Court grants two Los Angeles properties to diocese, Episcopal Church

[The Episcopal News, Los Angeles] Final Judgments in favor of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the Episcopal Church in cases regarding Long Beach and North Hollywood property disputes have been entered by the Orange County Superior Court.

“The judgments conclude the trial court portion of the cases and declare that the diocese holds the properties in trust for the current and future mission of the Episcopal Church,” said diocesan attorney John R. Shiner.

“It is ordered, adjudged and decreed that final judgment is entered in favor of plaintiffs [including] the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Los Angeles… and Plaintiff-In-Intervention The Episcopal Church and against defendants,” each judgment reads. The judgment for St. David’s, North Hollywood is here and the judgment for All Saints’, Long Beach is here.

“We will move forward with an orderly transition,” said the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, who was present in the courtroom Aug. 24 for the recent proceedings. “Being people of compassion and understanding, we have been in touch with the attorneys for both congregations, and we will make every effort to respect the dignity of all involved.”

The court will take up another case, involving the congregation of St. James’, Newport Beach, on Oct. 24.

The litigation began eight years ago when a majority of members of All Saints’ Church in Long Beach, St. David’s Church in North Hollywood, and St. James’ Church in Newport Beach voted to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Los Angeles. A court returned a fourth property — St. Luke’s of the Mountains Church in La Crescenta — to the diocese in 2009.

Comments

  1. Sally Rowan says:

    EIGHT YEARS?? How much did that cost either side of the dispute??

    Will there be big enough congregations to be able to use those buildings? If not, can the congregations being ousted from them buy them from the diocese, or does PB’s forbidding that still hold? What does it cost dioceses to continue paying for the parish buildings they can’t fill with congregations?

  2. Ruppert Baird says:

    What amazes me is that the Diocese owns the parish I attend, despite the fact that we, the congregation bought the land, built the church, and just recently paid off the mortgage! If we were to decide to leave, we congregants would lose all that we have worked so hard for. THAT is just? How? I don’t understand this and why the Church acts so callously toward those that it disagrees.

  3. harriet langfeldt says:

    In response to both Sally Rowan and Rupert Baird and their concern about the way in which the court cases in the Diocese of Los Angeles have been handled. It is their lack of understanding about one of the basic tenants of the EPISCOPAL Church. We, as in each individual parish, through out the United States, are not subject to our own governing body / parish vestry – but rather we are each a part of the larger church which by the very term Episcopal reminds us that the Bishop, Standing Committee and Diocesan Council are where the buck stops. It is really quite simple but many people do not understand this.

  4. The result of the California and other courts about church property reminds us that the Episcopal not congregational in nature. We following the diocese’s guidelines, and obviously that’s why the two churches mentioned above left the Diocese of LA and the Episcopal Church. While this may not be fair, being part of the Episcopal Church, that’s the “game” that we play. Obviously if this doesn’t work well with someone, then they aught to find themselves in a local UCC parish, where the congregation must approve of just about everything! Obviously the rectors of these two parishes failed to understand church policy. I wonder how much this failure has cost both the church parishes and the diocese???

  5. Doug Desper says:

    Yep, the big tent. Plenty of room to disagree as long as you are ultimately willing to have the private theological experiments and revelations of revisionist leaders form the official faith and practice of the Church. You can be a theological minority (traditionaist) in this Church so long as you fill the pews, pay the bills, and nod approvingly. That property that you bought and paid for? It belongs to the current leadership’s wiles, with little real regard to the efforts and sacrifices that put the church on your real estate in the first place. So, just exactly what “trust” is that property held in and for? We seem to be a Church that values everything except the people needed to be a viable Church. Fast forward 50 years and many Episcopal churches will look back on the good old days when there still traditionalists to be counted on. We’ll be a Church of about 800,000 by that time with an average Sunday attendance of 200,000. Well done.

  6. Joan Gundersen says:

    If a parish dwindles in size and closes, do the remaining 2 or 3 members get to sell the building and keep the profits of the sale? Not in the Episcopal Church. The diocese assumes responsibility for the building. This has been the case in the Episcopal Church for over 200 years, and has been written into diocesan canons for over a century. All of us in a parish are actually trustees – for the Episcopal Church – and for the generations who came before you and will come after. A parish constantly changes in membership. When my grandparents moved from Illinois to Ohio they left behind a building that they had literally built — my grandfather made the altar and found the pews. My grandmother painted the interior and found the altar ware. They didn’t get to claim the altar and take it with them. It belonged to the CHURCH (not the parish). When I moved from Minnesota where I pledged to the local Episcopal Church and helped restore its 1858 building, I left behind a legacy that was picked up by those who came into the congregation after I left. Similarly, I became the beneficiary of the work done by those who built the parish I then joined in San Diego County. The Church is larger and more enduring than any congregation.

  7. Michael McCoy, M.Div. says:

    For the very same reason that your statement of giving says that you receive nothing but spiritual benefits from your contributions. (Or something similar.) We pay for the parish assets because we are The Church, not because we are owners of a piece of property and a building. We are just doing our part for the building of the Kingdom.

  8. Larry Graham says:

    The Episcopal Church has a hierarchical government, with the General Convention passing naitonal canon laws and establishing the policies for the entire body. Each diocese of the Church can make its own laws and establish its own policies, so long as they acceed to the national ones. And, each congregation must acceed to the national and diocesan rules as well.

    This isn’t anything new or novel. We’ve been doing this since our separation from the Church of England just after the American Revolution. It’s a democratic system, with both clergy and laity participating in each level of church government.

    The ownership of church property is governed by the Dennis Canon, which requires each congregation to hold its property in trust for the diocese of which it is a part, and for each diocese to hold it’s property in trust for the national church. This is simply common sense. We Episcopalians choose to be in this together. This system enables us to support and assist each other when that becomes necessary. Our offerings go not only to the local congregation, but also to the diocese and national church for very purpose among others.

    People who don’t like this interdependent, three-tiered system – or who want congregational government – are free to go elsewhere. They are not free to take the church building, the altar silver and the checkbook with them when they go.

  9. David Hill says:

    This will play out again in the Diocese of South Carolina, where a duplicitous bishop will try to keep
    some of the most important church properties in America from future generations of real Episcopalians. Our grandchildren will look back on these times and be amazed that homophobia
    has wreaked such havoc on the church.

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