Judge rules that Episcopal Diocese cannot confiscate property from gay-ordination dissenting parish

.- A California judge has ruled that an Episcopal parish who wants to disassociate itself from the L.A. diocese over the denomination’s policy of ordaining gay pastors will get to keep its property. Judge David C. Velasquez of the Orange County Superior Court ruled that the actions of St. James Parish in Newport Beach were protected by freedom of speech and that they can retain possession of their buildings, property and financial records.

The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, part of the worldwide Anglican communion filed the lawsuit against St. James after the parish, along with three others in the area, voted to break off from the U.S.-based denomination over the 2002 ordination of actively homosexual New Hampshire bishop Gene Robinson.

The parish had contacted the Anglican Church in Uganda asking that they be taken under the jurisdiction of that diocese.

Rev. Praveen Bunyan, pastor of St. James said in a statement Monday, that "It is a great relief to the loyal members of our church to ... know that the sanctuary and grounds where we gather every Sunday will remain a safe harbor for us."

The diocese is also pending lawsuits against two other parishes - All Saints' Church in Long Beach and St. David's Church in North Hollywood - for their attempts to separate themselves from the denomination.

Lawrence Ebiner, attorney for the diocese, said Monday that the church has not decided whether or not they will appeal the decision.

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