Darien Church files lawsuit against their Rector

DARIEN — A lawsuit has been filed by parishioners of Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church against Rev. Canon George Kovoor.

The vestry, the meeting of parishioners that conduct parochial business, seek the courts to rule Kovoor is not the lawful rector of St. Paul’s. The lawsuit, filed July 6, states Kovoor obtained his job by lying about his past work and schooling.

The lawsuit comes after repeated mediation attempts between the vestry and Kovoor, organized by the Episcopal Church of Connecticut.

“A vestry cannot in itself fire a rector,” said Rev. Ian Douglas, the bishop diocesan of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut.

Douglas said the position of the priest is within a three-way agreement between the priest, the vestry and the wider diocese. Kovoor was hired by the church in October 2016.

To mediate the situation there is a process overseen by the rules of the church called the Canon, he said. The process also allows for bishop diocesan of the Episcopal Church to issue a godly judgment to resolve matters.

“Shortly after their second attempt to fire him I gave my godly judgment, which was that the rector was going to stay,” said Douglas.

The vestry anticipated this decision, said Douglas. Before he could issue his judgment the vestry took a vote and then sent Kovoor a letter saying he was fired. This move also played a part in his final decision, said Douglas.

“I gave an outline of tasks that the vestry and the rector needed to do,” he said.

The rector has continued to fulfill his commitments, but the vestry has not participated at all according to Douglas. The vestry has also gone as far as to decide not to pay the rector and said he needed to leave the rectory, the house provided to him as the rector.

“They’re trying any means necessary having realized the church’s processes are not reaching their desires,” he said.

Generally speaking, vestries understand and work within the church even if they may not like the canons of the church, said Douglas.

“We all work together to find out what’s best for the parish,” he said.

For a vestry to take matters into their hands is not their way, said Douglas. He also said it’s unfortunate the vestry is not pleased with the ways the canon of the Church is exercised, but there must be order, discipline, and clarity.

Douglas said despite the pending lawsuit they will continue to move forward preaching the holy word and if a new church has to be built then it will be done.

“People have their right to try and exercise their legal options,” said Douglas. “But I’m not worried about the suit myself both in content and process.”

Anthony Miscimarra, the senior warden of the vestry, declined to comment due to pending litigation.

Joann Cerretani, the junior warden of the vestry, also declined to comment due to the pending litigation.

The lawsuit does not yet have a scheduled court date.

dj.simmons@hearstmediact.com, 203-842-2568