Calif. Court Rules for Episcopalians Over Defectors

In a major court ruling this week that could impact an anticipated fall court decision in Virginia on ownership of The Falls Church property, the California Fourth District Court of Appeals sided with the national Episcopal Denomination’s Diocese of Los Angeles in its effort to recover property occupied by congregations from three defecting churches. In an exhaustive 77-page review of U.S. Supreme Court and California appellate decisions as well as a pertinent California statute, the court held that where a hierarchical church, such as the Episcopal Church, has determined that the real and personal property of subordinate bodies must be used and maintained for the benefit of the larger church, the courts of California must respect and enforce that determination.