Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Episcopal Diocese Of Los Angeles Betrayal

To anyone who has followed this blog I have written a lot about the intramural wars within The Episcopal Church at the national and at the diocesan level.
A quick summary of events is that for the last 40 plus years, TEC has become much more modernist. By that it takes a total non-literal view of the Holy Bible. It has emphasized social justice as the way to heaven. Even some in authority as bishops have rejected the basics of Christianity. In that time, many parishes have chosen to leave TEC. A large wave occurred in the late 1970s with the ordination of women to the priesthood (and eventually women bishops) and the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The largest wave came in 2003 with the ordination as bishop of New Hampshire one Vicki Gene Robinson. An open homosexual in a relationship with another man. Admittedly that opened the floodgates. The buildup of other issues somewhat paled to this issue. It led to the founding of the Anglican Church in North America in 2009. Out of that is a combination of churches and parishes that left TEC in the interim. Now nearly 1,000 parishes and missions strong and over 112,000 members, it is the greatest exodus of Episcopalians yet.
But churches and dioceses could not leave for greener pastures with the buildings and properties according to the then new TEC presiding bishop, Katherine Jefferts-Schorri. Nope, she made it church-wide policy to litigate all dissenters into either giving up or losing their cases. TEC has won many but has lost some including the diocese of South Carolina.
My local bishop, J. Jon Bruno, followed the national church and scorched-earth the four churches that left and wanted the property. Those churches were All Saints in Long Beach, St. David's in North Hollywood, St. James in Newport Beach and St. Luke's In The Mountains in La Crescenta.
I want to write that I personally like Bishop Bruno. Spoke with him many times. But on this, we could not be further apart.
So when you are trying to seize property, it takes high-powered and knowledgeable lawyers. And they do not do such things pro bono. No, they cost money. A lot of money.
No one has the exact amount but the agreed to estimate is roughly $7,000,000.
When I asked Bishop Bruno why another way to resolve the situation could not be done, I was told that it was a responsibility to those that found the church(es) to keep it (them) in the Episcopal fold. That is what they would have wanted I was told. There was also a fiduciary concern.
Now, did the diocese of Los Angeles have an endless amount of money to litigate? As it turned out, no they did not.
While the California supreme court eventually ruled in favor of the Los Angeles diocese, it did so over the course of nine years and the aforementioned roughly $7,000,000.
So all the property is back but what to do about recouping that money?
Why sell off the most expensive one, St. James Newport Beach, to the tune of up to $15,000,000. Below is what the church looks like.
Understand that one of the reasons we were told it was right and necessary to fight to get the church properties back. That they were rightfully Episcopal churches, nothing else no matter what.
It was part of the TEC to turn around and sell?
This is a betrayal of what was meant to try to get these properties back. In every case across the United States, it is the same. These churches can leave but not with the property because they are part of the local diocese. They are not really separate entities.
Except to sell to recoup money spent getting them back.
And if everyone is happy, why is there a website by members of the current congregation to save St. James? 
They should have known that this would happen.
It is happening everywhere that there is litigation for the lawyers do have to be paid, right? To show that might makes right.
The current PB, Mrs. Jefferts-Schorri, is on her way out at this upcoming general convention to be held later this month in Salt Lake City, Utah. A new PB will be elected. My fervent hope and prayer is that the new PB stops this insanity and leaves it up to local bishops to work out rather than from on high.
In other words, stop the betrayals. 

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