Thursday, June 10, 2010

Yes, Virginia: There is Good News

From the Falls Church News-Press:

In a stunning development this morning, the Virginia Supreme Court issued a decision reversing a lower court ruling that favored the ability of breakaway congregations to occupy Episcopal Church properties. The ruling will have profound consequences for occupancy of the historic Falls Church in the downtown of the City of Falls Church.

Since the vote by a majority of congregants of the Falls Church in 2006 to join the Rev. John Yates and to defect from the Episcopal Church denomination, the Falls Church has been occupied by Yates and his followers, who subsequently aligned with a group of like-minded defectors known as CANA (Council of Anglicans in North America). Those members of the Falls Church who did not align with the defectors were denied access to the church property, and held their allegiance to the wider Episcopal communion while being forced to worship off-site as guests of the nearby Falls Church Presbyterian Church.

Read the complete story HERE.

I am sure this comes as a great relief and celebration for those who have remained Episcopalian in Falls Church and the other parishes affected in Northern Virginia!

It must have been very painful to have been denied access to the place that had come to be their church home, and then to have it occupied by schismatic squatters must have been even worse.

So now the lower court will have to reassess, based on real estate and contract law, who gets to have the buildings and property that have an estimated market value between 30-40 million dollars. I think the answer is plain: they go with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, and those who are aligned with CANA are kicked to the curb. I'm sure there is some vacant strip mall storefront somewhere that will be happy for their "orthodox" occupancy.

This case is likely to be appealed. So I'm sure we haven't heard the end of it. But at least on this day the Episcopal faithful in Northern Virginia can smile. Thanks be to God!

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