The Falls Church and Truro Church Vote Overwhelmingly to Sever Ties with Episcopal Church

18 December 2006 - Print Version

News & Views

December 17th, 2006

A Press Release from The Falls Church and Truro Church

FAIRFAX and FALLS CHURCH, Va., Dec. 17 – The Falls Church and Truro Church reported today that both congregations voted overwhelmingly to sever ties with The Episcopal Church in the U.S. and join the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, or CANA.

Of the 1,348 eligible voting members casting ballots at The Falls Church this past week, 1,228, or 90 percent, voted in favor of the first question, or “resolution,” on the ballot about whether to sever ties. On the second and final resolution, 1,279 of 1,350 eligible members, or 94 percent, voted in favor of retaining the church’s real and personal property.

Of the 1,095 eligible voting members casting ballots at Truro Church, 1,010, or 92 percent voted in favor of severing ties. On the second resolution, 1,034 of 1,095 eligible members, or 94 percent, voted in favor of retaining Truro’s real and personal property. Both churches used essentially identical ballots. The specific text of each resolution at The Falls Church follows at the end of this release.

Each of these churches conducted their votes as part of a congregational meeting. They followed steps recommended by a “protocol” for departing congregations unanimously recommended by a Special Committee of the Diocese of Virginia and supported by Bishop Peter Lee.

That protocol states that a “70% majority of the votes cast shall be necessary” to support separating from the Episcopal Church. It also states that if the vote to disaffiliate passes by the 70% majority, a second vote, also requiring a 70% majority, is needed for the “departing congregations” to be able to leave with their “real and personal property” at a price to be negotiated later.

“This is a new chapter for The Falls Church and other congregations voting thus far and early next year,” said the Rev. John Yates, Rector, The Falls Church. “While we look forward to continuing a productive role in the Anglican Communion, we harbor no ill will to our colleagues in the Diocese of Virginia. And we agree, as Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has indicated, that when two groups have irreconcilable differences, the pastoral thing to do is find a gracious way to separate.”

“Our churches conducted our congregational votes by following the straight-forward procedures established by the Virginia legislature,” said Jim Oakes, Senior Warden of Truro Church. “Our churches have also held congregational votes in line with the protocol established by Bishop Lee’s Special Committee. We fully expect to amicably resolve all questions regarding the status of our clergy and our property.”

CANA is missionary initiative of the Church of Nigeria and the Anglican District of Virginia. It will provide oversight and a U.S.-based structure for these northern Virginia churches leaving the Diocese of Virginia.

“This has been an extraordinary journey,” said Tom Wilson, Senior Warden of The Falls Church. “It was heartening to see so many of our people take part in this process and speak clearly where we stand. We look forward to our future as active members serving Christ in the Anglican Communion.”

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  1. mccabe Says:

    From TEC News Service:

    “Bishop Peter Lee of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia said December 17 that he was saddened by the fact that, as of that afternoon, Nigerian and Ugandan congregations were “occupying Episcopal churches.”

    and

    “The members of the eight congregations amount to about 8,000 of the diocese’s roughly 90,000 Episcopalians.”

    and

    “The Episcopal Church includes some 7,200 congregations in its 100 domestic dioceses, and about 150 in its 10 overseas dioceses and one convocation.” 

    and

    “Lee said he will convene a joint meeting of the diocese’s Executive Board and Standing Committee of the Diocese, with legal representation, on December 18 “to consider the full range of pastoral, canonical and legal obligations of the Church and our responsibilities to those faithful Episcopalians in these congregations who do not choose to associate with the Church of Nigeria.”

    In the meantime, Lee said, he has asked the leaders of “these now Nigerian and Ugandan congregations occupying Episcopal churches to keep the spiritual needs of all concerned uppermost in their minds at this difficult moment in our Church history, especially continuing Episcopalians.”

    He said that he will direct diocesan personnel to work with departing members and those who remain loyal to the Episcopal Church to work out agreements about sharing congregational property until those disputes can be settled.

    “Our polity maintains that all real and personal property is held in trust for The Episcopal Church and the Diocese,” Lee continued. “As stewards of this historic trust, we fully intend to assert the Church’s canonical and legal rights over these properties.”

    According to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, dioceses are created or dissolved only by acts of General Convention (Articles V and VI) and dioceses create or dissolve Episcopal congregations in their midst. Congregational property is held in trust for the diocese, and the diocese holds property in trust for the wider church (Canon I.7.4 of the Episcopal Church). Canon 15.1 of Virginia’s diocesan canons concurs with the national canons.”