Court rules parishioners have no legal standing to challenge bishop’s sale of their church
An Orange County Court has declined to halt the sale of St James the Great Episcopal Church, saying the parishioners did not have legal standing to intervene in the sale.
The Hon. Donald McEachen met with attorneys for the Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of Los Angeles, and the Save St James the Great coalition on 25 June 2015to hear the coalition’s emergency petition to block the sale of the parish in Lido Isle area of Newport Beach.
Bishop Bruno (pictured above) told the congregation in May he was selling the property to a real estate developer who would build 22 luxury condominiums on the church site. The sale price was approximately $15 million.
In Oct 2013 the Orange County Superior Court awarded trusteeship of the parish to the diocese, which in 2014 transferred ownership to the corporation sole — a holding company controlled by the office of the bishop.
The Rev. Canon Cindy Evans Voorhees told AI the court ruline was a “tragedy” for the congregation, which was financially self-supporting and had doubled in size over the past two years.
On 11 June 2015 the president of the Los Angeles Standing Committee released a letter defending the sale as lawful and proper. However the Save the St James the Great coalition noted that no member of the standing committee had visited the parish, spoken with the clergy or parishioners, or communicated thei bishop’s intention to liquidate the parish prior to his public announcement.
Sunday 28 June 2015 will be the date of the final Episcopal worship service at St James the Great. After the service workmen will remove the church’s pews, stained glass windows, and other church paraphernalia in preparation for demolition.
The diocese has so far declined to respond to queries about the parishioner’s complaiints.