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San Joaquin group loses properties

23 May 2014

by a staff reporter


"No winners": Bishop David Rice

"No winners": Bishop David Rice

A PRELIMINARY court ruling has ordered the return of 27 church properties from a reaffiliated group of Anglicans to the Episcopal diocese of San Joaquin.

In a ruling filling 41 pages, the Californian court also said that dioceses could not opt to leave the Episcopal Church "because a diocese is a geographical construct of the Church, it makes no sense that a diocese can 'leave' the Church; it does not exist apart from the Church".

The diocese, which was one of the most conservative in the Episcopal Church, seceded in 2007 because of long-running disagreements over the ordination of women and the blessing of same-sex relationships (News, 4 July 2008, 14 December 2007).

The properties, which have been ordered to be handed over, have been valued at about $50 million. The ruling will become firm in the next 60 days if it is not challenged.

The newly elected Episcopalian Provisional Bishop of San Joaquin, the Rt Revd David Rice, said: "The thing we have to remember about what they (parishioners on both sides) have lived through and what I've inherited is that there are no winners. What we have to work through is how we move on. The task is not about buildings, but how we're going to serve in this place called San Joaquin. There are so many needs here."

The Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin, Dr Eric Menees, said in a later interview that some of the ruling would probably be challenged, but that he would accept the court's final decision gracefully.


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