A Newport Beach firm has pulled out of an agreement to purchase prime Via Lido real estate which was formerly home to the St. James the Great Episcopal Church congregation.
The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles made the announcement on its website late Tuesday, Oct. 10, saying Burnham Ward Properties will no longer buy the Via Lido property and that it will be preserved as a “bishop’s chapel,” or worship space, under the authority of incoming bishop the Rev. John Taylor.
Taylor, who will take over from retiring bishop J. Jon Bruno Dec. 1, said Wednesday he intends to open the lines of communication between the diocese and St. James congregants who were evicted by Bruno in June 2015 after he sold the property to a local developer.
The exiled 100-plus congregation has remained locked out of the property even though that original sale fell through. They have been meeting for Sunday services in a community room at Newport Beach Civic Center.
Taylor said the first step for St. James would be to return to the diocese and officially become a “mission church.”
“We would like to help them pastorally, logistically and financially to make that happen,” he said.
The building is now on track to be occupied by a church and St. James could, if its pastor and congregants so choose, return to the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, Taylor said.
“Whether or not those two tracks meet remains to be seen,” he said.
The Rev. Cindy Voorhees, pastor of the St. James congregation, declined comment, as did a few congregants.
The property on Via Lido will remain a church property for the foreseeable future, Taylor said.
Burnham Ward, the developer which many in the community perceived might demolish the building, was actually in it to save the church, CEO Scott Burnham said Wednesday.
“What’s frustrating for us was that we were perceived as obstructionist when our goal was actually to help solve a community problem,” he said, adding that he has been involved in…