The California Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in a case that pits the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles against parishes attempting to depart from the church but keep the property. If you are exceedingly interested in this issue (and perhaps rather lonely), you can watch the arguments online. Presbyterian Blogger Steve Salyards tuned in. Among his impressions:
[T]he general impression I got was that the justices seemed more sympathetic to the denomination's arguments so I would not be surprised to see this decision come out in their favor, not withstanding the justice who sided with neutral principles but was pointing out the "forever bound."For background on the case check our earlier post.
I must admit that in listening to the arguments I was bothered by the way the argument was made that the property was somehow separate from the ecclesiastical law. I do realize that this was an argument from a legal perspective, but it just hit me wrong that somehow the property was separated as different in the mission to follow and serve Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
As I mentioned, if I had to bet on this one hour alone I would expect the denomination to win. However, there are a lot of other parts to this case and it was clear that different justices were focusing on different aspects. When the decision finally comes down it will be interesting to see what of today's proceedings is found in it.
Addendum. Thanks to reader Rodney Davis we have the Cal Law Reporter's take on the court proceedings: "The California Supreme Court indicated strongly during oral arguments Wednesday that parishes don't keep their property once they leave. That stays with the greater church based on canons that place all parish property in trust when the local parish originally joins the overall church."