By Mary O’KEEFE
St. Luke’s of the Mountains Anglican Church has been dealt another blow in its efforts to remain at its location at the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Rosemont Avenue.
On Sept. 17, the California Supreme Court denied a St. Luke’s request for review thus the prior ruling by the Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District Division One that stated the buildings and property belong to the diocese and national Episcopal Church.
In 2006, St. Luke’s broke away from the Episcopal Church and aligned itself under the jurisdiction of Uganda Anglican Church. Since the split there has been a legal battle that pitted the diocese and Episcopal Church against St. Luke’s Anglican Church.
“It has been a strain emotionally and spiritually,” said Father Rob Holman, St. Luke’s pastor.
Holman was not at the church when the split happened but has been at the forefront of the fight since the departure of Rev. Ronald Jackson.
He said the decision was disappointing but his congregation was strong and would continue on whether it was at St. Luke’s or at another location.
What has upset Holman is a letter issued by a diocese attorney.
“It demands the people of St. Luke’s to immediately vacate the La Crescenta property right on the heels of the California Supreme Court declining their case, without even allowing them the opportunity to have a closing Sunday service to say goodbye to the church they have sacrificed to build and maintain for many decades,” said Eric Sohlgren, St. Luke’s attorney.
CV Weekly obtained a copy of the correspondence in which attorney Brent Rychener stated, “…we request your immediate confirmation that St. Luke’s will vacate and release the Property to the Diocese by noon on Friday, Sept. 25, 2009.”
“I expected something like this,” Holman said.
He added relations had been strained between the two entities.
Calls to the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles were not returned by press time. In the past, Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno had said the congregation of St. Luke’s would be welcomed back into the Episcopal Church.
Holman said he had never spoken with Bruno but in the past had received letters similar to the recent one.
On the side of the Episcopal Church, the case had been decided in its favor since June 9, 2009 when the first ruling was issued but appeals from St. Luke’s kept the case in court until now.
On the side of St. Luke’s with each appeal was renewed hope that the ruling would be reversed.
With the recent decision there will be no more appeals by St. Luke’s to California courts.
“The case is finished,” said a spokeswoman from the Court of Appeal.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean the legal battle is over.St. Luke’s congregation can decide to carry on the fight to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Holman said the case has been expensive but they have been blessed with enough funding.
“It seems like money has been dropping out of the sky with donations and requests,” he said.
But the decision to continue in the courts is not one that will be made lightly, he said.
“For big things like this we will meet with our congregation. God speaks to the body and through the body when it comes to decision making. What we often do is pray together in worship as we seek the Lord’s will,” Holman said.
continue in the courts is not one that will made lightly, he said.
“For big things like this we will meet with our congregation. God speaks to the body and through the body when it comes to decision making what we often do is pray together in worship as we seek the Lord’s will,” Holman said.