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Anglican Unscripted, Episode 71, May 10. 2013 May 14, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican.TV, Los Angeles, Property Litigation, Quincy, San Joaquin, The Episcopal Church.
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In this week’s Episode your host talk about the latest legal heartbreak in California. Also this week, there is late breaking international news about a Bishop who accidentally invokes Scripture. AU’s Legal segment covers all of the court cases in the US, and Kevin interviews David Jenkins about his lawsuit from Bishop Byrd. #AU71 Comments: AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com

Los Angeles wins summary judgment in Newport Beach property case: Anglican Ink, May 2, 2013 May 3, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Los Angeles, Property Litigation.
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The Bishop of Los Angeles had no authority to give the parish of St James in Newport Beach a written waiver exempting the congregation’s property from the reach of the Episcopal Church’s Dennis Canon, an Orange County Superior Court Judge has held.

In a ruling for summary judgment handed down on 1 May 2013 Judge Kim Dunning ordered the parish to hand its multi-million dollar properties over to the Diocese of Los Angeles.

The decision was unexpected, Daniel Lula – an attorney for the parish — told Anglican Ink, as the matter had been set down for trial later this month. In an email to his congregation, the Rev Richard Crocker said: “We have received notice this morning from our attorneys that the court has handed down a significantly negative ruling in our court case. This of course changes the landscape of next week’s trial,” he noted, inviting the parish to a meeting with Mr. Lula “to offer explanation of what we know about the ruling at this point.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Covenant anti-democratic and un-Anglican, Los Angeles says: The Church of England Newspaper, April 21, 2011 p 8. April 22, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Covenant, Church of England Newspaper, Los Angeles.
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Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno with his suffragans, Diane Bruce and Mary Glasspool following their election to the episcopate in 2009

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Diocese of Los Angeles has written to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, urging rejection of the Anglican Covenant.

In a letter released on April 14 endorsed by Bishop J. Jon Bruno and diocesan representatives, Los Angeles voiced theological and ecclesiological objections to what it saw as the anti-democratic centralisation of authority in the current draft of the Anglican Covenant.

“We cannot endorse a covenant that, for the first time in the history of the Episcopal Church or the Anglican Communion, will pave the way toward emphasizing perceived negative differences instead of our continuing positive and abundant commonality,” the letter stated.

Los Angeles stated it had written the letter in response to a request by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the national church’s Executive Council of views on the proposed covenant, which is expected to come before the 2012 meeting of the Episcopal Church’s General Convention.

While recommending the “conversation” continue with the wider Anglican Communion over the recent innovations of doctrine and discipline, including Los Angeles’ consecration of the Episcopal Church’s second ‘gay’ bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool, the diocese asked the Episcopal Church “not endorse the final draft of the Anglican Covenant.”

Difficulties with sections 3 and 4 of the Covenant drove this decision, it said.   “We are concerned about the omission of the laity from Section 3,” it noted, stating the diocese believed there were “four orders of ministry in the Church – bishops, priests, deacons and lay people.”

For Los Angeles to accept an Anglican Covenant, this understanding of the place of the laity as equal partners in the councils of the church must be included.  “A Covenant to which we could subscribe would need to re-imagine the Instruments of Communion to provide a stronger representation from all the orders of ministry,” it said.

The penal articles of Section 4 of the covenant were “of greatest concern.  It creates a punitive, bureaucratic, juridical process within the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion, elevating its authority over the member churches despite previous affirmations of member church autonomy.”

As currently written, the Section 4 “contains no clear process for dispute resolution, no checks and balances, no right of appeal,” while the “concept of mediation,” mentioned in Section 3, is absent in Section 4.

The present document’s “focus on ‘maintenance, dispute and withdrawal’ bodes of an immobilized church mission instead of one that is flexible and prophetic. For these reasons, we cannot agree to Section 4,” Los Angeles wrote.

The Episcopal Church was “founded in democracy and has enjoyed a polity which is free and democratic since 1789.  This long-standing course cannot be reversed,” the diocese said, urging rejection of the Anglican Covenant.

California Episcopal Church cases back before State Supreme Court: The Church of England Newspaper, June 18, 2010 p 6. June 25, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Los Angeles, Property Litigation.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The California Supreme Court has agreed to review a March 26 decision by the state’s Fourth Appellate Court of Appeals that held the congregation of St James in Newport Beach was not entitled to present a defence to the Diocese of Los Angeles’ allegations that it was the rightful owner of the sea-side parish properties.

The unanimous June 9 decision by the Supreme Court to examine the lower’ court ruling will likely add several more years and millions of dollars in the six-year-old battle between the breakaway congregation and the diocese.

Although the California Supreme Court agrees to hear only five per cent of the petitions submitted for its review, the decision to hear the Episcopal Church case was not unexpected, as the dissenting judge, the Hon Richard Fybel stated that his two appellate colleagues’ decision in favour of the diocese was “unprecedented and without any basis in law.”

The decision by the court to impose a sentence before a trial was conducted was “revolutionary,” he said, adding that “I can write with certainty that this is the only case in the history of California where entry of judgment has been ordered upon overruling” a defendant’s challenge to the legal sufficiency of a plaintiff’s pleading.

Judge Fybel stated the ruling was so outrageous that it “can best be resolved by a grant of review” by the state’s highest court. The majority decision noted “we have no doubt, of course, that if we are incorrect in relying on the plain language of the Supreme Court’s opinion in granting the general church’s petition for writ of mandate, the high court will correct our error.”

The chancellor for the Los Angeles diocese, John Shiner told the Episcopal News Service the Supreme Court’s decision was merely a “procedural issue.”

“We believe that the decision was clear and the California Supreme Court concluded that the property should be returned to us. We asked the trial court to enter judgment in our favour. The other side disagrees and believes they should be able to pursue the matter further.

“We went to the Court of Appeal and the Court of Appeal agreed with us that a judgment should be entered now. So they went to the Supreme Court, the higher court and asked them to review whether or not the judgment should be entered at this point,” Mr Shiner said.

St James’s lead attorney, Eric Sohlgren, said his client was “extremely pleased that the California Supreme Court has heard our plea to restore justice and fairness to this case.”

In a statement sent to The Church of England Newspaper, Mr Sohlgren said “St James will now have an opportunity to argue on behalf of all Californians that people should not be deprived of their property without getting the opportunity to defend their case in a court of law. These principles go to the very heart of what Americans hold dear under our Constitution.”

Nigerian church criticized over the Glasspool election: The Church of England Newspaper, June 4, 2010 June 17, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Nigeria, Los Angeles.
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Archbishop Nicholas Okoh

Government leaders in Nigeria have chastised Archbishop Nicholas Okoh and the Church of Nigeria over the consecration of Mary Glasspool in Los Angeles.

The Governor of the Rivers State in the Niger Delta this week told the Archbishop that the consecration of a lesbian bishop by the Anglican Communion diminished the moral authority of the Church in Africa and weakened its spiritual and social witness.

Enthroned as Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Communion’s largest province earlier this year, Archbishop Okoh has begun a tour of the national Church, meeting with Diocesan leaders and local officials. During the Archbishop’s meeting in Port Harcount with government officials a spokesman for Governor Rotimi Amaechi said the Glasspool consecration was a symbol of western moral decadence.

The governor told the new Archbishop, “Primate, you have a lot in your hands; the times are not good and the challenges are daunting.” By adopting the standards of the world and turning a blind eye to “moral laxity” the church was in danger of losing its prophetic voice, he said.

Archbishop Okoh has taken a high profile since assuming office as leader of the country’s largest Protestant denomination. At his diocesan synod last month, the Archbishop attacked the country’s culture of corruption, saying Nigeria was committing “suicide by instalment.”

Speaking with reporters after his meeting with the governor, Archbishop Okoh urged President Goodluck Jonathan to press on with his predecessor’s plans for ending the guerrilla insurgency in the Nigerian Delta. He encouraged President Jonathan, a native of the region to offer amnesty to the militants under the programme initiated by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua.

“A Niger Delta son is now in charge and it is proper that he implements the amnesty programme to a logical conclusion,” he said on May 31.

He urged all Anglicans to participate in the 2011 General Elections. The country’s elections must be “free and fair,” he said, “otherwise we will make ourselves an object of ridicule to the rest of the world.”

Nigeria was “lagging behind in many things,” he said, but in “the area of democracy, we should be seen to be enthroning a credible government at local, state and federal levels,” he said.

Last week the Archbishop told the church leaders in Lagos that Nigeria must protect its fledgling democracy from both internal and external foes. The push by some agencies of the United Nations to normalise homosexuality was an affront to Nigerian democracy, he told church leaders at Christ Church Cathedral on Lagos Island.

“If the UN has made itself an agent for the propagation of homosexuality globally, then it is time for us to pull out of the organisation,” he said, according to the News Agency of Nigeria.

“This is because the UN has no right to determine for or impose moral standards on us (Nigeria). Let us stand firm and refuse to be bought over by the West,’’ he said.

The gay agenda being forced upon Africa was un-Biblical and un-African, he said, and was a sign of a fallen world’s rebellion against God.

Mary Glasspool consecrated in Los Angeles: The Church of England Newspaper, May 21, 2010 p 1. May 29, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Los Angeles.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has consecrated the Episcopal Church’s second ‘gay’ bishop, Canon Mary Glasspool, as suffragan bishop of Los Angeles.

In a colorful three-hour ceremony that incorporated traditional Episcopal symbols and liturgy with shamanism and a mosaic of ethnic and cultural motifs, Bishop Jefferts Schori consecrated Canon Glasspool and the Rev. Diane Jardin Bruce on May 15.  The two will be the Diocese of Los Angeles first women bishops, and Canon Glasspool will be the Episcopal Church’s first ‘lesbian’ bishop.

Held in the 13,500 seat Long Beach Arena, the consecrations coincided with the nearby 27th annual Long Beach Pride Festival, a gay and lesbian community event.  Invitations to the 70,000-member Diocese of Los Angeles welcomed all comers, saying 6,700 seats would be set up for the service.  The Episcopal News Service reports 3000 people attended the gathering.

The service began with representatives from local Indian tribes welcoming the congregation.  They offered a shaman blessing and burnt white sage and a smudge pot to purify the participants in the ceremony.

Other performances included hip-hop dancing, a mariachi band, Japanese taiko drumming, Korean drummers, the University of California Riverside bagpipers and a Chinese American praise band. The Gospel procession was led by a deacon beating an African drum.

In his homily, the Bishop of Los Angeles, the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno lauded the “two magnificent women” and reminded the congregation that “there are no outcasts” in the Episcopal Church.

“We are a mixed batch, but we are stronger because we are all of those things. We are stronger because we respect the dignity of every human being, that we stand for their right to stand up and be the people of God. It doesn’t matter what their physical ability is, it doesn’t matter who they are, what race, what country they come from, what sexuality they have. It matters that they are people of God,” he said.

In an oblique criticism of conservative Anglican objections, Bishop Bruno stated that “We, as bishops of this church, are called to be exemplars of Jesus’ presence in this world.  We are called to teach people and bring them to a place of self understanding so that they do not, out of fear or anxiety or fear of change, become ideological idolaters of the past.”

Thirty bishops attended the ceremony and seven served as co-consecrators of Bishop Glasspool alongside Bishops Jefferts Schori and Bruno: the Bishop of Ohio Mark Hollingsworth, the Bishop of Long Island Lawrence Provenzano, the Bishop of Maryland Eugene Sutton, the retired Bishop of Maryland Robert Ilhoff, the Suffragan Bishop of Maryland, John Rabb, the retired Bishop of Los Angeles Frederick Borsch and the retired Suffragan Bishop of Massachusetts Barbara Harris.

Bishop Bruno told the congregation “I don’t think there was one person in the place that was more nervous than I was about objections. But we didn’t have any objections today from anybody who was an Episcopalian.”

He added that there were “people outside and inside who came here because they don’t understand the inclusive nature of the Episcopal Church.”

Unlike the 2003 consecration ceremony for the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson in New Hampshire, conservative Episcopalians did not rise to dissent to the consecration of Canon Glasspool, a partnered ‘gay’ priest.  A handful of protestors from the Westboro Baptist Church—a Kansas based independent church known for picketing at public events and funerals related to gay people as well as the US military—demonstrated outside the arena, while a man and boy attempted to interrupt the service.

After the procession was finished, a man seated towards the front of the arena rose and waved a placard condemning homosexuality and abortion.  As he was escorted from the building, he called upon the participants to “repent.”

A young boy then stood up and held aloft a Bible, shouting, “repent!”  Both were escorted from the building, and no other objections marred the ceremony.

The Communion waits upon Dr. Williams to speak about Mary Glasspool: The Church of England Newspaper, May 24, 2010 p 7. May 27, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Los Angeles.
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Dr. Rowan Williams

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The consecration of a lesbian bishop in Los Angeles has drawn a quick response from partisans of left and right in the US, but little comment from church leaders across the Communion.

On May 15 US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori consecrated the Rt. Rev. Mary Glasspool as suffragan bishop of Los Angeles.  Following Canon Glasspool’s election in December, the Archbishop of Canterbury said the election of a lesbian bishop “raises very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole.”

In his video address to the Singapore South to South Encounter last month Dr. Williams said he was “in discussion with a number of people around the world about what consequences might follow from [the Glasspool election], and how we express the sense that most Anglicans will want to express, that this decision cannot speak for our common mind.”

A spokesman for Lambeth Palace last week told The Church of England Newspaper that Dr. Williams would not comment again, but would likely speak after the consecration.

Sources close to the archbishop tell CEN that Dr. Williams will likely consult with the House of Bishops this week during their meeting in York before he makes a formal response, so as to make sure the bishops are on board before he acts.

The Archbishop of York has also been silent over the Glasspool consecration, but in an interview with Radio New Zealand, Dr. John Sentamu said that “the difficulty I have got with the Episcopal Church is that while we are in the [listening] process, they have decided to go ahead” with the consecration of gay bishops.

However, Dr. Sentamu dismissed suggestions the Communion would fall apart, stating on March 13 the Anglican tradition of “scripture, tradition and reason” coupled with “experience” would see the church through the crisis.  “Once you have got these four strands working together” the church can accommodate diverse opinion, he said.

Liberal activists in the US have applauded the Glasspool consecration.  Los Angeles priest, the Rev. Susan Russell, commented that at the service she “sang out of hope that the steps we took Saturday in the Diocese of Los Angeles would be a beacon of light and life to all who are looking for signs of God’s love, peace, justice and compassion.”

Conservative activists have been less sanguine.  The Rev. Todd Wetzel of Anglicans United saw the Glasspool consecration as evidence the Episcopal Church was walking away from the Anglican Communion.  “While the public rhetoric of the Episcopal Church continually affirmed their care and consideration for the rest of the Communion, the actions of this insular body made those statements empty sentiment,” he said.

However, political scientist and journalist Walter Russell Meade saw the Glasspool consecration as the “beginning of the end of the Episcopal Church as we have known it.”

While Meade places himself on the liberal wing of the theological spectrum, he commented that it was “impossible to avoid the reflection that the Episcopal church is unilaterally imposing its own vision of the church on a worldwide communion.”

“Even if the mind of the church ultimately comes round to the Episcopal view of homosexuality, the Episcopal church has made a profound and historic error in attempting to force this choice on the Anglican Communion as a whole,” Meade argued.

The leadership of the Episcopal Church “in the last generation has frittered away its moral and political authority and capital,” he said, and its “inability to respond creatively to the challenges” facing it today was “accelerating its decline.”

California cases return to state supreme court: The Church of England Newspaper, May 14, 2010 p 6. May 19, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Los Angeles, Property Litigation.
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St James Newport Beach

St James Newport Beach

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Los Angeles and the breakaway parish of St James Newport Beach are headed back to the California Supreme Court, following a petition by the parish to overturn the latest appellate court ruling in the six year old case.

On March 26, the Fourth Appellate Court of Appeals in California ruled the congregation was not entitled to present a defence to the Diocese of Los Angeles’ allegations that it was the true owner of the multi-million dollar parish properties.  On a split 2 to 1 decision, the Court of Appeals ruled that the wording of the Supreme Court’s first decision precluded further litigation over the property—even though the parish had not yet been permitted to offer a defence.

The dissenting judge in the case, the Hon. Richard Fybel stated in a dissenting opinion that his colleagues’ decision in favour of the diocese was “unprecedented and without any basis in law.”

The decision by the court to impose a sentence before a trial was conducted was “revolutionary,” adding that “I can write with certainty that this is the only case in the history of California where entry of judgment has been ordered upon overruling” a defendant’s challenge to the legal sufficiency of a plaintiff’s pleading.

He stated the ruling was so outrageous that it “can best be resolved by a grant of review” by the state’s highest court.  Judge Fybel’s colleagues on the bench stated “we have no doubt, of course, that if we are incorrect in relying on the plain language of the Supreme Court’s opinion in granting the general church’s petition for writ of mandate, the high court will correct our error.”

St. James’s lead attorney, Eric Sohlgren, told The Church of England Newspaper the March decision was a “grave injustice,” whose implications for the rule of law were “staggering.”

In a statement released on May 4, Mr. Sohlgren said St James would ask the state’s highest court to “correct the injustice of the majority’s opinion.”

“Imagine being hauled into court as a defendant in a lawsuit, and being able to quickly end the case on the ground that the plaintiff has not alleged that anything you did is unlawful.  That victory is short-lived, however, because the appellate courts reinstate the allegations in the lawsuit.  Just when you are looking forward to defending yourself with evidence and witnesses, you are told by a court that you lose, and you must turn your property over to the plaintiff.  Incredibly, that is what has happened to St. James,” he said.

The Diocese of Los Angeles has argued that as a matter of law, the trust imposed by General Convention on all parish property in favour of the national church and dioceses, gives it absolute control over the church’s lands and buildings.

However, St James will argue, should it be allowed to present evidence in its defence, the diocese waived all property claims in its property in a letter to the parish when it began a fundraising campaign to expand the church.

The Canon to the Ordinary of the Diocese of Los Angeles, D. Bruce MacPherson, now the Bishop of Western Louisiana, testified “the purpose of the conversations between the Diocese and St. James was for St. James to hold title to its property in its own name free of any trust . . . [as] part of an agreement in order for St. James to secure substantial donations for its building program.”

Appeals to the California Supreme Court are not granted by right, but the sharp dispute between the judges at the Court of Appeals makes a grant of review likely.

Glasspool election will have consequences, Dr. Williams warns: The Church of England Newspaper, March 26, 2010, p 5. April 3, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Los Angeles.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The affirmation of the election of a second gay bishop by the Episcopal Church will have profound consequences for the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury has declared.

In a terse statement released on March 18 on behalf of Dr. Rowan Williams, Lambeth Palace said it was “regrettable that the appeals from Anglican Communion bodies for continuing gracious restraint have not been heeded.”

The Office of Public Affairs of the Episcopal Church announced on March 17 that Canon Glasspool, a partnered gay priest elected Suffragan Bishop of Los Angeles on Dec 5, had received the consents, or the approval of a majority of the Episcopal Church’s 110 dioceses and diocesan bishops. Under US canon law, a bishop’s election must be endorsed by a simple majority of bishops and dioceses within 120 days of formal notice of the election.

Lambeth Palace noted the US church had acted contrary to the entireties of the wider communion in approving Canon Glasspool as bishop. “Following the Los Angeles election in December the Archbishop made clear that the outcome of the consent process would have important implications for the Communion. The Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion re-iterated these concerns in its December resolution which called for the existing moratoria to be upheld.”

“Further consultation will now take place about the implications and consequences of this decision,” the statement concluded.

US Church approves election of second gay bishop: The Church of England Newspaper, March 26, 2010, p 1. April 3, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Los Angeles.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The bishops of the Episcopal Church have repudiated the Anglican Communion’s moratorium on the consecration of gay bishops, and have affirmed the election of Canon Mary Glasspool as Suffragan Bishop of Los Angeles.

On March 17, the Episcopal Church’s Office of Public Affairs announced that Canon Glasspool had received the support of a majority of the 110 diocesan standing committees and diocesan bishops in the church. She will be consecrated on May 15 by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

A spokesman for the Presiding Bishop’s Office in New York declined to state how many bishops endorsed Canon Glasspool’s election. “There was a majority,” Neva Rae Fox told The Church of England Newspaper. “As in previous bishop elections, there are no plans to release the list of bishops.”

In a statement released through by the Diocese of Los Angeles, Canon Glasspool stated she was “profoundly grateful for the many people — in Los Angeles, in Maryland, and around the world — who have given their prayers, love, and support during this time of discernment.”

She stated she was “also aware that not everyone rejoices in this election and consent,” but added she “will work, pray, and continue to extend my own hands and heart to bridge those gaps, and strengthen the bonds of affection among all people, in the Name of Jesus Christ.”

The Bishop of Los Angeles, the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno thanked those bishops and dioceses who had endorsed the election for their support. “These historic elections bring the first women to the episcopate in the Diocese of Los Angeles. I give thanks for this, and that the standing committees and bishops have demonstrated through their consents that the Episcopal Church, by canon, creates no barrier for ministry on the basis of gender and sexual orientation, among other factors.”

One of two suffragan bishops elected at the diocese’s Dec 4-5 convention, the 120-day consent process for Canon Glasspool’s election began on Jan 5. On March 8, the diocese announced that it had received notice that 61 dioceses had endorsed her election; 56 were needed for election.

Canon Diane Bruce, the other suffragan bishop elected at last year’s convention, whose consent process was started on Jan 8, received a majority of consents from both the bishops and dioceses by Feb 17, Los Angeles reported. Canon Glasspool’s episcopal support was not as quick in coming, and a majority of votes were only received in the run up to the March 19 House of Bishops meeting in Texas.

At the time of her election, Canon Glasspool (56) served as canon to the ordinary or assistant to the Bishop of Maryland. The daughter of an Episcopal priest, Canon Glasspool was educated at Dickinson College and trained for the ministry at the Episcopal Divinity School.

Ordained to the diaconate in 1981 and priesthood in 1982, she has served as a parish priest, lecturer, and administrator in her 28 years of ordained ministry. She has lived with a partner, Becki Sander, for the past 19 years.

Archbishop calls for US conservatives to break with Episcopal Church: The Church of England Newspaper, March 26, 2010 p 7. April 3, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Los Angeles.
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Archbishop Peter Jensen of Sydney

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Now is the time for the dwindling band of faithful bishops and dioceses in the Episcopal Church to distinguish themselves from those who have repudiated the Anglican Communion’s moratorium on gay bishops and blessings, the Archbishop of Sydney stated last night.

In a statement given to The Church of England Newspaper on March 17 after news of the successful election of a second gay bishop was released by the Episcopal Church’s Office of Public Affairs, Dr. Peter Jensen, the Archbishop of Sydney and Secretary of the Gafcon movement, stated that a kairos moment was at hand.

“It is now absolutely clear” the Episcopal Church had “formally committed itself to a pattern of life which is contrary to Scripture. The election of Bishop Robinson in 2003 was not an aberration to be corrected in due course. It was a true indication of the heart of the Church and the direction of its affairs,” he said.

Some reactions to the Episcopal Church’s breach of the communion’s doctrine and discipline had been “dramatic and decisive, such as the creation of the Anglican Church of North America, an ecclesiastical body recognized by the GAFCON Primates as genuinely Anglican.”

“For others, however, the counsels of patience have prevailed and they have sought a change of heart and waited patiently for it to occur,” he said. The moment of decision was fast approaching for the Communion Partners group and other moderates and conservatives remaining within the Episcopal Church.

“Those who have sought a middle course may be found both inside and outside the American Church,” he said as the affirmation of Canon Glasspool’s election was a “decisive moment for this ‘middle’ group. Their patience has been gentle and praiseworthy. But to wait longer would not be patience – it would be obstinacy or even an unworthy anxiety.”

The center and right within the Episcopal Church, and the Episcopal Church’s remaining allies outside the US, presumably including the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, need to be “clear” on two points: “First, that they are unambiguously opposed to a development which sanctifies sin and which is an abrogation of the word of the living God. Second, that they will take sufficient action to distance themselves from those who have chosen to walk in the path of disobedience,” Dr. Jensen said.

Matters may come to a head at the April 19-23 Fourth Anglican Global South to South encounter in Singapore. A majority of primates or their representatives from the communion are expected to attend the invitation-only conference at St Andrew’s Cathedral. Dr. Williams is expected to attend, though as of our going to press his office could not confirm he would be present.

At least three bishops from the American Communion partners group in the US, the Rt. Rev. John W. Howe of Central Florida, the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence of South Carolina, and the Rt. Rev. Paul Lambert, Suffragan Bishop of Dallas, along with the Rev. Charles Alley, rector of St Matthews Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia have been invited to attend the gathering—as has the Most Rev. Robert Duncan, Archbishop of the ACNA.

The call for conservatives to come out or to distinguish themselves from the actions of the majority faction within the Episcopal Church will likely be a topic of discussion at the meeting.

12 US Bishops reject Glasspool: The Church of England Newspaper, March 26, 2010 p 6. April 3, 2010

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Twelve US bishops have released a statement of dissociation from the confirmation of the election of Canon Mary Glasspool as Suffragan Bishop of Los Angeles by the Episcopal Church.

On March 19, the “Communion Partners” group of conservative and moderate bishops and clergy released a statement of “profound sorrow” of the announcement that a majority of US bishops had backed Canon Glasspool’s election. They offered their “deepest regret” to the wider Anglican Communion “for the action of the majority of the diocesan bishops and standing committees of the dioceses of the Episcopal Church in voting to consent to the consecration as a bishop of a woman living in a sexual relationship outside Christian marriage.”

“Unfortunately, where restraint was respectfully requested by the leadership of the Communion, it has been ignored. Where the General Convention has counseled study of the Anglican Covenant, this action has rendered that counsel moot,” the twelve bishops and six clergy leaders said.

The Communion Partners would “disassociate ourselves from this action,” they said and lamented the divisions it had caused within the church.

The resulting split was “a witness to the need for the Anglican Covenant as the means through which dioceses and congregations in The Episcopal Church can affirm their commitment to the Anglican Communion,” the said.

Three of the signers of the statement, the Bishops of Central Florida and South Carolina, and the rector of St Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia, will be attending the Singapore meeting of the Global South coalition, where the Glasspool election is expected to figure prominently in the debates over the future direction of the communion.

Glasspool halfway home: The Church of England Newspaper March 19, 2009 p 6. March 31, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Los Angeles.
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Canon Mary Glasspool

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Mary Glasspool is half way home towards receiving the necessary approvals for her election as suffragan bishop and the church’s second “out” gay bishop, the Diocese of Los Angeles announced last week.

In a statement released on March 10, Bishop J. Jon Bruno invited members of the Diocese of Los Angeles to “share in this historic celebration” and attend the May 15 consecration of Canon Glasspool and Canon Diane Bruce his suffragan bishops.

While Bishop-elect Bruce has received the necessary endorsements from a majority of the Episcopal Church’s dioceses and bishops, the invitation to attend Canon Glasspool’s consecration may be premature, as she has not yet received the approval of the church’s bishops.

At the Dec 4-5 Los Angeles diocesan Convention, Canons Bruce and Glasspool were elected the diocese’s new suffragan bishops. The rector of St. Clement’s by-the-Sea in San Clemente, Calif, Canon Bruce is the first women bishop elected in Los Angeles. In the second election Canon Glasspool, the canon to the ordinary or assistant to the Bishop of Maryland, was elected.

The election of Canon Glasspool, a partnered homosexual, elicited a word of caution from the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council, which warned that her consecration would violate the moratorium on gay bishops and blessings adopted by the wider Anglican Communion.

On Jan 5 Los Angeles began to solicit the consents or written approvals from the wider Episcopal Church for Canon Glasspool’s election. Canon Bruce’s process began on Jan 8. Canon III.11.4 (a) requires that a majority of diocesan bishops and a majority of diocesan standing committees consent to an episcopal election within 120 days of the start of the process.

Completed consents from bishops are sent to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, while consents from the diocesan standing committees are collected by the Diocese of Los Angeles. On March 10, the Presiding Bishop announced that Canon Bruce had received the necessary consents from both the bishops and the dioceses. Los Angeles reported that she had received the approval of 78 of the 110 dioceses. Canon Glasspool had at that stage received 61 consents—56 are needed.

While the approval of the dioceses for Canon Glasspool was not unexpected, it is uncertain whether the bishops will back her election and risk an open break with the Anglican Communion. The bishop and standing committee of conservative dioceses such as Central Florida voted ‘no’ to Canon Glasspool’s election, while other dioceses split their vote with the Bishop of Texas voting ‘no’, while his standing committee voted ‘yes’.

One clue to the final outcome may come in the decision from the liberal bishop of Southern Virginia who voted ‘no’ to Canon Glasspool’s election. On Feb 4, the Rt. Rev. Herman Hollerith IV stated that he believed Canon Glasspool “would make a wonderful bishop and that she is an excellent match for the Diocese of Los Angeles. Her election there was logical and appropriate.”

Bishop Hollerith pledged his continued support and solidarity for the gay movement in the Episcopal Church, but noted this did not mean he would vote for Canon Glasspool.

“Nevertheless, it is clear to me that the ordination of an openly Gay woman to the episcopate will – at this time – have a serious negative impact on our relationship with the wider Anglican Communion, and that it may very well strain – to the breaking point – those bonds of affection which we have come to value with others, even with those who may agree with us,” he said in explaining his ‘no’ vote.

Canon Glasspool has until May 5 to receive a majority of consents from the bishops. A vote to abstain or not voting counts as a ‘no’ vote under US canons. Should she receive the necessary votes from the bishops, Canon Glasspool will be consecrated on May 15 at the Long Beach Arena by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

One late vote may come from the Diocese of Fort Worth. When the request for consents was mailed to the dioceses on Jan 5, the ballot for the Diocese of Fort Worth was sent to Bishop Jack Iker and his breakaway diocese. The request was subsequently forwarded across town to the loyalist faction and its bishop, the Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl, Jr.

New call for lesbian bishop to be blocked: CEN 12.18.09 p 6. January 2, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Consultative Council, Church of England Newspaper, Los Angeles.
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A communiqué released at the close of the first meeting of the newly constituted Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (UFO) has backed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s call for the Episcopal Church to reject the election of a partnered lesbian priest as suffragan bishop of Los Angeles.

On Dec 8 the commission said it was their “fervent hope that ‘gracious restraint’ would be exercised by the Episcopal Church” and the election of Canon Mary Glasspool be rejected.

Meeting in Canterbury from Dec 1-8 the commission set out five “immediate tasks.”

To reflect on the “Instruments of Communion”; to define what an Anglican Church might be; to promote the Anglican Covenant; to study the ‘reception’ process for innovations in the life and witness of the church; and to look at how local ecumenical agreements affected the wider communion.

The brain child of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the UFO commission builds upon the previous work of Inter-Anglican committees on ecumenical relations and doctrine and the Windsor Continuation Group.

Critics have charged the commission has come rather late in the game to have any meaningful affect on preserving the communion.

The formal communiqué also makes reference to the “Anglican Communion Office” and the “Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion” two legally non-existent bodies. Under Archbishop George Carey, attempts by the staff of the Anglican Consultative Council to operate under the name of the “Anglican Communion Office” were discouraged.

Under Archbishop Rowan Williams the ACC staff have taken on the working name of “Anglican Communion Office”, but as the review of the finances of Lambeth 2008 noted, this was not its legal identity, but a nickname.

The communiqué’s statement that the new commission will report to a hitherto unknown body called the “Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion” refers to the Joint Standing Committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council a staffer said.

The chairman of the commission is the Primate of Burundi, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, and its members include: Bishop Georges Titre Ande of the Congo, Prof. Dapo Asaju of Nigeria, Canon Paul Avis of England, Bishop Philip Baji of Tanzania, Canon John Gibaut of Canada, Bishop Howard Gregory of the West Indies, Dr. Katherine Grieb of the Episcopal Church, Canon Clement Janda of the Sudan, the Rev. Sarah Rowland Jones of Southern Africa, Dr. Edison Muhindo Kalengyo of Uganda, Bishop Victoria Matthews of New Zealand, Canon Charlotte Methuen of England, Dr Simon Oliver of England, Bishop Stephen Pickard of Australia, Dr Andrew Pierce of Ireland, Canon Michael Poon of South East Asia, Dr Jeremiah Guen Seok Yang of Korea, Bishop Tito Zavala of Chile and members of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s staff.

Schism ‘now inevitable’ for Anglican Communion: CEN 12.11.09 p 4. December 23, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Los Angeles.
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The election of Mary Glasspool will likely put the final nail in the coffin of the Anglican Communion, evangelical leaders warn, and end Archbishop Rowan Williams’ hopes that an Anglican Covenant can hold the communion together.

Elected suffragan bishop of Los Angeles on Dec 5, Canon Glasspool is the first openly gay priest elected to the episcopate in the US following that church’s vote in July to end the ban on gay bishops and blessings.

While evangelical leaders have voiced disapproval with her election,  the level of discord over her election is far below that of Gene Robinson’s election in 2003. South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence observed that it was bound to happen. “I can’t say it surprises me,” he told the Los Angeles Times, adding that the election would further divide an already crippled church.

“Is there anything that can be done to bridge it? No one has come up with it yet,” Bishop Lawrence said.

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr. Peter Jensen told The Church of England Newspaper the election was “sad but not surprising.”

Its confirmation “will make clear beyond any doubt whatsoever that the TEC [the Episcopal Church] leadership has chosen to walk in a way which is contrary to scripture and will continue to do so,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the GAFCON primates Dr. Jensen Saturday’s vote “confirms the rightness of GAFCON in producing the Jerusalem Declaration and establishing the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA).”

“The aim of the FCA is to recognise and give fellowship to those who wish to remain faithful to God’s revealed word and also to defend and promote biblical teaching throughout the Communion,” he said, adding that “it is all the more urgent that those who share the aims of the FCA should associate themselves with the movement and express their disapproval of actions which are contrary to scripture and contrary to historic Anglicanism.”

It also gives Dr. Williams “every reason to act decisively and dissociate from the Episcopal Church and to recognise the Anglican Church of North America,” Dr. Jensen said.

The Rev. Rod Thomas of Reform stated that at this point, a “schism is absolutely inevitable” with the communion.

Sydney Bishop Robert Forsyth told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Dec 7 the Anglican Communion “as a united body is now history.”

The election of Canon Glasspool alone did not kill the communion, “it just continues to cement the trajectory towards a restructuring of the Anglican Communion in the world,” he said.

Anglican Mainstream said it was “saddened but not surprised” by the election. “Unless their diocesan bishops and their standing committees decline to endorse the election, it will confirm that TEC had no intention of respecting the mind of the Communion and halting their current trajectory.”

“For any who doubted” the formation of the breakaway Anglican Church in North America was “justified,” this “latest announcement, made in full knowledge of its negative effect on the Communion’s Covenant process, will confirm that TEC, rather than wanting to remain within the Communion’s bonds of affection, is determined to walk away and follow its own path,” Dr Philip Giddings and Canon Chris Sugden said.

Dr. Kendall Harmon, canon theologian of the Diocese of South Carolina observed “this decision represents an intransigent embrace of a pattern of life Christians throughout history and the world have rejected as against biblical teaching.”

“It will add further to the Episcopal Church’s incoherent witness and chaotic common life, and it will continue to do damage to the Anglican Communion and her relationship with our ecumenical partners” he said after the vote on Dec 5.

The greatest damage however, will likely accrue to Dr. Rowan Williams African church leaders tell CEN. The election was not unexpected; “can a leopard change his spots,” one leader said. But those Global South leaders questioned by CEN all spoke of a “profound disappointment” with Dr. Williams’ handling of the crisis, that dates back to the aftermath of the 2007 Dar es Salaam primates meeting.

“I don’t think he completely understands how much trust and good will he lost after his changing of their decisions and the processes they laid out” in Dar es Salaam, a source said. The actions taken by the Global South over the past two years—speaking out, boycotting Lambeth, and breaking fellowship with the Episcopal Church have not had any effect.

The Episcopal Church will not stop, and Dr. Williams will not act, he said.

“The best the provinces can do that care about this is to find like-minded provinces, link up together, and carry on, and leave the others behind,” said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak on behalf of his primate said. “I think that’s called schism.”

Do not confirm ‘gay’ bishop, says Dr. Williams: CEN 12.11.09 p 1. December 9, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Los Angeles.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged the Episcopal Church to think carefully before affirming the election of a lesbian priest as suffragan bishop of Los Angeles.

On Dec 6, Dr. Rowan Williams said the election of the Rev Mary Glasspool raised “very serious questions not just for the Episcopal Church and its place in the Anglican Communion, but for the Communion as a whole.”

Archbishop of Canterbury urges rethink on US bishop’s election

The Bishop of Los Angeles, the Rt Rev J Jon Bruno the day before urged the Episcopal Church not to kowtow to foreign prelates, and affirm her election. “To not consent in this country out of fear of the reaction elsewhere in the Anglican Communion is to capitulate to titular heads,” he told reporters after the vote in Riverside, California.

However the Archbishop of Canterbury on Sunday reminded the Episcopal Church that the “bishops of the Communion have collectively acknowledged that a period of gracious restraint in respect of actions which are contrary to the mind of the Communion is necessary if our bonds of mutual affection are to hold.”

He noted the “process of selection however is only part complete. The election has to be confirmed, or could be rejected, by diocesan bishops and diocesan standing committees. That decision will have very important implications,” Dr. Williams said.

Delegates to the 114th annual convention of the diocese were asked to elect two suffragan bishops from six candidates. In a bid to bolster the diversity of the diocese, the slate was limited to two Hispanic priests, one gay and one lesbian priest, and two other women priests to replace the Rt Rev Chester Talton and the Rt Rev Sergio Carranza.

On the first day of the convention, the 680 delegates elected the Rev. Diane Jardine Bruce, rector of St Clement’s-by-the-Sea in San Clemente, California as its first woman suffragan bishop.

On Dec 5, Ms Glasspool, canon to the ordinary to the Bishop of Maryland was elected the diocese’s second suffragan bishop on the seventh ballot, defeating Los Angeles priest the Rev Irineo Martir Vasquez.

A graduate of Dickinson College and the Episcopal Divinity School, Canon Glasspool was ordained to the diaconate in 1981 and the priesthood in 1982 and has served in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts as a priest, and has a partner of 19 years, Becki Sander.

“I’m very excited about the future of the whole Episcopal Church, and I see the Diocese of Los Angeles leading the way into that future,” Bishop-elect Glasspool told the convention after the election. “But just for this moment, let me say again, thank you, and thanks be to our loving, surprising God.”

Reactions within the Episcopal Church followed familiar patterns. The gay pressure group Integrity said it “salutes the election” of Canon Glasspool.

“It takes both a courageous candidate and a courageous community to fully embrace inclusion and to be prepared for the public attention this historic opportunity offers the Episcopal Church and the United States of America at this time,” Integrity President David Norgard said. “Today’s election means the Episcopal Church has taken another step toward the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments becoming a reality in the Episcopal Church.”

The conservative American Anglican Council said the election of Canon Glasspool demonstrated the Episcopal Church’s “further departure from biblical Christianity.”

“Unfortunately, this election provides further clarity to the rest of the Anglican Communion,” said Bishop David Anderson of the AAC. If the election were affirmed, it would provide a baleful moment of clarity as “there can be no more pretending that The Episcopal Church holds to Anglican Communion doctrine and 2,000 years of biblically based Christian teachings. Not only have they elected another non-celibate homosexual bishop, but they repeatedly defy the moratorium on same-sex blessings called for by the Windsor Report.”

Within 120 days of notice of the election, a majority of the church’s diocesan bishops and standing committees must affirm the new bishops’ elections. If affirmed, Bishop-elect Glasspool will be consecrated in Los Angeles on May 15.

In comments reported by the Episcopal News Service, Bishop Bruno said that “if by chance people are going to withhold consents because of Mary’s sexuality, it would be a violation of the canons of this church.

“At our last General Convention, we said we are nondiscriminatory. They just as well might have withheld their consents from me because I was a divorced man and in my case, it would have been more justified than someone withholding them from someone who has been approved through all levels of ministry and is a good and creative minister of the Gospel,” he said.

Bishop-elect Glasspool’s election comes two days after Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told an Atlanta radio station that there were no contradiction between the Episcopal Church’s 2006 pledge to abide by the Communion’s ban on consecrating gay bishops and actually electing gay bishops.

The 2009 vote by the Church’s General Convention was not “a reversal” of the moratorium, she said, as the canons had “for a long time said that the discernment process is open to any baptized person,” she told National Public Radio.

“The door has been open for many years” for gay and lesbian bishops, the presiding bishop said, confirming that she would go ahead with the consecration of a lesbian or gay bishop.

During the debate on resolution D025 at the July General Convention, the bishops noted there was a distinction between intentions and actions, with the moratorium being broken when the Episcopal Church consecrated a new gay bishop. Bishop Jefferts Schori said that was “my understanding of it. We have been asked to exercise restraint, and we have done so.”

“Effectively a moratorium remains until it is ended,” she later said on July 18.

Supreme Court declines California case: CEN 10.09.09 p 7. October 10, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Los Angeles, Property Litigation.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The US Supreme Court has denied the petition of St James Church, Newport Beach, California to hear its appeal of a California Supreme Court ruling on its property suit with the Diocese of Los Angeles.

On Oct 5 the Supreme Court announced it would not hear the St James case along with 8,000 other cases seeking review. Historically the Washington-based US Supreme Court will hear only one percent of the cases submitted to it for review.

Supreme Court declines California case

Monday’s decision comes as a blow for the parish and other breakaway congregations, which had hoped the US Supreme Court would settle contradictory state court rulings on the validity of the Episcopal Church’s Dennis Canon — the 1979 property rule that states parish property is held in trust for the diocese and national church.

The effect of the denial of the writ of certiorari will be to send the case back to the Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana, California for litigation.

In a statement released by the parish, the rector of St James, the Rev Richard Crocker stated that while he was disappointed with the court’s decision, “our battle is far from over.”

Parish attorney John Eastman stated the Supreme Court “normally considers only cases that are final, so it is not surprising that the Court decided to wait until further developments in this case are completed.”

He added that the “decision today does not foreclose review down the road once a full trial of the matter and subsequent appeals in the California Courts have run their course.”

The Bishop of Los Angeles said the diocese “greatly appreciates the action and insight of the US Supreme Court in declining to hear the case.” Bishop J Jon Bruno stated the US Supreme Court action “follows the strong and comprehensive opinions issued by the California Court of Appeal and affirmed by the state Supreme Court.

“The Episcopal Church continues to live out its traditional mission of welcoming people who hold a diversity of opinion while remaining united in common prayer,” he added.

In its petition for review, the parish asked the US Supreme Court to adjudicate whether the California Supreme Court violated the US Constitution’s Establishment and Free Exercise clauses. They argued that by giving the Episcopal Church preferential treatment in property disputes by permitting it to impose trusts on parish property in which it had no ownership interest by virtue of its status as a “hierarchical” church, California was favoring the Episcopal Church above other churches.

In its brief the Diocese of Los Angeles argued the court should reject the petition “because trial court proceedings remain ongoing and no final judgment will be entered until those proceedings have run their course.” The US Supreme Court offered no reason for denying the appeal.

Gays in line for US bishop elections: CEN 8.07.09 p 7 August 10, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Los Angeles.
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The Episcopal Church’s split with the Anglican Communion widened this week as two dioceses announced slates of candidates for the episcopate that include three gay and lesbian clergy. The news comes less than a week after the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams held that gay clergy were out of bounds for Anglican Churches.

It was improper for any member of the clergy to be “living in a sexual relationship outside the marriage bond,” Dr. Williams said, adding that the homosexual or unchaste heterosexual “chosen lifestyle is not one that the Church’s teaching sanctions, and thus it is hard to see how they can act in the necessarily representative role that the ordained ministry, especially the episcopate, requires.”

On Aug 1 the Diocese of Minnesota released its list of approved candidates standing for election on Oct 30: the Rev. Bonnie Perry, rector of All Saints’ Church, Chicago; the Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, rector of St John’s Church, Minneapolis, and the Rev. Brian Prior, rector of the Church of the Resurrection, Spokane Valley, Washington.

In her autobiographical statement Ms. Perry stated she lived with her partner of 22 years, the Rev. Susan Harlow, a minister of the United Church of Christ. She conceded that in the “current worldwide Anglican climate it may be very difficult for me, an out, partnered lesbian, to be elected” but thanked the diocese for the invitation to test her vocation to the episcopate.

Minnesota’s other two candidates stated that while they were not gay, they supported the full inclusion of gays and lesbians into the church. Ms. Budde stated her parish offers “sacramental blessings of relationships, support[s] gay and lesbian candidates for ordination, and GLBT members exercise ministry throughout the congregation.”

Mr. Prior, vice-president of the House of Deputies of the General Convention, stated he also supported the inclusion of gays in the church, and it was not until he “began serving in the larger church that I became painfully aware of the level of homophobia, sexism, racism, ageism and bigotry in both our church and the larger culture.”

On Aug 2, the Diocese of Los Angeles announced that six priests had been selected to stand for election for the diocese’s two suffragan bishop spots.

The nominees included two priests of Guatemalan background, The Rev. Silvestre Romero, rector, St Philip’s Church in San Jose, Calif., and the Rev. Martir Vasquez, vicar, St. George’s Church in Hawthorne, Calif; two women priests from within the Diocese of Los Angeles, the Rev. Canon Diane Jardine Bruce, rector, St. Clement’s by-the-Sea Church in San Clemente, and the Rev. Zelda Kennedy, associate for pastoral care at All Saints Church in Pasadena; and California; and two clergy from outside the diocese, the Rev. Canon Mary Glasspool, canon to the ordinary of the Diocese of Maryland and the Rev. John Kirkley, rector of St John the Evangelist in San Francisco—both of whom identify themselves as being “gay”.

In a statement released with the list of nominees Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno stated he had interviewed each of the nominees. “I affirm each and every one of these candidates and am pleased at the wide diversity they offer this Diocese.” The election is scheduled for Dec 4.

The president of Integrity—the gay-pressure group within the Episcopal Church—applauded the nominations. “The Diocese of Minnesota is leading the way for the rest of The Episcopal Church,” said the Rev. Susan Russell on Aug 1, “as they move us forward into a future where the resolutions we passed at our recent General Convention become a reality.”

Citing last month’s decision by General Convention in Resolution D025 to end the moratorium on gay bishops, Ms. Russell stated she was pleased the Episcopal Church had now “put a sad chapter of discrimination against the LGBT baptized behind us.”

On Aug 2, Ms Russell said the Los Angeles decision was “another sign that the ‘season of fasting’ at the expense of the vocations of gays and lesbians in the Episcopal Church is at an end.”

Speaking at a July 18 press conference at the close of General Convention, US Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori denied the Episcopal Church had abandoned the moratoria on gay bishops and blessings. She stated her “understanding” was that “we reaffirmed the tenets of this church, that the discernment process is open to all people.”

During the debate on resolution D025 permitting gay bishops, the Bishop of Kentucky, the Rt. Rev. Edwin Gulick stated the “passing of the resolution will not end the moratorium.”

Distinguishing between intentions and actions, Bishop Gulick said the moratorium would be broken when the Episcopal Church consecrated a new gay bishop. He then turned to the Presiding Bishop and asked if this was not so. Bishop Jefferts Schori said that was “my understanding of it. We have been asked to exercise restraint, and we have done so.”

On July 18, Bishop Jefferts Schori stated the moratoria on gay bishops and blessings that had been agreed by the instruments of unity: the Anglican Consultative Council, the Primates, the Lambeth Conference and the Archbishop of Canterbury had not been rescinded by General Convention. “Effectively a moratorium remains until it is ended,” she said.

Pressed to account for the negative responses from the Bishop of Durham and other overseas church leaders, Bishop Bruno said “we can’t do anything about their perceptions.”

Churches battle in California courts: CEN 7.29.09 July 29, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Los Angeles, Property Litigation, San Joaquin.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper’s Religious Intelligence section.

The California courts have handed the Episcopal Church and the ACNA a mixed bag of legal decisions this month in the battles over parish property. While both sides have trumpeted the importance of their legal victories, neither ruling is likely to settle the property litigation.

On July 21 the Fresno County Superior Court affirmed its May 5 ruling granting summary judgment in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin in its suit against the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, while an Orange County Court on July 13 dismissed two motions filed by the Diocese of Los Angeles against St James Church in Newport Beach, that challenged the legal sufficiency of the parish’s cause of action in light of the California Supreme Court decision in favor of the Diocese.

The Fresno Court found in favor of the Episcopal Diocese granting a motion for summary adjudication of the first cause of action in its second amended complaint, finding in favor of the Episcopal Diocese on all counts.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori—whose office has been allocated over $7 million by the General Convention to fund litigation against the breakaway groups—issued a statement after the ruling noting the “court found that there is no question that the Episcopal Church is a hierarchical church, of which the diocese is an integral part.”

The Presiding Bishop noted the Fresno court held “the Episcopal Church’s rules did not permit the diocese to revoke its accession to the church’s constitution and canons or to join a different denomination” and that the “continuing Diocese of San Joaquin is ‘not a new organization’ created after former Bishop Schofield attempted to remove the diocese from the church, but that the diocese ‘is the older organization from which (Schofield and the other) defendants removed themselves’.”

The decision, she said is the “first involving a dispute over the property of a diocese of The Episcopal Church, and is expected to be helpful in cases involving other dioceses.”

The Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin noted the decision was “significant” but it did not “end the case at this juncture and many more issues remain to be resolved at the trial scheduled for February 1, 2010.”

The Anglican Diocese rejected the trial court’s legal reasoning, arguing it could not be “sustained under a true ‘neutral principles’ analysis that is now required by our state supreme court,” and an appeal will be forth coming.

The legal significance of the Fresno Court’s ruling has also been questioned by legal commentators, who note that the current complaint before the court for consideration is the Episcopal Diocese’s fourth amended complaint. Issuing a decision on a the second amended complaint has no legal significance, it is said, as it had been rendered moot by two further amended complaints.

In the Orange Country, the Diocese of Los Angeles and the Episcopal Church were handed a defeat by the trial court on July 13 after Judge Thierry Colaw rejected its motions to grant it a summary verdict.

Los Angeles had argued that California Supreme Court’s 2009 decision had ended the litigation and had awarded it the disputed property. Lawyers for the diocese also argued that a 1991 letter written by the diocese to the parish waiving its interests in the parish property had already been decided by the Supreme Court.

Judge Colaw rejected both of the diocese’s arguments following oral argument on July 2. On Aug 21 the court will take up a motion from the parish asking it to remove the parish vestry as defendants in the case.

Los Angeles wins court case over property: CEN 6.19.09 p 6. June 19, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Los Angeles, Property Litigation.
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A California appeals court has ruled in favor of the Diocese of Los Angeles, holding that the congregation of St. Luke’s Church in La Crescenta could not take its property with it when it quit the diocese.

On June 9 the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal upheld a 2007 lower court decision which ruled against the congregation, which in 2006 had quit the Episcopal Church for the Church of Uganda.

“The long history of the Episcopal Church in La Crescenta will continue with new leadership and the potential for sustained growth, and as an open source of full inclusion for all humanity,” Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno told the Episcopal News Service after the decision was released.

On June 11, the Rev. Rob Holman, rector of the breakaway congregation stated his congregation had “shed many tears at the thought of being deprived of our house of worship for these past 85 years.”

“That the Bishop of Los Angeles would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in the courts to wrest all, down to even the small wooden processional cross from the hands of our youngest acolytes, is unfathomable to the Christian heart,” he said.

The appellate court’s action in the St Luke’s case will not affect any other California church lawsuit, however, as it was issued as an unreported decision—meaning the court will not publish its ruling, preventing other courts or litigants from relying upon it for precedential value.

The court stated that it based its decision upon the Jan 5, 2009 decision by the California Supreme Court in the case of St James’ Newport Beach—a case currently under appeal before the US Supreme Court and returned to the lower courts for trial in Orange County, California.

In its decision, the Court said the congregation’s reliance upon the 1981 Barker case that found in favor of breakaway Episcopal congregations on the theory of neutral principles of law, was ill-advised.

The Barker case was distinguishable “largely due to the passage of time” as it was decided before the creation of the current crop of canons that seek to vest trusteeship of parish property with the diocese and the national church and because the “appellate court in Barker did not mention any of the general church’s canons. Accordingly, that decision does not control a dispute that, here, arose 25 years after the high court decision” and adoption of the new property canons.

Canonical expert A.S. Haley told The Church of England Newspaper that in the current legal climate “it’s always dangerous, these days, to rely on what has gone before”. The best strategy for a parish to follow nowadays is never to concede any facts, but to make [the Episcopal Church] prove every jot and tittle of its claims,” he observed.

California bans gay ‘marriage’: CEN 5.27.09 May 29, 2009

Posted by geoconger in California, Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Los Angeles.
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The California Supreme Court has upheld Proposition 8, the state’s referendum banning “gay marriage.” By a vote of 6-1 the court held that the November 2008 referendum which amended the state constitution to say that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California” did not violate the state’s constitution.

The decision comes as a major blow to gay activists as California becomes the first US state to pull back from legalizing same-sex marriage.

In May 2008 the state supreme court ruled in a 4-3 vote that the state must offer same-sex marriage alongside traditional marriage. Opponents of the ruling responded with a petition drive seeking to place the matter before the voters. By a margin of 52 to 48 per cent California voters amended the state constitution adding a clause that said “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California.”

Gay political action groups, along with other civil rights organizations as well as the Episcopal Bishops of Los Angeles and California filed several lawsuits to overturn Proposition 8. The Episcopal bishops’ lawsuit argued that Proposition 8 unlawfully altered the California Constitution by altering fundamental constitutional principles—a power granted only to the legislature and not to ballot initiatives.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

California bans gay ‘marriage’

Breakaway parish will not have to repay fees to Diocese: CEN 5.22.09 p 6. May 26, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Los Angeles, Property Litigation.
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A California court has rejected the bid by the Diocese of Los Angeles to recoup its legal costs from the wardens and vestry members of a breakaway parish that quit the Episcopal Church for the Province of Uganda.

On May 15, Orange County Superior Court Judge Thierry Colaw rejected the diocese’s motion to collect an estimated £4.5 million in attorney fees from the volunteer board. The procedural victory for the breakaway parish of St James in Newport Beach does not address the broader issues of ownership of the property or its case before the US Supreme Court, however, a win by the diocese would have effectively bankrupted the parish leaders, and would have served as a strong financial disincentive for secession for other parishes.

Today’s motion was a heavy-handed attempt by the Diocese, which has engaged in “scorched earth” litigation tactics against St. James Church for years, to recoup its attorneys’ fees, parish attorney Eric Sohlgren said.

In its motion for costs, the Diocese of Los Angeles argued the parish’s motion to strike off the complaint was “frivolous” and warranted the sanction of a fees award. The case began when the diocese brought suit against St. James and its vestry in September 2004 following its August secession from the Episcopal Church. St James, along with two other breakaway parishes, filed a motion to strike the diocese’s lawsuit under a California statute that provides for speedy evaluation of cases involving free speech rights.

The lower court granted the parishes’ motion to strike, but was overturned on appeal. In January the California Supreme Court upheld the appellate court’s ruling, and an appeal was lodged with the US Supreme Court in Washington.

At the May 15 hearing, Judge Colaw noted that while the special motion for review based on free speech rights had never been used in church property disputes, it was not “frivolous.” The initial case brought by the diocese in 2004 has yet to be argued before the court, and the next hearing is scheduled for September.

Supreme Court to decide on California property case: CEN 5.15.09 May 16, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Los Angeles, Property Litigation.
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The California Episcopal Church property case is headed to Washington.

On May 5 attorneys for St James Anglican Church in Newport Beach announced that they would file a petition for writ of certiorari asking for review from the United States Supreme Court in Washington of the California Supreme Court’s mixed January decision.

The California court dealt the Diocese of Los Angeles a defeat holding that church property disputes must be adjudicated under the theory of neutral principles of law — where the court looks solely at the title deeds to determine trusteeship of church property. However, the parish was dealt a defeat by the Court which also held that the Episcopal Church’s 1979 “Dennis” Canon created a trust interest in favour of the diocese in property owned by congregations.

The parish will ask the US Supreme Court to decide whether the US Constitution permits the state to favour religious organizations over secular groups, allowing the state to give an exemption to the common law “statute of frauds” doctrine to certain hierarchical denominations.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Supreme Court to decide on California property case

California Decision Gives Hope to Both Sides: TLC 1.25.09 p 6. January 22, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Living Church, Los Angeles, Property Litigation.
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The California Supreme Court has issued a double-edged verdict in the Episcopal Church property cases, handing both the Diocese of Los Angeles and three breakaway parishes a defeat in their bids to control disputed church properties.

By a vote of 6 to 0—with the seventh judge issuing a separate opinion that agreed with the ruling but rejected the legal arguments of the majority—the California Supreme Court rejected The Episcopal Church’s arguments that the state must defer to the church in adjudicating church property disputes.   The justices held that California courts must use “neutral principles” of law to resolve church property dispute, giving no deference to claims made by the church hierarchy not found in the underlying title and corporate charters.

“[T]o the extent the court can resolve a property dispute without reference to church doctrine, it should apply neutral principles of law,” the court held. “The court should consider sources such as the deeds to the property in dispute, the local church’s articles of incorporation, the general church’s constitution, canons, and rules, and relevant statutes, including statutes specifically concerning religious property.”

At the same time, the Court rejected the parish’s motion to dismiss the suit and upheld an appellate court decision finding in favor of the diocese, arguing that the application of the neutral principles test in this case did not permit the parishes to withdraw from the diocese and keep their property.   “When it disaffiliated from the general church, the local church did not have the right to take the church property with it,” Associate Justice Ming Chin wrote for the majority.

‘Good News’ on Both Sides

The court’s nuanced ruling prompted widely divergent reactions from the parties.  The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of Los Angeles, said the diocese was “overjoyed with the conclusive opinion” handed down by the court as “we have prevailed in all areas of law addressed in this case.”

Canon John Shiner, chancellor for the diocese, said the decision was “final, conclusive, definitive,” and ended the litigation in favor of the diocese.

However, the lawyer for the three parishes, Eric Solhgren, said the “good news” was that the court had “firmly come down on the side of neutral principles of law.” He noted the decision would have a “wide and favorable impact for churches throughout California that seek to change their denominational affiliation.”

Mr. Sohlgren stated he was perturbed, however, that the Court appeared to have altered its interpretation of California probate law by accepting the claims of The Episcopal Church’s “Dennis Canon” that it could bind property held outright by a parish, by virtue of an act of the church’s national legislature.

Before the Jan 5 ruling, California law had held that an interest in real property could only be created by an instrument in writing executed by the owner of the property following the common law tradition of the “Statute of Frauds.”

Grounds for Appeal?

The court’s exclusion of churches the protection of the statute of frauds was “problematic” and “somewhat curious,” said Wicks Stephens, chancellor of the newly formed North American province.  He noted the California court’s interpretation of the US Supreme Court 1979 decision Jones v Wolf permitting states to use “neutral principals of law” could be considered grounds for an appeal to Washington.

Mr. Sohlgren said “no decision” had yet been made whether to file a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court, but noted the parish was weighing all of its options.  The California court’s decision takes effect in 30 days and the parties have 15 days to file for reconsideration or clarification.

“The facts on the ground won’t be changed” Mr. Sohlgren said, and the parishes would remain in the property until a trial court issued a judgment ordering they leave.

While taking great pains to review the law in its 40-page decision, the court’s decision was somewhat nebulous in its practical applications, as it affirmed the appellate court’s decision in favor of the diocese that the matter be sent back to the lower court for trial, but rejected the appellate court’s legal reasoning that the court’s must defer to church hierarchies in deciding property disputes.  It issued no new judgment in favor of either party, instead vacating the judgment awarded the parishes by the trial court in 2005.

Although the litigation began in September 2004, no testimony or evidence has been presented to the courts, as the abstract question of which legal theory governs the dispute has been under review for the past four years.

“The matter will now return to the Orange County Superior Court for further proceedings, and we look forward to presenting evidence and additional legal arguments that [the parishes] should prevail under neutral principles of law,” Mr. Sohlgren said.

‘America’s pastor’ backs traditionalist Anglicans: CEN 1.16.09 p 5. January 15, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Los Angeles, Politics, Popular Culture, Property Litigation.
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The Rev. Rick Warren addressing traditionalist Anglicans at 2005’s Hope and a Future Conference in Pittsburgh

America’s Pastor, the Rev. Rick Warren has entered the Anglican wars, giving his full support to the third province movement in its fight with the Episcopal Church. In a show of evangelical solidarity, the California Baptist has also offered his assistance in planting Anglican congregations in Southern California independent of the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Los Angeles.

On Jan 9, Mr. Warren wrote to leaders of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) offering to house conservative congregations at his Saddleback Community Church who were threatened with eviction from their properties in light of Jan 5 California Supreme Court decision.

Mr. Warren’s support for Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan along with his support of Proposition 8—the successful ballot initiative that overturned gay marriage in California—has long angered the liberal hierarchy of the Episcopal Church. In 2005, he shared a platform with the Anglican archbishops of the Global South movement at the “Hope and a Future” Conference in Pittsburgh and backed its call for the Episcopal Church to return to its doctrinal roots.

They “already considered me an adversary after partnering on projects with [Archbishops] Kolini, Orumbi, and Nzimbi, and writing the Time bio on [Archbishop Peter] Akinola,” Mr. Warren wrote.

In recent weeks the criticism has intensified with attacks launched by the Bishops of Washington and New Hampshire against President-elect Barack Obama for giving Warren center stage at the new president’s inauguration in light of his Proposition 8 lobbying.

“Since last summer… I’ve been on Gene Robinson and other’s attack list for my position on gay marriage,” Mr. Warren said.

He told the Third Province leaders that he stood “in solidarity with them, and with all orthodox, evangelical Anglicans,” he said, offering the “campus of Saddleback Church to any Anglican congregation who need a place to meet, or if you want to plant a new congregation in south Orange County.”

The Rev Peter Frank of the ACNA told CEN the third province was pleased with the support. “All along Rick Warren and many other Christian leaders have reached out to support us,” the Mr. Frank said. “This gesture will be helpful as the parish considers its options.”

The Rev. Richard Crocker, rector of the lead parish in the California lawsuit, St James Newport Beach said he was “encouraged by this sign of support from the Christian community.” He was “overwhelmed that Warren had “graciously offered us space, should we need it.”

However, St James had no immediate plans to move out of its Newport Beach facility. “Since the Episcopal Church has never received a judgment against us,” Mr. Crocker said, the breakaway congregation would not be moving out of the building. “We are presently considering our options including an appeal to the US Supreme Court.”

Pastor Rick Warren Offers Support for ACNA: TLC 1.09.09 January 10, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Living Church, Los Angeles, Property Litigation.
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First published in The Living Church magazine.

Pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren has entered the conflict within The Episcopal Church over title to church property, offering his full support to the breakaway congregation of St. James in Newport Beach, Calif., and the third province movement known as the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

In a letter obtained by Christianity Today, Pastor Warren offered the former congregation of the Diocese of Los Angeles shelter on the campus of Saddleback Community Church following the Jan. 5 California Supreme Court decision on church property disputes. The influential minister also pledged his congregation’s support in planting new ACNA congregations in Orange County.

“We stand in solidarity with them, and with all orthodox, evangelical Anglicans,” he wrote, and offered the “campus of Saddleback Church to any Anglican congregation who needs a place to meet, or if you want to plant a new congregation in south Orange County.”

Larry Ross, a spokesman for Pastor Warren, confirmed the authenticity of the document saying it was “a private letter sent out to conservative Anglican leaders” on Jan 9.

In the letter, Pastor Warren noted that the Episcopal Church has “already considered me an adversary after partnering on projects with [archbishops] Kolini, Orumbi, and Nzimbi, and writing the Time bio on [Archbishop Peter] Akinola.”

In November 2005, he shared a platform with the Anglican archbishops of the Global South movement at the “Hope and a Future” Conference in Pittsburgh, organized by Bishop Robert Duncan, and he backed conference leaders’ call for The Episcopal Church to return to its doctrinal roots.

Pastor Warren was a prominent voice in the support of the Proposition 8 campaign to overturn the California Supreme Court decision permitting gay marriage. In his letter, Pastor Warren wrote that “since last summer… I’ve been on Gene Robinson and others’ attack list for my position on gay marriage.” Last month Bishop John Chane of Washington wrote that he was “profoundly disappointed” that Pastor Warren was chosen to give the invocation at the Presidential Inauguration of Barack Obama.

The Rev. Peter Frank, director of communications for the ACNA, told The Living Church the ACNA leadership was pleased with the show of support.

“All along Rick Warren and many other Christian leaders have reached out to support us,” Deacon Frank said. “This gesture will be helpful as the parish considers its options.”

The Rev. Richard Crocker, rector of St. James’, said he was “encouraged by this sign of support from the Christian community.” He was “overwhelmed” that [Pastor] Warren had “graciously offered us space, should we need it,” but said the congregation has no immediate plans to move out of its Newport Beach facility.

The Bishop of Los Angeles in a lighter moment January 9, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Los Angeles.
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The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno of Los Angeles

Double-edged verdict in California ruling: CEN 1.07.09 January 7, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Los Angeles, Property Litigation.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper’s ReligiousIntelligence.com section.

The California Supreme Court has issued a double-edged verdict in the Episcopal Church property cases, handing both the Diocese of Los Angeles and three breakaway parishes a defeat in their bids to control disputed church properties.

By a vote of 6 to 0—with the seventh judge issuing a separate opinion that agreed with the ruling but rejected the legal arguments of the majority—the California Supreme Court rejected the Episcopal Church’s arguments that the state must defer to the church in adjudicating church property disputes. The judges held that California courts must use “neutral principles” of law to resolve church property dispute—giving no deference to claims made by the church hierarchy not found in the underlying title and corporate charters.

“[T]o the extent the court can resolve a property dispute without reference to church doctrine, it should apply neutral principles of law,” the court held. “The court should consider sources such as the deeds to the property in dispute, the local church’s articles of incorporation, the general church’s constitution, canons, and rules, and relevant statutes, including statutes specifically concerning religious property.”

At the same time, the Court rejected the parish’s motion to dismiss the suit and upheld an appellate court decision finding in favor of the diocese, arguing that the application of the neutral principles test in this case did not permit the parishes to withdraw from the diocese and keep their property. “When it disaffiliated from the general church, the local church did not have the right to take the church property with it,” Associate Justice Ming Chin wrote for the majority.

The court’s nuanced ruling prompted widely divergent reactions from the parties. Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno said the diocese was “overjoyed with the conclusive opinion” handed down by the court as “we have prevailed in all areas of law addressed in this case.”

Canon John Shiner, chancellor for the diocese said the decision was “final, conclusive, definitive,” and ended the litigation in favor of the diocese.

However, the lawyer for the three parishes, Eric Solhgren told The Church of England Newspaper the “good news” was that the court had “firmly come down on the side of neutral principles of law,” noting the decision would have a “wide and favorable impact for churches throughout California that seek to change their denominational affiliation.”

Mr. Sohlgren stated he was perturbed, however, that the Court appeared to have altered its interpretation of California probate law by accepting the claims of the Episcopal Church’s Dennis Canon that it could bind property held outright by a parish, by virtue of an act of the church’s national legislature.

Before Monday’s ruling, California law had held that an interest in real property could only be created by an instrument in writing executed by the owner of the property following the common law tradition of the “Statute of Frauds.”

The court’s exclusion of churches from the protection of the statute of frauds was “problematic” and “somewhat curious,” said Wicks Stephen the chancellor of the third province. He noted the California court’s interpretation of the US Supreme Court 1979 decision Jones v Wolf permitting states to use “neutral principals of law” could be considered grounds for an appeal to Washington.

Parish attorney Eric Sohlgren told CEN that “no decision” had yet been made whether to file a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court, but noted the parish was weighing all of its options.
The California court’s decision takes effect in 30 days and the parties have 15 days to file for reconsideration or clarification.

“The facts on the ground won’t be changed” Mr. Sohlgren said, and the parishes would remain in the property until a trial court issued a judgment ordering they leave.

While taking great pains to review the law in its 40-page decision, the court’s decision was somewhat nebulous in its practical applications, as it affirmed the appellate court’s decision in favor of the diocese that the matter be sent back to the lower court for trial, but rejected the appellate court’s legal reasoning that the court’s must defer to church hierarchies in deciding property disputes. It issued no new judgment in favor of either party, instead vacating the judgment awarded the parishes by the trial court in 2005.

Although the litigation began in September 2004, no testimony or evidence has been presented to the courts, as the abstract question of which legal theory governs the dispute has been under review for the past four years.

“The matter will now return to the Orange County Superior Court for further proceedings, and we look forward to presenting evidence and additional legal arguments that [the parishes] should prevail under neutral principles of law,” Mr. Sohlgren said.

Los Angeles backs same-sex blessings: CEN 12.12.08 p 7. December 14, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Los Angeles.
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The Bishop of Los Angeles has authorized his clergy to perform same-sex marriages.

In his presidential address to the diocesan convention on Dec 5, Bishop J. Jon Bruno accepted the recommendations of a diocesan Task Force on Marriage Equality and announced that the diocese believes “the same blessing ceremony afforded to men and women should be afforded to same-sex couples.”

He added that cohabiting male-female couples who wish to receive the blessing of the church, but for tax avoidance purposes do not want to marry, would also be permitted to take advantage of the blessing liturgy.

The diocese also called upon the 2009 General Convention, which meets in July in Anaheim, California, to end the ban on gay bishops and blessings in the Episcopal Church.

The president of the pressure group Integrity, the Rev. Susan Russell said her group was “greatly encouraged that the Diocese of Los Angeles has taken such strong steps forward on the full inclusion of the LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgendered] faithful in the Body of Christ.”

She further applauded the diocese’s decision to repudiate the ban on gay bishops and blessings enacted at the 2006 General Convention through resolution B033, saying that while Los Angeles, “Los Angeles cannot undo the damage done by BO33” we stand “together to say that we refuse to be party to any further scapegoating of the gay and lesbian baptized.”

The new rites will not be obligatory, a diocesan spokesman told the Los Angeles Times, but conservative clergy in Los Angeles tell The Church of England Newspaper that they do not believe this policy will last.

One priest, who asked not to be named, said that the casting of the argument in support of gay marriage as a matter of human rights did not bode well for dissenters. Issues of natural justice, he observed, were not easily reducible to a compromise that permitted one group to accept and another to reject a human right.

The call to repudiate B033 by Los Angeles, if accepted by the 2009 General Convention, would place further political burdens upon Dr. Rowan Williams, church watchers note, and give added impetus to the calls of traditionalists for a third province in North America.

Bishops’ bid to overturn ban on gay marriage: CEN 11.21.08 p 7. November 21, 2008

Posted by geoconger in California, Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Los Angeles, Politics.
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Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Episcopal Bishops of Los Angeles and California have filed suit to overturn California’s Proposition 8 banning gay marriage.

On Nov 17, Bishop J. Jon Bruno of Los Angeles and Bishop Marc Andrus of California along with the California Council of Churches, the Progressive Jewish Alliance and the Unitarian Universalist Church filed a writ with the California Supreme Court seeking an injunction blocking implementation of the petition based by voters.

“Proposition 8 poses a grave threat to religious freedom,” the director of the California Council of Churches, the Rev. Rick Schlosser argued.

“If the Court permits gay men and lesbians to be deprived of equal protection by a simple majority vote, religious minorities could be denied equal protection as well-a terrible irony in a nation founded by people who emigrated to escape religious persecution. If the Court permits Proposition 8 to take effect, religious discrimination similarly could be written into California’s Constitution,” he said.

On May 15 the justices of the California Supreme Court voted 4 to 3 to overturn a state ban on gay marriage, but a Christian groups garnered enough signatures to place the issue before voters, and on Nov 4 the state adopted Proposition 8 by a 52 to 48 percent margin, overturning the court ruling and banning gay marriage.

Several lawsuits filed by local governments and lobbying groups have been filed with the state’s highest court seeking to overturn Proposition 8, arguing that the ballot initiative was improper. The Episcopal bishops’ lawsuit argued Proposition 8 unlawfully altered the California Constitution by altering fundamental constitutional principles—a power granted only to the legislature and not to ballot initiatives.

Counter lawsuits have also been filed by supporters of the California Marriage Protection Act (Proposition 8), urging the court to uphold the election. The Liberty Council, a conservative Christian pressure group, argued that “for the second time in eight years, more than 50 percent of California voters have confirmed that what has been true for thousands of years still remains true today: Marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”

It argued that Proposition 8 “does not alter the balance of power between the various branches of government, nor does it undermine or eliminate fundamental rights. Instead, Proposition 8 memorializes the centuries-old definition of a universal social institution by adding 14 words to the Constitution: ‘Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California’.”

Mathew Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented: “The people of California have spoken by affirming traditional marriage. It is time to move on. Fourteen words that reaffirm the historic and common sense definition of marriage are not a radical revision to the Constitution. It is a simple affirmation of what has been and should always be.”
However the Rev. Edwin Bacon, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, which has been at the forefront of the battle to defeat Proposition 8, said opposing the ballot initiative puts one “on the right side of history on this important civil rights issue.”

“Standing for marriage equality is just another opportunity for us to live out the gospel,” Mr. Bacon said, urging the court to block implementation of the Nov 4 ballot initiative.

While Proposition 8 generated strong passions, not all high profile gay activists backed gay marriage. In comments made to USA Today on Nov 11 in New York, singer Elton John, said that gay activists had miscalculated. Speaking of his own civil partnership solemnized in Dec 2005 in England, John said “I don’t want to be married. I’m very happy with a civil partnership. If gay people want to get married, or get together, they should have a civil partnership,” John said. “The word ‘marriage,’ I think, puts a lot of people off.”

“You get the same equal rights that we do when we have a civil partnership. Heterosexual people get married. We can have civil partnerships.”

Bishop of Los Angeles says California voters ignorant about homosexuality: CEN 11.06.08 November 6, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Los Angeles, Politics.
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The Bishop of Los Angeles has challenged California voters who backed the successful ballot initiative to ban gay marriage to examine their consciences and banish their ignorance on homosexuality.

In a statement released on Nov 5, the Rt Rev J Jon Bruno (pictured) called upon Californians who supported Proposition 8 “to make an honest and dedicated effort to learn more about the lives and experiences of lesbian and gay humanity whose constitutional rights are unfairly targeted by this measure. Look carefully at scriptural interpretations, and remember that the Bible was once used to justify slavery, among other forms of oppression.”

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Bishop of Los Angeles says California voters 'ignorant' about homosexuality

Mixed legal signals in US Church dispute: CEN 10.10.08 October 10, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Los Angeles, Property Litigation.
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The California Supreme Court gave mixed signals on how it might rule on the Episcopal Church’s lawsuit against a Los Angeles parish that had quit the church for another province of the Anglican Communion.

In questions to the attorney for a parish that had quit the Diocese of Los Angeles for the Province of Uganda, the justices of the Court appeared to defer to church canons that place parish property in trust for the diocese and national church. However, in questions to the attorneys for the Diocese and national church, the justices indicated a desire to avoid entanglement in doctrinal disputes, and look solely to the underlying legal documents—the deeds to the property—that were at issue.

In oral arguments held on Oct 8 in Palm Desert, California, attorneys for St James Church in Newport Beach, and the Diocese of Los Angeles and the national church, presented their legal arguments to the court and responded to questions from the judges for over an hour.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

California churches prepare to host first gay weddings: CEN 5.30.08 p 8. May 31, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Los Angeles.
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Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Episcopal Churches in California will begin offering gay weddings next month. On May 22, one of Los Angeles’ largest Episcopal parishes—All Saints Church, Pasadena announced that in light of the California Supreme Court’s decision to strike down laws barring gay marriage, it “will treat all couples presenting themselves for the rite of marriage equally.”

While Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno last week welcomed the May 15 court decision, he has yet to ban rites of gay marriage, and is reported to be forming a task force to study the issue.

While a referendum that would seek to ban gay marriage is expected to be placed before California voters in November, the court ruling takes effect on June 16, permitting the civil licensing and registration of same-sex marriages.

The clergy of All Saints have been performing rites for the blessing of same-sex unions for several years. Following the court ruling, the parish vestry voted to add gay marriage to its liturgical menu. Parish rector, the Rev Ed Bacon said the decision to go ahead with gay marriage was consistent with the church’s “identity as a peace and justice church.”

“It also aligns us with the Scriptures’ mandate to make God’s love tangible by ‘doing justice and loving mercy,’ ( Micah 6:8 ) and with the canons of our Episcopal Church that forbid discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” he said, and demonstrated the congregation’s “stirring courage to move beyond lip service about embodying God’s inclusive love to actually committing our faith community to the practice of marriage equality.”

On May 23 Bishop Bruno told The Living Church magazine he was forming a task force with California’s other Episcopal bishops “to figure out how to have uniformity” on this issue. Their task would be to find “policies and procedures” that were faithful to California law and to the “canons and constitution” of the Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal Church’s canons and Prayer Book do not currently permit same-sex blessings or same-sex marriage. During a press conference at last September’s House of Bishops’ meeting in New Orleans, Bishop Bruno told a reporter from the New York Times the Episcopal Church has “never authorized same sex unions.”

When pressed by the reporter to account for the same-sex blessings performed by the clergy of his diocese, Bishop Bruno said such things do “not happen with my permission.”

California Court ruling could reignite Anglican world feud: CEN 5.23.08 p 6. May 22, 2008

Posted by geoconger in California, Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Los Angeles.
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THE CALIFORNIA Supreme Court decision striking down laws banning gay marriage will directly impact the Episcopal Church’s civil war over homosexuality, several leading bishops have claimed.

The May 15 decision has emboldened liberal activists who hope the ruling will support their drive to regularize same-sex blessings at the church’s 2009 General Convention.

Dr Rowan Williams has urged bishops attending this summer’s Lambeth Conference not to campaign on divisive theological issues, but bishops backing same-sex blessings are expected to use Lambeth as a platform to announce their intent to revise the Episcopal Church’s marriage doctrine and discipline. Citing recent changes in American and Canadian law, the bishops are expected to argue that as a matter of justice, they will not be able to conform to traditional teachings.

Bishop Marc Andrus of California said the court ruling redefining marriage will have “ecclesial implications,” while Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno said the decision was important for the Episcopal Church “because it reflects our baptismal vow to ‘strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being’ and our commitment to justice and mercy for all people.”

His diocese would “continue to advocate for equality in the future and will do so” at the 2009 General Convention. “I celebrate and give thanks for this decision of the court and look forward with joy and excitement to a future of justice and mercy for all people in the State of California and the Episcopal Church,” Bishop Bruno said.

The Court argued the state’s distinction between marriage and civil partnerships was a “significantly unequal partnership” and might be seen as a “mark of second-class citizenship.” It likened homosexuality to race and gender, and said it could not uphold a “tradition that excludes a historically disfavoured minority group from a status that is extended to all others.”

The state’s Catholic bishops and other traditional religious groups have denounced the decision, while on May 16 Pope Benedict XVI restated his church’s teaching that “the union of love, based on matrimony between a man and a woman, which makes up the family, represents a good for all society that cannot be substituted by, confused with, or compared to other types of unions.”

California voters will have the final say on the decision, when they vote on an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. However San Diego Bishop James Mathes has urged Episcopalians to vote “no”.

The US Constitution “has only been successfully amended to expand rights, not remove them, and it follows that California would maintain a similar posture,” Bishop Mathes said.

Los Angeles apologizes to Hindus for evagelizing: CEN 1.25.08 p 7. January 27, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Hinduism, Los Angeles.
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hare-krishna.jpgThe Bishop of Los Angeles has issued an apology to Hindus for Christian attempts to convert them, and authorized a joint Hindu-Anglican service at St John’s Cathedral in Los Angeles—permitting Hindu devotees to receive the consecrated elements.

The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno apologized for past incidents of Christian discrimination against Hindus, and vowed not to proselytize non-Christians, in a statement read on his behalf by suffragan Bishop Chester Talton.

“I believe that the world cannot afford for us to repeat the errors of our past, in which we sought to dominate rather than to serve,” the bishop’s statement said as reported by the Los Angeles Times. “In this spirit, and in order to take another step in building trust between our two great religious traditions, I offer a sincere apology to the Hindu religious community.”

Accompanied by music performed provided by a Hare Krishna and the St John’s cathedral choirs a Eucharist was celebrated and the Hindus invited to receive the consecrated elements, though some Hindus who abstain from alcohol received only the host, the Los Angeles Times said.

Added to the Communion service was a veneration of an icon. While a Hindu band sang a hymn the Anglican celebrant anointed the icon with sandalwood paste, draped a garland of flowers over the icon and lit a lamp, “as a sign of Christ, the light in the darkness.”

The Diocese of Los Angeles’ ecumenical and interfaith officer called the service unprecedented for the Episcopal Church. American canon law forbids the distribution of the consecrated elements to the un-baptized, but no sanctions have been levied on those bishops and clergy who regularly violate these rules.

The diocese reported the Eucharist was celebrated according to the liturgy of the Church of South India and the “tradition of Bede Griffiths” and incorporated an “Arati, the Service of Light, and Kirtan, congregational chanting of the Holy Names.”

LA Parishes Appeal to State Supreme Court: TLC 8.07.07 August 7, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of the Province of Uganda, Lambeth 2008, Living Church, Los Angeles, Property Litigation.
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Three former congregations of the Diocese of Los Angeles that left The Episcopal Church for the Church of Uganda have asked the California Supreme Court to decide whether they or the diocese own their properties.

In an appeal filed on Aug. 6, St. James’, Newport Beach; All Saints’, Long Beach; and St. David’s, North Hollywood, asked the state’s Supreme Court to overturn a June 25 ruling by the Fourth Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal that found the Diocese of Los Angeles controlled the parish property.

Read it all in The Living Church.