Across the region

Episcopal Church wins property fight


SAVANNAH, GA. — The Geor­gia Supreme Court ruled Monday in a property dispute over the state’s oldest church, saying a congregation that broke from the national Episcopal Church four years ago must give back the church’s $3 million property in the heart of downtown Savannah.

The group has continued using the sanctuary of Christ Church since 87 percent of its members voted to split in 2007. The congregation was among dozens in the U.S. that left the denomination over the affirmation of its first openly gay bishop.

The state’s highest court said in a 6-1 decision that the Episcopal Church is the rightful owner of the property. Before the rift, the ruling said, the Savannah congregation had long pledged itself to the denomination’s governing hierarchy, which states that all property belongs to the national church.

The congregation’s attorney said the group is weighing a possible appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ex-teacher denies child porn charge

COLUMBIA — An award-winning composer and former fine arts instructor at a private school in Charleston pleaded not guilty Monday to making child pornography.

Fernando Rivas, 59, also pleaded not guilty to using a computer to send the images across state lines and possessing child pornography images in April 2011.

Writing music for television, radio, film and theater, Rivas won Emmys in 1995 and 1996 for his work on Sesame Street.