From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 07:32:52


                         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 
wooded hill. 
                              # # # 

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   Web page: 


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