The Virginia Supreme Court today upheld a lower court ruling saying that conservatives at a congregation that voted to leave the Episcopal Church could not take with them the historic Falls Church, where George Washington was once vestryman. The Washington Post’s Michelle Boorstein has the details about this ruling and its larger context:
Similar disputes have roiled Episcopal churches around the country and other parts of mainline Christianity, not only on questions of gay equality but also more secular issues related to property rights. The Virginia dispute also became an issue in global Anglicanism—of which the Episcopal Church is part—when one of the breakaway leaders was disinvited to a global Anglican meeting.
The conservative congregations have remained part of Anglicanism even after the votes by being taken in by more like-minded Anglican bodies in Africa. They have since formed a U.S. wing they hope will become a separate Anglican branch like the Episcopal Church.
After the Fairfax County Circuit Court decision last year, the Episcopal Church and its Virginia Diocese reached agreements with the other six congregations involved in court to divvy up money and property. Only the Falls Church pursued an appeal.