California parishes defy Episcopal bishop, hold services

Posted: Friday, September 10, 2004

LOS ANGELES (AP) Three breakaway Episcopal parishes held services last Sunday despite moves by the local bishop to regain control after the congregations affiliated with an Anglican diocese in Uganda.

All Saints' Church in Long Beach, St. James Church in Newport Beach and St. David's Church in North Hollywood abandoned the Episcopal Church in mid-August, saying it had strayed from biblical teachings by consecrating an openly gay bishop, among other things.

Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno has indicated the dispute could end up in secular court, citing a duty to ''protect and preserve'' parish properties on behalf of the denomination.

Last week, Bruno assigned two assistant bishops to replace the departing priests as leaders of the congregations and said he also would appoint new lay governing boards.

Eric Sohlgren, an attorney representing the breakaway parishes, said Bruno no longer has authority over them. ''The real desire of these churches is that cooler heads will prevail and Jon Bruno will make a wise decision and let these churches get on with their ministries,'' he said.

The dissident churches said they aligned with the Ugandan church in order to remain within the international Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church is also a part.

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