Thursday, October 16, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Bishop Lee seeks to take control of Christ Church Alexandria property

UPDATE: Or is this just the "virtual" interest that the diocese alleged Christ Church has in the Falls Church property? It appears so. The Diocese believes Christ Church owns everything (which of course includes Pohick Church as well, one of the early "Truro Parish" properties). But doesn't this then assume that congregations do own their own property when its held in trust by their own trustees? Why is this upcoming congregational vote recognized by the diocese while the others caused them to sue eleven congregations? Apparently some votes are more equal than others to the Diocese of Virginia. With TEC lawyers prowling around, other congregations in the diocese should take careful note.

It's been learned tonight that Bishop Peter James Lee and the Diocese of Virginia have requested that Christ Church Alexandria deed their disputed church property personally to the Bishop of Virginia.

A congregational vote is scheduled for this Sunday.

According to the current rector of Christ Church, Pierce Klemmt and Senior Warden, Rawles Jones, "the Diocese has asked Christ Church to quitclaim its interest in the property to the Diocese." In a letter sent to members of the congregation, they write that "The Vestry has considered this course of action and recommends it to the Congregation."

The Diocese of Virginia is pursuing the people of Christ Church Alexandria to turn control of their property over to the Bishop of Virginia in Richmond.

It seems quite obvious with this action that The Episcopal Church (TEC) is deeply concerned that there will be more defections from the diocese once Judge Randy Bellows issues his final ruling in November or December. The fact remains that property held in trust by the congregation belongs to the congregation and not to the diocese or The Episcopal Church in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

It appears that TEC and the diocese has finally figured this out and seeks to take control of congregations in the diocese.

Unbelievable.


While The Episcopal Church and the diocese say they are going to appeal the ruling (and Judge Bellows hasn't even issued his final ruling yet - amazing) it is clear that the bishop is seeking to take control of properties held in trust by the congregations before the appeals process begins, lest more congregations vote to depart with their property.

This also does not bode well for the "shadow" congregations set up by the diocese either, since the diocese does not control the properties where the congregations have voted to separate from The Episcopal Church and join another branch in the Anglican Communion.

The vestry of Christ Church Alexandria has incredulously consented to the diocese's "request" and will put forward the following resolution to the congregation of Christ Church Alexandria this Sunday, October 19 at 10:15 a.m. and will encourage their congregation to vote to turn over all "right, title and interest in and to the Property to Peter James Lee, in his capacity as Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia, and his successor Bishops."

It might behoove members of the congregation to get themselves a lawyer not in the diocese's pocket and get one now.

And Pohick - are you next?



RESOLUTION OF THE CONGREGATION
OF
CHRIST CHURCH, ALEXANDRIA
To Be Presented October 19, 2008

WHEREAS, Christ Church (also known as Christ Protestant Episcopal Church) has been held by the U.S. Supreme Court to be the successor to the grantee named in the following deeds, and is therefore title owner of the property (the “Property)” that is the subject of the following deeds:

Indenture dated March 19, 1746 from John Trammole (also known as John T. Tramel) to the Vestry of Truro Parish, recorded on August 18, 1747 among the land records of Fairfax County, Virginia; and

Indenture dated March 20, 1746 from John Trammole (also known as John T. Tramel) to the Vestry of Truro Parish and their successors, recorded on August 18, 1747 among the land records of Fairfax County, Virginia; and

WHEREAS, the P rotestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia (the “Diocese”) has requested that Christ Church quitclaim and release all of Christ Church’s right, title and interest in and to the Property to Peter James Lee, in his capacity as Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia, and his successor Bishops (the “Bishop”); and

WHEREAS, the Vestry deems it in the best interests of Christ Church and of the Diocese to grant the request of the Diocese;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED:

That the Congregation of Christ Church, in a meeting duly called for the purpose pursuant to Canon 15, Section 2 and Canon 11, Section 13 of the Canons of the Diocese of Virginia, deems it in the best interests of Christ Church and of the Diocese of Virginia that Christ Church quitclaim and release all of Christ Church’s right, title and interest in and to the Property to the Bishop, by quitclaim deed; that the Congregation consents to such conveyance pursuant to Canon 15, Section 2 of the Canons of the Diocese of Virginia; and, subject to (a) receipt of confirmation from the Diocese that the Standing Committee and the Bishop have approved the quitclaim and release of Christ Church’s right, title and interest in the Property to the Bishop, and (b) fulfillment of the statutory requirements of the Commonwealth of Virginia, hereby authorizes and directs the trustees of the real property of Christ Church and the Senior Warden to execute and deliver a quitclaim deed and to take all other necessary steps to quitclaim and release all of Christ Church’s right, title and interest in the Property to the Bishop.

23 comments:

Kevin said...

A very smart move for +Lee and a very foolish move for Christ Church. I'm curious how much the congregation understands the full ramification on them. It'll be interesting to see the results of the vote.

Anonymous said...

All those voting in favor of this resolution, please raise their hand and say "Baa-Baa"....

RalphM

Whitestone said...

A second proposal to quit claim the property to the Falls Church should be presented to the congregation.

The vote is in order because CC Vestry should not have the power to enter into complicity with TEO on its own without approval of the congregation.

However, the gravity of the situation and the dishonest dealings of The Episcopal leadership call for all caution and care to be exercised - for more time and study by legal and canonical experts to consider the implications is also in order.

It's time for Christ Church Alexandria to consider who they are playing with...and who they wish to honor and obey, God the Father, Jesus Christ and the true HOLY Spirit or the clique of syncretists, secular agenda propagandites and bishop impersonators, the Executive council, et al running TEO (The Episcopal Oligarchy).

Anonymous said...

From CCA's website:
"In the Falls Church property matter that was discussed at the October 5 Congregational Meeting and at the forum on October 12, the Diocese has asked Christ Church to quitclaim its interest in that property to the Diocese. The Vestry has considered this course of action and recommends it to the Congregation.

On Sunday, October 19, there will be a meeting of the Congregation in the Church at 10:15 AM to consider and vote on a resolution consenting to this course of action. Only members may vote on the resolution. Diocesan Canons require that members be present in order to vote."

Interesting that the resolution itself is not posted for the members to read in advance of the meeting.

One one hand, it gets CCA out of the litigation process. On the other hand they are being USED by the Diocese. They were talked (coerced?) into asserting the claim of ownership to TFC, then "asked" by DioVA to quitclaim. The total effect will be that they are enablers of DioVA's attack on fellow Christians. A great legacy indeed...

RalphM

KC said...

BB,
I had to get halfway through your posting to be convinced this is REAL, not one of your brilliant satires ---
UNBELIEVABLE!

kc said...

OK, having now spent more time reading the details, I realize they're being asked to deed to the Diocese only the disputed parcel of land at The Falls Church, not "ALL their church property."

bb wrote: "It's been learned tonight that Bishop Peter James Lee and the Diocese of Virginia have requested that Christ Church Alexandria deed all their church property personally to the Bishop of Virginia."

BabyBlue said...

Correct, you are right - it's not all Christ Church, it's all the historic Falls Church. I have fixed that to be clearer. Thank you.

However, the diocese is maintaining in court as we write that all the historic property in Northern Virginia in the area that was once called Truro Parish (and now is called Fairfax County) belongs to Christ Church Alexandria. That is what they are seeking to have transferred to the Bishop of Virginia.

It seems clear that the diocese now accepts that the congregations hold title (why else require the congregation to vote on Sunday?) to their property and not the diocese and in order for them to maintain control of Episcopal property, they will need to follow this action. They are focusing on The Falls Church property. The Diocese is in court disputing property right now they do not own. Period. Since Christ Church is not named in the litigation, then Christ Church can't argue for the property (and apparently don't want to). So the diocese is attempting to take control of the property, based on a ruling that they maintain deeded all the historic church properties in the former Truro Parish to Christ Church. Who's next?

And what will Bishop Lee do if more parishes vote to separate after Judge Bellow's ruling? At least two more quietly all ready have. Who's next?

bb

Grey Beard said...

I have three thoughts on this:
1. If I were a member of Christ Church I would propose that, if it is determined that the church owns the property, they should sell it to the highest bidder, either The Falls Church or Bishop Lee. As I understand it the Church has a large deficit and is in need of money.

2. I do not see how they can quick claim deed a piece of property that ownership of is under litigation and not yet established.

3. It is not in Christ Church's interest to rush into this until ownership is established by the courts.

Scott Hankins said...

If you'll allow a somewhat more generous reading of the situation...

It doesn't seem to me that Christ Church is being asked to do anything more than affirm the relationship of parishes with their dioceses in a very ordinary and concrete way. It really seems rather sacramental to me, i.e., "an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace."

Your distress, it seems to me, is analogous to the RC discomfort with Anglican sacraments. For RCs, if the sacramental act is not performed, grace cannot enter. For Anglicans, the sacramental act reveals the grace that is always and everywhere present.

Call this action a concession to the legal impulse, but in reality, "if not here, then nowhere; if here, then everywhere." They're just demonstrating the unboundedness of grace in a way that you can understand, and I'm sure they'd invite you home if you'd come.

Lynn said...

The trustee relationship established in the 1824 U.S. Supreme Court case only establishes a trustee relationship for the boundaries of the old Fairfax Parish. Pohick Church remained in Truro Parish.

Fr. Scott is correct about the intent of Christ Church, and all resolutions passed by the vestry and parish members reflect this. And the quitclaim is specifically for the parcel of land in Falls Church, it does not include the Alexandria property. And yes, we vote on the quickclaim resolution tomorrow, Sunday, October 19, 2008.

Anonymous said...

Scott,

I think you are WAY too generous. But then you appear to be far too generous to all -- except for the Traditionalist in your Church.

--Anonymous Catholic

Scott Hankins said...

anonymous catholic,

How am I not generous to the "traditionalist in 'my Church'" (sic; it's not 'my' Church)? Do you know me personally? Am I somehow the "ur-liberal" to you? Do I have to acknowledge your righteousness before you will be willing to love me? Honestly, I find that the "Traditionalist" rejects my generosity a priori by 1) not speaking directly with me and 2) assuming incorrectly that I have no generosity toward him/her.

Anonymous said...

Babyblue, stop misleading your readers.

"However, the diocese is maintaining in court as we write that all the historic property in Northern Virginia in the area that was once called Truro Parish (and now is called Fairfax County) belongs to Christ Church Alexandria. That is what they are seeking to have transferred to the Bishop of Virginia."

Wrong twice (both on the nature of the Diocese's argument and on what they are seeking to have transferred).

"It seems clear that the diocese now accepts that the congregations hold title (why else require the congregation to vote on Sunday?) to their property and not the diocese...."

It has never been in dispute in the current litigation (except for one parcel) that the congregations hold title.

"The Diocese is in court disputing property right now they do not own."

Wrong again. The Diocese contends it owns it. In time, perhaps the courts will agree. And perhaps they won't. That's the reason you litigate.


"So the diocese is attempting to take control of the property, based on a ruling that they maintain deeded all the historic church properties in the former Truro Parish to Christ Church."

Again, a falsehood.

"And what will Bishop Lee do if more parishes vote to separate after Judge Bellow's ruling?"

Appeal, as he's already said he would.

Anonymous said...

Scott:

Not only too generous, but also very sensitive. From your site:

"You are a New Left Hipster, also known as a MoveOn.org liberal, a Netroots activist, or a Daily Show fanatic. You believe that if we really want to defend American values, conservatives must be exposed, mocked, and assailed for every fanatical, puritanical, warmongering, Constitution-shredding ideal for which they stand."

So, my sensitive new left hipster, perhaps the above was supposed to be light hearted, but I do have to wonder.

--Anonymous Catholic

Scott Hankins said...

anonymous catholic,

ROFL!

I took the test, and that's how I turned out. It has nothing at all to do with my religion.

Thanks!...

Maybe there's some hope here? I rely on my sense of humor, and there's a glimmer that you do, too.

Blessings...

Anonymous said...

Scott,

I too laugh a lot. For example, I laugh that you think your liberal views have nothing to do with how you practice your religion, and no doubt, how you preach. I do find that funny!

Truely, blessings -- one hopes in the end, when we find out the truth, we can meet on common grounds with The Lord. Until then, I feel your path is a lot longer and indeed, more narrow then many others. I would think you feel the same about the Traditional and Conservative path.

I think what causes you pause is the Conservatives are no longer sitting quietly in the pews wondering with dismay and sadness what has happend to their Church; they are now acting forcefully in their beliefs to protect what they know in their hearts is right.

And they don't appreciate the land grab. It just seems a little crass to me.

And as you say, you are all welcome back to the fold -- there are many former Episcipalian Priests who are now very good Catholic Fathers. We do welcome you all!

Have a nice day -- it is too difficult to continue this while watching College football.

Sincerely -- thank you for your blessings, and I will say a prayer for you.

--Anonymous Catholic

Scott Hankins said...

Thanks, Anonymous Catholic. I think you would be surprised at how conservatively christian I am, even in the pulpit. It cost me an election.

:)

Who's playing? What's the score?

Lynn said...

For the intellectually curious, and perhaps emotionally distant:

A circa 1907 History of Truro Parish and the post-Evolutionary collapse of the former C of E can be found at http://www.newrivernotes.com/va/truro1.htm ( The History of Truro Parish in Virginia
by Rev. Philip Slaughter) It's a little dizzying if you don't know the local geography, or only know it in the current world of suburban over-crowding. Of course, you can purchase the book, too, this is an html version of the text.

The 1824 U.S. Supreme Court case that affirms that the Fairfax Parish vestry retreated to Christ Church can be read online (with Google Reader), Reports and Cases Adjudged in the Supreme Court of the United States, February Term, 1824. My bookmark reflects my search criteria, so it wouldn't be helpful.

The doctrine of Adverse possession probably doesn't apply. Claiming by adverse possession must do some action to alert the true owner that a stranger has taken occupancy. The Falls Church was hardly a stranger or enemy to Christ Church- the two churches were in the same diocese in the same part of the state.

This is not an issue of the Christ Church congregation "owning" part of The Falls Church's land. The Supreme Court case clearly addresses a trustee relationship. And it only relates to The Falls, with the lineage through Fairfax Parish.

I hope this dispels any impression of the members of Christ Church (or our vestry) being uninformed lemmings toadying to Bishop Lee.

And Annonymous Catholic, I can't resist (though BB might edit, of course) - we have plenty of former RC priests serving in Episcopalian churches, and Fr. Scott is unlikely to help out with your shortage of priests. Just look at his view of the sacraments - anathema!

Anonymous said...

Scott, Alabama is as of yet, undefeated (my son goes to school there); USC did well, (wife and I have a graduate degree from there); LSU won, (bad for Alabama) and Mizzou lost to Texas (Who doesn't like Texas?). No need to answer, it was rhetorical.

Lynn, we don't want Fr Scott -- we have our own troubling issues with Priests and no need to add to it. I was just having a little fun is all.


--Anonymous Catholic

Bob Livingston said...

From Real Anglican:

THE CHRIST CHURCH, ALEXANDRIA QUITCLAIM
(October 19, 2008)
The congregation of Christ Church, Alexandria, approved a resolution by their vestry quit-claiming any trustee relationship for portions of The Falls Church property to the Diocese of Virginia and its Bishop.

I am breaking my personal rule about blogging on church business, but it seemed best to scoop any rumors that are sure to come along.

1. There was full discussion on this matter.
2. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the resolution. I counted the "nay" votes and will not announce the number, as I am not an officer of Christ Church. But I will note this: it wasn't difficult to do the count.
3. There are no other parcels of land involved in this resolution, period; this was clear in the original resolution circulated in blog-land, and will be clear in the final version as well. The historic trustee relationship in question is approximately two acres of land, which includes the Colonial-era chapel of The Falls Church.

I am an active communicant of Christ Church, Alexandria. I was at the congregational meeting that commenced today at approximately 10:15 a.m. I was eligible to vote in this matter, and I did.

Now, let the games of speculation, conjecture and rumors begin. Any report that conflicts with what I have written here is inaccurate and at least one layer removed from an actual attendee of the meeting.
----
It's a crisp, beautiful day here in Alexandria, Virginia. As I look out my window, I see we had enough rain this summer to enjoy a real display of mid-Atlantic fall foliage this year. It will be gorgeous very soon!

BabyBlue said...

Hi Bob, fascinating that you are making the meeting public.

You see, I was there too.

Unfortunately, the resolution was passed out as the meeting began, no hearings or opportunity for public review was granted, a quorum was never called, the voting membership was never credentialed, the number of voting members present was not acknowledged, the number of votes needed to pass the resolution was never announced, the final vote tally/number for yay was not announced, no counters were appointed, the number of nay votes was not announced, no ballots were issued, the resolution was not read aloud (nor suspended from reading), the amended resolution was not read aloud (nor suspended from reading), and no procedures were in place to protect Christ Church from voter fraud.

But yes, the leaves in Alexandria are lovely.

Anonymous said...

BB,

I was there too. Overwhelmingly passed - I only saw four nay votes from my vantage point (couldn't see under the balcony). Also, I saw you. Do you think it was appropriate for someone to vote in a congregational meeting for a congregation to which they don't belong? With that in mind, I would claim three authentic "nay" votes that I saw from my perspective. A nice service overall at CC.

Gorgeous day here indeed!

Carlos said...

My guess (and it's only that, as I wasn't there in Fairfax Circuit Court last week) is that Judge Bellows asked somewhere along the line, "Say, there, TEC and DoV - how exactly do you have standing to argue that Christ Church Alexandria - a nonparty - owns any of the property that The Falls Church claims to own?"

By having Christ Church Alexandria quitclaim to DoV their interest, if any, DoV now can argue that DoV has at least a scintilla of standing. Then DoV has the burden of coming forward with enough evidence to give it enough standing to satisfy Judge Bellows that the court should consider DoV's argument.

And I suspect he'll buy that, since he has said on several occasions that he doesn't want any loose ends hanging around after the final Order is signed.