Court orders return of Newport Beach property to Los Angeles diocese

By diocesan staff
Posted May 6, 2013

[Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles] Orange County Superior Court Judge Kim G. Dunning today reaffirmed her May 1 final orders that property occupied by St. James Church, Newport Beach, is held in trust for the current and future ministry of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the wider Episcopal Church.

“All the church property acquired by and held in the name of St. James Parish is held in trust for the Episcopal Church and the diocese, which have the exclusive right to possession and dominion and control,” Judge Dunning ordered. “The diocese is entitled to enforce the trust in its favor and eject the current occupants.”

This is the fourth and final case involving congregations in which a majority of members, having voted to disaffiliate from the Diocese of Los Angeles and the Episcopal Church, sought to retain church property for themselves. In each instance, however, courts have ruled that the property rightfully belongs to the diocese and Episcopal Church.

“I give thanks for the culmination of this marathon litigation, and I pray this action will settle the fact that people can disagree but cannot take property that has been entrusted to the Episcopal Church for ministry,” said Bishop J. Jon Bruno, of the six-county Diocese of Los Angeles, who was present in the courtroom this morning. “I feel blessed that Judge Dunning followed the direction of the California State Supreme Court and appellate courts and did a masterful job of interpreting all the briefs. I give thanks to God that, after these cases spanning more than eight years, we now can proceed with the continuing ministry of the Episcopal Church in Newport Beach.”

“I am very pleased with the court’s ruling,” said John R. Shiner, lead counsel for the diocese. “Judge Dunning’s meticulous analysis is entirely consistent with the guidelines established by the California Supreme Court and other appellate courts  throughout the State. The reality of this lengthy litigation will have continuing significance within the Episcopal Church community throughout the United States.”

Last year Judge Dunning issued similar orders declaring the disputed properties in Long Beach and North Hollywood rightfully belong to the Diocese of Los Angeles. Earlier, courts in 2010 also concluded that Episcopal Church property in La Crescenta, California, be returned to the diocese.


Comments (6)

  1. Jeff Van Schaick says:

    Well, that’s a relief!

  2. Jeff Van Schaick says:

    On the importance of church property, and of maintaining good relations within the monotheistic religions:

  3. I shouldn’t think that Anglican Curmudgeon would be best pleased with this result. He has spent lots of time and energy on tyring to convince us of the righteousness of the dissidents’ cause. Is he actually a member of TEC, by the way?

  4. Stewart David Wigdor says:

    With all due respect I don’t think the Courts understand what a theocracy is. In England the Church of England can seize buidings and lands of parishes at will, but in America the Courts should have supported the individual parish since the building and lands were purchased from their monies as a tithe to the Lord to Worship there. There is no theocracy expressed in America’s Law.
    If a National Church practices actions that are opposite that decreed by God, what can a parish church do? Clearly the most staunt supporter of gay and lesbian rights understands the Church is a place of Holiness not of ceremony or reception. You cannot have gay clergy.
    Did not our Lord make it by His own Body and Blood? The National Church is wrong. It is an embarassment to the Supreme Court of America that they did not defend the Holiness of the Church of Jesus Christ and support the parish that way. It would have rejoiced all.
    But I guess this is a divine comedy meaning from the Leader down to the Church, everyone says they are right when God says they are wrong and eveyone thinks God is wrong when His own Son lived to prove God is right. I can laugh , but I laugh with the Lord for truly man’s wisdom is foolishness to God even this day.
    A new word I coin “adoreaphobia,” the fear of loving a Holy God. Why fear God? He loves you and wants you in the Kingdom of Heaven with Him.
    I can see how the Court would agree with the National Church because it does not understand the Holiness of Worship, that clergy come from Jesus Christ and not the world even the most friendly world and that coming from God’s Son they are to live reflecting Him. (John 15, verse 12-17)

  5. Rosalie Hagge says:

    I was baptised and raised in All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Long Beach, CA, Diocese of Los Angeles. Growing up there, I was a teachers’ aide in Sunday School, and a loyal member of the Choir. Fr. Carroll was my godfather. I was married there in 1985.
    In 1979, I moved out of state for what turned out to be 14 years of college, graduate school, medical school, and residency. During that time, things back home drastically changed. Suddenly, and without warning, I found out that the parish in which I was baptized and raised, no longer belonged to the Episcopal Church. When I traveled back to Long Beach by car, I drove past the site on 346 Termino Avenue, and found the once familiar sign out front changed to “Anglican” instead of “Episcopal”. The whole place was surrounded by an iron fence, higher than 6 feet tall, and the entire place was deserted. It was as if I was standing at the grave of a beloved friend, long dead. I recall that when I was a young member, the place was constantly bustling with activity, with people rejoicing together in service of God and the Church.
    My sense of loss was and is profound. I cannot describe how terrible is/was this feeling of not belonging, but it has affected me strongly, and I have not yet since been able to be comfortable in any one parish. On Sundays, as in other days of the week, I honor God privately in prayer and in contemplation, but this is a poor substitute for belonging to a group of live individuals who represent the Body of Christ.
    The rector of All Saints’ Episcopal Church convinced enough of his congregation that it was somehow “wrong” to elect a Gay bishop. He used this “grievance” to divide the body of Christ in his parish at Long Beach. He left me without a church home. There must be others who feel a similar sense of loss. All I can say, is that the actions of the rector and the congregation are based upon fear and ignorance. Nowhere in the Gospel does it say that Gays should not be accepted and loved as members of the Body of Christ. Jesus dipped his hand in the bowl with Judas at the Last Supper. He beseeched God to forgive those who tortured and murdered Him, “for they know not what they do”. He forgave Peter for denying Him three times. He assured the condemned thief, crucified next to Him that “truly, this day you will be with Me in paradise”. He was friends with Samaritans, tax collectors, women of ill-repute, lepers, and those possessed by demons. And yet, my home parish seceded from the Mother Church for a reason which, by comparison, is too trivial to comprehend — because the rector and his subset of followers could not comprehend that the Church could ever trust or find value in anything an upstanding, righteous, Gay Child of God would have to say to God’s people? I am not mentioning any names here, but I would like to say to the former leader of my youth group, the former curate in whom I trusted, to the man in whom I am so disappointed now, “Father, you know who you are, and you can see yourself in the narrative above. Can you not comprehend the hurt you have inflicted upon the Body of Christ? Are you so blinded by your fear and hatred of those different from you that you can neither accept them, nor those of us who cherish them as brothers and sisters in Christ? Can you not understand the grave injury which you have done to those of us who are now invisible to you because we have hidden our faces in shame for what you have done? I am so disappointed, and disillusioned by the example you have set. Please remedy this situation. I have nothing further to say.

  6. Friend of St. James says:

    I give thanks to God that, after these cases spanning more than eight years, we now can proceed with the continuing ministry of the Episcopal Church in Newport Beach. — Bp. Bruno in 2013.
    By selling it for condos?

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