A.S. Haley– U. S. Supreme Court Denies Falls Church Petition

The order list published this morning by the United States Supreme Court shows that, after relisting the case for its conferences four times, it has denied certiorari (review) in No. 13-449, The Falls Church v. Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, et al. Under its rules, the Court grants certiorari when at least four of the nine justices are interested in a given case; it takes five justices to make a majority.

Read it all and and there is a Washington Post article there.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

10 comments on “A.S. Haley– U. S. Supreme Court Denies Falls Church Petition

  1. Ralph says:

    This is a huge facility with at least 2 large worship spaces. Any stats on TEC ASA?

    Is this going to be another whitewashed tomb, ultimately converted to an Islamic Cultural Center?

  2. Jeff Walton says:

    Statistics from the Diocese of Virginia for 2012 (the most recent reporting year) show ASA for the Falls Church Episcopal as about 120. My understanding is that they grew in 2013, with 66 pledge units and an ASA of about 180 during the school year. In short, they are a typical suburban pastoral-size congregation by TEC standards, situated in an unusually large building.
    The main sanctuary seats 800 and has been leased to an evangelical African-American congregation for use on Sunday mornings. The diocese last year moved its northern Virginia office from Alexandria to the Falls Church campus to further utilize the space.
    I would expect that two properties will appear on the market now that the appeals are over: the rectory and the former Southgate shopping center, which is opposite the church on Fairfax Street. Liquidation of these non-consecrated properties will give the congregation some breathing room as they seek to add staff and grow. Certainly, they don’t need Southgate for youth and ministry space as the Anglican congregation did.
    Anecdotally, I think the Episcopal congregation probably expected a larger contingent to “stay with the building” after the diocese took possession in May of 2012. An 8 a.m. service was instituted and almost immediately scrapped, a facilities manager was hired and then let go a few months later, and both the diocese and a neighboring parish in Arlington have stepped in to assist with some costs, such as the funding of a children’s ministry director.

  3. New Reformation Advocate says:

    Thanks, Jeff,

    That succinct, objective response is very helpful. Your earlier reporting for IRD has likewise been illuminating. It’s so incredibly ironic that the main worship space is now being used by a non-Anglican group that is even more conservative than the large Anglican congregation that built it and paid for it without any help from the diocese. At least the true gospel is still being proclaimed in that beautiful facility, however badly the Diocese of VA may be using it.

    As the Curmudgeon has pointed out, this decision by the national Supreme Court is “heartbreaking” i more ways than one. First, the delay over the last several weeks had appeared to indicate that at least some of the nine justices wanted to review the controversial case, but it seems that there weren’t the necessary four of the nine.

    Second, as Counselor Haley also points out, now The Falls Church (TFC) has to surrender the $3 million or so that had been placed in escrot until all appeals were exhausted. That is a devastating blow to the congregation, and a particularly unjust feature of the lower court ruling.

    Finally, as Haley also stresses, it’s especially sad that the Supremes failed to take the chance to clarify the tangled and badly flawed record of recent rulings by state courts over these scandalous and totally unjust seizures of local church property by denominations like TEC and the PCUSA. Haley is absolutely right that SCOTUS is long overdue to correct the problems that it created 35 years ago when it last handled such a dispute over religious property rights. Now we have to wait even longer for justice to be done. And it will be too late for TFC when that day finally comes.

    But then, we’ve also been waiting even longer for SCOTUS to overturn its colossal, monstrous mistake in the infamous Roe vs. Wade decision of 1973. At least in this tragic case, it’s only millions of dollars that have been wrongly lost, not millions of young (or potential) lives.

    A sad day not just for orthodox Anglicans, in VA and elsewhere. It’s a heartbreaking day for lovers of justice and religious freedom throughout the country.

    David Handy+

  4. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    Prayers for the wonderful Falls Church congregations and their rector John Yates II – they have definitely been taken out into the wilderness but the faithful sheep are looked after [Isaiah 40:11] and new pastures will be provided.

    Prayers also for the continuing congregation – as long as they are there. I wonder if they still think it was worth it?

    Somewhat disgracefully the Wicked Witch of the West has been in London and invited into St Paul’s Cathedral. Shame on you diocese of London and Church of England ‘leadership’.

  5. Jeff Walton says:

    I share your disappointment in this decision not to hear the case, David, but there is much to be grateful for. The past seven years have been a positive season for The Falls Church Anglican. The parish posted a 2012 Average Sunday Attendance of 2,070, the largest to date — all this while launching a new church plant roughly every 18 months for the past seven years. Indeed, when you combine the totals from TFCA and its numerous daughter congregations (mine among them) they constitute almost half of the 6,462 (2012) attendance of the Anglican Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic.

    TFCA has a wonderful office space and a budget of almost $7 million, making the loss of $3 million far from devastating (although the congregation certainly would have benefited from that money going to a new building fund). The parish has also seen its youth ministry significantly grow since departing the building.

    I don’t pretend that everything is great or sustainable at TFCA — they expend an enormous amount of effort doing setup/takedown each week at a rented space, something that is not going to be sustainable long-term. But this is a thriving congregation that is seeing changed lives and deepening faith. I am thankful for their ministry and have no doubt that seven years ago they made the correct decision to separate from TEC.

    Two (paraphrased) words of wisdom stick with me from the Anglican Assembly in 2009:

    They may have the steeple, but you have the people. -Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church

    I understand you have had a difficult period. With the Mongols, Muslims and Communists, we too in Orthodoxy have had a difficult millennium. -Metropolitan Jonah of the Orthodox Church in America

    Both very different men gave messages about moving forward in ministry despite past difficulty. I was listening, and many others were, too.

  6. Katherine says:

    ASA of 2070, plus the daughter churches, vs. ASA of 180 in the TEC congregation tells the tale. I am sad to think that the TEC congregation, which endorses sex outside of traditional marriage, is meeting in the traditional church, but glad to hear that a more believing congregation of another group meets in the new church building. At least the new church is not being, one hopes, more defiled than it was recently by the ordination of a woman living openly outside of traditional marriage.

  7. Ralph says:

    The $3 million will go a long way towards funding the TEC agenda (lawsuits, same-sex marriage, abortions) in Falls Church and environs – until it is quickly dissipated.

    Pageantmaster? Wicked Witch of the West? Tsk – watch out for vicious elf attack. Kundry, perhaps…or a female Klingsor.

    I don’t suppose St. Paul’s London has a piece of the Lance of St. Longinus.

  8. Pb says:

    I am not surprised that the Supreme Court let the state decision stand. The are going to have enough trouble with the equal protection of same sex marriages.

  9. MichaelA says:

    [blockquote] “Anecdotally, I think the Episcopal congregation probably expected a larger contingent to “stay with the building” after the diocese took possession in May of 2012. An 8 a.m. service was instituted and almost immediately scrapped, a facilities manager was hired and then let go a few months later, and both the diocese and a neighboring parish in Arlington have stepped in to assist with some costs, such as the funding of a children’s ministry director.”[/blockquote]
    Thanks Jeff. That is hardly a surprise. Liberals often seemed to have worked on the assumption that people will follow the building, even though its difficult to find any cases where that has occurred to a significant degree.

    Now the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia can try to find funds to maintain the building, and the faithful Anglican congregation can continue the process of rebuilding, and of planting new congregations – I understand this has been going on for several years already.

  10. MichaelA says:

    I am very impressed with the clergy and congregation of Falls Church, in particular their endurance for the sake of the Gospel. Its too bad that USSC wasn’t prepared to hear the case, but its hardly the end of the world.

    Through their refusal to simply cave in to TEC, the congregation of TFC have provided a powerful *witness* to all levels of American and overseas society, about the importance of truth, and about the apostasy and lack of Christian love shown by the leadership of the Episcopal Church of the USA and of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

    Most importantly, TFC has not been sucked in to a settlement with TEC which might have had the potential to compromise their witness.

    It cannot have been an easy road – litigation puts tremendous pressure on those involved, and there has also been the financial cost. But TFC and its daughter congregations are capable of making up the financial loss and moving on. That is not the case with the remnant congregation, and probably not the case with Episcopal Dio Va, but their self-created woes are not TFC’s problem.