By Mary O’KEEFE
The Supreme Court of the United States has denied the St. Luke’s Anglican Church petition for writ of certiorari that was filed in December 2009.
This ends a long battle that began in 2006 when a majority of the St. Luke’s Episcopal congregation voted to align itself with the Anglican Province of Uganda severing its ties with the Diocese. The split, church officials said, came due to theological differences including the consecration of a gay bishop in New Hampshire. The now Anglican congregation stayed in the church at the corner of Rosemont Avenue and Foothill Boulevard.
The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and the national church sued to retain the church’s property. Since then the two have been battling in court. The Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District Division One ruled the buildings and property belonged to the dioceses and national Episcopal Church. St. Luke’s Anglican appealed to the California Supreme Court and was unsuccessful.
The Court of Appeal court ordered the Anglican congregation to vacate the property on or before Oct. 12, 2009. The congregation did vacate the facility, and in December, St. Luke’s Anglican congregation petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court. They found on Monday that petition was denied.
“There is no other action to be taken. This is the end of the legal road,” said Rev. Robert Holman of St. Luke’s Anglican Church.
He added the reason the congregation appealed to the highest court in the land was mainly to help other churches that had broken ties with the Diocese. If the court did hear St. Luke’s case it would not only give hope to those other churches, but perhaps stall their day in court.
Now both Holman and Father Bryan Jones of St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church, which regained the property in October, are ready to turn the page of renewal poetically just before Easter.
“This is a season of renewal and release,” Holman said.
Jones was appointed by Bishop Jon Bruno to lead St. Luke’s Episcopal church after they regained possession of the property. Since then he has overseen both exterior and interior maintenance and has begun to rebuild the congregation. Many members that did not agree with the split had found other Episcopal churches in the area in which to worship.
Jones too said he was ready for renewal.
“In terms of St. Luke’s, it is over. We are relieved. We were told it was a remote possibility that the petition would be heard,” Jones said.
St. Luke’s Episcopal is planning for Easter to be the beginning of a new chapter in the old church.
“Easter is the day we will be opening to the wider community. We will begin our 10 a.m. service,” Jones said.
St. Luke’s Anglican has established a Crescenta Valley office at 3901 Foothill Blvd. where it conducts church business. The Seventh Day Adventist Chapel at 300 Vallejo Drive in Glendale has given the congregation a place to worships on Sundays. Wednesday Eucharist is at the Lutheran Church in the Foothills, 1700 Foothill Blvd., Holman said.
The court battle may be over and both congregations are ready to move forward but the battle scars are still visible for both churches.
“Bishop [Bruno] keeps claiming reconciliation and quite honestly you can’t sue people into reconciliation,” Holman said.
Jones continues to work to rebuild the congregation at St. Luke’s of the Mountains saying that he wants to try and blend the church into the community.