In LA, Anglican Parishioners pray for church

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The weekly noontime Eucharist service at St. James Church drew a crowd three times the usual size on Wednesday, when about 30 parishioners prayed for support and guidance after a court revoked their rights to the church's Newport Beach property.

"Typically we meet in the side chapel, but more people came today to be together, to meet God, and to receive encouragement and support during this challenging time," said St. James' pastor of discipleship Cathie Young, who delivered Wednesday's sermon.

"My message today was: God has been faithful, God is faithful and God will be faithful — an important idea to hold on to in the midst of this disappointment."

Eric Sohlgren, lead attorney for St. James, said that the church is "seriously considering" appealing the case to the California Supreme Court after Tuesday's appellate court decision which upheld the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles' claims to the church's property.

Read it all.

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

Posted June 28, 2007 at 2:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Dale Rye wrote:

Seriously considering? Obviously, they will appeal, and recent California decisions suggest they may likely prevail. However, this is a cautionary tale for anybody who thinks these cases will be slam-dunks for either side in any state. In many, if not most, cases they will end up in the highest state court (I don’t think the Federal courts will touch these cases with a 10-foot pole) after spectacularly expensive litigation. Even then, most cases will be decided on fact-specific factors that will not carry much precedential value for cases with slightly different facts. Every jurisdiction will end up with slightly different rules (as is proper under our federal system), which will be particularly fun for the several dioceses that span a state line, to say nothing of larger groupings.

Another sign that these cases need to be settled early before they turn into something from Bleak House!

June 28, 2:45 pm | [comment link]
2. Sarah1 wrote:

Am proud to say that I agree with Dale Rye in every particularity.

Unity at last!!!  ; > )

June 28, 3:50 pm | [comment link]
3. Pisco Sours wrote:

Dale, the only time a federal court would really get involved is if the diocese is headquartered in one state and the parish is in another, like in Dixon v. Edwards. There’s no real First Amendment issue I can think of because there’s no governmental action, and I’m at a loss to think of any other possible federal question that might come up. So in the dioceses of Washington, Central Gulf Coast, Rio Grande, or Navajo Land this situation might happen. Otherwise, I agree with Dale that no federal court will hear these cases, simply because they have no jurisdiction, not because they don’t want to.
Dixon is interesting reading for anyone following the Diocese of Virginia, although it’s not binding precedent. The Fourth Circuit applied Maryland law and is a federal court, so it wouldn’t be binding on a state court in Virginia. It would probably be very carefully considered, however.
Prayers for everyone involved, and the peace of the Lord upon us all!

June 28, 4:25 pm | [comment link]
4. Pisco Sours wrote:

And I really need to learn to hit return twice to set off paragraphs. Le sigh. Apologies to all.

June 28, 4:26 pm | [comment link]
5. Dale Rye wrote:

Re #3: As you point out, even if a federal court were to get involved under its diversity of citizenship jurisdiction, it would still apply the property law of the state where the real property is located. Again, that is ultimately going to be determined by state law as interpreted by each state’s court of last resort. There is no significant possibility that a single case taken to the Supreme Court of the United States could resolve all the issues for everyone everywhere. Reasserters who are also political conservatives should hope that it would not, since to get there the SCOTUS would have to federalize property law instead of leaving it to local control. Talk about the law of unintended consequences!

June 28, 5:51 pm | [comment link]
6. Pisco Sours wrote:

Dale, in a sense, it already has been federalized many many times over. The Canon Law Institute has an article Church Property Disputes which summarizes all the cases that have been decided by SCOTUS. Of course, section III of the CLI article is out of date now that a majority of justices are Roman Catholic. I think the Court as presently composed would favor the hierarchical-church model over the neutral-principles model, but as with everything else in the not-yet-adjudicated, this is purely a guess.

(Hey, Sarah, you’ve got two reappraisers debating each other now. This must positively make your day!)

June 28, 6:44 pm | [comment link]
7. Pisco Sours wrote:

Oh, censored. In that URL, there were supposed to be “[percent]20"s where the spaces are. Eesh.

Here you go Pisco
Here’s the link to the church property disputes article via

The blog software seems to strip out some HTML.  Links with spaces are problematic and we suggest using or Make a Shorter Link for such links.

Update: After experimenting a bit, it seems that one of our commenters who suggested earlier this week that bulletin board coding might work best of all is correct.  Bulletin Board coding works for that link.  Here’s how that looks:

[url=your link here]title for your link[/url]

Pretty simple.  And it *seems* to work fine even when the link has spaces in it.

June 28, 6:45 pm | [comment link]
8. Brian from T19 wrote:

a crowd three times the usual size on Wednesday, when about 30 parishioners prayed for support and guidance after a court revoked their rights to the church’s Newport Beach property.

They have an ASA of 10?  And they don’t even meet in the actual sanctuary?  I thought the reasserters claimed we would die off.

Brian, your comments seem to be descending towards Trolling recently.  Are you just deliberately trying to pick fights?  We will start putting folks in moderation over here if we have to.

June 28, 7:07 pm | [comment link]
9. Br. Michael wrote:

I too must agree with Dale Ray.  I remember a story that my father (also a lawyer) told about the lawyer that had just lost his case.  The Judge banged the gavel on his bench and said “And that’s the law.”  The lawyer looked at his stacks of law books, and said, “Well it wasn’t until this court ruled!”

June 28, 7:27 pm | [comment link]
10. SJT wrote:

Brian, they were referring to a Wednesday morning service, not their Sunday services. This congregation is quite large and flourishing with 3 services on Sundays.

June 28, 7:39 pm | [comment link]
11. Anonymous Layperson wrote:

Brian, I think you misunderstood, perhaps intentionally, the relevant facts about the attendance.  This was a Wednesday noon service.  I would assume that this church averaged 10 for its Wednesday noon service.  I would assume that the ASA is significantly larger for their 2 Sunday services and 1 Saturday service.

June 28, 7:48 pm | [comment link]
12. Ron Baird wrote:

Actually, I would not be so certain that there is no governmental action involving a first amendment issue. In this case, the court decided that the denomination has the right to decide who is the parish and thus could arguably have violated the first amendment rights of the majority of parishioners who attend the parish. The harm would be the loss of the property. This is where the neutrality principle can run into conflict with the hierarchical principle because it is the court which has decided who gets to determine these issues. In the case of the neutrality principle, the deed filed legally would be the major determining factor. It looks to me like it is an issue that the US Supreme Court will need to address to get a clear ruling.

June 28, 7:51 pm | [comment link]
13. Pisco Sours wrote:

Ron #12, I was discussing the narrow topic of federal court jurisdiction. In this case the claim is already being handled by the state courts, so if a federal question comes up after the initial pleadings a federal court would not then step in. You may be right, but the existence of a First Amendment issue is irrelevant by now for jurisdictional purposes except if the loser at the California Supreme Court files for a writ of certoriari to the SCOTUS. Does that clarify things?

June 28, 8:05 pm | [comment link]
14. Ron Baird wrote:

I would agree but that is an important “if”. Clearly it will have to go to the Cal. Supremes first.

June 28, 8:12 pm | [comment link]
15. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “They have an ASA of 10?  And they don’t even meet in the actual sanctuary?  I thought the reasserters claimed we would die off.”


Maybe he was trying to be funny.

Or maybe he needed a bit of outrage from a reasserter to help rev up his day—he seems to need that more and more lately!  ; > )

June 28, 8:13 pm | [comment link]
16. Brian from T19 wrote:

Actually, I totally misread the article.  My apologies

Thanks Brian.  Apology accepted.  What confused me was the part of the article you quoted specifically mentioned Wednesday, which is why I thought you were being deliberately provocative.  Glad to know we were wrong!

June 28, 8:32 pm | [comment link]
17. this_day wrote:

So the case goes back to the Superior Court to decide the issue of the validity of the Denis Canon.  Well, that’s pretty good news for St James ... the Denis Canon is not a valid creation of a trust interest under California law.

That also means that the greater portion of the appellate ruling is non-binding dicta.

June 28, 8:34 pm | [comment link]
18. Brian from T19 wrote:

Brian, your comments seem to be descending towards Trolling recently.  Are you just deliberately trying to pick fights?  We will start putting folks in moderation over here if we have to.

The topics have been about SSBs in Canada and property rights.  These are contentious issues.  In addition there was a particularly virulent racist thread relating to the 400th Anniversary.  I have maintained the same points I always argue.

June 28, 9:00 pm | [comment link]
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