Episcopal News Service reports that the courts have ruled in favor of the Episcopal Church in property matters in the Diocese of San Joaquin:
A California Superior Court has ruled that the 160-year-old landmark St. John the Evangelist Church in downtown Stockton, California, is to be used for the mission of the Episcopal Church.
In issuing the April 2 ruling, Stockton Superior Court Judge Roger Ross granted the Diocese of San Joaquin‘s motion for summary judgment, agreeing with previous court rulings that “all the parish assets and parish premises are held for the ministry and mission of the church and the diocese” and the wider church.
Recapping other rulings in the Diocese:
It is the latest church property to be returned to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin since theological differences purportedly split the diocese in 2007. Those differences resulted in legal cases concerning church properties still held by former members.
Altogether, other properties in Ridgecrest (St. Michael’s), Turlock (St. Francis), Bakersfield (St. Paul’), Delano (Hope and Redeemer) and Sonora (St. James) have also returned to the Episcopal Church. Another church property, St. Paul’s, Modesto was returned July 1, 2009 prior to litigation.
State and federal courts have consistently ruled that church properties are held in trust by the diocese for the mission and ministry of the wider Episcopal Church and that while dissenting members may leave, they cannot take property with them, according to Michael Glass, diocesan chancellor.