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Saturday, January 10, 2009

California Supreme Court Ruling

California Supreme Court rules in Episcopal Church property suit

On January 5, the California Supreme Court upheld a 2007 court decision that buildings and property do not belong to 3 dissident congregations but to the Diocese of Los Angeles and the general Episcopal Church. A majority of the members of these churches realigned themselves with the Anglican Province of Uganda after The Episcopal Church ordained an openly gay bishop. Bishop Bruno stated that he will seek "reconciliation with these congregations and will assure this diocese and the people of the Episcopal Church that we will continue mission and ministry in the areas these congregations serve." More information is available at, and the court opinion is at .

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This California Supreme Court opinion and the earlier, appealed 4th District opinion are both based on California corporate law as applied to real property ownership, without getting into any issues about church doctrine.
The 2007 4th District opinion was written by 3 judges who have had vastly different individual experiences: an ex-Navy nurse w/ Vietnam experience, a civil litigator who handled complex (large, cumbersome litig) cases, and a wordsmith who wove into the opinion the various themes and threads from all of the amicus briefs.
[The Presbyterians submitted amicus briefs and I was proud: my dear father was a UP minister, who prized harmony greatly. He’d been called out here in 1941 (3 year call process, back then) from Pennsylvania to Pasadena to heal a breach between the strong-willed and the stout-hearted, between some Bible-bangers and some less literal yet still devout believers. Growing up in that parsonage (with the leaky roof) was an excellent childhood education. And best of all, my father believed in educating the first girl in 3 generations of his family! But I digress....]
One of the best conversations I ever had was in 2007 with the Rt. Rev. Francis Bridger, an ordained priest from the Church of England who taught Bioethics at Fuller Seminary for 3 years, and who was trained as a Mediator. He was a very good listener and author.
One of the biggest insights that I’ve ever had was last week, when I realized that our 2007 conversation ignored 2 fundamental differences that I didn’t see to mention: for Francis, the Church Of England is a STATE Church. For us, over here, the Church and State are separate and apart, wholly individual, each having its own Rules.
And so our rebellious, revolutionary past may influence us to add either light or lightning to any controversy. May we seek the Light together?
Carol A. Peters, Esq.

By Blogger Unknown, at January 18, 2009 at 5:07 PM  

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