Comments: Los Angeles: coadjutor bishop says property sale to proceed

A Sad Story - but perhaps predictable. Intentional schism does nobody any good. The outcome of this saga does no credit to the Mission of Christ.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 15 August 2017 at 12:31pm BST

"The buyer has the legal right to expect the seller to honor the contract. Much as we might wish it were otherwise, we do not believe that it would be in the interests of the diocese or consistent with our fiduciary responsibilities... We understand that the Hearing Panel's ruling, which awaits the possibility of Bishop Bruno's appeal, calls on us to return the congregation to the building. The four concurring Hearing Panel members and the attorneys who advised them evidently did not take fully into account the existence of a binding contract nor all the ways the dispute begs for wider reconciliation."

IMHO what he means is that "we are sympathetic to Bruno not the congregation" and "we will not do what Hearing Panel decided - ie restore the property to the congregation (who, I guess, paid for it in the first place)."

I wonder whether the Bishop will find it in his heart to give the proceeds of the sale back to the congregation so they can buy another building?

Posted by RevDave at Tuesday, 15 August 2017 at 8:07pm BST

ps For anyone not conversant with the history of this example of TEC's "you can leave but we're keeping all your assets" policy: https://americananglican.org/current-news/case-st-james-church-facts-speak/

Posted by RevDave at Tuesday, 15 August 2017 at 8:17pm BST

It is unlikely that the developer would have sued the diocese to force the sale. The publicity would not have been worth it, especially since the central body of the Church, through the hearing panel, strongly recommended returning the church building to its parishioners. Real estate contracts in California fail frequently, for many reasons, many less compelling legally and emotionally than this. Rather it appears that Bishop Bruno has friends in the diocese who are protecting him and his reputation by forcing this sale. It somehow justifies his trying to sell the property for a second time even while undergoing a disciplinary trial.
Will the other recommendation of the panel be confirmed, that he be removed from his ministry for three years?

Posted by Andrew at Wednesday, 16 August 2017 at 8:49am BST

Rev.Dave, It seems you may not be up to date with the origins of the split in the St. James parish - which decided to take itself out of the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles bishop and diocese, and in the process seeking legal ownership of the parish property.

As has now been shown by the Supreme Court in South Carolina, schismatic parishioners have no automatic right to parish property when they leave. The property - unless the parish opted out of Diocesan ownership from its beginning - belongs to the TEC diocese under whose canons the parish exists and draws its licensed ministry.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 16 August 2017 at 1:12pm BST

Father Smith, not quite "from the beginning", just refusing to accede to the Dennis canon. Most of the churches existed before the Dennis canon, they just refused to accept it. I've always wondered how the church got away with that canon, especially as they've lost the records of it passing. It's rather like McDonalds having a board meeting and declaring, "As of today, any property of any franchise of our restaurant is now ours, regardless of who paid for it or has title/deed to it." And there are hundreds of laws that differ between South Carolina and California, so the application of SC law is not automatic.

As for the parish, looks like they were correct in believing that the diocese didn't care about them, only the money and property. The diocese was just lying to get more money out of them by giving them false hope if they built up their funds and numbers, so why stay? This just another example that the church gov't doesn't care at all about people. It's just as greedy as McDonalds and doesn't care about right or wrong or honesty, transpaency...

Posted by Christine H Harwood at Wednesday, 16 August 2017 at 3:57pm BST

Father Ron Smith says, "The property ... belongs to the TEC diocese."

This is only arguably the case in California because of the unusual "Corporation Sole" structure there.

Most parishes in the Episcopal Church _do_ own their own property. This is why the Dennis Canon was adopted--stating that parishes hold their property in trust for their dioceses.

Posted by Jeremy at Wednesday, 16 August 2017 at 4:50pm BST

Ron, this case is not about a departing congregation. It is about a loyal liberal TEC parish and about whether the Diocese and Bishop have authority over them, or the 'national church.' You probably need to stay away from analogies, since the most obvious one is, as in LA, the 'national church' having no authority in SC.

There wasn't a single parish in SC wanting to leave.

This was a diocese as such, with 37 parishes in toto, disputing 'national church' authority over their name, history and property.

One wonders if Mark Lawrence and Jon Bruno have exchanged phone calls on 'national church' overreach. Not hard to imagine.


Posted by crs at Wednesday, 16 August 2017 at 5:34pm BST

There seems to be a lot of confusion here over the congregation most recently resident in the Newport Beach property-

The original St James parish departed TEC in 2005 or thereabouts and became embroiled in court with the diocese and TEC. It was evicted from the premises earlier this decade when the court awarded title to the property to the diocese of LA.

4 years ago (or 5?), a new congregation was formed as a mission (NOT a parish) of the diocese, took the name St James the Great, and reopened the building.

It is that mission congregation that was locked out when Bishop Bruno decided to sell the property. The disciplinary hearing early this year is not related to the TEC-ACNA court cases, other than that the building is one that was involved in an earlier suit between the diocese and the departing parish.

The discipline of Bp Bruno is over his purported misrepresentations to the liberal TEC mission congregation, not the departed Anglican parish.

In the current instance, the congregation was a mission, not a parish, so the title of the property was in the name of the diocese, not the congregation, and transferred by the diocese to the Corp Sole.


Posted by TJ McMahon at Wednesday, 16 August 2017 at 6:18pm BST

Father Ron, I wonder why Bruno and the diocese is so hell bent on selling St James the Great? Maybe it reminds them too much of Bishop David Anderson and the non-liberal ACNA to which many people are leaving TEC.... for very good reasons: https://youtu.be/VgGDA8spnl8

Posted by RevDave at Thursday, 17 August 2017 at 11:27pm BST
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