A LA Times Article on Yesterday’s Court Ruling on the Episcopal Church Fight in Los Angeles

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One church observer, the Rev. Eddie Gibbs, senior professor of church growth at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena and an Episcopal priest, called the ruling "a sad reversal."

He said the issues went beyond the church's stance on gay ordination and involved statements that its leadership has made on doctrinal issues. "It's an ongoing, tragic saga. It's a gross failure of leadership of the Episcopal Church," Gibbs said.

[Bishop Jon] Bruno and diocesan attorney John R. Shiner have argued that the issue was not free speech or even theological differences, but who had rightful claim to the property. "While individuals are always free to leave the Episcopal Church and worship however they please, they do not have the right to take parish property with them," Bruno said.

But Bruno also said he would welcome back "with open arms" any dissident church members — or their rectors — who chose to return. "We want to move forward with these as Episcopal churches," he said. "I don't want to be punitive with them. I want to be loving and go forward."

Meanwhile, the diocese's lawsuit against a fourth parish — St. Luke's of the Mountains in La Crescenta — may be decided, at least in the first round, on July 3 when it is set for a hearing in Los Angeles Superior Court on motions for a summary judgment.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Los Angeles* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

Posted June 27, 2007 at 7:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Phil wrote:

Judge Sills preening vanity that, “Readers will look in vain in this opinion for any indication of what religious controversy may have prompted the disaffiliation,” is disingenuous.  By failing to apply neutral principles to the case – that is, the property law the rest of us have to live under – he has imposed ECUSA’s ecclesial theology on the losing parishes, in violation of the First Amendment.

June 27, 11:24 am | [comment link]
2. Sue Martinez wrote:

But Bruno also said he would welcome back “with open arms” any dissident church members — or their rectors — who chose to return.

No way would I want a bear hug from +Bruno!

June 27, 11:45 am | [comment link]
3. Enda wrote:

He, Bruno, has nailed his coffin shut.

June 27, 11:53 am | [comment link]
4. Cennydd wrote:

If + Bruno truly means what he says about not “being punitive with them,” then he’ll apologize for what he’s done and reverse his actions.  Until he does this, no one will believe him!

June 27, 2:03 pm | [comment link]
5. Connecticutian wrote:

Phil (#1), that is precisely the point the CT6 were trying to make in federal court, but the judge didn’t see any issues that warranted federal jurisdiction.  (Only diff being that CT statute granted the “hierarchical” recognition, not a judicial panel.)  Unjust perhaps, but that’s what happened.

June 27, 3:39 pm | [comment link]
6. Marcia wrote:

‘“I don’t want to be punitive with them. I want to be loving and go forward.”

Meanwhile, the diocese’s lawsuit against a fourth parish ...’

The juxtaposition of these two statements is pitifully descriptive.

June 27, 4:19 pm | [comment link]
7. Harvey wrote:

Just let them go (people) but oh my; don’t let the land and money go.  How else can we sue those upstarts in court without money.

June 28, 9:39 am | [comment link]
8. Juandeveras wrote:

This decision, when thoroughly read, is a mile wide and a half-inch deep. Reliance is placed on multiple cases and fact situations unrelated to the issues of the Episcopal Church; mostly concerning issues of varying types of church hierarchy and how it has played out in other situations, other denominations and other religions.  The closest thing to anything Anglican is when the names Blackstone and British Parliament are trotted out in a weak attempt to illustrate that, well obviously, anything of English derovation,  must in fact be hierarchical - ie, therefore the TEC must be also; so TEC keeps the property.  Wait until Roberts and Alito get ahold of this one. No case concerning an Episcopal or even an Anglican church issue is ever mentioned anywhere. No case involving where leadership has left the body is ever mentioned, though the reverse comes up a lot. There is no “there” there. Great reliance is placed on a case involving a Sikh temple, Churches of Religious Science, independent Baptist churches, and one in Palm Springs which was in and out of the Presbyterian Church as well as and many cases on multiple Presbyterian church property matters [ hence,  Presbyterian lawyers were brought in to explain all of this so the Court would think they were the same as or close to the Episcopal Church, I guess] . There is no case cited wherein there is a suggestion of a fact situation even remotely like that present in TEC or in this immediate situation today, which is why Beers and Co. went for the straight property angle. In addition, this mid-level state appellate court is not exactly renouned for its brilliance. To suggest, as have people from the diocese , that this ruling represents the cutting edge of law in this area is not saying very much - if this is all they’ve got, then it’s a pretty dull edge.

inappropriate comments about +Bruno deleted

June 30, 4:04 am | [comment link]
9. Juandeveras wrote:

One person’s hopefully intellectually honest comments based upon previously-printed remarks on this site are apparently another       [ elf’s] unilaterial determination that they may be “inappropriate”. Hence, the apparent generational disparity between the “intellectually honest” and the recently-educated ” politically correct ” has a tendency to provide a less-than-robust total picture on any subject. I submit we live in 2007 and not in John Orwell’s 1984. The public who reads these blurbs is at least entitled to a robust discussion, worts and all, which is certainly the case on your sister AAC blog. A recent comment on the LA Diocese lawsuit submitted by Don Armstrong queried whether it was within your “pay grade” [ a little Vietnam-era helicopter fighter pilot lingo ] to question the “heart” of the person doing the scribbling? I realize that, bottom line, Kendall Harmon is within the milieu and constraints imposed upon hime [ and his blog ] by the TEC. ‘Nuf said.

June 30, 3:34 pm | [comment link]
10. Juandeveras wrote:

From Episcopal Life online: ” The decision is subject to discretionary review by the California Supreme Court and is not binding on all trial courts in California”.

June 30, 4:06 pm | [comment link]
11. The_Elves wrote:

Re: Juandeveras’ comment in #9:

Juan, It’s Kendall’s blog, Kendall’s comment policy.  You can choose to participate as you like or not.  We know there are other sites with freer comment policies.  We appreciate many of them and support them.  They have a role to play.  And so does T19.  Some commenters prefer here, some prefer other sites.  So be it.

FYI, we have absolutely nothing to do with the AAC blog on any level, technical or otherwise.  CaNNet hosts / hosted various blogs and sites. Yes, there was/is a generally shared ideology and commitment to orthodox Christian doctrine among all those blogs, but that’s about it.

Do we believe in and support the CaNNet blogs, of which T19 was one?  Most definitely.  It does not, however, mean there is any kind of formal collaboration between them.  Informal brainstorming among various CaNNet bloggers sometimes, sure.  But most sites are pretty totally independent of one another.

June 30, 6:07 pm | [comment link]
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