Friday, April 04, 2008

Washington Times: "The court finds that a division has occurred"

The story by Julia Duin is here.

A Fairfax circuit judge has awarded a favorable judgment to a group of 11 Anglican churches that were taken to court last fall after breaking away from the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia in late 2006.

In an 83-page opinion released late last night, Judge Randy Bellows ruled that Virginia"s Civil War-era “division statute” granting property to departing congregations applies to the Northern Virginia congregations, which are now part of the Nigerian-administered Convocation of Anglicans in North America.

“The court finds that a division has occurred in the diocese,” the judge wrote. “Over 7 percent of the churches in the diocese, 11 percent of its baptized membership and 18 percent of the diocesan average attendance of 32,000 [per Sunday] have left in the past two years.”

The lawsuit, which is the largest property case to date in the history of the Episcopal Church, involves millions of dollars of real estate and assets. With the finding that a division has occurred, the congregations get to keep the property under Virginia law.

Because the diocese and the national Episcopal Church are expected to challenge the constitutionality of Virginia"s division statute, the judge has already scheduled arguments for that trial for May 28.

The 11 parishes, which include some of Virginia's most historic churches such as Truro Episcopal in Fairfax and The Falls Church in Falls Church, voted in December 2006 to leave the Episcopal Church over longstanding disputes on biblical authority and human sexuality, most specifically the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

The Episcopal Church has been called to repent the Robinson consecration by much of the rest of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and its standing as the U.S. representative of Anglicanism is in question over the issue.


Rolin said...

"Episcopal Parishes Awarded Property, Assets"
The headline-writer got carried away. No such ruling was made; the property still has to be litigated. However, DioVa is definitely on the defensive now.
Br_er Rabbit

Kevin said...

I'd disagree, I believe the property title has always been with the parishes, thus this ruling clarifies that more. This was an attempt to make a claim to the title, but not a joint title being decided.

Allen Lewis said...

Baby Blue -
Has there been any accounting for what this has cost the ADV/CANA group so far, as far as legal costs are concerned? Someone raised that question over on MCJ.

I know TEO will not divulge that information, so I was wondering if the CANA group had released any figures.

Kevin said...

Allen Lewis

Actually both sides have divulged the figures, not directly in a handy format that makes the instant information loving internet community happy. One has to read statements about the DioVA line of credit or two of the major CANA congregations' newsletters to get a rough idea of the figures. In that sense in Virginia both sides have been pretty upfront in a round about way with their constituents.

A rough figure of total cost was given at the TFC annual meeting which ended up in the Washington Times. Truro has given figures about their cost alone in print. I'm sure it'll be covered in their members meeting (in some ways I hope it stays at this members meeting).

What I have to say only applies to Virginia, I have not seen (but not ever followed) CA, CO, CT or any other diocese. Maybe both sides don't want this to be the prime focus of their mission, so presuming the best in each, I'll respect their guardedness in being open and say total cost is ~$2M to ~$2.5M with ADV slightly larger percentage (more legal council thus more cost).

815 has been very guarded (no clue what they may have contributed) but at the local level, both have shared enough that I'm comfortable the donors have a ball park figure. said...

division has occurred? does kjs know this? according to the video from her day with the dio of sc do such thing has one is leaving.
hopefully the faithful in nova will with sampsonesque strength push down the pillars of the pagan temple known as tec

Christopher Rico said...

Does this ruling not violate the first amendment? Just curious. I find it odd that these churches would choose to run to Bishop Akinola's church, especially in light of his recent dealings with Mugabe and the growing political unrest in Zimbabwe.

Anonymous said...

What an inane comment, Christopher Rico.

Hank Thompson said...

Did homophobia really outweigh the golden rule (and win)? I truly don't understand the fear and hatred coming from these 'holier than thou' Christians. Please continue to pick and choose the parts of Biblical Authority that allow to continue down the path of consumer Christianity. God knows we need more of that in this world.

Christopher Rico said...

Akinola and Mugabe:

Kevin said...

Dear Fine Sir Hank Thompson,

Could you please refrain from personal attacks on people and rephrase you accusation on people in a way that makes more logical sense than a mere "calling your brother a fool," method which is what your "homophobia," "'holier than thou' Christians," & "Please continue to pick and choose the parts of Biblical Authority that allow to continue down the path of consumer Christianity" does. Especially in light of the story you are supposed to be responding.

Could you please rephrase your accusation that you are holding someone to account in terms of "When X than X" term that there more than name calling?

Signed, I rent property with no ties to the Episcopalians but probably lumped in your seemingly hatred accusation without much discrimination of why you are so upset and hating the world,


Hank Thompson said...

My apologies Kevin.

When a person disagrees with the appointment of a gay bishop, then they have every right to leave the church.

When that person leaves the church, then they are free to find another church that agrees with their opinions on homosexuality (I think that's what started this separation).

As part of the 10% of one of the in question congregations I apologize if I am still a little upset that I have been forced out of my own church because they would like to disassociate themselves with a decision that they had little to do with.

The internal conversations amounted, in my best estimation, to nothing less than a complete fearful reaction that looked solely to ostracize parts of their community and take the property away from the Diocese. I am upset at the precarious precedent this is setting when it was seemingly guided by groupthink and fear.

'Sir' Hank Thompson

Kevin said...

I personally was in a win/lose or a lose/win situation.

The wonderful gift of being outside this particular situation is freedom to be object to speak no matter which way it turned out. The only thing that happen today is civil judge ruled on civil law, it happens not to favor your side.

I happen to have been bullied out of my parish, yet it did not end there but the same selfish one with blessing of other continued to bully me at another even though on vestry on the original. So maybe enough to gain a little creditability with you to say let it all go to the Lord. He has been completely faithful and given back press down and running over. When I see all I've given up I become so angry as to be in a rage, but the Lord has been so faithful that I think I have more than when I let go unto Him. It is hard but in my mind I realized it's either a future ash pile or a living relationship with God ... so far ... I've been very happy with my choice.

I would have the same advice if things happen the opposite, just to a different set of people.

May the Lord comfort and give His peace to those who think they have lost, may He keep humble those who think they have won and may He conform all of us into the image of His Son. Truly, may WE ALL know our God better


Allen Lewis said...

Sir Hank,
I think BabyBlue and those in the majority of the voting in all the parishes would vigorously disagree with your characterization. I would also be interested to know how you were "forced" out of your own congregation. Did the leadership of that congregation strip all the buttons off of your suit coat? Were you tarred and feathered? Or are you just cranky that the TEC philosophy of "whatever the Zeitgeist is pushing this week is what we will believe" did not carry the day?

My perspective is that those who voted to leave have some very serious theological differences with the TEC leadership, especially as illustrated in the last two General Conventions of the Episcopal Church.

Maybe you do not feel welcome in your former parish, but I sure would like to know why you feel that way.

Hank Thompson said...

My buttons were not stripped nor was I tarred and feathered. That would have been something though.

I am simply no longer welcome because my views happen to differ on the biblical authority of the church to discriminate against homosexuals for something they cannot themselves control. My views that this separation speaks fundamentaly against the accepting message of Christ are shunned. No longer is there an open space in which to agree to disagree.

I feel that some of these churches got caught up in the whirlwind and excitement of doing something radical and gladly shunned dissenting opinions and the people who held them and that has been upsetting. The property issue then became the outlet to stick it to the Episcopal Church. Congrats on your 'victory' and thanks for your 'concern'...I will cope.


Kevin said...


I probably disagree with you on so many points on so many levels, but I would agree that some who voted in the CANA parishes may have for other reasons than stated else my experiences would have been dramatically different. I'm probably more a "Bible thumper" than those who won something today, yet there some odd verses I often struggle to deal with living out, especially those about love to those who disagree and especially when they are the ones who didn't win.

While I'm happy you will "cope" I do pray the Lord leads you to a healthy place.


Allen Lewis said...

I certainly hope that I did not give the impression of not caring about your situation. I was forced out of my parish (of over 50 years)because I did not agree with the majority who held that the Bible is "just a document, subject to interpretation." Nor did they believe that the latest innovations of General Convention were anything to get worked up over. In short, I don't do identity politics and so-called "justice" does not overrule the Word of God as interpreted and taught by the Church Catholic for 2000 years.

So we left. So, I think I can understand your hurt feelings. I know what it is like to feel unwelcome. I, like Kevin, hope you can find a church community where you are loved and cherished and are led to grow into the full stature of Christ.

Peace be to you.


Anonymous said...

RE: "When a person disagrees with the appointment of a gay bishop, then they have every right to leave the church.

When that person leaves the church, then they are free to find another church that agrees with their opinions on homosexuality (I think that's what started this separation)."

Great! So when may we expect for TEC to announce its departure from the Anglican Communion?
; > )

RE: "I am simply no longer welcome because my views happen to differ on the biblical authority of the church to discriminate against homosexuals for something they cannot themselves control."

What? People -- whether gay or straight -- cannot control whether they have sexual relations?
Of course they can control having sex. And as that is the sin in question that the progressives decided to bless, the battles within TEC will continue. It's going to be a hard several decades for both sides.