Virginia Anglican Churches Prevail in Court

Historic Ruling Halts Episcopal Attempt to Seize Control of Church Property

FAIRFAX, Va. – The 11 churches sued by The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia responded to today’s Fairfax County Circuit Court ruling that the Virginia Division Statute (Virginia Code § 57-9) applies to support their efforts to keep their property.  The 11 churches named in the lawsuit are members of the Anglican District of Virginia (ADV).

“We are pleased with this initial victory today.  We have maintained all along that The Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia had no legal right to our property because the Virginia Division Statute says that the majority of the church is entitled to its property when there is a division within the denomination.  Our churches’ own trustees hold title for the benefit of the congregations,” said Jim Oakes, vice-chairman of ADV.

“We urge our friends in the Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church to respect the court’s ruling and join with us to begin a process of healing.  These are also the wishes of the worldwide Anglican Communion, as prolonging this process – pitting Christian against Christian in court – does nothing to save one soul, strengthen one family, or help one person in need.  Let us choose healing over litigation and peaceful co-existence over lawsuits, and let us devote all our resources to serving Christ and helping others around the world.”

Oakes continued, “We emphasize that we do not harbor any ill will towards anyone.  In particular, we know there are many faithful Christians still in The Episcopal Church.  We continue to pray for them and will continue to work together in as many ways as possible and cooperating in ministry projects like the Lamb Center.” 

Rev. Jeff Cerar, Rector of St. Stephen’s in Heathsville, Va., one of the churches being sued, said, “The legal proceedings have been an unfortunate distraction to our churches, but we have not allowed this to interfere with our ministry of sharing the love of Christ and the life-transforming power of the Gospel.”

The Episcopal Church and the Diocese abruptly broke off settlement negotiations in January 2007 and filed lawsuits against the Virginia churches, their ministers and their vestries.  The decision of The Episcopal Church and the Diocese to redefine and reinterpret Scripture caused the 11 Anglican churches to sever their ties. 

The Anglican District of Virginia (http://www.anglicandistrictofvirginia.org) is an association of Anglican congregations in Virginia.  Its members are in full communion with constituent members of the Anglican Communion through its affiliation with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a missionary branch of the Church of Nigeria and other Anglican Archbishops.  ADV members are a part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, a community of 77 million people.  ADV is dedicated to fulfilling Christ’s Great Commission to make disciples while actively serving in three main capacities: International Ministries, Evangelism, and Strengthening Families and Community.  ADV is currently comprised of 21 member congregations.

7 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. teddymak Says:

    There are many more legal mountains to climb in this case, and they will apply only to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Next the constitutionality of the statute will be tested as to whether or not it violates the prohibition of state interference in church business. This statute is over 100 years old, and will probably pass muster after all this time.

    Pass or not, the ruling by Judge Bellows is highly significant. It is well reasoned, documented, fair, and eminently prudent. It lays out, in uncommonly direct terms, that there is in fact a world wide division in the Anglican Church. The opinion of the Judge, which drew heavily upon the brilliant series of actions and writings of ++Peter Abuja, will be used in all American jurisdictions who must decide on the same issue. There IS a split, and the always tenuous argument that there is a hierarchy that controls all parish property, even when that same hierarchy are heretical apostates, has been dealt a severe blow. Thanks be to God the way has been made clear for a solid defense against usurpations of the revisionists.

    Remember, these buildings and lands were acquired and paid for, in almost every instance, by the PARISHIONERS not the Diocese or the national church. Justice has been served.

  2. Alice C. Linsley Says:

    I feel sorry for the CANA congregations because they have to go through this long litigation process. It has to be a distraction, and there must be the temptation to try to get back at TEC for the way they have been treated, but no one wins in these cases. And not even the best team of lawyers can defend the righteous as well as GOD when we surrender our circumstances to His justice.

  3. GARY MORROW Says:

    God is destroying the False Churches with their False Teachings:

    1 Timothy 6:

    3: If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;
    4: He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
    5: Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

    ...to the doctrine which is according to godliness…

  4. Bishop Ijaz Inayat Says:

    While I praise the Lord for the verdict, I give thanks to the Lord for giving such a faith to the family of the Anglican District of Virginia for being faithful witnesses to the Lord and His Scripture.

    The Lord had spoken loud and clear to all generations that such sufferings will come to those who follow the “Narrow path” as indicated by Him.

    Winning or loosing legal battles in today’s world is less important than the testimony of faith.

    God bless the leadership of the ADV and they be assured of the prayers of same spirit Christians from all over the world which may encourage many others in the AC.

  5. GARY MORROW Says:

    I can here the revisonist saying, “God want remember!”

    Samuel 15:

    1: Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD.
    2: Thus saith the LORD of hosts, “”“I remember”“” that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.
    3: Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

    Deuteromony 25:

    17: Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt;
    18: How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God.
    19: Therefore it shall be, when the LORD thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.

    How long can you stay angry, How long will God remain angry—“I remember…”

  6. GARY MORROW Says:

    Why has God given us Global South, and GAFCON?

    Jeremiah 3:
    14: Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:
    15: And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.

    ...I will give you pastors according to mine heart…which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding…

    What is this knowledge and understanding?
    It is the Word, Laws, and Commandments of God.

    2 John 10:

    10: If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
    11: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

    John 10:

    34: Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?
    35: If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;

    ...the scripture cannot be broken…

  7. Gerry OBrien Says:

    We in Canada have not missed the importance of the Virginia Decision…..While it is not a “case law” for us, it strengthens the resolve of the Canadians who have broken from the Anglican Church of Canada and gone to Global South or Southern Cone.

    We are grateful for ArchBishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone who has given protection to the Faithful in Canada and in scattered places throughout The USA like The Diocese of San Juachin.