In northern Virginia, The Falls Church and six other breakaway churches - whose property is valued at $40 million - became the subject of a prolonged court battle. In January, a Virginia judge ruled in favor of the Episcopal Church and The Falls Church congregation now has until April 30 to move out of the old church and the new additions.
"The buildings were built by us. I had raised a lot of the money. I remember when we burned the mortgage to pay for the most recent building that we had built," Yates says. He says that the actions of the Episcopal leadership were "very hard to understand."
"No rector, no congregation, ever owns the property," says the Very Reverend Ian Markham, dean of the Virginia Theological Seminary, the largest Episcopal divinity school in the United States.
"Just because I am a deeply charismatic preacher and teacher inside a congregation, am I allowed to suddenly wake up one morning - having mesmerized my congregation - and say, 'Hey guys, let's take this parish hall and the church and everything else out of the Episcopal church?' That's not our policy," says Markham.
The Episcopal Church may have won in court, but it has been losing in the pews. Its membership has been declining, like that of many other mainline Protestant denominations, and two years ago it dipped below 2 million people for the first time.
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