Friday, April 04, 2008

Judge Rules in Favor of the Virginia Churches: A Division has Occurred; Statute Applies

Here is a brief summary of the conclusions from the Letter Order:

Findings and Conclusions:

A. As used in 57-9(A), the term "church" or "religious
society" does apply to the Diocese, the ECUSA, and the
Anglican Communion.

B. As used in 57-9(A), the term "attached" applies to the
CANA Congregations, in that they are "attached" to the
Diocese, the ECUSA, and the Anglican

C. As used in 57-9(A), CANA, the American Arm of the
Church of Uganda, the Church of Nigeria, ADV, ECUSA,
and the Diocese are all "branches" of the Anglican
Communion, and CANA and ADV are "branches" of
ECUSA and the Diocese.

D. As used in 57-9(A), a "division" has occurred in a
church or religious society to which the CANA
Congregations were attached, at all three levels of the
Diocese, the ECUSA, and the Anglican

VI.) Conclusion:
ECUSA/Diocese argue that the historical evidence demonstrates that it is only the "major" or "great" divisions within 19th-century churches that prompted the passage of 57-9, such as those within the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches. ECUSA/Diocese argue that the current "dispute" before this Court is not such a "great" division, and, therefore, this is yet another reason why 57-9(A) should not apply. The Court agrees that it was major divisions such as those within the Methodist and Presbyterian churches that prompted the passage of 57-9. However, it blinks at reality to characterize the ongoing division within the Diocese, ECUSA, and the Anglican Communion as anything but a division of the first magnitude, especially given the involvement of numerous churches in states across the country, the participation of hundreds of church leaders, both lay and pastoral, who have found themselves "taking sides" against their brethren, the determination by thousands of church members in Virginia and elsewhere to "walk apart" in the language of the Church, the creation of new and substantial religious entities, such as CANA, with their own structures and disciplines, the rapidity with which the ECUSA's problems became that of the Anglican Communion, and the consequent impact-in some cases the extraordinary impact-on its provinces around the world, and, perhaps most importantly, the creation of a level of distress among many church members so profound and wrenching as to lead them to cast votes in an attempt to disaffiliate from a church which has been their home and heritage throughout their lives, and often back for generations.
Whatever may be the precise threshold for a dispute to constitute a division under 57-9(A), what occurred here qualifies.

For the foregoing reasons, this Court finds that the CANA Congregations have properly invoked 57-9(A). Further proceedings will take place in accordance with the Order issued today.

Mark your calendars: On May 28th, Judge Bellows will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the Virginia Division Statute. The Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia will be among those defending the Division Statute as constitutional.


Anonymous said...

Thank God and may TEC see the wisdom of dropping this now.

Randy Muller said...

Hallelujah! Our Lord God Almighty reigns!

Anonymous said...

Great news bb! Was praying for you southerners :-)

Anonymous said...

He is always faithful.


tdunbar said...

May God bless and keep you always...

Anonymous said...

Unconstitutional. The courts have no business ruling on religious matters due to the first ammendment. This will be overturned on appeal.

Anonymous said...


TEC brought it to the Court against the wishes and request of the ABC, Primates and other churches of the Communion. TEC's conduct is a scandal to Christendom.

Those who live by the sword etc.

TLF+ said...

TEC "blinks at reality." Heh.

I'm almost teary eyed. Was out early this a.m. walking the dog and praying intently - so glad to hear this result! May God be with you in the coming rulings as well.

Most of all, may He be with you in fruitful ministry, cleared of many choking weeds.

Kevin said...


Andy said...

The LORD be Praised today; He has moved Heaven and Earth for His Saints!

Anonymous said...

Very very happy for you folks in VA.

This is a decades-long process of course, and just the first round over the coming years. But it's nice to see.


Rolin said...

Anon #1, you can be assured that Virginia's attorney general will vigorously defend the constitutionality of 57-9(A).
Br_er Rabbit

Unknown said...

Way Cool. Hallelujah!
Wish I was there at Truro this weekend to celebrate, but you're all in my heart!

Anonymous said...

If the courts are to stay out of it completely, then how would TEC gain control or title to TFC or Truro, Anon #1? Physical assault on the building?

Anonymous said...

anon #1 the statute makes reference to organizations, not specifically religious organizations.

Are you saying an organization should be allowed to trample on one's rights merely because it is *religious*?