Category : TEC Conflicts: Virginia

JB Simmons: The Falls Church Anglican””A Story of Gospel Awakening

It Happened to George Washington’s Church
In 2012, this historic church in Northern Virginia took a stand for their faith and lost everything to the Episcopal Church. After crushing defeats in the courts, the church moved out of the property George Washington had graced centuries before. They walked away from their colonial building and history. They left the soaring sanctuary they built, one that had hosted hundreds (if not thousands) of weddings and baptisms. They left the prayer books, the sound equipment, and the $2.8 million in cash that members had donated to church accounts specifically designated not to go to the Episcopal Church.

Everything exterior about the church had to change””the worship space, the offices, the website, even the name. Now there was the The Falls Church Episcopal at the historic property, and The Falls Church Anglican without a place to call its own.

But the church didn’t fade. They’d simply been pruned of material things. They were ready to grow and thrive as never before, planting new churches and proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. God had long prepared The Falls Church Anglican for this journey.
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After sending out clergy and parishioners to plant six churches, The Falls Church has grown by over a third in nine years, and the combined average Sunday attendance of The Falls Church and these six church plants is more than double what The Falls Church’s was in 2003.

The Falls Church Anglican has now purchased a new property on a busy highway leading into Washington, D.C. Designs are underway for a sanctuary within the next two years. Many in the congregation look forward to bringing the gospel to a new neighborhood. They’ve taken to heart that biblical faith faces persecution but promises eternal reward, as it always has.

Times of cultural drift and opposition call for renewal and awakening. They call for powerful stories of God’s sovereign work. This is one of those stories. This is the awakening of Washington’s church.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

'Peacemaking is a gospel imperative' – an interview with Tory Baucum [transcript]

What is the relationship between peacemaking and reconciliation?

TB: “I do believe that peacemaking is a precursor to reconciliation. It takes two to reconcile. And that doesn’t always happen, but that’s not a reason not to pursue the things that make for peace; as Jesus says as he approaches Jerusalem he realizes they haven’t done that and therefore desolation is coming to their house ”“ and that’s the whole travel narrative in Luke, it’s built around the things that make for peace. And what I like to say, because I believe it, is that peacemaking is a gospel imperative. We’ve been made ambassadors of reconciliation. I actually say that peacemaking is not adiaphra (”˜indifferent things’, non-essentials) and we can just agree to disagree about”¦ to treat peacemaking as adiaphra is in fact itself a false teaching, and creates over time a fictitious gospel. So I feel quite strongly that this is matter of faithfulness to Jesus Christ, and to dismiss it or kind of make it a luxury item, is to fundamentally misunderstand what the gospel is about.”

Are there limits to reconciliation?

TB: “I think it takes two to reconcile. I think it takes one to forgive. So the limits of reconciliation are the limits that the two parties put upon themselves. I don’t think you can reconcile unilaterally. I think you can forgive unilaterally. I think in some ways you can do peacemaking almost unilaterally. But until the other side, estranged party, wants to reciprocate, you’re not going to get real far down the road. And I think that’s been the real story of my story with Shannon is that I did reach out in a peacemaking gesture, and he did reciprocate, and that’s why we are walking together in peace at some level.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, --Justin Welby, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia, Theology

The recent NY Times Article on ACNA priest Tory Baucum and TEC Bishop Shannon Johnston

The two ministers were foes before they ever met, partisans in a war they did not start, but partisans nonetheless.

For four years, they did not speak.

But in the spring of 2011, the Rev. Tory Baucum drove 100 miles south to Richmond to introduce himself to the Rev. Shannon Johnston. And now the friendship that resulted, nurtured over Guinness in the bar of Richmond’s storied Jefferson Hotel, at dinner with their wives and during many difficult conversations, is being hailed as one of the most unexpected and intriguing developments in a bitter feud that has split the Episcopal Church in the decade since the denomination elected an openly gay bishop.

Mr. Johnston is the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia ”” the most populous Episcopal diocese in the United States ”” and a supporter of same-sex marriage who has blessed same-sex couples. Mr. Baucum is the rector of an unusually vibrant parish, Truro Church in Fairfax, which left the Episcopal Church over the election of… [a same-sex partnered bishop], the final straw in a long-running dispute over theological orthodoxy.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia, Theology

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

Allan Haley: No Word Yet from SCOTUS on The Falls Church Case

The order list published this morning by the United States Supreme Court shows that it still has taken no final action on the petition for 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. The postponement can mean only that either the justices are still discussing what disposition will be made of the case, or that there are one or more dissents from what has been decided (but not yet announced). If the latter is the case, we will eventually learn that less than four justices voted to grant review, and that they were taking the time to write a dissent to be published with the announcement.

As soon as the Court updates the docket sheet, we will have a better idea of which of these alternatives may be the case. The Court’s next conference is this Friday, March 7.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

Allan Haley: What Will the Supreme Court Do with The Falls Church Petition?

The docket sheet in the United States Supreme Court tells the tale. After receiving an extension of time, The Falls Church filed on October 9 in the Supreme Court its petition for writ of certiorari (or review) of the decision rendered by the Virginia Supreme Court last April 18 (and its denial of a rehearing on June 14).

The ever-cocky Episcopal Church (USA) and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, following its lead, declined to file responses to the petition. Four amici curiae (“friends of the court”, being organizations interested in the case) filed briefs in support of The Falls Church: ACNA, the Presbyterian Lay Committee, St. James Anglican Church in Newport Beach, CA, and the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. The case went to conference last December just on those briefs. And — lo and behold! — the Court ordered ECUSA and its Diocese to file a response before it ruled on the petition.

Such a request is noteworthy, because the Court’s Rules explain that the Court ordinarily does not grant a pending petition without first calling for a response to it. Had the Court taken no interest in the petition, on the other hand, it could have denied the petition outright at its December 6 conference…
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Watch for the Court’s release of its “Order List” next Monday — and pray in the meantime that the Court be guided to grant review at its conference this Friday.

Read it all and see also SCOTUS Blog Petitions to watch – Conference of February 28 and Issue and Case File

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

A Statement from the TEC Diocese of Virginia on the Falls Church (Anglican) Decision

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

Falls Church (Anglican) to Appeal Property Case to Supreme Court

A Virginia Anglican congregation that traces its founding to the colonial era has announced that they will file an appeal over a property case to the United States Supreme Court.

The Falls Church Anglican stated earlier this week their intention to file an appeal over whether they or the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia controls the historic Falls Church property. “Through the work of the Holy Spirit, we achieved a broad degree of unity in our decision to bring these matters forward to the Supreme Court, believing that God has uniquely positioned TFCA to do so,” reads an email sent out to parishioners on Monday.

“We are advised that the facts of our case are strong and that we are uniquely placed at this time ”“ and perhaps for many years to come ”“ to raise these issues to the U.S. Supreme Court. And each of us wanted to be good stewards of the resources God has given us.”

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

(Time) Mary Eberstadt–In the War Over Christianity, Orthodoxy Is Winning

Small wonder, given the harrowing times recently, that news about a long-running property fight over a picturesque church in northern Virginia escaped most people’s notice. But the story of the struggle over the historic Falls Church is nonetheless worth a closer look. It’s one more telling example of a little-acknowledged truth: though religious traditionalism may be losing today’s political and legal battles, it remains poised to win the wider war over what Christianity will look like tomorrow.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Christology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Evangelism and Church Growth, Global South Churches & Primates, Lutheran, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Soteriology, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia, Theology, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology), Theology: Scripture

The Virginia Supreme Court Decision in the Falls Church Case (IV): A.S. Haley's Analysis

The Court says that Virginia is a State that follows and applies “neutral principles of law,” but don’t let that fool you. What exactly is so “neutral” about (a) judges creating a trust out of whole cloth that the parties themselves never formalized, so that (b) a church like ECUSA can secure a windfall for the unjust enrichment of one of its dioceses?

Justice Powell’s result rests entirely upon her finding that a “fiduciary relationship” existed between The Falls Church and the national Church. But she spends no time whatsoever in examining the particulars of such a relationship, or deciding just when and how it actually came into being.

Fiduciary relationships are very special in the eyes of the law. A fiduciary is a person or entity in whom one confides (such as a client with his attorney, a patient with his psychiatrist, or a penitent with his priest) — or it can also be a person or entity to whom one entrusts money or property, such as a client with his stockbroker or banker. Or it can simply be the trustee who holds certain property in trust for what the law calls the beneficiary of that trust — the person for whose benefit the trust was established.

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

The Virginia Supreme Court Decision in the Falls Church Case (III): A Diocese of Virginia PR

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

The Virginia Supreme Court Decision in the Falls Church Case (II): a John Yates response Letter

Dear Friends,

We have received word from the Virginia Supreme Court that it has ruled in our appeal. The Court’s decision reverses the trial court’s ruling as to a part of our church’s funds, and sends the case back to the trial court for further proceedings regarding that point. But the Court has affirmed the trial court’s decision as to our church’s real property and much of the personal property, meaning that our lands, building, and much of our money have not been returned to us. The Court’s decision is now posted on its web site at http://www.courts.state.va.us/opinions/opnscvwp/1120919.pdf
Please join me in praising and thanking God for his faithfulness to us despite this result. Although this is not the outcome we had hoped for, our faith and our future do not depend on court decisions. The Lord works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28), and we had purposed to praise Him regardless of the outcome. It is difficult to face the prospect of losing things that are precious to us, but ultimately we do not place our hope in land, buildings, or money. We have followed the course that we prayerfully believed was right. We have consistently sought to resolve this dispute outside the courts. We are grateful that we live in a country in which recourse to the courts was open to us. And it is a privilege to count this cost to be obedient to Christ.

There is no doubt in my mind that we as a church are much stronger as a result of the trials that we have undergone. Our witness remains strong. God has enabled us to continue to plant new churches and establish new ministries. And we have been blessed by the friendship, support, and assistance that so many other churches continue to provide to us. It is the body of Christ in action. And together we are determined to move forward in faith, to continue to provide a beacon of Christ’s love to Northern Virginia, and to serve our brothers and sisters in our community and beyond.

We will be in touch after we have had a chance to review the Court’s written opinion more carefully, and our vestry plans to meet tomorrow to prayerfully consider our next steps. We will keep you informed of further developments.

In the meantime, let’s continue to pray boldly that God would expand our vision and do beyond all that we can ask or imagine in our life as a church. Nothing is impossible with Him. To Him alone be all the honor, praise, and glory.

In the family,

–(The Rev.) John Yates is rector, Falls Church (Anglican)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

The Virginia Supreme Court Decision in the Falls Church Case (I): The Decision itself

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

Virginia Supreme Court Will Hear Diocese's Cross-Appeal

Today, the Supreme Court of Virginia announced it will consider the Diocese of Virginia’s cross-appeal on whether the Diocese has a trust interest in the real and personal property of the Falls Church….

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

A Statement from the Diocese of Virginia Regarding the Falls Church Anglican's Appeal

Specifically, the Supreme Court agreed to review the lower court’s ruling that held that the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church have contractual and proprietary rights in the property of the Falls Church. In addition, the Court declined to hear a cross-appeal which sought to confirm that the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church also have a trust interest in the property.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia, TEC Polity & Canons