A.S. Haley—Judge Bellows Moves the Hearing on Falls Church Anglican’s motion for stay to Apr. 27

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.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues

1 Comments
Posted April 19, 2012 at 8:00 am

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1. NoVA Scout wrote:

One has to follow through several links to trace this through, but I think Mr. Haley is mistaken about the point (one which he makes much of) that the Diocese is asking the departing parishioners to both pay down mortagages and simultaneously pay rent.  I find nothing in the submission of the departing parishioners that indicates that that is an issue (it may be there and I just missed it in my quick read, so I invite correction).  For some reason, I see nothing from the Diocese on the subject one way or another (which suggests to me that it is not an issue). 

My understanding of the situation is that the main church properties at The Falls Church are not subject to mortgages.  There are some satellite properties where that may not be the case, but the church buildings themselves are, to my knowledge, unencumbered. 

When the departing group elected to occupy the church buildings, it seems reasonable to expect that they would anticipate that the Diocese would be able to assert a claim for fair market rental value during the occupation.  To be equitable in any settlement, one would hope the Diocese would permit the occupying group to set off funds expended for upkeep during the occupation against rents.  I haven’t seen any indication that the Diocese has taken a different position. 

The primary dispute in the court seems, at this juncture, not to be about these financial fundamentals, but rather the timing of the return of the property.  The occupying group is facing a court-imposed deadline of 30 April.  However, they apparently have been unable to find alternative places for worship and need more time to do so.  This seems like something that reasonable people could work out.  The generous settlement at neighbouring Truro indicates that there are minds engaged that can find solutions to these issues.

April 21, 10:08 pm | [comment link]


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