Comments: Virginia Supreme Court rules in favour of Episcopal Church

It would appear that CANA and the Anglican District will have to return to Court in they are to overturn this decision. Since they and their Global South supporters have consistently decried such appeal to civil authorities, ie. "Christian do not sue Christians", how can they ethically justify any subsequent legal recourse? I have always maintained that whether litigation happens is a result of two factors. 1. Who is in possession of the property and 2. Whether there is a reasonable possibility that the other party can get it back. In most of the cases, the parishes were in possession and TEC/diocese had to sue to get it back. They did and were roundly condemned for doing so. Now the shoe is on the other foot. The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh lost in round one. It is revisiting returning to Court. The same is true of the St. James' Newport "petition", returning to Court. It appears that the same will be true of CANA Va District. By contrast Matt Kennedy's Binghamton church did not return to court. It is also true that it had a virtual snowball's chance in ....of winning under NY law.

I have no problem with any of this working itself out in the US legal system as it is possibly the best venue for each of the parties to get a fair shake. Our legal system isn't perfect but compare it to most sub-Saharan African models. My objection is to the blatant dishonesty of those who lobbied so hard at Dar-es-Salaam that TEC's actions were so unchristian, and now that the shoe is on the other foot are somehow failing to beat their breasts in shame and repentance for that which their clear reading of scripture previously abhorred

Posted by EmilyH at Thursday, 10 June 2010 at 6:08pm BST

And litigation's only a sin when the other guy is doing it. Same old....

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Thursday, 10 June 2010 at 6:17pm BST

A lot of commentary and speculation about what happens next over on Episcopal Cafe.

Since the Va Supremes did not rule on the constitutionality of the law in question, I think that means that there is no basis for appeal to the US Supreme Court.

The response from the ADA suggests they will not cede our property back to us without a fight. It did take them longer to respond than the Diocese, which suggets they thought they would prevail. Or maybe we were just better prepared, with a selection of prewritten responses for different scenerios.

If I am right that there is no appeal to the Big Supremes, this at least would mean there is a limit to the amount of money both sides will be spending.

I don't know if when this goes back to the original court whether the original judge or another will be in charge.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Thursday, 10 June 2010 at 6:29pm BST

"Its members are in full communion with constituent members of the Anglican Communion through its affiliation with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a missionary branch of the Church of Nigeria and other Anglican Archbishops."

Will someone please forward this to Canon Kearon, as evidence that the Church of Nigeria has, indeed, formally participated in border-crossing?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Thursday, 10 June 2010 at 7:15pm BST

EmilyH, the lawsuits which the Fairfax County Circuit Court will now take up are the suits for declaratory relief filed by TEC and the Diocese of Virginia. The Virginia Supreme Court ordered that the petitions filed by the CANA congregations be dismissed. If the litigation is to continue, it will be entirely up to TEC and the Diocese of Virginia, not the CANA congregations.

Posted by A. S. Haley at Thursday, 10 June 2010 at 7:59pm BST

What I find ironic about the decision is that the plotters were their own worst enemies.

If the dissidents had simply attempted to secede from the diocese, and set up their own "Pure Episcopal Church of Virginia" or whatever they wanted to call it, they would have been able to leave with all the property. That would have been a "division" under the Virginia law.

But because they chose to jump from TEC to CoN -- not "divide" but switch affiliations -- they don't fall under the statute. Perhaps if Martyn Minns hadn't been so eager to be a bishop, the result might have been different.

Posted by Jim Pratt at Thursday, 10 June 2010 at 8:06pm BST

The mill stones of the gods and the courts grind ever so slowly, yet ever so fine grained ...

Strategically, this ruling shifts the frame for contesting the property/money claims, significantly. Implicit in the ruling is a clear rejecting of the commonly heard claim that... somehow, structurally as to polity as it were ... the global communion can suddenly (and utterly without past historical or legal precedent) be used to trump the polities of the 38 constituent member national/provincial Anglican churches.

Imagine the shoe was on the other foot? A progressive Anglican group gets up and running in Nigeria; then not only gains adherents in its common life and worship and service, but then moves futher to lay claim to Nigerian church property/money?

VA in any case may be a special instance, since now ADA-CANA-ACNA will surely argue that deeds and such mention only the local parishes in dispute, and not the continuing diocese or TEC. The most likely ruling issues will then devolve to matters of definition/interpretation ... since, prior to the rightwing Anglican thieving, everybody knew/took completely for granted ... that those parishes were subsumed under the existing Diocese and national church.

The lower court appears to have been favorable/vulnerable to ADA-CANA-ACNA assertions, so who knows which way the definitional-interpreting tilts will win out. Similarly, if those matters go against VA-TEC, I predict that another state supreme appeal will likely be filed?

One wonders what Lionel Diemel in Pburgh will make of this ruling?

Posted by drdanfee at Thursday, 10 June 2010 at 8:09pm BST

"Since they and their Global South supporters have consistently decried such appeal to civil authorities..."

One more time. The lawsuit was INITIATED by Minns et alia after the congregations involved had done what they called 40 days of discernment. The guidelines for the discernment process could have led to no other result than what happened: all of the now CANA churches FILED IDENTICAL lawsuits AGAINST the Dio of Virginia. We did NOT start this; they DID. We would have been negligent in the extreme not to have defended those suits, which were consolidated into one. This is one of the many FACTS that Rowan and others in the C of E refuse to acknowledge.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Thursday, 10 June 2010 at 8:35pm BST

" We are sorry The Episcopal Church has chosen to go its own way. Their choice to be a prodigal church does not give them the right to take our houses of worship with them. The legal proceedings have been an unfortunate distraction from all the good work our churches are doing to advance the mission of Christ. Ultimately, we know that the Lord is in control and our congregations will continue to put our trust in Him, not in secular courts or buildings."

- CANA's response to Court decision -

This topsy-turvy way of looking at the reality of their own schismatic action seems to be typical of ACNA. Who moved away? Not TEC, but the dissidents!
They need to be very careful of invoking God's will in this matter. God might just proceed in the same direction as the present court judgement.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 11 June 2010 at 12:31am BST

On the specific issue of resumption of TECs and Diocesan legal action, I stand corrected. Mr. Hailey, I believe, is technically correct. However, I continue to be surprised by the actions of +Duncan, St. James Newport etc. Although Matt Kennedy of Binghamton appears not to be returning to court, he made the following statement today:

"Hi Jill,
Mediation would be great. Unfortunately, in all the cases I am familiar with, that option has been refused by TEC. The last thing any orthodox congregation that has the means can do, IMO, is step back and let their property be used as a platform for the spread of soul killing heresy without some kind of defense. And since even the defense drains heretic coffers, then it is good to fight to the last.
1 Cor 6 does not apply here. We are not speaking about Christians but apostates."
Stand Firm [68] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 06-11-2010 at 05:09 AM •

As an aside, it took me some time to figure out that the funds that his church planned to use to fund its "purchase" of the property involved were, at least in part, the funds in contention and, in litigation, were determined to be the Diocese/TEC's in the first place. In truth, it is unlikely, and in fact very very unlikely that TEC would have allowed the property to be sold to an entity whose intent was to use it to set up or become a competing Anglican entity in TEC's territory.

Posted by EmilyH at Friday, 11 June 2010 at 4:20pm BST

"And since even the defense drains heretic coffers, then it is good to fight to the last.
1 Cor 6 does not apply here. We are not speaking about Christians but apostates."

And this reveals the true nature of schismatics...they cannot even give those they oppose the benefit of being good Christians (albeit misled ones)...they are not Christians at all, but "apostates". This is following Christ's advice to "judge not, lest you be judged"?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Friday, 11 June 2010 at 7:36pm BST

I thought Jesus asked us to love everyone.

Not so long ago 'apostates' were being murdered, and lgbt people still are, of course.

Posted by Pantycelyn at Saturday, 12 June 2010 at 4:51pm BST
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