From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
KOREAN CONGREGATION SEEKS REMEDIAL ACTION
05 May 1996 07:32:52
95038 KOREAN CONGREGATION SEEKS REMEDIAL ACTION
THROUGH SYNOD OF THE PACIFIC
By Julian Shipp
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--A property dispute between San Francisco
Presbytery and a Korean congregation in northern California (see
News Briefs, Dec. 2, 1994, # 9448) has led the congregation to take
remedial action against the presbytery through the Synod of the
The presbytery is now accused of racial discrimination
following its decision to appoint an administrative commission to
help the congregation vacate the property, according to the Rev.
Elizabeth Massie, stated clerk of San Francisco Presbytery.
"We have not responded yet (to the accusations), so we do not
have an official reply," Massie said.
"We've prepared our groundwork on how the San Francisco
Presbytery staff discriminated against this church," said the Rev.
Steven G. Lee, church pastor.
According to the rules of discipline in the Book of Order,
remedial action can be taken after a church governing body has been
accused of misconduct. The request to remedy the offensive action
must then be filed with the next highest governing body -- in this
case, the Synod of the Pacific.
Located on a secluded hillside over Redwood City, Calif., a
seven-acre property that included San Mateo Korean Presbyterian
Church was sold last August for $750,000 to Lotus Development and
Construction Corp. after being on the market since 1988.
Led by Lee, the congregation maintained the presbytery had
no authority to sell the property in the first place and refused
to leave the building. But following a Nov. 9 hearing, San Mateo
County Municipal Court Judge Richard Livermore denied the church's
petition and ordered the Koreans to leave.
Representing San Francisco Presbytery, attorney Steve Taber
said the congregation vacated the building on Nov. 29.
The congregation recently wrote a letter to the presbytery
in which they threatened to file a $1.3 million lawsuit. Taber said
he wrote a subsequent letter stating the congregation had no legal
grounds for a suit.
"I am aware of no civil suit that is pending," Taber said.
"From a legal standpoint, I think the case is pretty much wrapped
up unless they decide to file some other lawsuit."
In spite of this, the presbytery has not disbanded the church,
according to presbytery staff member Scott Lorenz. In fact, Lorenz
said, the presbytery initially set aside $50,000 from the sale of
the building to help the congregation relocate, but it
reappropriated the money to offset legal fees after Lee decided to
fight the move.
The congregation is temporarily meeting at Grace Bible Church
in Redwood City, Calif. The lease agreement expires in one month
and alternate locations are being pursued. Lee said his
congregation is paying $1,000 per month to worship at the present
According to the Rev. Jan Willette, executive presbyter of San
Francisco Presbytery, the property had been for sale since 1988 and
the Koreans understood the land would eventually be sold when they
were formally organized as a congregation in 1986.
The presbytery approved the congregation's use of the church
building in March 1984. Prior to that, the Koreans had been nesting
within a predominantly white Presbyterian congregation supportive
of their development and programs.
Prior to his death in 1964, Redwood City developer Andres F.
Oddstad, Jr., discussed donating land for a church site with the
Rev. Rafe Martin, pastor of the now dissolved Sequoia Presbyterian
Church, which originally occupied the property.
After Oddstad died, Oddstad Homes Corp decided to fulfill his
wish and donated the property to the presbytery in his memory.
Lotus Development Corp. now plans to create a subdivision on the
# # #
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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