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Virginia court rules in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

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The Fairfax Circuit Court ruled in favor of the Diocese late on Friday, April 27, denying the Falls Church Anglican's motion to stay the Circuit Court's Final Order issued on March 1. With this loss, the Falls Church Anglican and it's 4,000 members will be vacating their historic church home on Broad Street by May 15.

"We are pleased with the Court's decision, and are gratified that the Falls Church (Episcopal) may return to their church home," said Henry D.W. Burt, secretary of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

The 100 member Episcopal congregation will be moving into the property with the Falls Church Day School remaining in their location under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Virginia.

After the court ruled, members of the continuing Episcopal congregation gathered outside the court room for prayer and members of the Anglican congregation were reported to have joined in the circle of prayer as well as the two congregations continue to work out next steps. The Falls Church Anglican is considering an appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court if a settlement cannot be reached with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

In 2006 The Falls Church voted overwhelmingly to separate from the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. In early 2007 the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia sued the parish along with six other parishes and nearly 200 lay volunteers and their clergy. Though the seven parishes initally won a ruling in their favor, it was later overturned by the Supreme Court of Virginia, sending the case back to the Fairfax Circuit Court.

On March 1, 2012, Judge Randy Bellows ruled in favor of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia, requiring that all seven Anglican churches turn their real and personal property and liquid assets over to the Diocese of Virginia. Six of the churches have settled with the diocese, including Truro Church in Fairfax which has negotiated a settlement where they will remain in their Fairfax City location for the next year.

The press release from the Diocese of Virginia is here.

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