A Tragic Division Liturgical schism splits Ben Lomond orthodox church
Rift pits longtime parishioners against each other by May Wong
Sentinel Staff writer

Sunday August 30.1998

They worshiped together under the same gold dome for decades. Not anymore.
They are a church divided. What started as differences over litugical style
at the St Peter and St Paul’s Antiochian Orthodox Church in Ben Lomond has
snowballed into a bitter dispute over power and money. The imbroglio has led
to massive dissension, ex-communication of priests, and uncharacteristic
visits by sheriff’s deputies as members squabbled over ownership of icons. It
has pit godchildren against godfathers, and neighbors and friends against
each other. In one case, a husband and wife are on different sides. The
struggle has even spilled into the courts and resulted in a ruling that says
the church’s roof and the rest ofits buildings no longer belong tothe
parishioners and priests who poured over 1$ million into the property over
the past two decades. The court battle ended last week with the smaller,
so-called loyalist faction backed by the New Jersey-based archdiocese
winning. In a case that raised constitutional, property rights and seperation
of church-and-state issues, Santa Cruz County Superior Court Judge Samuel
Stevens ruled that the church off Highway 9 and its rellated properties
ultimately belong to the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North
America. “It’s really sad,” said Sophie Majmudar, a Ben Lomond resident who
grew up in the church built now worships elsewhere because of the court
order. “All our tithe money has gone into this property.” (more…)