A trial court in Virginia has given a ruling in favour of parishes in Virginia that argued they could leave the US Episcopal Church and retain their property. Note that there are still two more levels of court in Virginia (an intermediate appeal and then the state’s highest court) that could hear this matter and decide differently, and it’s possible this might go all the way to the US Supreme Court.
Episcopal Life Online
Virginia court rules application of ‘Division Statute’ is constitutional
Va. judge: church secession law is constitutional
The Washington Times
Virginia judge affirms parish property rights
Va. judge sides with breakaway Episcopal churches
This last article starts:
A Civil War-era law that lets Virginia churches keep their property when leaving a denomination where a “division” has occurred is constitutional, a county judge ruled Friday (June 27), siding with 11 former Episcopal parishes.
Fairfax County Judge Randy I. Bellows’ ruling on the 1867 law stops short of awarding the property to the parishes, but it hands them a major legal win. “It’s a resounding victory and very broad,” said Steffen Johnson, lead counsel for several of the congregations. “There are just a few loose ends to tie up.”
Dave Walker in the Church Times blog has Judge sides with breakaway Episcopal churches in Virginia. This includes links to two earlier Church Times articles which give the background to this case.
Here is the response of the Diocese of Virginia to the court’s ruling.
Court Issues Opinion on Division Statute Constitutionality and Other Statutory Issues
This includes links to the texts of the rulings.