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Parish awaits judge's final say

Interim ruling says St. James Church, not the Episcopal Diocese, is rightful property owner.
Friday, August 12, 2005
By ANN PEPPER

The Orange County Register

SANTA ANA – An Orange County judge on Thursday tentatively ruled that St. James Church in Newport Beach is the rightful owner of its property, not the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

St. James is one of three parishes that last year broke away from the Episcopal Church, the American branch of the worldwide Anglican Church, over differences in matters of faith, including the national church's ordination of an openly gay bishop.

St. James has since reaffiliated with a diocese in Uganda.

The Episcopal Diocese has argued that the church's buildings, hymnals and other property belong to it rather than the parish.

The diocese had no comment on the judge's tentative decision, spokeswoman Janet Kawamoto said.

Orange County Superior Court Judge David Valesquez is expected to issue a final ruling Monday. He is not bound by a tentative decision, which is used to communicate his current thinking to the attorneys involved.

"If the court adopts the tentative ruling on Monday, of course we'll be very pleased," said Eric Sohlgren, attorney for St. James.

St. James' countersuit against the diocese is pending. The claim of the national Episcopal Church on the parish's property also could remain alive, Sohlgren said.

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August 12, 2005 in Diocese of Los Angeles, St. James, Newport Beach, CA | Permalink

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