An Episcopal church bishop announced to Newport Beach congregants Sunday the closing of the sale of St. James the Great Episcopal Church, whose previous flock broke from the diocese in 2004 when openly gay Gene Robinson became a bishop in New Hampshire, realigned with an Anglican church in Uganda and later lost the OC property in court.
Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno broke the news of sale negotiations nearing an end with developers who could pay $15 million–or twice the appraised value of the site at 3209 Via Lido, diocese spokesman Robert Williams reportedly told the Orange County Register.
For a detailed description of what builders will get, check out "By the Book: A biblical, African safari in the heart of Newport Beach"–although current plans call for the property to be swallowed up by a big project that includes townhomes, a proposed hotel on the former city hall site nearby and the rehaul of Lido Marina Village.
Church services will likely continue into the fall, but Williams had no information on where the congregants will meet after that.
A majority of the previous regime's churchgoers voted in 2004 to disaffiliate with the Episcopal Church of the United States and come under a bishop in Uganda because, by naming an openly gay man bishop, the Newport Beach parish was being forced to interpret the Bible instead of simply taking every word literally. "The Bible is clear. There is no need to adapt," the church's then-spokeswoman Kathy Abbot said at the time.
The Episcopal Diocese of LA filed a lawsuit to take back the Via Lido properties in 2004, but an Orange County court initially ruled the property belonged to the Anglican parish that would continue to hold services there through 2013.
However, after a series of appeals and higher court rulings sided with the diocese, an OC Superior Court judge ruled St. James belonged to the LA diocese, imposing a $1 million bond if the Anglicans elected to stay on the property, the Register reports.