Monday, August 10, 2009

Bishop Lamb Bemoans ‘Astronomical’ Cost of Property Dispute

From The Living Church-

The Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin will appeal a California Superior Court ruling that The Episcopal Church is hierarchical and that the Rt. Rev. John-David Schofield had no standing to break the diocese’s ties with the larger church.

Judge Adolfo M. Corona of the Superior Court of California, County of Fresno, issued an order for summary adjudication on July 21. The lawsuit was filed by the Rt. Rev. Jerry A. Lamb, acting bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, and The Episcopal Church against Bishop Schofield, several bodies formed by the departing diocese, and the investment firm of Merrill Lynch.

“Defendants' right to amend their constitution and canons is not unrestricted and unlimited,” Judge Corona wrote. “The constitution of the diocese has always permitted amendments. … However, from the inception of the diocese as a missionary district, it acceded to the constitution of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America and recognized the authority of the General Convention of the same.”

Officials with the Anglican diocese did not respond to interview requests by The Living Church.

Bishop Lamb called the ruling “stunning in how detailed it was.”

He said the Episcopal diocese is prepared to appeal to a higher court, should any subsequent ruling go against it.

“We want our property back. We want the properties that belong to The Episcopal Church back under the control of The Episcopal Church,” he said.

“I wish we could bring all this stuff to an end,” Bishop Lamb said. “The pain and suffering and use of resources have been astronomical.”

He said the diocese is open to negotiation with the departing diocese.

“My diocese is always open for conversation, but we need to be very clear that the conversation will be: When do you intend to give our property back? How do you intend to give our property back?”

The question of which entity owns church property will be resolved during a jury trial scheduled for early next year.

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