A Virginia judge today has ruled against the conservative anti-homosexual breakaway Episcopal Church in Northern Virginia. The conservative group of congregations, which included infamous Truro Church, Fairfax, broke away from the main Episcopal Church and now cannot keep their historically desirable Church building and site properties worth tens of millions of dollars.
The ruling was handed down after a battle over who owns the real property that the seven breakaway churches inhabit. The seven churches, including The Falls Church and Truro Church in Northern Virginia, severed ties with the Episcopal Church in 2006 mainly over their refusal to accept the consecration of openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson
Some say the case gained worldwide attention because of the myriad of legal and religious questions it raises; yet it is probably fair to say that the surrounding scandals have brought further infamy to the Churches concerned.
Episcopal Rev. Marshall Brown, was one of the louder voices in helping the breakaway in protest of Bishop Robinson was since fired by Truro Church after being caught viewing pornography on church computers. It was Brown’s Truro Church that spearheaded the continuing schism in the American Anglican Church over the ordination of gays.
Yet even now there are anti-homosexuality linkages that are far more sinister.
Also the Church is linked to David Bahati, the author of the Anti-homosexuality Bill, (otherwise known as The Kill-the-Gays Bill.) Bahati stayed as a guest in the home of notable Church members, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Klenk, of Falls Church, VA, while on a visit to the U.S.A. in 2010. At the time Bahati was barred from entering the Conference he came into the States to attend and this was known to Klenk, a retired career government official in the Department of Education.
Klenk and his wife visited Uganda recently as members of the Truro Church to support the contributions of the Church to local facilities.
The judge’s decision on Tuesday reversed the decision he made back in 2008 where he ruled in favor of the local congregations keeping their properties. The Virginia Supreme Court overturned that ruling and ordered a new trial.
The anti-gay breakaway churches issued a press release today containing the following statements.:
“Regardless of today’s ruling, we are confident that God is in control, and that He will continue to guide our path,” said Jim Oakes, spokesperson for the seven Anglican congregations.
The Rev. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church, an historic property involved in the case, stated,
“The core issue for us is not physical property, but theological and moral truth and the intellectual integrity of faith in the modern world. Wherever we worship, we remain Anglicans because we cannot compromise our historic faith. Like our spiritual forebears in the Reformation, ‘Here we stand. So help us God. We can do no other.’”
The seven Anglican congregations are members of the newly established Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic, a member diocese within the Anglican Church in North America.
A spokeswoman for the congregations said they were considering their next step, but a letter sent to some 4,600 congregants sounded as though they are bracing for the worst. Each congregation has a contingency plan if they have to vacate, said Caitlin Bozell Manaois.
We obtained a copy of the notice to Congregants:
We wanted to make you aware of the press release that has been finalized and is being distributed on behalf of the seven congregations (see below). Please feel free to use parts of this as needed in communicating with your parishioners about the ruling.
Scott Ward has requested that any messages that are distributed to members be reviewed by each congregation’s legal counsel in advance since the wording could impact appeal possibilities. Here are a few sentences that Scott shared, which may be helpful in framing the ruling:
Judge Bellows found against our churches and in favor of The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia in the lawsuits that TEC and the Diocese filed against our churches.
Judge Bellows’ opinion directs that the real property (the land and buildings) of the churches and the personal property of the churches acquired before January 31 or February 1, 2007 (depending upon the congregation) are to be turned over to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.
Judge Bellows’ opinion indicates that a proposed final order reflecting these rulings is to be submitted to the Court within 45 days
We will be providing more details in the next couple of days, but wanted to give you some information right away. Judge Bellows’ opinion will be posted on the DOMA website. (NO! NOT THAT DOMA!)
As a reminder, if you are contacted directly by members of the media via phone, email or in-person, we urge you to refer them to CRC Public Relations.
Also, in the wake of this unfortunate news, Truro will hold a prayer and worship service in the main sanctuary today, January 11 at 7:30 pm for the entire parish.
Braced with having to move, the anti-gay Truro Church has not only put out letters consoling its congregants but also provided pointers on how to handle children’s questions. The Rt. Rev. John A. M. Guernsey, who leads Truro is lamenting at having to leave his residence on Parish site.
But regardless of all the Godly’ justification the members are subjected to, perhaps justice is metered out in a heavenly way after all! God Bless Bishop Gene Robinson!