The Episcopal Church and the breakaway Diocese of San Joaquin squared off Wednesday in Fresno County Superior Court in their long-running church property battle, but no final decision was made in the case.
Both sides made their case before Judge Jeffrey Hamilton. The church had asked for a legal ruling from Hamilton that property such as bank accounts, the actual churches and a conference retreat center in Oakhurst belongs to the national Episcopal Church and not to the breakaway diocese.
Already, Hamilton tentatively rejected the Episcopal Church's motion in a seven-page written ruling. Wednesday's hearing allowed both sides to add oral arguments to legal papers they'd already filed. If Hamilton affirms his tentative ruling, the Episcopal Church could appeal the ruling or the matter could move to a trial.
The schism dates to December 2007, when the Diocese of San Joaquin seceded from the U.S. Episcopal Church. A few months later, the church launched a legal battle seeking the property that is in the breakaway diocese's hands.