Virginia Anglican Churches Praise Fairfax Judge Ruling on Contracts Clause

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 11 Virginia Anglican congregations sued by The Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Diocese of Virginia responded to the Fairfax County Circuit Court ruling issued today concerning the Contracts Clause and the assertion by TEC and the Diocese that the 11 Anglican congregations waived their right to invoke the Virginia Division Statute.

Judge Randy Bellows ruled that TEC and the Diocese failed to timely assert their claim that the 11 Anglican congregations contracted around or waived their right to invoke the Division Statute. In addition, the judged ruled that the Division Statute does not violate the contracts clause provisions of the U.S. and Virginia Constitutions as applied to these properties. The rulings can be found at...[the link provided below this blog entry]. Today’s rulings mean that there are only a small number of issues remaining to be decided at the October trial, and the 11 Anglican congregations are hopeful that they can be resolved quickly.

“We are pleased that Judge Bellows ruled in our favor on these questions. He ruled very clearly that our congregations are able to rely on the Virginia Division Statute in order to keep our church property. We have maintained all along that our churches’ own trustees hold title for the benefit of their congregations. TEC and the Diocese have never owned any of the properties and their names do not appear on deeds to the property. The Virginia Supreme Court has consistently stated that Virginia does not recognize denominational trusts of the sort asserted by TEC and the Diocese,” said Jim Oakes, vice-chairman of the Anglican District of Virginia. All 11 churches are members of ADV.

Read it all.

Please take the time to read through all of the legal documents which may be found here.

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

Posted August 20, 2008 at 7:56 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Dilbertnomore wrote:

Chalk one up for the good guys. The diocese, et. al. will now concentrate on trying to overturn the votes taken by the congregations that resulted in the departures. Look for the diocese/815 machine to kick into full flower.

Once past this next round of unpleasantness it will be off to the Virginia Supreme Court (unless the Virginia Court of Appeals chooses to wade into the fray -  unlikely) and then to a petition for cert with the US Supreme Court which will hopefully be denied.

Slightly edited.

August 20, 8:27 am | [comment link]
2. Brent B wrote:

I would like to read the briefs that were submitted and are referenced in the judge’s opinions. Does anyone know how to access them?

August 20, 9:30 am | [comment link]
3. Chancellor wrote:

Brent B (#2), just click on the link that Kendall provides. Then click on the “Downloads Home” icon, and when a new screen appears, click on the “Legal Documents” folder, which will open a screen that lists some 86 documents which you can download or view in the case. All but the very latest briefs are there—-unfortunately, the list is not ordered by date, so you have to scroll for them.

Or, you can try this site from the Diocese of Virginia, where the list is better organized, but apparently no more recent. And see also this commentary for a summation of the dispute.

August 20, 10:24 am | [comment link]
4. Brent B wrote:

Thanks Chancellor. Unfortunately, it is those very latest briefs that I am interested in. Maybe they’ll be posted in the future. Guess I’ll just have to be patient.

August 20, 10:43 am | [comment link]
5. Stuart Smith wrote:

This is a stunning blow to TEC and the Diocese of Va…a blow they should have seen coming and avoided!

Here’s hoping this sets a certain precedence for other TEC initiated property-grabs throughout the nation.  Perhaps, if TEC loses (again) with the Anglican diocese of San Juaquin, they will decide that St. Paul had it right all along when he warned against suing fellow Christians.  Perhaps, then, we will not have to modify the pagan’s assessment of the martyrs to say “Those Christians, how they sue each other!”

August 20, 4:41 pm | [comment link]
6. Dilbertnomore wrote:

DioVA and TEC will be ready to return to negotiations right after the US Supreme Court denies cert shutting this thing down.

August 20, 4:56 pm | [comment link]
7. Harvey wrote:

Is the TEC really going to sue any other parishes that may vote to leave it.  Noises had already started when it appeared that Lambeth didn’t do much turning around.  This court decision certainly gave heart to the 11 churches desiring to leave TEC and to many more on the sidelines waiting to see what was going to happen.  To arms the battle is moving forward!!

August 20, 6:25 pm | [comment link]
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