a group associated with the Pakistani terrorist group Jamaat ul Fuqra. Here, as the Christian Action Network has revealed, men and women are being trained in guerilla warfare, hand-to-hand combat, and the shooting of assault weapons. The leader of Muslims of America declares that “Muslims are the majority in America.” There is no known connection between the Islamic Awareness Center in Binghamton and Islamberg, but what is known is that Dawah, the invitation to Islam, traditionally precedes jihad.

The Diocese of Central New York preferred to enable the Dawah, the efforts of Muslims to transform the religious landscape of upstate New York, rather than to allow a church that is preaching the Gospel, teaching the Bible, and feeding the homeless to hold on to the building that had long been their home. Sadly, the Episcopal Church very probably doesn’t even know what the Dawah is. Sadder still, even if they knew, they wouldn’t care.

Faith J. H. McDonnell directs The Institute on Religion and Democracy’s Religious Liberty Program and Church Alliance for a New Sudan, and is the author of Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern Uganda’s Children (Chosen Books, 2007).

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/GaryRumain Gary Rumain

    The sign above the door in the photo says islamic awareness center. Inside the door there's an arselifter with a sword waiting to behead anyone entering.

  • Arnold Wolf

    It isn't an accident that Islam is attempting to infiltrate into the living world of humanity much like spreading cancer cells.

    Cancer is now treated by one or more of 3 methodologies.

    1) cutting it out of the body (human) along with surrounding healthy cells (humans)
    2) chemical poisons that also destroy health cells (humans)
    3) radiation therapy which also destroys surrounding cells (humans)

    Getting Islam off the face of the body earth is not going to be without loss of human life.

  • MMcFM


    I've had a similiar thought recently, is there any culture which once it has lost it's liberty has not been forced to recapture it through force?

  • Singh

    we are going towards a very difficult & dangrous future for our next generation.

  • Adheeb

    Judas sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

  • Gerad

    Get these religious fanatics out of our country!

  • StephenDvd

    Thanks for reminding me why I no longer consider myself Episcopalian!

  • Andy

    So, after the diocese won the church property they decided they didn't need it and they wanted to sell it. Instead of selling it to the original congregation for top dollar they decided to sell it to a Muslim group for less than half the Anglican congregation was willing to pay. Wow. No doubt it was done out of spite. I'm an Episcopal youth minister and it breaks my heart to watch as my church turns from the Gospel in the name of preaching the Gospel. I'm not a 'repent for the end is near' kinda guy but God will judge us for our actions. It will happen.

  • Bruce Garner

    Sorry but Matt is the equivalent to someone killing both parents and then asking the court for mercy because he is an orphan.

    Everyone involved knew the rules under which they were supposed to be operating. Matt et al took what was not theirs to take. That is a plain and simple concept, so for them to be crying foul is absurd. Had they not taken the property in the first place, but worked with the diocese for a sale, I suspect things might be different.

    We need to remember that not all who practice Islam are terrorists or extremists. To tar all with the same brush is not very Christian to begin with, nor is it in keeping with interfaith ideals. I know Southern Baptists who are a greater threat to any of us that most who practice Islam. The Southern Baptists are far more rabid and more inclined to stick their noses into everyone else's business.

    It is Holy Week…a little charity wouldn't hurt any of us.

    Bruce Garner

    • JonAlan

      Where oh' where does one get such ideations as yours. Are you off of your anti psychotic medications—what ?

      A Christian

      • Ted

        TO: Bruce
        SUBJECT: Caliphate

        Google the word and consider how much you will like what it requires.

    • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/thewhiteshark thewhiteshark

      Yep– those crazy Southern Baptists are far more rabid… we read all the time about Baptist suicide bombers and Baptist honor killings and how Baptists kill people who convert to another religion. Yeah — your "charity" towards Baptists is outstanding Bruce. do you really want to compare how many people have been murdered in the name of Allah bu Muslims vs how many people have been murdered by Baptists in the name of Jesus. A truly moronic post.

    • Veritas

      Not true of course. Think of the generations buried in the churchyard. The Episcopal Organization is apostate and not Christian in any honest sense of the word.

      The Kennedy's alas, aren't entirely Biblically orthodox, with a priestess, and with Fr. Matt banning sections of Scripture from a blog he participates in, and banning those who cite Scripture that he doesn't want to hear.

    • subdal

      you are a NUT

  • Father Ron Smith

    "God so loved the WORLD" – All of it!

    • JonAlan

      I say that God does not love evil. So what are you saying ?

    • BBub

      "All that believe in Me shall never die."
      Jesus has PUBLICALLY been rejected by this entire religion.

    • Larry

      "His division numbers 74,600." – Numbers 2:4

      As long as we are quoting uselss and pointless sentences from the Book I thought I would throw in my contribution.

      Quote the Bible all you want, tool bags. God did not provide it to enable man to promote his own agenda.

    • Blair

      Why did you only quote the part of the sentence that suits you? If you truly believe you deserve the honorific "Father" as you promote, you should not do that.
      It is so easy.
      "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
      For further context, read the entire book, Ron.

  • anon


    Mat 5:10" Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.

    The Episcopal church has done a wonderful thing in making sure every parish and priest that leaves the denomination suffers as much as possible and is shown no mercy. Any natural person can see that such actions are not those of a church, and it causes the other Christian churches to rally around and come to the aid of those in need. Which allows those churches venturing out to have support they would not have had otherwise. And so the church grows. If the Episcopal church had been a bit more gentle, filed a few less lawsuits, settled with those leaving, ACNA may not exist today. Instead, with each blow, it increases the resolve of those leaving – see the comments from Virginia "I wasn't sure we were doing the right thing – but when the bishop sued the vestry personally, I KNEW that our leaders were correct – those were not the actions of a Christian church"

  • anon

    And so with every blow, hundreds more leave the Episcopal church. With every lawsuit, more parishes pack their bags. With every deposition, more members leave for a different church. With every new lawsuit, another person decides they are no longer going to give to the Episcopal church to fund these ungodly deeds. Thank you Bruce. It would never have happened without leaders like you.

  • Daniel Lozier

    "Muslim brothers and sisters…." I guess that's the problem…those who deny Jesus as the Christ are considered Episcopalian brothers & sisters. Christ is optional to salvation. I guess there's really not much of a difference between the two after all.

  • L. G. Davis

    Here is part of a question from the 2003 General Ordination exam for priests of the Episcopal Church….(previously known as the Episcopal Church of the USA).

    l Who is a Racist?
    “All white individuals in our society are racists. Even if whites are totally free from all conscious racial prejudices, they remain racists, for they receive benefits distributed by a white society through its institutions. Our institutional and cultural processes are so arranged as to automatically benefit whites, just because they are white. It is essential for whites to recognize that they receive most of these racist benefits automatically, unconsciously, and unintentionally.”(Education and Racism, National Education
    Association, 1973)

    Progressive enough for you? All whites are racist…….. the NEA says so.

    • Linda


    • Larry

      I agree! I am a white racist! I hate Obama's white half!

  • LG Davis

    Using lawyers and closing churches that oppose their liberal views is hardly uncommon. I'm betting they have more retained lawyers than members.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JosephWiess JosephWiess

    I hate to tell you, but we don't need the muslims to kill us, when we are fighting each other, other something as stupid as property. We should be reaching out to people, in the name of Christ and explaining how Muslims are a cult and only want to make slaves of all of us.

  • Andy

    It is true that the Episcopal Constitution & Canons state that all Episcopal Church property is held in trust by the national church. Therefore, the property belongs to them and it is their legal right to fight for it. That being said, it is a terrible witness for my church. (I am Episcopalian). Despite what side of the issue you are on I believe that we are turning people away from Christ because of these lawsuits and infighting. There is a reason St. Paul told us not to sue fellow Christians. It hurts our credibility and our witness.

    • Veritas

      Yes, but the national church must be the Anglican church in the territory – and TEO is no such thing.

  • anon

    Andy, it is far more than a fight for property. If this story is correct, there was an offer made, it was rejected. The property was then sold at a lower price to another party with a stipulation it could never be resold to the original congregation. That is not 'fulfilling our duty as a trustee' – that is pure spite and hatred if all of those facts are true.

  • Mick

    The basic principle is that any society and Islamic society cannot coexist. When Muslims become strong enough, they will demand the implementation of “Shariah”.

    Shariah is Islamic law that is based upon the Quran and Ahadith. This is the law that makes women virtual prisoners in a man’s house, causes them to wear the veil, and makes them second-class citizens. It is the law that demands the execution of those who blaspheme Muhammad, Islam or the Quran. This is the law that will not allow Christians to attempt to convert a muslim and will imprison or execute a muslim convert unless he recants. This is the law the required US soldiers in Desert Storm to hide their Bibles. This is the law that muslims want to see replace the constitution of the United States.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/DVG DVG

      Onehundred pct spot on. There is a systemic migration underway by muslims with the intent of subverting our society, culture and political system. Each day brings new evidence of another mosque, association, or group entering or being founded in Europe and the US.

      From their mouths come the words, there is no moderate islam. Islam is islam.
      There are more active and less active participents in this struggle. All however, are firm adherents to their faith. Also from the documentary made in the UK, there is more affirmation that once sufficient numbers are attained, the transition to sharia law becomes more possible.

      This is no idle threat. We need to be vigilant. We need to be informed. We need to broadcast by every means available what this threat is to those who are not aware.

      We need to stop allowing muslims into the US. They are provacateurs. We are quickly approaching a crisis. It is the deefining moment for centuries to come.

  • Anonymous

    On a point of clarification. When Fr. Matt noted that Good Shepherd offered to buy the property, that was true. What he failed to mention was that a good portion, if not all of the funds it intended to use were the funds in contention, a trust which the diocese believed were not Good Shepherd's but its funds. This was held to be the case by the Court.

  • Anonymous

    Another point of fact. There is no such thing as the Anglican Church. There is only the Anglican Communion. The Communion is a group of independent churches, primarily national, and called provinces of the communion. In the United States, the communion is represented solely by The Episcopal Church. Determination of membership is made by the Anglican Consultative Council. In the United States there is one sole member of the Communion, The Episcopal Church. Neither The Reverend Mr. Kennedy nor the organization of which his church is a member, The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is a member of this group. It is important to remember that the author of the piece is a member of the IRD, an organization which has worked hard to undermine all mainline denominations in the US which have moved in directions which its members perceive as inappropriate, primarily toward full inclusion of gay members, abortion rights etc. It is goof that the Binghamton paper acknowledge the association of this author with this group. It would have been better had it stated what the group stands for and exactly its relationship to it.

    • Joe Smith

      Wrong, wrong, absolutely wrong!!!

    • Veritas

      ACNA is indeed part of the Anglican Communion. You are misinformed. If either has broken covenant with the worldwide communion, it is TEO. Repeatedly.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/KahoonaFred KahoonaFred

    What would one expect from apostate queers?

  • penny

    I find it interesting that Muslims like turning previously Christian buildings into Islamic ones. Tells me they like showing the world their religion of conversion and domination.

  • http://MSN.COM Omega2

    What a shame that the best part of MY HOME STATE is now allowing these PERVERTS OF RELIGION move into the best part of New Youk State. Glad I retired and moved to ARIZONA, a FREE STATE to be able to protect ourselves by which ever means we deem necessary. The Churches are going to be the downfall of us yet unless we remove all the PROGRESSIVE PREACHERS from the PULPIT now. ISLAM is a CULT NOT A RELIGION. Read the KORAN, convert to Islam, pay a tax or OFF GOES YOUR HEAD. It will be THEIR HEAD and not MINE.

  • eee

    How many church buildings are in Mecca or in Saudi Arabia?

  • Larry

    Once again a "Christian" church demonstrates its worship of money over service to Christ. If you aren't getting fondled you are getting shafted in some other manner by the "Christian" church these days. It is no wonder membership is dropping like a stone. Enjoy hell, church leaders.

  • Rick

    I left the Episcopal Church years ago when I decided to become a Christian.

    • Bill

      I hope you are in a sacramental church Rick.

  • Momma

    Lest anyone wonder whether Satan is in control of the Episcopal church…. We know them by their fruits. The Diocese of Central New York has shown shockingly spiteful, petty behavior, but more than that: they've shown their naked hostility to Christianity. The Episcopal church embraces sin, and calls it love. The Episcopal church has obviously been infiltrated by demonic influence.

  • eric

    " Signs on the old building directing the homeless to the new soup kitchen had been taken down, apparently, by the Diocese when they were padlocking the church to keep out the Anglicans."

    Can someone confirm this?

  • LDavis

    Now that a mosque is being built across from the World Trade Center site in NYC the Episcopal Leadership must be thrilled.

  • Thanh Tyler

    Anne! I think my heart just skipped a beat! My absolute favorite storybook character. Anne + Mary, oh my. I want and need her!

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  • kriste

    I find it sad that you people attack muslims, just beacause their are extremist does not mean there are bad muslims every where. If you had an educated opinion and read the Quran you would know Islam is one of the most peaceful religions out there. We give and help others continually. We dont just take over places to show our religion is better, we make places for people to feel free to practice their religion. Islam is a cult really? that shows so much ignorance and stupidity. if your read the "koran" which you people cant even spell corectly (its spelled QURAN in case you needed to know) you would learn that muslims harm no others. They do everything for god and the good of their neighbors. you people need a different out look on life because the ignorant life you are leading is pathetic. we also respect other people's religion, which apparently you guys dont practice what your preach.