Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Virginia: Church’s Court Blow

From George Conger:

An American state court has handed the Episcopal Church a major defeat in its battle for control of the property of breakaway congregations in Virginia, rejecting its argument that there was no “division” in the Episcopal Church.

In an 88 page opinion released on April 3, Fairfax County Judge Randy Bellows held that a Nineteenth century law governing the disposition of church property in the event of a church schism applied to the dispute between the Diocese of Virginia and CANA—the American jurisdiction of the Church of Nigeria.

The Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia last year brought suit against 11 congregations of the Anglican District of Virginia seeking control of the breakaway parish properties, including the diocese’s two largest congregations—Truro Parish and the Falls Church in suburban Washington.

Judge Bellows rejected the Episcopal Church’s contention that the CANA secessions were a local matter. He held “it blinks at reality to characterize the ongoing division within the diocese, [the Episcopal Church], and the Anglican Communion as anything but a division of the first magnitude.”

“The rapidity with which [The Episcopal Church's] problems became that of the Anglican Communion, and the consequent impact-in some cases the extraordinary impact-on its provinces around the world,” he said. . .

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