US Supreme Court won’t hear CA breakaway parish’s appeal

From the Diocese of Los Angeles:

The U.S. Supreme Court today announced that it has denied a petition to hear an appeal from a breakaway congregation seeking claim to the property of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church of La Crescenta, California. The court posted its action, together with dozens of other petitions denied, on its web site.

Meeting in conference on Feb. 26, the high court declined to hear the petition filed by St. Luke’s Anglican Church of La Crescenta, whose members voted in 2006 to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Los Angeles.

The property, a landmark stone church complex at 2563 Foothill Blvd., was returned to the Diocese of Los Angeles by court order on Oct. 12, 2009, following the California State Supreme Court’s Jan. 5, 2009 ruling affirming that Episcopal Church property is held in trust for the mission of the local diocese and the wider church.

A statement from the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the six-county Diocese of Los Angeles, follows here:

“I thank the Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court for their clarity in declining to hear an appeal regarding Episcopal Church property in La Crescenta, California, which has served local residents for more than 80 years.

“Likewise, last October, the U.S. Supreme Court also declined to hear a similar case involving Episcopal Church property occupied by a breakaway congregation in Newport Beach.

“This matter was decided by the California State Supreme Court in its January 5, 2009 opinion affirming that Episcopal Church property is held in trust by a local parish for the present and future ministry of the Diocese and the wider church.

“We now await the California Court of Appeal ruling for enforcement of this decision — which was requested by the Diocese before the Court on November 17, 2009 — and the Superior Court’s subsequent action that will begin an orderly transition bringing the properties in Newport Beach, Long Beach and North Hollywood into direct administration by the Diocese of Los Angeles.

“I remain hopeful that it will be possible for Christian reconciliation and healing to occur in these contexts, and I look forward to an end to the costly litigation that has spanned more than five and a half years.

“I ask for the diocesan community’s continuing prayers with regard to these matters.”

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  1. Michael Russell

    This will hopefully mean the speedy return of property and assets and the removal of the dissidents in San Joaquin. They are all now free go find their bliss elsewhere.

  2. A cautionary warning to those with one foot in and one foot out of the Episcopal Church, who expect that they may be able to depart carrying the silver.

    June Butler

  3. Michael Russell

    We are finding in San Diego we may have to go to court separately for the silver and other assets carried off even when the property is restored.

  4. Matthew Buterbaugh+

    I say this fully supporting the Canons and the Supreme Court decision, but… what will we do with a bunch of empty buildings? Do we sell them? Do we rent them to the churches that left? Do we hang on to them and use them for church plants down the road? I’m curious what conversations have been had around this.

  5. JasonC

    I’m a priest in LA and serve on the Diocesan Council. I think Matthew’s question is valid, but in the case of St. Luke’s, La Crescenta (the parish in question in this ruling), the building isn’t empty. The Episcopal congregation of St. Luke’s continues under the leadership of the Rev. Bryan Jones:

    The truth about this congregation is that a strong remnant of the departing congregation wanted to remain in the Episcopal Church and returned after the diocese regained control of the property. The congregation is smaller than it was, but a core remains and we are building from there.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the same dynamic holds true for St. James, Newport Beach, once the property is returned to the diocese.

    Jason Cox+

  6. Matthew Buterbaugh+

    That’s really interesting, and very uplifting to hear. I suppose each case is different, but I’m glad that there are continuing parishes that can use their buildings.


    RE: Empty churches.

    I just read that the MadPriest might be looking for a new gig and my closest friend is a music director who’s trying to not get run out of a Presbyterian church in Orange County by those who want a praise band. I say we team the two of up and send them down to St. James, Newport Beach. LA’s St. James in the City needs a good OC counterpoint to its phenomenal choral program already 🙂

    -Grant Charles Chaput

  8. What a GOOD idea! Fr. Jonathan/Mad Priest become the VICAR of St. James, Newport, Beach…they would come by the thousands (watch out Rick Warren, you´re numbers would dip)

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