St. James the Great Episcopal Church Loses 11th Hour Court Battle

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St. James Church sign — NB Indy photo ©
St. James Church sign
— NB Indy photo ©

After many years and thousands of baptisms, confirmations, weddings, funerals and other services, St. James the Great Episcopal Church will hold its final Sunday service this weekend before closing its doors.

According to a press release issued by the St. James congregation, The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop, Diocesan of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, has entered into an agreement to sell St. James the Great Episcopal Church property and buildings, located at 3209 Via Lido, to developer Legacy Partners Residential, Inc. for approximately $15 million.

The congregation was notified of the sale on May 17, and have been told that the last service in the facility will be on June 28.

A lawsuit was filed this week by the Save St. James the Great Association asking for a temporary restraining order, claiming that the sale was in violation of specific language of the deed granting the property.

But according to Bill Koener, a member of congregation and spokesman rep for the Evaluation/Transition Team appointed by Rev. Canon Cindy Evans Voorhees, “We were denied the tro on procedural ground that as mere third party beneficiaries of the deed restriction, the congregation had no technical legal standing to make the claim. The court did not even consider the merits.”

So despite vocal protests by congregation members and expressions of support from city council members this week, Koener said “it looks like the church will be abandoned next week and sit empty for some years.”

“We asked if we the congregation could discuss with the developer to keep the church in place for a period of time, by then we understood it would take the developer two to three years to get all the approvals,” added Koener. “In writing, the bishop stated they are not prepared to lease it as a church so the congregation cannot talk to the developer.”

According to a fact sheet from Lagacy Partners, the current planning vision for the church site is for “luxury residential for-sale homes, no apartments.”

Koener said that the developer believes that the city does not want to have a church. The developer wants an abandoned building to make it easier to get it rezoned (the property is not currently zoned for housing).

The congregation has 30 days to de-construct, remove stained glass and the ashes of loved ones kept at the church.

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