St. James’ Church, Newport Beach

[The Episcopal News] A vote that would recognize the mission congregation of St. James’ Church, Newport Beach, as a self-sustaining parish of the Diocese of Los Angeles is scheduled as one of the first agenda items for Diocesan Convention’s 128th annual meeting, set to open Nov. 10 in Riverside.

The measure follows a 2018 vote that admitted St. James’ as a mission congregation in union with Convention. St. James’ has continued to work closely with the diocesan Program Group on Mission Congregations and the Special Committee of Convention on the Incorporation of Parishes and the Admission of Missions, meeting canonical requirements toward parish status.

According to a letter of certification from the Rev. Canon Kelli Grace Kurtz, committee chair: “The members of this special committee and its advisors duly met to discern whether the application made by St. James Episcopal Church in Newport, CA (St. James), seeking admission into union with the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles as a parish is adequately, appropriately and completely submitted according to the Canons and Theology of Missions Handbook Requirements and Procedures.”

Led by the Rev. Canon Cindy Evans Voorhees as vicar, the congregation of 275 members carries out ministries notable for community outreach and a partnership with the sibling mission congregation of St. Michael’s, Anaheim. More about St. James’ Church is online.

The congregation resumed worship in church buildings at 3209 Via Lido following a 2017 agreement with the bishop and diocesan Standing Committee which re-established ministry after the campus had been closed in 2015 when sale of the property was announced.

The diocese had re-started ministry on the site in 2013 after an Orange County Superior Court judge ordered a breakaway Anglican congregation to vacate the premises and surrender the property to The Episcopal Church.

Protesting the 2003 ordination of New Hampshire’s openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson, the breakaway denomination claimed ownership of the church in 2004, sparking nearly a decade of litigation in which California Supreme Court ruled that the property was held in trust by the diocese for The Episcopal Church.

Three other church sites – in La Crescenta, Long Beach and North Hollywood – were similarly returned to the diocese from the breakaway denomination.

While St. James’, established in 1946, had been a diocesan parish in good standing for several decades, it returned to mission status during the litigation and later required reconstituting as a new congregation.