Howard Smith, the diocese’s chief financial officer and canon for administration, finance and communication, said individual parishes are formed, overseen and dissolved by an Episcopal convention.
“Episcopal churches can’t wake up one day and decide that they’re going to be Methodist,” Smith said. “All of these churches were built when they were part of the Diocese of Los Angeles, so there were contributions from the Episcopal Diocese to build these Episcopal churches.”
Officials at the Fallbrook and Oceanside breakaway parishes and the attorney for the parishes said, however, that the deeds to the property are in the names of the local congregations and the property belongs to them.
“Our view is that that is our church,” said Rick Crossley, the lay administrator of missions and ministry at St. John’s parish. “We’re the ones that paid for it and maintained it. It’s in our name and always has been, and in our view, they (the diocese) have no claim to the property.”