Three churches, including one on Via Lido, refuse to bow to the
authority of an Episcopal bishop from whose diocese they seceded
during the last two weeks.
St. James Church in Newport Beach, All Saints' in Long Beach and
most recently St. David's in North Hollywood, broke away from the
Diocese of Los Angeles, citing the Episcopal Church's liberal views
on the supremacy of Jesus Christ, the Bible and homosexuality as
The three churches have placed themselves under the Diocese of
Luwero in the Anglican Province of Uganda, Africa.
Eric Sohlgren, an attorney representing the seceded churches,
faxed a letter to the diocese on Monday in reply to a letter from
Bishop J. Jon Bruno's attorneys on Friday, demanding that the
churches ceased worship and business operations by 10 a.m. on Monday,
stop using prayer and hymn books and submit complete financial
records going back a year.
The bishop also maintains that all churches and surrounding
properties belong to the diocese.
But St. James pastor Praveen Bunyan and other church
administrators say the church and the surrounding land on Via Lido
are owned by St. James, a nonprofit organization, not the diocese.
The letter from the three churches expresses disbelief at the
demands made by attorney John Shiner on behalf of the bishop.
"Your demand that hundreds of families and children immediately
cease worshipping God in the buildings they alone have erected and
supported defies belief," the letter states. "Incredibly, your letter
even seeks to bar people from using their own private prayer books
and hymnals, and to force the disclosure of private financial
information about their tithes and offerings."
The letter goes on to state emphatically that the three churches
no longer believe they are part of the diocese or the Episcopal
"[The diocese] has no authority or grounds to dictate or interfere
with the religious worship, instruction, oversight, communications,
employment and property use at these three churches," the letter
The bishop received the faxed letter on Monday and is "consulting
his attorneys," said Janet Kawamoto, media director for the diocese.
"We did not receive any response from the churches as of
[Monday]," she said. "The letter from their attorney was the only
response we received."
A nonprofit organization has every right to hold property under
California real estate law, Newport Beach attorney Michael Lawler
"Unless St. James entered into some kind of agreement, where they
subordinate their interests to the parent church, they have the right
to the building and surrounding property," he said.
* DEEPA BHARATH is the enterprise and general assignment reporter.
She may be reached at (949) 574-4226 or by e-mail at