Sunday, July 26, 2009

California court ruling favors Episcopal Church and Diocese of San Joaquin

From Episcopal Life Online-

After months of deliberation, a California Superior Court judge in Fresno has rejected a breakaway group's attempts to remove the Diocese of San Joaquin from the Episcopal Church and affirmed Bishop Jerry Lamb as the leader of the diocese.
"It is beyond dispute that the Episcopal Church is a hierarchical church," concluded Judge Adolfo M. Corona when issuing his July 21 ruling. He rejected such arguments by defendants, including former bishop John-David Schofield, that the hierarchical nature of the church is something to be determined on a "case by case basis."

Corona also ruled void the attempts by the breakaway group, led by Schofield, to amend the diocesan constitution and canons to disaffiliate the diocese from the Episcopal Church and to reaffiliate with another province. An overwhelming majority of the diocese's congregations voted to realign with the Argentina-based Anglican Province of the Southern Cone in December 2007 but attempted to retain diocesan property and assets.

"If the Constitution of the Diocese incorporates and accedes to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, which require accession, then the Constitution of the Diocese cannot be amended to remove such language," Corona wrote in the 21-page decision.

Bishop Jerry Lamb hailed the ruling, the full text of which may be found here.

"I am very, very pleased with this decision," said Lamb, who was elected Provisional Bishop of San Joaquin at a March 29, 2008 special convention.

"The judge was extraordinarily clear on the fact that we are the Episcopal diocese, that I am the Episcopal bishop and that we control all of the properties that are now part of The Episcopal Church or were part of The Episcopal Church before the separation occurred nearly two years ago," Lamb said in a telephone interview late Friday.

He said the ruling is a first step toward regaining disputed property worth "millions of dollars" including the diocesan offices in Fresno, at least 30 church facilities, and the diocesan camp and conference center.

More here-

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