Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Falls Church, by the numbers

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The years-long property battle between Virginia’s Episcopal Diocese and congregations that departed from it looks to be about settled. As anyone who has been following can attest, the Episcopal Church and the congregations that have departed from it have been engaged in some epic legal battles. I wrote about one angle in this fight a few months ago for the Wall Street Journal Houses of Worship column. That piece began:
When the Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton, N.Y., left the Episcopal Church over disagreements about what the Bible says about sexuality, the congregation offered to pay for the building in which it worshiped. In return the Episcopal Church sued to seize the building, then sold it for a fraction of the price to someone who turned it into a mosque.

While I was researching that piece, which was about how some congregations that are permitted to buy their buildings (even if they already payed for them once already) must promise to disaffiliate from the Anglican Church, I heard other stories about what happens to the buildings that are taken by the Episcopal Church and its dioceses, always in the name of the Episcopal members in the area. Many are sold or shuttered, unable to keep up with basic maintenance expenses. One was leased to a dog kennel, I was told. Keep that in mind.

The Washington Post reported on the local version of this legal battle. Here in Northern Virginia, some of the congregations had been around since before the Episcopal Church even existed. They thought they might have a better claim to the property than some of the hundreds of other congregations in the country that divided or left the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church has spent upwards of $22 million in these legal battles in recent years and this Virginia fight was also expensive. But the Episcopal Church prevailed and gets to keep the properties of local congregations that are now affiliated with mainstream Anglican churches in Africa.

The story is headlined “After prolonged legal battle, Virginia Episcopalians prepare to reclaim property.” Here’s how it begins: the rest


Post a Comment

<< Home