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Bruno hearings underway

Bruno hearings underway

The coalition of parishioners from St James, Newport, CA known as Save St James the Great are streaming the proceedings on Youtube

the days are split up into morning and afternoon video feeds; the morning ones will start before or at 9 a.m., and the afternoon feed will start after the lunch break, which will probably be after 1 p.m. or so.

 

Episcopal News Service has an overview of the first days events here

 

The gist of Vice Chancellor Julie Dean Larsen’s opening statement was that Bishop Bruno had never promised to keep the church open and that he acted responsibly based on the information he had and that St James’ contention of their viability as a parish was conjectural and not available to the bishop.

“Diocese of Los Angeles Vice Chancellor Julie Dean Larsen said during her opening statement that 90 percent of the facts in the case are undisputed. Bruno, she told the Hearing Panel, acted based on the knowledge he believed he had at the time when he accepted an unsolicited $15 million all-cash offer for the St. James the Great property. That property appraised five years earlier for $7.8 million, Larsen said.

“The facts will show that he carefully and prayerfully considered that decision as quickly as possible, that he looked at the information that he had at the time regarding the finances and the sustainability of the congregation that was there,” she said.

Larsen told the Hearing Panel members that when they consider the evidence, they would see that Bruno “did not misrepresent his intentions with regard to the property to anyone.”

“These charges should be dismissed,” she concluded.”  (ENS)

 

In later testimony, parishioners spoke of the efforts they had made to grow the parish and put it on track to sustainability.

“Testimony began with lay leader Bruce Bennett detailing how he and his wife, serving as co-bishop’s wardens, helped the small group of Episcopalians repair and refurbish a campus that he said had not been kept up by the group of disaffected Episcopalians. He and his wife initially worked 80 or more hours a week, even as he was being treated for advanced prostate cancer.

Bennett said they worked so hard because Bruno’s early actions and words had led them to believe that it was his “desire and his belief” that St. James the Great would exist for years to come.

Evangeline Kroner Andersen testified, at times emotionally, about how her family came to St. James soon after the remaining Episcopalians reopened the building. Voorhees quickly recruited Andersen, an internal auditor for a utility company, to help set up the congregation’s financial systems. She was part of a financial team that worked with Voorhees, she said, to develop budgets, project finances for future years and develop stewardship in the congregation.

St. James’ financial footing got surer, Andersen told the panel. “The actual condition was zero dollars” when they began in late 2013, she said. By May 2014, there was $100,000 in the bank. Pledge and plate giving increased all year, Andersen said, calling it “amazing financial growth.”” (ENS)

The parish’s Vicar also testified, saying that she felt deceived and misrepresented by Bruno.

““I felt deceived. I felt used. I felt all sorts of emotions after all the work we’d put in,” she said. “There was no conversation. It was so cold, so brutal.”

After the parish learned of the sale, Voorhees said she was consumed by trying to care pastorally for church members while she was dealing with her own emotions.

“Some people had lost their church twice now; once when the Anglicans took it and now with the sale,” she said, describing people “falling on the ground outside my office sobbing.”

Voorhees testified that she began to feel overwhelmed and initially agreed to take a $111,000 diocesan-funded job with the Anglican Compass Rose Society. A main reason, she said, was because “my world was spinning and collapsing and I was trying to be obedient to what I thought my bishop wanted me to do.”

She turned back her first paycheck, she said, after it became clear to her that Bruno was not being honest about what was happening. Voorhees said that on the day of the final service at St. James, the congregants asked her to stay with them.

Fighting back tears, Voorhees said, “I took a vow to take care of the flock that was entrusted to me and I looked at the whole room and thought I can’t abandon them right now.”” (ENS)

 

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Diane Swarts

When will there be results of these hearings?

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David Allen

The bishop chairing the panel said, "not before Easter."

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