Episcopal Conservatives Hold Firm Despite Threats

Parishioners at St. David’s Episcopal Church said the church members would stay together under orthodoxy, even if their chapel were revoked
( [email protected] ) Aug 30, 2004 07:23 PM EDT

While legal steps are not yet known, the pastor and parishioners at St. David’s Church in North Hollywood revealed that they plan to stand together as a church, even if their chapel is confiscated.

"We are a biblically orthodox congregation. The Gospel is preached here faithfully," the Rev. Jose Poch on Sunday, August 29. "The courts will decide whose building this is, but we have decided whose church we are."

Last week, St. David’s joined two other churches in repudiating the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) for its liberal theological drift. The three parishes - including All Saints in Long Beach and St. James in Newport Beach – aligned themselves under the authority of an Anglican diocese of Uganda.

According to Poch, 81 percent of the 84 St. David’s Church members supported the break. Similar percentages were measured at All Saints and St. James.

Following the three churches’ decision to break with the ECUSA, the Los Angeles diocese of the ECUSA threatened to take legal action against the church leaders.

The ECUSA, like most denominations, has a constitutional clause mandating local congregations to heed its property and assets to the national church’s trust.

According to Rev. Poch, the deeds to the church building, the parish hall and the rector's house are in the name of St. David's Church. However, he said, a legal fight with the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles could result from the split and the ownership of the buildings.

Members at St. David’s generally say they are standing behind their pastor, even if they are forced out of the worship chapel.

"I'm happy with the decision that the pastor has made here," said parishioner Barbara Aguirre.

"I want to hear what the Bible teaches. I don't want to hear it mixed up with what I would call modern scholarship," agreed Richard Lund, 53.

Meanwhile, despite the disputes over homosexual ordinations and blessings of homosexual unions in the ECUSA, Poch said his church welcomes gay congregants.

Said Poch: "Everyone is welcome to worship at St. David's. But there is an expectation of all that worship here that we're here to glorify God and we're here to behave according to the words of the Scripture.”