FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 12, 2007
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
KELLY OLIVER (703)-683-5004, ext. 140
ANGLICAN DISTRICT CHURCHES FILE THEIR OFFICIAL RESPONSES TO THE EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF VIRGINIA’S LAWSUITS: “Unfortunate Distraction” Will Not Keep Churches From Moving Forward And Working With Anglican Communion
FAIRFAX, Va. (March 12, 2007) --- Today, ten of the churches sued by the Diocese of Virginia, their rectors, vestries and, in some instances, their trustees, filed their responses to the Diocese’s complaints. While last week these churches renewed their requests that the Diocese stay all litigation in accordance with the Primates’ Tanzania Communiqué, the Diocese has yet to respond to the renewed requests. The churches are thus required by court rules to file their responsive pleadings today.
“As the churches file their responses to the lawsuits it is very important to remember that they have chosen to stay with the worldwide Anglican Communion, and be steadfast in their faith,” said Mary McReynolds, chancellor for the Anglican District of Virginia. “While we are confident in our legal position, it is an unfortunate distraction from the good work these churches are trying to undertake as servants of Christ. These churches are moving forward and will continue to be part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.”
In their court papers, the eleven churches and all of the individually-named defendants asked the court to dismiss the Diocese’s suits for failure to state any claims on which relief could be granted. In particular, the churches responded that, among other things:
1. The Diocese cannot base any claim to the churches’ property on an assertion of trust-based rights, because Virginia law does not recognize either express or implied denominational trusts in their property.
2. All of the Diocese’s claims of conversion, trespass, alienation or accounting that are based upon the Diocese’s claimed ownership of property must fail since the Diocese owns none of the church property.
3. The individual defendants sued by the Diocese serve as officers, directors or trustees without compensation and thus are immune altogether from suit by Virginia statute or cannot be properly sued as a matter of Virginia corporation law.