Posted by Kendall Harmon

What is the relationship between peacemaking and reconciliation?

TB: "I do believe that peacemaking is a precursor to reconciliation. It takes two to reconcile. And that doesn’t always happen, but that’s not a reason not to pursue the things that make for peace; as Jesus says as he approaches Jerusalem he realizes they haven’t done that and therefore desolation is coming to their house – and that’s the whole travel narrative in Luke, it’s built around the things that make for peace. And what I like to say, because I believe it, is that peacemaking is a gospel imperative. We’ve been made ambassadors of reconciliation. I actually say that peacemaking is not adiaphra (‘indifferent things’, non-essentials) and we can just agree to disagree about… to treat peacemaking as adiaphra is in fact itself a false teaching, and creates over time a fictitious gospel. So I feel quite strongly that this is matter of faithfulness to Jesus Christ, and to dismiss it or kind of make it a luxury item, is to fundamentally misunderstand what the gospel is about."

Are there limits to reconciliation?

TB: "I think it takes two to reconcile. I think it takes one to forgive. So the limits of reconciliation are the limits that the two parties put upon themselves. I don’t think you can reconcile unilaterally. I think you can forgive unilaterally. I think in some ways you can do peacemaking almost unilaterally. But until the other side, estranged party, wants to reciprocate, you’re not going to get real far down the road. And I think that’s been the real story of my story with Shannon is that I did reach out in a peacemaking gesture, and he did reciprocate, and that’s why we are walking together in peace at some level."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 12, 2014 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The two ministers were foes before they ever met, partisans in a war they did not start, but partisans nonetheless.

For four years, they did not speak.

But in the spring of 2011, the Rev. Tory Baucum drove 100 miles south to Richmond to introduce himself to the Rev. Shannon Johnston. And now the friendship that resulted, nurtured over Guinness in the bar of Richmond’s storied Jefferson Hotel, at dinner with their wives and during many difficult conversations, is being hailed as one of the most unexpected and intriguing developments in a bitter feud that has split the Episcopal Church in the decade since the denomination elected an openly gay bishop.

Mr. Johnston is the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia — the most populous Episcopal diocese in the United States — and a supporter of same-sex marriage who has blessed same-sex couples. Mr. Baucum is the rector of an unusually vibrant parish, Truro Church in Fairfax, which left the Episcopal Church over the election of... [a same-sex partnered bishop], the final straw in a long-running dispute over theological orthodoxy.

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Posted April 22, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The order list published this morning by the United States Supreme Court shows that, after relisting the case for its conferences four times, it has denied certiorari (review) in No. 13-449, The Falls Church v. Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, et al. Under its rules, the Court grants certiorari when at least four of the nine justices are interested in a given case; it takes five justices to make a majority.

Read it all and and there is a Washington Post article there.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

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Posted March 10, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

The order list published this morning by the United States Supreme Court shows that it still has taken no final action on the petition for review in No. 13-449, The Falls Church v. Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, et al. Under its rules, the Court grants certiorari when at least four of the nine justices are interested in a given case; it takes five justices to make a majority. The postponement can mean only that either the justices are still discussing what disposition will be made of the case, or that there are one or more dissents from what has been decided (but not yet announced). If the latter is the case, we will eventually learn that less than four justices voted to grant review, and that they were taking the time to write a dissent to be published with the announcement.

As soon as the Court updates the docket sheet, we will have a better idea of which of these alternatives may be the case. The Court's next conference is this Friday, March 7.

Read it all

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia

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Posted March 3, 2014 at 9:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

The docket sheet in the United States Supreme Court tells the tale. After receiving an extension of time, The Falls Church filed on October 9 in the Supreme Court its petition for writ of certiorari (or review) of the decision rendered by the Virginia Supreme Court last April 18 (and its denial of a rehearing on June 14).

The ever-cocky Episcopal Church (USA) and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, following its lead, declined to file responses to the petition. Four amici curiae ("friends of the court", being organizations interested in the case) filed briefs in support of The Falls Church: ACNA, the Presbyterian Lay Committee, St. James Anglican Church in Newport Beach, CA, and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. The case went to conference last December just on those briefs. And -- lo and behold! -- the Court ordered ECUSA and its Diocese to file a response before it ruled on the petition.

Such a request is noteworthy, because the Court's Rules explain that the Court ordinarily does not grant a pending petition without first calling for a response to it. Had the Court taken no interest in the petition, on the other hand, it could have denied the petition outright at its December 6 conference...
...........
Watch for the Court's release of its "Order List" next Monday -- and pray in the meantime that the Court be guided to grant review at its conference this Friday.

Read it all and see also SCOTUS Blog Petitions to watch - Conference of February 28 and Issue and Case File

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia

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Posted February 28, 2014 at 6:21 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

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Posted August 14, 2013 at 3:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Virginia Anglican congregation that traces its founding to the colonial era has announced that they will file an appeal over a property case to the United States Supreme Court.

The Falls Church Anglican stated earlier this week their intention to file an appeal over whether they or the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia controls the historic Falls Church property. "Through the work of the Holy Spirit, we achieved a broad degree of unity in our decision to bring these matters forward to the Supreme Court, believing that God has uniquely positioned TFCA to do so," reads an email sent out to parishioners on Monday.

"We are advised that the facts of our case are strong and that we are uniquely placed at this time – and perhaps for many years to come – to raise these issues to the U.S. Supreme Court. And each of us wanted to be good stewards of the resources God has given us."

Read it all.

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Posted August 14, 2013 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Small wonder, given the harrowing times recently, that news about a long-running property fight over a picturesque church in northern Virginia escaped most people’s notice. But the story of the struggle over the historic Falls Church is nonetheless worth a closer look. It’s one more telling example of a little-acknowledged truth: though religious traditionalism may be losing today’s political and legal battles, it remains poised to win the wider war over what Christianity will look like tomorrow.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: VirginiaGlobal South Churches & PrimatesSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterian* TheologyAnthropologyChristologySoteriologyTheology: Salvation (Soteriology)Theology: Scripture

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Posted April 30, 2013 at 7:48 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Court says that Virginia is a State that follows and applies "neutral principles of law," but don't let that fool you. What exactly is so "neutral" about (a) judges creating a trust out of whole cloth that the parties themselves never formalized, so that (b) a church like ECUSA can secure a windfall for the unjust enrichment of one of its dioceses?

Justice Powell's result rests entirely upon her finding that a "fiduciary relationship" existed between The Falls Church and the national Church. But she spends no time whatsoever in examining the particulars of such a relationship, or deciding just when and how it actually came into being.

Fiduciary relationships are very special in the eyes of the law. A fiduciary is a person or entity in whom one confides (such as a client with his attorney, a patient with his psychiatrist, or a penitent with his priest) -- or it can also be a person or entity to whom one entrusts money or property, such as a client with his stockbroker or banker. Or it can simply be the trustee who holds certain property in trust for what the law calls the beneficiary of that trust -- the person for whose benefit the trust was established.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: CommentaryEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

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Posted April 22, 2013 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia

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Posted April 22, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dear Friends,

We have received word from the Virginia Supreme Court that it has ruled in our appeal. The Court’s decision reverses the trial court’s ruling as to a part of our church’s funds, and sends the case back to the trial court for further proceedings regarding that point. But the Court has affirmed the trial court’s decision as to our church’s real property and much of the personal property, meaning that our lands, building, and much of our money have not been returned to us. The Court’s decision is now posted on its web site at http://www.courts.state.va.us/opinions/opnscvwp/1120919.pdf

Please join me in praising and thanking God for his faithfulness to us despite this result. Although this is not the outcome we had hoped for, our faith and our future do not depend on court decisions. The Lord works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28), and we had purposed to praise Him regardless of the outcome. It is difficult to face the prospect of losing things that are precious to us, but ultimately we do not place our hope in land, buildings, or money. We have followed the course that we prayerfully believed was right. We have consistently sought to resolve this dispute outside the courts. We are grateful that we live in a country in which recourse to the courts was open to us. And it is a privilege to count this cost to be obedient to Christ.

There is no doubt in my mind that we as a church are much stronger as a result of the trials that we have undergone. Our witness remains strong. God has enabled us to continue to plant new churches and establish new ministries. And we have been blessed by the friendship, support, and assistance that so many other churches continue to provide to us. It is the body of Christ in action. And together we are determined to move forward in faith, to continue to provide a beacon of Christ’s love to Northern Virginia, and to serve our brothers and sisters in our community and beyond.

We will be in touch after we have had a chance to review the Court’s written opinion more carefully, and our vestry plans to meet tomorrow to prayerfully consider our next steps. We will keep you informed of further developments.

In the meantime, let’s continue to pray boldly that God would expand our vision and do beyond all that we can ask or imagine in our life as a church. Nothing is impossible with Him. To Him alone be all the honor, praise, and glory.

In the family,

--(The Rev.) John Yates is rector, Falls Church (Anglican)

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia

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Posted April 22, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

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Posted April 22, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Today, the Supreme Court of Virginia announced it will consider the Diocese of Virginia's cross-appeal on whether the Diocese has a trust interest in the real and personal property of the Falls Church....

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Posted January 9, 2013 at 8:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Specifically, the Supreme Court agreed to review the lower court's ruling that held that the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church have contractual and proprietary rights in the property of the Falls Church. In addition, the Court declined to hear a cross-appeal which sought to confirm that the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church also have a trust interest in the property.

Read it all.

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Posted November 6, 2012 at 6:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

By its order, the writ panel expressly refused to consider the Diocese's and ECUSA's cross-assignments of this claimed error, so Judge Bellows' ruling on that specific point will stand. And as I explained in this earlier post, that means that the Dennis Canon has no effect in Virginia. Instead, according to Judge Bellows, Virginia courts will look to other indicia of "proprietary interests in" (i.e., actual ownership and control over) parish property.

The result, as we saw in Judge Bellows' ruling, can still come out the same as if the Dennis Canon had applied. At least now, however, the degree to which Judge Bellows went, in holding that factors such as restraints on alienation, episcopal visits and even the furnishing of Sunday service bulletins were decisive, will receive a fresh review by the full Supreme Court.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

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Posted November 6, 2012 at 6:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: VirginiaTEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

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Posted November 6, 2012 at 5:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

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Posted October 16, 2012 at 8:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Once we departed from our historic property we had a sense of freedom and freshness that is not easy to explain.

Yes, our case is still probably coming before the Virginia Supreme Court. (We are guessing they will let us know by November if they will review the case.) Yes, we have large, complicated, logistical challenges
because we have no meeting spaces of our own and this causes inconvenience and headache.

But still, if I may use an analogy from athletics, I am feeling a little bit like the coach of a team that is in the midst of a major change in direction – after having to focus on defense for so many years, we are now able to begin to focus on a more positive and offensive strategy. Our “team” has been quite strong and good for years, in fact one of the best! But now we are in a position to do much better. Right now, to pursue the analogy, we do not have a “stadium” of our own, but moving around keeps us alert. For a while, as we adjust to this interim arrangement, we will be focusing on strength conditioning, mastering the basics, raising the level of our game, and developing a fresh game plan. We may need to “draft” some new young players and take our time, but eventually I believe we will have a much better team.

I freely confess that I am greatly influenced by what’s appening to Davy Johnson and our amazing, beloved Washington Nationals. Bring on the playoffs!

--The Rev. John Yates is rector, Falls Church (Anglican)

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 26, 2012 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Virginia must be the only State (of which I am aware) in which there is no automatic right to appeal a judgment in a civil case. Its Courts of Appeal deal exclusively with criminal cases, and that structure leaves only its Supreme Court to deal with civil appeals. The latter court, however, does not have to accept any civil appeal. Instead, the procedure is to file a petition with the Court, which briefly addresses each point of error in the trial court’s decision which the petitioner would like the Supreme Court to agree to hear and resolve. In explaining the points of error, the petitioner must set forth reasons why they are worthy of attention by the State’s highest court.

[On Friday]...came word that one of Virginia’s largest and oldest churches, The Falls Church, which lost its case to be declared the owner, free and clear, of its long-held real and personal property (worth tens of millions of dollars), had filed a petition for review of that decision with the Virginia Supreme Court. Their petition raises six assignments of error.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: VirginiaTEC Departing Parishes* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

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Posted June 4, 2012 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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Posted June 4, 2012 at 3:46 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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Posted June 4, 2012 at 3:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The church’s Petition requests review on a number of legal and constitutional grounds. At the broadest level, the Petition shows that the trial judge failed to follow the Virginia Supreme Court’s 2010 directive to resolve this church property dispute by “application of neutral principles of law”— principles “developed for use in all property disputes” – and instead justified transferring the church’s property based primarily on the denomination’s internal canons. The trial court’s ruling thus violates the U.S. and Virginia Constitutions by giving a denomination unilateral powers to override civil laws, powers not granted to any other entity, whether religious or secular, in Virginia.

As the Petition explains, the trial court’s ruling also violates the Constitution by allowing the denomination’s and diocese’s canons to apply retroactively and to govern historic property that The Falls Church acquired before it joined the denomination—indeed, before the denomination or diocese even existed. The history of The Falls Church and its deeds makes its claims especially strong compared with other cases that have come before the courts. The Petition also seeks review of the trial court’s failure to recognize the important distinctions between the church’s consecrated property (property used for actual worship services, primarily the Historic Church and Main Sanctuary) and its unconsecrated property (all other property). Even under the trial court’s legal analysis, such unconsecrated property is exempt from the scope of the denomination’s and diocese’s canons and should not be subject to transfer.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

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Posted June 4, 2012 at 3:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Sunday, May 13, Yates preached through Romans 8 during The Falls Church congregation's last service, urging his congregation to be patient during the coming period of inconvenience. "Some of you will find this inconvenience annoying, upsetting, and you just don't want to mess with it," Yates told the congregation. "We have to ask the question, 'Will we be committed to Christ and committed to our church?'" He read Thomas Paine's famous passage on "sunshine patriots" written during the Revolutionary War. "I don't want to be a sunshine Christian," Yates said. "Will you commit yourself now to no complaining? No grumbling? ... If we're going to navigate truly big challenges that we may face one day, let's face this one without complaint."

At the service, five babies and one father were baptized. The congregation sang "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," belting the line, "Let goods and kindred go ..." One of the clergy prayed for the Episcopal congregation, that it care for "this consecrated place" and preach the gospel. Grown men cried during the last song, "In Christ Alone," as everyone lifted their arms in the air.

Jim Long, who has attended The Falls Church since 1988, stacked chairs at the end of the service and shrugged when I asked whether he was sad about leaving. One difference he saw was that in these new rotating meeting places, he would have more chairs to set up for the service, and then take down at the end of the service. "Life will go on, we'll just be in a different building," he assessed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: VirginiaTEC Departing Parishes* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

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Posted June 1, 2012 at 1:27 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Over the last few weeks you have received word of a cascade of settlements the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church have made with six of the seven CANA congregations that remained in the property litigation. In each case, the CANA congregation agreed to return the church property, including personal property and Episcopal funds due the Diocese of Virginia, and to withdraw their appeals. We have sought to be as generous as we can be with these congregations, particularly with regard to items necessary in the very short-term for them to continue in their ministries.

With disappointment, I report to you that we have been unable to reach a final settlement with the CANA congregation now known as the Falls Church Anglican. Their leadership has made it clear that they plan to pursue their appeal before the Supreme Court of Virginia unless the Diocese (with the Episcopal Church’s approval) pays them a significant sum of money; we both are unwilling to do so. As a result, we expect the Falls Church Anglican to file their petition for appeal at the end of this month, asking the Supreme Court of Virginia to hear their case. We must file a responsive brief three weeks later, and the Court will issue its decision on whether to take the case at some point this fall. We remain strongly confident in our legal position.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: VirginiaTEC Departing Parishes* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

28 Comments
Posted May 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Anglicans say the Episcopal Church has drifted from the historic Christian faith.

"It's an outcome of our desire to be faithful to the person and teachings of Jesus Christ," John Yates, rector of The Falls Church Anglican, told CBN News.

On Tuesday, Yates held a final staff meeting full of memories and hope for the future.

"The church is people, not buildings," he said. "We knew that -- but didn't know it as well as we thought we knew it."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: VirginiaTEC Departing Parishes* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

13 Comments
Posted May 16, 2012 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The departure of the Anglican congregation by close of business May 15 from The Falls Church leaves Bill Deiss with mixed feelings.

In 1985 Deiss, parish administrator for the last 16 years, wed his second wife in the church. His son also married there. He watched the baptism of his grandchildren inside the church.

Now the Anglican congregation has been asked to leave the premises.

"It was always a possibility but we didn't think it would actually happen," Deiss said Friday. "It's sad but exciting as well."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: VirginiaTEC Departing Parishes

8 Comments
Posted May 14, 2012 at 4:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 2006, The Falls Church and six sister congregations in Northern Virginia voted (overwhelmingly) to pull out of the Episcopal Church because, in our view, it had drifted so far from orthodox Christianity that we could not remain in good conscience.

Reasons for the division have been mainly theological, particularly focused on how we interpret the Bible, and what doctrines of the Christian faith are essential for leaders to maintain. The doctrinal divides have been widening for several decades, and in 2003 when a practicing homosexual was consecrated as Episcopal bishop, many realized that the divisions in the church were unresolvable.

We will stay in the Anglican Communion under the Archbishop of Canterbury, but through a different branch.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: VirginiaTEC Departing Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 12, 2012 at 2:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Johnny] Kurcina began Christ Church Vienna late last year and continues to be amazed with its success. Services are in the Louise Archer Elementary School cafeteria, where parishioners sit in plastic chairs and the walls are adorned with lunch menus.

“Holding services in a school cafeteria does hold some challenges,” Kurcina said. “We are not allowed to use wine for communion so we use grape juice, and our candles look real but the flame is really a small flickering light bulb because we are not allowed to use real flame candles on school grounds.”

Despite the obstacles, the church continues to draw new parishioners.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Theology

6 Comments
Posted May 10, 2012 at 6:18 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all--note there are many links to be explored.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: VirginiaTEC Departing Parishes* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

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Posted May 4, 2012 at 7:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The reply brief attaches the latest annual report of the Episcopal remnant congregation as an exhibit, and it is very telling. While some 3,250 Anglicans attended Easter services at The Falls Church two weeks ago, the Episcopal parish's report shows that it has a total membership of exactly 178 as of the end of 2010, and that its total annual budget has income of $233,641, but expenses of $249,306 (i.e., it is out-of-balance by some $16,000). That is less than what has to be paid each year just to keep up the property -- let alone pay for salaries, insurance, retirement benefits and all the other expenses of operating a full-time parish.

But that reality does not stop the Episcopal Diocese from asking Judge Bellows to let it have every conceivable benefit from its victory, pending the appeal. Instead of settling simply the amount of the appeal bond, stipulating to a stay and allowing the appeal to go forward (or not, as the Virginia Supreme Court decides), Bishop Johnston and his Diocese are continuing to pay their attorneys to oppose the Anglicans in court every step of the way, by every argument imaginable, whether meritorious or not.

Read it all.

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Posted April 19, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Truro Anglican Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia announced today a settlement that concludes five years of litigation that arose after Truro Anglican and other parishes left the Episcopal Church in 2006 to become part of what is now the Anglican Church in North America.

The settlement follows a January ruling in which the Circuit Court of Fairfax County held that all real and personal property held by the parishes at the time they left the denomination belongs to the Diocese.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: VirginiaTEC Departing Parishes* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market

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Posted April 17, 2012 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

St. Margaret’s Anglican Church, one of seven Anglican congregations that are parties to the church property case brought by The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, celebrates taking a stand for the Gospel truth amidst settling its property involved in the case.

The settlement calls for St. Margaret’s Anglican to turn over to the Diocese its real property, including the parcel the parish bought, improved and maintained for fifty years. St. Margaret’s Anglican will vacate the property by April 30, and will turn over to the Diocese a portion of the liquid assets on hand when the lawsuit commenced in early 2007. St. Margaret's will retain a portion of those liquid assets and a valuable hand bell collection that was a gift to St. Margaret's from a parishioner.

St. Margaret’s was one of many Virginia Episcopal congregations who voted overwhelmingly to disassociate from The Episcopal Church and the Diocese in order to remain faithful to the historic doctrine of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

“This settlement is good news to us,” stated Alan Clark, Senior Warden of St. Margaret’s Anglican. “We are ready to move on in our mission of proclaiming Jesus Christ. Together, putting the legal dispute behind us, we celebrate who we are as Anglicans and followers of Christ. We trust in the path God has laid for St. Margaret’s Anglican, and look forward to where He plans to use our congregation to spread His transforming love.”

The Rt. Rev. David Bena, Interim Rector of St. Margaret’s Anglican, added, “Throughout these past several years of costly court battles, I have been humbled to bear witness to St. Margaret’s faith-filled stand for the Gospel truth at whatever expense.”

“We appreciate the good faith of Diocesan officials in negotiating the settlement, and we’re thrilled to be part of growing entities such as the regional Anglican Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic (a member diocese of the Anglican Church in North America) and the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. The death and resurrection of our Lord this Holy Week remind us that God is ultimately in charge. Our parishioners are ready to fully focus our energies on preaching, teaching, healing and making disciples in Jesus’ name. We may have lost the buildings, but we’ve kept the faith!” concluded Bishop Bena.

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2 Comments
Posted April 9, 2012 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Stewards are bound to preserve gifts for future generations. The leaders of the departed congregations have asserted that this case was never about buildings or money but about larger principles. On that we agree.

The matter of biblical interpretation is at the heart of the issues, and there are real differences. Differences over biblical interpretation, not authority, remain unsettled. Even so, the common, ancient tradition as to authority, polity and property stands with the diocese and its bishop.

To be absolutely clear, as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, I do not want merely an outcome from the court; I seek a witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I pray blessings upon those congregations who have made the painful decision to leave the Episcopal Church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

11 Comments
Posted April 2, 2012 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Virginia judge has ordered seven congregations that broke from the Episcopal Church to return all property to the local diocese -- from valuable land to sacred chalices -- by April 30.

The Diocese of Virginia had wanted the properties returned by March 30, a week before Easter. But Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows agreed to give the breakaway congregations more time.

Read it all.

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10 Comments
Posted March 6, 2012 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is one immediately perceivable flaw in the Diocese's argument, and it also casts doubt on the legitimacy of Judge Bellows' characterization of the evidence as "compelling" and "clear." For at the time of his first ruling in this matter in 2008, which told the CANA congregations that they could keep their properties under the terms of Virginia's Division Statute (§ 57-9), it was then "clear" to Judge Bellows that the Diocese did not have any entitlement to the parish properties or bank accounts.

The only thing that changed the Judge's view was the Virginia Supreme Court's quixotical decision, two years later, to read the statute in such a way that it could never apply to that sacred category of religious institutions defined as "hierarchical" by the courts. From that date on, perhaps, it was now "clear" in Virginia that the Diocese would prevail -- or was it? At any rate, the point is that all of the evidence which the Diocese (leaning on Judge Bellows, to be sure) now characterizes as "compelling" did not amount to anything approaching that description in 2008, and could have become so only after June 2010.

But the principal point here is that with this motion, the Diocese has revealed its truly impecunious state, and hence its inability to maintain and operate all of the properties it has won in the judicial jackpot. Moving for an award of prejudgment interest in these unique circumstances -- secular lawsuits between thousands and thousands of Christians on each side, contrary to the tenets of the Christian religion -- is to rub salt into a gaping wound in the body of Christ.

Read it all.

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15 Comments
Posted February 4, 2012 at 4:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all noting especially the eleven page pdf at the bottom which quotes the Motion documents in full.

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7 Comments
Posted February 4, 2012 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Following on the recent court ruling remanding all properties currently occupied by breakaway congregations from the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia back to the diocese, Virginia Episcopal Bishop Shannon Johnston called the current time "one of the most defining moments in all of our 400 year history" in a pastoral address given to the 217th annual Virginia Diocese Council meeting in Reston yesterday....

Read it all.

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11 Comments
Posted January 30, 2012 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With continuing Episcopal congregations either ill-prepared to maintain properties or altogether nonexistent, paired with a diocese that is stretched thin financially, there are few options for stewarding church properties awarded by courts. With the diocese indicating that the sale of non-consecrated properties will go to paying off legal costs, the only source of long-term revenue is either to grow the size of the continuing Episcopal parishes or to lease their consecrated property to others.

Having abandoned the practice of church planting, Virginia Episcopalians seem unlikely to grow their financially vulnerable congregations. The Falls Church continuing Episcopal congregation lists only an increase of 10 attendees in the past three years, with few baptisms and confirmations. Diocesan officials may be hoping that a large number of former Episcopalians will stay tethered to the property, thus returning to the Episcopal fold. If only 5 percent of the Anglican congregation remains with the property, it would more than double the attendance at the Episcopal parish.

Read it all.

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5 Comments
Posted January 15, 2012 at 2:46 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The years-long litigation has been expensive for all involved. The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has lost congregations that collectively contributed $10.4 million directly to the diocese in the 20-year period before the dispute erupted.

And the breakaway congregations have spent millions of dollars in legal fees. Warren Thrasher, executive director at Truro, said the 1,200 members of that church alone have spent roughly $2 million on legal bills, raised through a legal defense fund kept separate from the rest of the church’s ministry.

Read it all.

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14 Comments
Posted January 12, 2012 at 6:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The opinion is remarkable for its exhaustive consideration of every possible Virginia statute and previous case (including an unreported one) that could bear on the issues at stake. Along the way, it notably holds that the Dennis Canon (and its local diocesan equivalent) were ineffective per se to create a trust interest in favor of the diocese or national Church. But the bulk of the opinion appears (on a very quick first read) to be devoted to arriving at the same result (i.e., as if the Dennis Canon and its local equivalent had established a trust) by other means. It reaches its conclusion in favor of ECUSA and its diocese by drawing upon a minutely detailed analysis of the course of conduct between the parishes in question and the former entities over more than a hundred years (and in the case of Falls Church and a few others, for many more years than that -- but in the case of the Church of the Epiphany, on a course of conduct extending for just the first twenty of the last twenty-four years).

In doing so, however, the court ends up equating what it terms a "proprietary and contractual interest" of the diocese in individual parish property to the functional legal equivalent of an express or implied trust in favor of the diocese (and the national Church). And since it recognizes that Virginia law does not allow express or implied trusts in favor of denominations, the marvel is that Judge Bellows can still conclude, by drawing heavily upon his interpretation of a Virginia statute (§ 57-16.1), that the parishes effectively controlled their own properties only for so long as they remained constituent member of the Episcopal Church (USA) -- which is exactly what the Dennis Canon states, in haec verba.

Read it all.


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4 Comments
Posted January 11, 2012 at 6:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
Tonight, the Fairfax Circuit Court issued its ruling in favor of the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church in litigation seeking to recover Episcopal church property. “Our goal throughout this litigation has been to return faithful Episcopalians to their church homes and Episcopal properties to the mission of the Church,” said the Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston, bishop of Virginia.

The court ruled that the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia have “a contractual and proprietary interest” in each of the properties subject to the litigation. The court ordered that all property subject to its ruling be turned over to the Diocese.

“We hope that this ruling will lead to our congregations returning to worship in their church homes in the near future, while finding a way to support the CANA congregations as they plan their transition,” said Henry D.W. Burt, secretary of the Diocese and chief of staff.

Bishop Johnston added, “While we are grateful for the decision in our favor, we remain mindful of the toll this litigation has taken on all parties involved, and we continue to pray for all affected by the litigation.”



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7 Comments
Posted January 11, 2012 at 5:49 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Seven Anglican congregations in Virginia that are parties to the church property case brought by The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia are reviewing today's ruling by the Fairfax County Circuit Court that the property should be turned over to the Episcopal Diocese.

The Circuit Court heard the case last spring after the Virginia Supreme Court remanded it in June 2010. The congregations previously had succeeded in their efforts on the Circuit Court level to defend the property that they bought and paid for.

"Although we are profoundly disappointed by today's decision, we offer our gratitude to Judge Bellows for his review of this case. As we prayerfully consider our legal options, we above all remain steadfast in our effort to defend the historic Christian faith. Regardless of today's ruling, we are confident that God is in control, and that He will continue to guide our path," said Jim Oakes, spokesperson for the seven Anglican congregations.

The Rev. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church, a historic property involved in the case, stated, "The core issue for us is not physical property, but theological and moral truth and the intellectual integrity of faith in the modern world. Wherever we worship, we remain Anglicans because we cannot compromise our historic faith. Like our spiritual forebears in the Reformation, 'Here we stand. So help us God. We can do no other.'"

The seven Anglican congregations are members of the newly established Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic, a member diocese within the Anglican Church in North America. Bishop John Guernsey of the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic has expressed to leaders of the seven congregations, "Our trust is in the Lord who is ever faithful. He is in control and He will enable you to carry forward your mission for the glory of Jesus Christ and the extension of His Kingdom. Know that your brothers and sisters in Christ continue to stand with you and pray for you."

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19 Comments
Posted January 11, 2012 at 5:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all (113 page pdf).


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0 Comments
Posted January 11, 2012 at 5:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Litigation over ownership of St. Stephens Church in Heathsville and eight other churches that formerly housed Episcopal congregations entered a new phase when the parties filed their post-trial briefs in August.

The briefs followed a 22-day trial at which 67 witnesses appeared and "thousands of exhibits" were filed, according to the brief for the defendant churches all of which have disassociated themselves from the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and joined the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA). According to the schedule set up by the Circuit Court of Fairfax where the case over ownership of the nine churches is being tried, the parties may respond to each other's briefs by Sept. 23 and after that the court may hear oral argument and decide the cases.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalCANAEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

2 Comments
Posted September 15, 2011 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A years-long fight between The Episcopal Church and several conservative congregations has landed back in a courtroom in Virginia.

Read it all.

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0 Comments
Posted April 25, 2011 at 3:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the Diocese of Virginia and several Anglican District of Virginia congregations approach a new round in court April 25, the diocese has reached a settlement with a second congregation.

Under the settlement, announced April 19 by the diocese and by Church of the Word, Gainesville, the parish keeps the property and the diocese keeps $1.95 million of a payment made by the Virginia Department of Transportation for construction-related damage to the property.

The settlement, like others reached in recent months, requires the parish to cut its ties with the Anglican Church in North America for five years. Church of the Word also must cut its ties to the Anglican District of Virginia, which will vote in May on whether to become a diocese of the ACNA.

Read it all.

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17 Comments
Posted April 20, 2011 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Church of the Word (COTW), one of a handful of Northern Virginia churches embroiled in a four-year long lawsuit with The Episcopal Church (TEC), will retain its church property after an out-of-court settlement signed Monday, April 18, released it from the pending litigation.

The leadership of COTW, which is a multiracial congregation made up of predominantly young families, is relieved to have achieved their major goals of separating from TEC, retaining their property, and preserving their tradition of worship and ministry.

Church of the Word is one of a number of formerly Episcopal congregations that had severed ties with the denomination over matters of doctrinal drift and novel pastoral practices. Upon breaking away from the denomination in December 2006, TEC filed a lawsuit against eleven Northern Virginia churches in an attempt to keep them from retaining their property. Currently, the next phase of this litigation will continue for the remaining seven churches with the commencement of a late-April 2011 trial in the Fairfax County, Virginia, Circuit Court.

COTW’s settlement allows it to keep its property, and now free of litigation, may concentrate on its vision, which is to ‘Encounter and Share Jesus Christ’. It does, however, require that COTW sever its affiliation with the newly established Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), and the Anglican District of Virginia (ADV) for a period of five years.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: VirginiaTEC Departing Parishes* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

20 Comments
Posted April 19, 2011 at 5:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Church of Our Saviour, Oatlands, which reached an amicable property settlement Feb. 20 with the Diocese of Virginia, has bought a 24-acre site for its new home, only a mile north of its current location in rural Loudoun County. The parish will buy Oaksworth Farm, a former Christmas-tree farm and vineyard, for $1,870,000, said the Rev. Elijah White, rector of Our Saviour since 1977.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: VirginiaTEC Departing Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market

8 Comments
Posted April 2, 2011 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all and follow the links.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)CANAEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: PittsburghTEC Conflicts: VirginiaTEC Departing Parishes* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

3 Comments
Posted February 23, 2011 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Oatlands deal requires the congregation to give up its claim to the church building, which dates to 1878. The congregation will get an inexpensive lease for five years with the diocese but is forbidden from affiliating with breakaway groups while still using the building.

It wasn't clear Sunday whether settlements with other congregations would follow.

Henry Burt, spokesman for the Episcopal diocese, said the church is "in negotiations with other congregations, and we hope some will also go this way."

Jim Oakes, a spokesman for the umbrella group for Virginia's breakaway conservative congregations, said he didn't believe any of the other churches were in talks with the Episcopal diocese.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

0 Comments
Posted February 21, 2011 at 10:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I realize that there are presently clergy and congregations who have addressed these questions of blessing, community, society and Scripture in ways that could be deemed thorough and conclusive. Furthermore, you may remember that I have always affirmed that committed, monogamous same-gender relationships can indeed be faithful in the Christian life. Therefore, I plan also to begin working immediately with those congregations that want to establish the parameters for the “generous pastoral response” that the 2009 General Convention called for with respect to same-gender couples in Episcopal churches. Personally, it is my hope that the 2012 General Convention will authorize the formal blessing of same-gender unions for those clergy in places that want to celebrate them. Until then, we might not be able to do all that we would want to do but, in my judgment, it is right to do something and it is time to do what we can....

We all know that the litigation has been expensive, but I will remind you that these costs are being covered by a line of credit secured by unconsecrated, non-strategic real estate. No pledge dollars given to the diocese’s annual budget are being used to fund this legal battle. And this reminds me . . .

I remain shocked and grievously troubled by the lack of adequate funding for our diocese. Make no mistake: this is not about sexuality or any other controversy. Virginia has been dead last in the Episcopal Church in its percentage funding for the diocesan budget for decades. Our congregations’ average giving to the Diocese is a less-than-modest 6.5 percent of plate-and-pledge, and only 5.4 percent of all unrestricted operating revenues. Only 18 of our 183 congregations give at least 10 percent of their revenues to the Diocese.

Read it all.

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3 Comments
Posted January 27, 2011 at 6:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all taking special note of the resolutions (starting on page 37), especially R-2, R-8 and R-9.

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10 Comments
Posted January 9, 2011 at 2:49 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

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32 Comments
Posted September 24, 2010 at 5:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“While we are disappointed by today’s decision, we are certainly not discouraged. We knew going in that motions for rehearing are only granted in a low percentage of cases. We did not initiate this lawsuit and are ready to put the litigation behind us so we can completely focus on the work of the Gospel. However, we felt the basis of our motion for rehearing was strong and that the Court overlooked critical evidence showing that our congregations satisfied the requirements of the Division Statute as recently interpreted by the Virginia Supreme Court,” said ADV Chairman Jim Oakes.

“Today’s decision is not the final one in this case. The Virginia Supreme Court had already decided to send the lawsuit back to the Fairfax County Circuit Court for further proceedings. We remain extremely confident in our legal footing, but above all, our hope is in the Lord regardless of the final outcome. Our focus is on sharing the Gospel and serving those in need. The doors of all ADV churches will remain open wide to all who wish to worship with us,” Oakes concluded.

Read it all.

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1 Comments
Posted September 24, 2010 at 5:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nine Anglican congregations in Loudoun and Fairfax counties asked the Virginia Supreme Court July 10 to reconsider part of a ruling from a month before that remanded a church property case back to a lower court.

The dispute centers around whether the nine congregations may keep the properties upon which their churches were built after breaking away from the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia to join the Anglican District of Virginia in 2006. The Loudoun church involved is Church of Our Saviour at Oatlands.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

0 Comments
Posted July 21, 2010 at 5:33 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(Via Email) FAIRFAX, Va. (July 10, 2010) – The nine Anglican District of Virginia (ADV) congregations that are parties to the church property case brought by The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia today asked the Virginia Supreme Court to reconsider a narrow, but critical portion of its ruling. Specifically, the churches asked the Court to reconsider whether CANA and ADV are branches of The Episcopal Church and Episcopal Diocese of Virginia under the governing statute.

“Today we filed a motion asking the Virginia Supreme Court to rehear a portion of its June 10 ruling that addressed whether CANA and ADV are in fact branches that divided from The Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia,” said ADV Chairman Jim Oakes. “We are not challenging the Court’s legal interpretation of the relevant statute, but we are pointing out that the Court overlooked critical evidence showing that, even under that interpretation, the congregations have satisfied the statute.”

“CANA and ADV came about as a direct result of the division within the Church. In fact, ADV in particular was established because of the desire of the orthodox Virginia churches to stick together. It has become a diverse group of churches all working together for the Gospel. Even when ADV was formed, it was not limited to churches that were affiliated with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America and also included congregations that had established a connection with the Church of Uganda,” Oakes said.

“We recognize that motions to rehear a case are not automatically granted, but we feel we have a strong case and that based on key evidence that the Court overlooked, CANA and ADV satisfy the ‘branch’ requirements of the Virginia Division Statute. We never sought these legal proceedings in the first place and look forward to the day when we can completely focus on our core mission of spreading the Good News of Christ. Ultimately, this court case is in the Lord’s hands and we will continue to welcome all who wish to worship with us regardless of the outcome,” Oakes concluded.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

36 Comments
Posted July 10, 2010 at 5:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"While the branch joined may operate as a separate polity from the branch to which the congregation formerly was attached, the statute requires that each branch proceed from the same polity, and not merely a shared tradition of faith," [Virginia Supreme Court Justice Lawrence L.] Koontz wrote. "The record in these cases shows that the CANA Congregations satisfied the first of these requirements in that there was a division within TEC and the Diocese, but not the second, as CANA clearly is not a branch of either TEC or the Diocese."

According Kelly Oliver of CRC Public Relations, a spokesperson for Truro Church, the ADV has until June 21 to appeal the decision, but it is not known yet whether the ADV will do so, or choose to fight the case in circuit court again. In the meantime, Baucum and the leaders of the other ADV churches are meeting with their respective vestries and congregations and each other, and will make a decision soon on how to proceed. No matter the decision, however, the ADV is confident that this battle is far from over.

"We are disappointed with the ruling and will review it as we consider our options," said Jim Oakes, chairman of the ADV and longtime member of the Truro Church. "This is not the final chapter in this matter. The court’s ruling simply involved one of our statutory defenses … so, we continue to be confident in our legal position as we move forward."Koontz wrote. "The record in these cases shows that the CANA Congregations satisfied the first of these requirements in that there was a division within TEC and the Diocese, but not the second, as CANA clearly is not a branch of either TEC or the Diocese."

Read it all.

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0 Comments
Posted June 21, 2010 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The diocese considers this a small victory, and the Anglican District refuses to view it as a total loss.

“On reflection, the ruling actually supports several of the things that we were claiming, most significantly that there has in fact been a division in the church,” said Jim Oakes, chairman of the Anglican District of Virginia. “This is a very long way from a situation in which they won and we lost.”

Henry Burt, secretary of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, said, “There’s no question that several of our congregations left the diocese. But this is not a fractured church.”
Burt said the division didn’t count as an official split in the church because “these churches decided to leave for an organization that had been set up before they decided to leave.”

Until the final decision, both sides will remain in limbo.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

0 Comments
Posted June 17, 2010 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...what will be its effect on the litigants in this case? Simply stated, to require them to spend more time and money in trying the issues of ownership. Significantly, the Virginia Supreme Court's opinion did not address the arguments which had been made about the validity, under Virginia law, of the trusts which the Dennis Canon's passage in 1979 attempted to create. At that time, Virginia law did not recognize unincorporated associations (above the level of a local congregation) as having legal standing to hold any beneficial interests in religious property. That law was not changed until 1992. Thus on remand, the Fairfax County Circuit Court will be asked to adhere to its earlier ruling that the enactment of the Dennis Canon was ineffective to create any trust in the parishes' property in favor of either the Diocese or ECUSA.

At issue in the proceedings on remand will be the language in the church deeds, their articles of association, and the provisions in the diocesan and national canons -- some of which evidence the court has already examined in connection with certain issues in the case. ECUSA and the Diocese will be trying once again to prove that the properties were held in trusts whose existence could be implied from the circumstances under which they were acquired and subsequently held. The CANA congregations, on the other hand, will offer evidence to prove that no such implied trusts ever arose.

Thus the Court's decision today holds little precedential value for the wider issues at stake in litigation in other states between ECUSA, its dioceses, and their parishes. The proceedings in Virginia will drag on for another two years or so, after which there will inevitably be a further request to the Supreme Court to review any decision by the trial court. (In Virginia, review of a trial court's civil decision is discretionary with the Supreme Court, and not a matter of right.)

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

1 Comments
Posted June 13, 2010 at 4:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Reacting to the ruling by the Virginia Supreme Court issued... [yesterday] morning, the Rev. John Yates, leader of the breakaway congregation at The Falls Church, sent a letter to his followers calling the ruling "a very disappointing result, to be sure." He added that by having the case remanded to the Fairfax Circuit Court where "the Episcopal Church and the Diocese must still carry the burden of showing, apart from the division statute (which the Supreme Court ruled did not apply in this case -- ed.) that they are the rightful owners of this property."

The "property" referenced is the historic Falls Church in the center of the City of Falls Church, which Yates and his breakaway group has held onto since voting to defect from the Episcopal denomination in December 2006.

Meanwhile today, in an exclusive interview with the News-Press, the Rev. Michael Pipkin, leader of the "continuing Episcopalians," members of The Falls Church who did not chose to defect and who've been locked out of The Falls Church by the defectors, said he hoped that while the case has been remanded back to the lower court, that a reconciliation between the two congregations could occur, and that arrangements could be made for his "continuing Episcopalians" to also worship on the campus of The Falls Church, specifically at 10 a.m. on Sundays in the historic chapel of the church, which is now not being used for any other purpose.

He noted, however, that Yates' letter today made no mention of such matters, but that he was open to working something out for both congregations to share the property while the court matter is being finally resolved.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: VirginiaTEC Departing ParishesTEC Parishes* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

15 Comments
Posted June 11, 2010 at 7:58 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It's not pretty to see people fight about property.

The three-year-old legal dispute over nine Virginia churches is no exception, with the credentials of Anglican conservative priests being yanked by the Episcopal Church and conservatives threatening Episcopal leaders with trespass if found on the disputed properties. All this happened after the congregations, mostly in Northern Virginia, voted in 2006-2007 to break away from the Episcopal Church, which conservative congregants believe has strayed dangerously from Christianity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

2 Comments
Posted June 11, 2010 at 6:49 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Supreme Court of Virginia has ruled in favor of the Episcopal Church in the state's much-watched dispute over church property. But it's just the latest ruling in what will continue to be a long fight.

Reversing a lower court's ruling, the Virginia Supreme Court said that the Anglican churches cannot use the Virginia "Division Statute" (the state law governing property when "a division has heretofore occurred or shall hereafter occur in a church or religious society") to file their claims.

But the actual answer to who owns the property is still a long way off....

Read the whole thing.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

4 Comments
Posted June 11, 2010 at 6:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Virginia's Supreme Court struck a blow to Anglican conservatives Thursday, ruling against nine congregations who split from the Episcopal Church after it installed an openly gay bishop.

At issue are tens of millions of dollars of church property and symbolic momentum for dueling movements in the Anglican Communion.

The unanimous decision by the five-judge panel dismissing a lower court ruling that favored conservatives is not likely to end the dispute for the nine church properties. The panel simply found that a Civil War-era law governing how property is divided when churches split was wrongly applied to the current dispute. The panel sent the parties back to Fairfax County Circuit Court for a second, parallel case that focuses on who owns the properties, which is expected to be more complex and messy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

4 Comments
Posted June 11, 2010 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

1 Comments
Posted June 10, 2010 at 4:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Diocese of Virginia is gratified by the Supreme Court of Virginia's ruling that the 57-9 "Division Statute" was incorrectly applied by the Fairfax County Circuit Court. The statute has forced faithful Episcopalians to worship elsewhere for over three years. The Supreme Court has sent the matter back to the lower court for further proceedings. The Diocese will demonstrate that the property is held in trust for all 80,000 Episcopalians who worship in Virginia.

Read the whole thing.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

11 Comments
Posted June 10, 2010 at 12:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The nine Anglican District of Virginia (ADV) congregations that are parties to the church property case brought by The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia are reviewing today’s Virginia Supreme Court ruling overturning the Fairfax County Circuit Court’s ruling in the case and remanding it back to the Circuit Court for further proceedings. The Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia had appealed a ruling in favor of the congregations to the Virginia Supreme Court.

“We are disappointed with today’s ruling and will review it as we consider our options. This is not the final chapter in this matter. The court’s ruling simply involved one of our statutory defenses, and these properties are titled in the name of the congregations’ trustees, not in the name of the Diocese or The Episcopal Church. So we continue to be confident in our legal position as we move forward and will remain steadfast in our effort to defend the historic Christian faith,” said Jim Oakes, chairman of the Anglican District of Virginia, which is the umbrella organization for the nine Anglican congregations.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

0 Comments
Posted June 10, 2010 at 12:36 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

2 Comments
Posted June 10, 2010 at 12:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There's some news in the ongoing infighting among American Anglicans.

Next week will mark a turning point in a three-year-old court battle over church property in Virginia when the state Supreme Court weighs in. The case is being watched by Anglicans around the country - and other faith groups facing bitter, potentially litigious divisions.

Tens of millions of dollars have been spent and friends and families divided over the question of who owns a dozen churches - including some large, prestigious properties in Northern Virginia that belonged for centuries to the Episcopal Church. But at the end of 2006 majorities of members of the churches, including Truro Church and The Falls Church, voted to leave the Episcopal Church and join other, more conservative overseas branches of the larger Anglican Communion. Disagreements range from the ordination of women to the status of gay men and women to what the Bible says about salvation.

The breakaway conservatives have won almost all the court rulings so far, but the case is complex and involves both state and federal constitutional issues.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

9 Comments
Posted June 3, 2010 at 12:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Via email--KSH.

Today, the Virginia Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the church property case appeal made by The Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia challenging the ruling of the Fairfax County Circuit Court. The Circuit Court ruled in favor of nine Anglican congregations in Virginia , under the umbrella of the Anglican District of Virginia (ADV), confirming that the Anglican churches could keep their property.

Steffen Johnson, who argued the case on behalf of the Anglican District of Virginia churches, stated, “We are grateful for the opportunity to defend the appeals in the Virginia Supreme Court today. The argument went very well. It was a lively bench with good questions for both sides.

We continue to feel strong about the positions outlined in our briefs and developed in the extensive record in the trial court, and we look forward to the Court’s decision.”“Our church members are standing firm for the Gospel and will remain in prayer as the Virginia Supreme Court considers the oral arguments made today,” said Jim Oakes, chairman of the Anglican District of Virginia. “I am extremely confident in our case that was eloquently presented by our legal counsel. However, it’s unfortunate that this matter is being discussed in a court of law in the first place after our numerous attempts at amicable negotiations. I, like my fellow parishioners, look forward to and pray for a quick end to the litigation so that we can completely focus our time, money and energy on bringing new believers to Christ and helping those in need. Our doors remain open wide to all who wish to worship with us.”

Bishop David Bena, Contact Bishop for the Anglican District of Virginia, added, “Members of the Anglican District of Virginia have been in a period of intensive prayer and fasting leading up to and including today. As an ordained clergyman, I know that this court case is, as it has been from the beginning, in the Lord’s hands and the will of God will determine where ADV congregations worship in His name.”

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

5 Comments
Posted April 15, 2010 at 8:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The painful irony is that TEC's decision to reject the authority of God's Word has been gravely injurious, and has itself caused the very division that TEC's leaders claimed they sought to avoid. Once someone rejects Scripture, then they reject Jesus Christ and Christianity as a whole. It's as simple as that. We could not follow a national body that rejected the very Word of God.

Our Anglican churches (under the umbrella of the Anglican District of Virginia) attempted to resolve matters with the diocese and TEC graciously and out of court, following a process that we spent almost a year developing with diocesan representatives. But the diocese and TEC abruptly broke off discussion of settlement and instead launched a legal confrontation. They sued not only our churches, but also almost 200 individual clergy and volunteer board members.

The diocese and TEC have spent millions of dollars making this legal attack against our churches. And this has forced our churches to devote time, effort, and energy to raise millions of dollars for our legal defense -- all of which could and should have been used for spreading the love of God to our communities.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

1 Comments
Posted April 15, 2010 at 6:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On April 13, the Virginia Supreme Court heard oral arguments for a property case that pitted nine churches in Loudoun and Fairfax counties against the Episcopalian Diocese of Virginia. The final decision will be made June 10 or June 11.

The Church of Our Saviour, on Oatlands Mill Road south of Leesburg, is one of the churches involved.

After the nine churches left the diocese in 2006 to join the Anglican District of Virginia, the diocese argued that the churches had forfeited the right to the properties upon which their church buildings are built. In 2008, the Fairfax County Circuit Court ruled in favor of the breakaway churches, citing section 57-9a of Virginia law.

This statute, known as the division statute, says if there is a split in a church or religious organization, a congregation may decide which branch of the church it will go to, and it may retain its property.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

0 Comments
Posted April 14, 2010 at 5:54 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Among other things, a lawyer for the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia told the justices that the 2008 ruling relied on an 1867 state law he contends improperly favors church governance by congregation over governance by hierarchy.

At stake, say the churches, is $30 million to $40 million in buildings and other property. The hearing was packed and broadcast via a closed-circuit television to two nearby rooms to accommodate everyone wishing to attend.

After the hearing, Henry D.W. Burt II, the secretary and chief of staff for the diocese, said: "Today was simply the next step in our journey to return faithful Episcopalians to their church homes."

Steffen N. Johnson, a lawyer for the departed churches, which formed the Anglican District of Virginia, said "the argument went very well. It was a lively bench with good questions for both sides . . . and we look forward to the court's decision."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

2 Comments
Posted April 14, 2010 at 5:33 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A group of conservative former Episcopal churches tangled with the Episcopal Church and its Diocese of Virginia before the Virginia Supreme Court on Tuesday over a unique state law that awards property to congregations that bolt their parent denomination.

The 90-minute session before a packed courtroom of 140 onlookers, plus more outside, appealed a Fairfax Circuit Court verdict that awarded about $30 million worth of historic property to the 11 churches that broke away from the diocese three years ago.

Five justices — three others had recused themselves from the case — grilled lawyers about the meaning and constitutionality of the state's division statute. The 1867 law allowed congregations — many of which had differed with their denominations over slavery — to leave with their property.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

0 Comments
Posted April 14, 2010 at 5:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Episcopal Church on Tuesday asked Virginia's highest court to overturn a judge's decision allowing nine breakaway congregations to keep church property worth an estimated $30 million to $40 million.

The northern Virginia congregations split from the Episcopal Church in a disagreement over acceptance of gays, the ordination of female clergy and theological issues. They aligned with the more conservative Convocation of Anglicans in North America, which like the Episcopal Church falls under the umbrella of the Anglican Communion.

The Virginia Supreme Court could rule on the property dispute as early as June.

Lawyers for the Episcopal Church told the court that a Fairfax County judge erred in ruling that an 1867 law unique to Virginia allows the breakaway congregations to retain church buildings and other property. They also claimed the so-called "division statute" is unconstitutional because it allows the state to meddle in religious matters.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

0 Comments
Posted April 14, 2010 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Virginia Supreme Court has set oral arguments in the appeals brought by ECUSA and the Diocese of Virginia in the cases involving eleven ACNA parishes in the Anglican District of Virginia. I have previously discussed what took place at the hearings below in this post, and in this one; they may serve as background to understanding the issues involved. In this post, I would like to sketch out the issues as ECUSA and the Diocese have presented them in their briefs. In a subsequent post, I will go over the arguments of the ACNA parishes in opposition.

There is no way, of course, to predict what the Virginia Supreme Court will find significant in the briefs and arguments presented to it. Moreover, I am not licensed to practice in Virginia; someone who is may pick up on points of Virginia law and procedure that I have missed. Thus do not use these posts as a basis to expect any particular outcome. Instead, to the extent they assist you in making your way through the forest of contentions and counter-contentions, and in evaluating their relative strengths and weaknesses, they will have served their purpose.

At issue in these appeals is the interpretation and application of this Virginia statute, first adopted in 1867...

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: VirginiaTEC Departing Parishes* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State Matters

2 Comments
Posted April 7, 2010 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On April 13, the Virginia Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on a property dispute between the Episcopal Church of the Diocese of Virginia and nine churches in Loudoun and Fairfax counties. The Church of Our Saviour, on Oatlands Mill Road south of Leesburg, is one of the churches involved.

In 2006, the nine churches broke away from the Diocese of Virginia to join the Anglican District of Virginia. They wish to keep the property on which their churches are built. The diocese argued that the churches lost their rights to the properties when they broke away. In 2008, the Fairfax County Circuit Court ruled in favor of the breakaway churches.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia

11 Comments
Posted April 6, 2010 at 5:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Supreme Court of Virginia has announced that it will hear the appeal of the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church on Tuesday, April 13. The Diocese is challenging the constitutionality of Virginia's one-of-a-kind division statute (Va. Code § 57-9(A)) and the rulings of the Circuit Court, which allowed former Episcopalians to claim Episcopal Church property as their own. We expect a ruling on June 11.

Communicants of the Diocese are welcome to attend the hearing, although seating is quite limited. The Diocese has requested special arrangements to accommodate overflow seating, and we will keep you updated with news of these arrangements.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

24 Comments
Posted March 30, 2010 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican District of Virginia (ADV) received notice that the Virginia Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on April 13, 2010, in the church property case brought by The Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia.

“Our church members are standing firm for the Gospel and will remain in prayer for the church property case that will be heard in a matter of weeks. It’s unfortunate that this matter, which we tried so hard to resolve amicably out of court, has now reached the level of the state Supreme Court. While we remain confident in our legal footing, it’s regretful that we had to defend ourselves in the first place,” said Jim Oakes, Chairman of the Anglican District of Virginia.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

1 Comments
Posted March 30, 2010 at 4:27 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

However, unlike the case in San Joaquin, there is now a date that has been set for oral argument in the Court of Appeal -- and it will occur in the same week that oral arguments have been set in the Supreme Court of Virginia on the litigation between ECUSA, the Diocese of Virginia, and the Anglican District of Virginia. (The latter Court has not yet published a specific date and time for argument, but has announced only that arguments will occur sometime during its session meeting from April 12 to 16.)

The Court of Appeals for the Second District of Texas, which hears appeals from Fort Worth, has announced that it will hear oral argument on the writ sought by the Episcopal Diocese and Bishop Jack Iker on Wednesday, April 14, beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Conflicts: San JoaquinTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

3 Comments
Posted March 10, 2010 at 4:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It will hear arguments in the case during the week of April 12-16.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia

2 Comments
Posted March 3, 2010 at 5:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Diocesan officials also addressed a $4 million line of credit — of which $3.5 million has been spent to date — that it has taken out to fund a three-year lawsuit against 11 conservative churches that left the diocese in 2006 and early 2007. When market conditions approve, the diocese will sell parcels of unconsecrated land to help pay the $3.5 million.

The diocese seeks to win back millions of dollars of property taken by the departing churches, which left over liberal trends in the denomination. After the conservatives won the lawsuit at trial, the diocese appealed. The case will go before the Virginia Supreme Court this year.

The departure of the conservatives, which reduced the diocese's membership by about 10,000, was referred to several times Saturday as causing much "pain" to the remaining Episcopalians. However, a last-minute amendment to form a "reconciliation task force" between Episcopalians and former Episcopalians failed for lack of time to consider it adequately.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: VirginiaTEC Departing ParishesTEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

9 Comments
Posted February 23, 2010 at 8:27 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Episcopalians and Anglicans in Heathsville will have to wait awhile longer to know for certain who has the right to St. Stephen's Church in that town. Last year, the circuit court of Fairfax held that the Anglicans had the right to the church as did the Anglicans in nine other congregations that have split from the Episcopal Church. Friday, the Supreme Court of Virginia announced that it will hear the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia's and The Episcopal Church of the United State's appeals of the Fairfax rulings.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

1 Comments
Posted October 29, 2009 at 7:53 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A years-long, multimillion-dollar land battle between the Episcopal Church in Virginia and conservatives who broke away from the denomination is headed back into court.

The Virginia Supreme Court said Wednesday that it would hear an appeal by the Episcopal diocese of Virginia and the national church, which lost in Fairfax District Court last year.

A district court judge had sided with nine conservative Virginia congregations whose members were angry about the liberal approach the church takes toward several issues including whether the Bible can be read literally and whether gays and lesbians should be accorded the same rights as heterosexuals (in marriage and access to clerical positions, among other things). Conservative congregants voted to leave the Episcopal Church, take millions of dollars in real estate assets and join another, more like-minded branch of the Anglican Communion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

14 Comments
Posted October 14, 2009 at 4:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Lutherans aren't sitting around for three years like the Episcopalians did. For them, the writing clearly is on the wall.

"One of the messages we heard loud and clear from the Episcopalians is that by waiting several years, they lost some of their best and brightest lay people," Mr. [Ryan] Schwarz told me. "We intend to have our plans in place a lot faster."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

25 Comments
Posted October 12, 2009 at 8:38 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dear Diocesan Family,

A panel of the Virginia Supreme Court will hear our petition for appeal on October 21 and, while it is unfortunate that these legal proceedings were necessary, I trust that this hearing will bring us one step closer to resolution.

I am proud that the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church have chosen the path consistently to defend loyal Episcopalians, and to safeguard and to protect the Church's legacy and the Church from unwarranted governmental and legislative interference. It is with the same determination to stand by the people, traditions and legacy of our diocese that I look toward our appeal.

For nearly 225 years, the Episcopal Church has had the freedom to govern itself according to its beliefs. But that freedom is under direct attack here in our diocese in the form of a Virginia law that allows the government to interfere with the faith, polity and structure of our Church and other hierarchical churches in the Commonwealth.

I believe that this law is unconstitutional and that there is too much at stake to let it remain in effect. The legal struggle to secure our right to organize as we choose and safeguard our churches from those seeking to seize them has not been easy. This journey has been a long one, but now more than ever we must all gather around those who need us most at this difficult time.

Loyal Episcopalians have been exiled from their Episcopal homes for too long and I ask you to keep all of them in your prayers. This includes St. Stephen's, Heathsville; St. Margaret's, Woodbridge; Epiphany, Oak Hill; and The Falls Church, Falls Church. These parishioners have been denied the ability to worship as they wish at the very same churches where they were married, where they baptized their children and where they buried their loved ones. I view this next hearing with great hope for the day when I will join these faith-filled Episcopalians as they return to their church homes to celebrate and worship together.

Faithfully yours,

--(The Rt. Rev.) Shannon S. Johnston, Bishop of Virginia

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State Matters

19 Comments
Posted October 10, 2009 at 3:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Q: There has been a lot of public attention on the disagreements and controversy in the church related to homosexuality — whether there should be gay bishops and how the church should relate to same-sex couples. What are your thoughts about that?

A: Personally, I’m to the left of that issue. [Supporting] the full inclusion of gay persons in the life of the church is something I said when I was a nominee. But as a leader of the church, I’m a centrist. I think we need to lead from the center, and we need to rebuild the center. I think this issue, the place of gay persons in church — in the United States, anyway — is not an either-or question. There are parts of our church that remain thoroughly traditional in that respect and they will not be required to change. But there are parts of our church — indeed, it’s pretty clear, the majority of our church — that are moving toward and indeed already fully include gays and lesbians in the church. I hope that the rest of the Anglican world can accept that reality.

Q: It’s been three years since a majority of members in some Northern Virginia congregations voted to leave the diocese. Has the turmoil from that settled?
A: It’s in a kind of limbo right now. I just know that we’re waiting for the Virginia Supreme Court to hear our petition to take the appeal. I really look forward to the time when the litigation is behind us all.

Q: Can you explain why the Diocese of Virginia decided to go forward with the appeal?
A: It is following our vows to exercise care and concern and indeed ownership of our property, and if we don’t do that through whatever means are possible to us, you can make the strong case that the bishop is not living up to the ordination vows. That opens up an entirely new question with very serious ramifications.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia

16 Comments
Posted October 1, 2009 at 5:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(ENS) The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church each asked the state Supreme Court April 7 to review a Fairfax County Court judge's rulings in a series of church property lawsuits.

The diocese said in a news release that is appealing for the review on a number of grounds, including a challenge to the constitutionality of Virginia's one-of-a-kind "Division Statute" (Section 57-9(A)), which dates to the Civil War and is triggered when there is a so-called "division" of a church or religious society, and the rulings of the Circuit Court in applying the law.

The litigation involves nine Episcopal parishes of the diocese which the majority of members and clergy left to form congregations of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA). The case originally involved members of 11 congregations of the Virginia diocese who left the Episcopal Church to form CANA congregations. The departing members of nine of those congregations then filed claims to parish property under the Division Statute.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

6 Comments
Posted April 9, 2009 at 8:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Back in 2003, the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York consecrated a gay bishop and allowed others to perform same-sex blessings.

The Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton, an Episcopal parish at the time, disagreed with this move and severed ties. Last year, the Diocese sued for Good Shepherd to leave the church building on Conklin Avenue, and in December, a state Supreme Court judge ruled in their favor.

On Friday, both sides were back in court.

"We've kind of moved on as a congregation and this is almost looking backwards now. So we were dreading it but here it is," said Father Matthew Kennedy, Good Shepherd's head pastor.

This time, the feud centers around a will by former Good Shepherd member Robert Brannan. He died in 1986 and left behind money in a trust fund for his parish.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Central New YorkTEC Conflicts: Central FloridaTEC Conflicts: ColoradoTEC Conflicts: ConnecticutTEC Conflicts: FloridaTEC Conflicts: Fort WorthTEC Conflicts: GeorgiaTEC Conflicts: Los AngelesTEC Conflicts: OhioTEC Conflicts: PittsburghTEC Conflicts: Rio GrandeTEC Conflicts: San DiegoTEC Conflicts: San JoaquinTEC Conflicts: VirginiaTEC Departing ParishesTEC DataTEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan CouncilsTEC House of Deputies

2 Comments
Posted March 22, 2009 at 8:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Leaving the Episcopal denomination (while remaining in the Anglican Communion) has given Mr. [John] Yates the freedom to plant churches in urban areas amid many Episcopal churches. (One is next door to Christ the King.) His goal is to plant 20 churches in northern Virginia before retiring. Christ the King was the third, and a fourth was recently planted in Arlington. Mr. Kurcina, 33, who is my son-in-law, is preparing to plant a fifth in Fairfax County.

For a growing number of young preachers like Christ the King's Mr. [David] Glade, planting and then leading a new church is an ideal option. As orthodox Anglicans, they didn't feel welcome in the Episcopal church. And they felt a strong calling to lead their own parish. Mr. Glade grew up as an Episcopalian in Jacksonville, Fla. After graduation from Florida State, he came to The Falls Church as an intern and spent four years as a youth leader before attending Trinity Seminary outside Pittsburgh. He returned to The Falls Church eager to lead a theologically conservative Anglican congregation. "In order to do that, you had to go out and do it yourself," he told me.

"Every new church has an awkward phase, figuring out who they are and getting to know each other," Mr. Glade says. That phase is over. Christ the King has also become financially self-sufficient. It aims to be a "healthy church," like its parent. "A healthy church reproduces itself," Mr. Glade says. Christ the King may soon do just that. Its assistant rector wants to plant his own church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalCANACommon Cause Partnership--Proposed Formation of a new North American ProvinceEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

1 Comments
Posted March 20, 2009 at 6:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A two-year-old church property dispute between Episcopalians and Anglicans appears to be on its way to the Virginia Supreme Court.

On Feb. 3, The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia together filed an appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court hoping to overturn a Dec. 19 decision by Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows in favor of the Anglican District of Virginia, known as ADV.

On Feb. 10, the Episcopal appeal was followed by a motion asking for an exception to the Supreme Court's limit of 35 pages in appeal cases.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

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Posted February 20, 2009 at 8:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"There is a time to take that step and follow Christ," said Matt Johnson, a delegate from Grace Episcopal Church in The Plains, Va. "I think this is one of those times. Yes, these relationships have integrity and are blessed. For 20 years, we have been talking about this. Let's go do it."

Frank Baxter, 70, a Front Royal resident who said he had been in a 24-year "committed relationship," agreed.

"I would like to see the diocese accept us as full members of this church while we are still on the green side of the grass," he said.

But opponents said the "relationships" could apply to any sexual partnership.

"I can envision that relationship with one of those persons married to someone else," said a male delegate from Church of Our Saviour in Charlottesville. "What do we do about that?"

"I think we're going to open some doors we do not wish to open," said delegate Ann Davis from Louisa. "A 30-something woman told me her understanding of monogamy means 'one at a time.' There is nothing here about these relationships being 'lifelong.' "

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: VirginiaTEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan CouncilsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings

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Posted January 26, 2009 at 12:43 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, who has been bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia for 24 years, announced yesterday that he will step down Oct. 1 to make way for a successor who was named in 2007.

The diocese, which covers northern and eastern Virginia and includes 80,000 members, is one of the largest in the Episcopal Church, the U.S.-based branch of the global Anglican Communion.

Starting this fall the diocese will be overseen by the Rt. Rev. Shannon Johnston, 50, an Alabama native who has worked in dioceses in the South and is known for his work in prison, music and HIV/AIDS ministries.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia

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Posted January 25, 2009 at 6:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Virginia Episcopal Bishop Peter J. Lee said Friday that he will retire three months early, on Oct. 1, in a bid to save money for his financially-strapped diocese.

"My resignation will occur several months earlier that I had originally anticipated," he said to 700 Episcopalians gathered at the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia's annual council at the Reston Hyatt, "but I believe it is an appropriate and necessary response to the realities we face."

His early resignation will save the diocese $63,000, one-quarter of his salary package that includes housing, travel and other benefits, according to diocesan treasurer Mike Kerr.

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Update: A chart of some of the diocese of Virginia Statistics is here.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: VirginiaTEC Departing Parishes

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Posted January 24, 2009 at 10:42 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The judge dismissed a last-ditch effort by the diocese to keep the property when it claimed in September that part of the historic Falls Church in Falls Church city is actually owned by Christ Episcopal Church in Alexandria.

The judge seemed incredulous that the diocese would make such a claim, which, he said, contradicted the testimony of one of the experts — church historian Edward L. Bond — who appeared on the stand on behalf of the organization.

"Alexandria's ownership of this property is an 11th-hour revision in theory made 17 months into this litigation, which was designed to fit into the narrowing window left by this court's multiple letter opinions," the judge wrote.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

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Posted December 23, 2008 at 6:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The selection of Robinson in 2003 set off a wide-ranging debate within the church, with conservative congregations saying that the Episcopal Church had abandoned historic doctrines and traditional teachings in a number of key theological issues – including sexuality.

“While on paper this has been a battle about property, the division within our church has been caused by TEC’s decision to walk away from the teaching of the Bible and the unique role of Jesus Christ.,” Minns said.

“They are forging a prodigal path – reinventing Christianity as they go – which takes them away from the values and beliefs of the historical church here in the United States and the worldwide Anglican Communion as a whole.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: VirginiaTEC Departing Parishes* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

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Posted December 22, 2008 at 8:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Virginia judge ruled on Friday (Dec. 19) that three parcels of land belong to parishes that have broken away from the Episcopal Church, handing conservatives an important, if tentative, legal win.

An 1867 state law, passed as Virginia congregations separated over slavery, allows a parish to disaffiliate from a denomination where a division has occurred while maintaining legal control over parish property.

Judge Randy Bellows of Fairfax Circuit Court ruled Friday the three parcels of land in Northern Virginia, which include church buildings, are covered by the "division statute," as it is commonly known.

In April, Bellows ruled that a "division of the first magnitude" has arisen in the worldwide Anglican Communion and its U.S. branch, the Episcopal Church, over homosexuality.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

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Posted December 20, 2008 at 5:13 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

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Posted December 20, 2008 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nearly a dozen conservative church congregations in Virginia have won a lawsuit in which they sought to split from the U.S. Episcopal Church in a dispute over theology and homosexuality.

The final rulings came Friday from a Fairfax County judge who said the departing congregations are allowed under Virginia law to keep their church buildings and other property as they leave the Episcopal Church and realign under the authority of conservative Anglican bishops from Africa.

Several previous rulings had also gone in favor of the departing congregations. The diocese said it will appeal.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

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Posted December 20, 2008 at 8:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

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Posted December 19, 2008 at 3:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

he Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns issued the following statement in response to the Fairfax County Circuit Court ruling in the church property trial between The Episcopal Church and eleven former congregations, now affiliated with the Anglican District of Virginia (ADV) and CANA, today:

“The Court’s decision is a great victory for religious freedom. It makes it clear that we cannot be forced to leave our churches and our foundational Christian beliefs because of the decision by the leadership of The Episcopal Church (TEC) to change the core components of our faith.”

“While on paper this has been a battle about property, the division within our church has been caused by TEC’s decision to walk away from the teaching of the Bible and the unique role of Jesus Christ. They are forging a prodigal path – reinventing Christianity as they go – which takes them away from the values and beliefs of the historical church here in the United States and the worldwide Anglican Communion as a whole.

“Our position has always been that we have a right to continue to hold dear the same things that our parents and most of the leaders of the Anglican Communion have always believed. The Bible is the authoritative word of God and is wholly relevant to all Christians today and for generations to come.

“We hope and pray that TEC will refrain from causing all of our congregations to spend more money on further appeals. The money could be used instead to provide more help to the least, the last, and the left out in our communities.”



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalCANAEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

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Posted December 19, 2008 at 3:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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