Skip to comments.VA: National Church May ‘Retain Interest’ in Virginia Church Properties
Posted on 12/10/2006 11:05:28 PM PST by rabscuttle385
Beginning Dec. 10, eight congregations representing slightly less than 10 percent of communicants in the 90,000-member Diocese of Virginia began voting on whether to leave The Episcopal Church and previously cordial relations between the diocese and the parishes have grown acrimonious.
Last week both sides traded accusations of bad faith and it looks increasingly likely that a Virginia court will be asked to determine who owns title. Churches with congregational votes scheduled are: The Falls Church, the Falls, Truro Church and Church of the Apostles, Fairfax, St. Margarets and All Saints, Woodbridge, St. Stephens, Heathsville, Church of the Word, Gainesville and Potomac Falls Church in Sterling.
For the past year, a larger number of congregations, representing as much as 20 percent of communicants, have been following the work of a six-member task force appointed by Virginia Bishop Peter James Lee to help churches continuing in conflict over the decisions of the 74th General Convention in 2003 to get on with their mission in as close a union as possible with the Diocese. Last September the task force released its report which acknowledged that some congregations may choose to leave and included a protocol.
On Nov. 9, Bishop Lee, the standing committee, the executive board and the vestry of All Saints Church, Woodbridge (one of the largest) announced an agreement in which in the event that the congregation votes to leave it will lease its current space for five years while it builds on land it owns. All Saints carries about $2.6 million in debt on that property and claims that attempts to retire the debt through a capital campaign was significantly curtailed by the actions of the Episcopal Churchs General Convention.
On the same day that the standing committee and diocesan council approved the tentative agreement with All Saints the two legislative bodies also voted not to receive or endorse the task force report, but they waited to publish an announcement to that effect until four days after a Nov. 13 vote recommending separation by the vestries at Truro and The Falls Church. Then on Dec. 1, Bishop Lee wrote to every vestry member at both parishes, threatening them as individuals with personal liability and suggesting that executive council, the elected officers who oversee the work of General Convention when it is not in session, may well wish to retain its property interests.
The letter was an effort by Bishop Lee to make sure that those making these very serious decisions had a complete understanding of the canonical and legal picture of what the consequences might be, said Patrick Getlein, secretary of the diocese. We have heard that the rank and file has been told that this is nothing more than taking a vote and changing the name on the sign out front. The Presiding Bishop is weighing seriously what steps she might take in retaining real and personal property.
In friend of the court filings in other diocesan property disputes, the Presiding Bishops chancellor has successfully argued that under the so-called Dennis Canon of the General Convention, all property is held in trust for the diocese and the national church. That theory was rejected again on appeal Dec. 7 by a California judge who dismissed claims against three congregations that voted to withdraw in 2004 from the Diocese of Los Angeles. Instead of deferring to internal church bylaws, California and a handful of other states apply neutral principles of law in property disputes. The senior wardens at the two parishes responded in a joint letter the following day to Bishop Lee, noting that Virginia law does not recognize express or implied trust claims in favor of the denomination in the event of a split.
Given this plain rule of law, it is our position that the Diocese does not have a valid claim to ownership of our property under a theory of express or implied trust, the letter stated. Any attempt by the Episcopal Church or the Diocese to interfere with our interests, including any further attempt to interfere with our discernment process or our congregational vote, will be met with the strongest possible response, including legal defense.
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.
FReepmail sionnsar if you want on or off this moderately high-volume ping list (typically 3-9 pings/day).
This list is pinged by sionnsar, Huber and newheart.
Resource for Traditional Anglicans: http://trad-anglican.faithweb.com
More Anglican articles here.
Humor: The Anglican Blue (by Huber)
Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15
I take it you've never been married...
...just kidding. You make a good point!
When I first moved into this area, I attended saturday night meetings at "Church of the Apostles", called "Saturday Night Alive", which included contemporary songs, a band, and some really good teaching.
They are in my prayers as they do what is right here, breaking away from a diocese that has lost it's way, failed to adhere to biblical principles, and now seems more interested in its own financial picture than teaching, living, and demonstrating the Word of God.
I suspect it is not so much that it has lost it's way, as it is that it has chosen a new way - the Broad Way [vs. the Narrow Way]
Editorial correction. "The Falls Church" is not located in "The Falls," but rather in "Falls Church," the town which is named after it. Its significant: The Falls Church predates Virginia's statehood, and The Episcopal Church, undercutting any claims to TEC's ownership of it. (Incidentally, "Falls Church" is the location of JAG.)
Actually, I think the problem is that too many of the men haven't chosen the ahem, Broad Way. (Broadway show tunes maybe...)
You are familiar with the Scriptures that refer to the Narrow Way as the way to Heaven, and the Broad Way as the way to destruction?
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.