Wednesday, October 22, 2008

FALLBROOK: Appeals court sides with Episcopal Church

From here

An appeals court sided with the Episcopalian Church on Tuesday in its dispute over who runs a Fallbrook congregation that two years ago decided to end its affiliation with the larger entity.

St. John's Parish broke away from the Episcopal Church USA in July 2006 and aligned with an Anglican diocese in Uganda. After the change, the congregation continued to meet in the same church.

The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego and some members of St. John's who did not want to break away from the Episcopal Church sued St. John's Anglican in September of that year, claiming the Anglican congregation did not have the authority to claim ownership of the building.

A trial judge ruled in favor of the breakaway members. But the 4th District Court of Appeal ruled Tuesday that the breakaway members "lacked the power and authority" to change the bylaws and articles of incorporation in place when it affiliated with the Episcopal Church in 1973.

Washington D.C. attorney David Booth Beers, who represents the Episcopal Church, said in an e-mail he had not yet read the ruling and thus declined to comment.

Eric Solhgren, the attorney for the breakaway members, said his clients are "seriously considering" asking the state Supreme Court to review the case.

"Our view is that the ruling is in error," Solhgren said, adding that the state's highest court is already considering a similar case.

The ruling does not take effect for at least 30 days. In the meantime, Solhgren said, the church is "still meeting, active, and growing."

1 comment:

Jr. said...

I have now read the decision it is a complete win for the Diocese of San Diego and the Episcopal Church.

The court held:

We conclude that (1) applying neutral principles of law, the defendants lacked the power and authority to amend the bylaws and articles of incorporation of the Parish corporation to make it part of the Anglican Church, and their actions in this regard are a legal nullity; (2) by taking the actions they did, defendants were no longer a part of the Episcopal Church and could not be the lawful directors; (3) we must give deference to the Episcopal Church and San Diego Diocese's determination as to who constituted the true members of St. John's Parish, and consequently the election of the individual defendants as board members of the Parish corporation was a legal nullity; and (4) applying neutral principles of law to the actions of the Episcopal Church and San Diego Diocese in determining who were the true members of the church, the result is the same. Accordingly, we reverse and remand this matter with directions that the court enter judgment for plaintiffs.