Judge Tells Truro Congregation to Hand Over Church

Circuit court reverses original ruling after state supreme court decision.

Fairfax County Circuit Court told a Fairfax City congregation to turn over to the diocese they divorced at a ruling Monday.

Truro and six other congregations in Virginia left the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia in protest of the diocese's support of same-sex unions and the confirmation of a homosexual priest as bishop, according to a circuit court report.

The court ruled in favor of the congregation in January 2009, only to have it kicked back for a second look by the Virginia Supreme Court in June 2010.

Now the circuit court orders church members to give the Truro property and land to the Episopal Diocese. A final order from the court is expected in 45 days, according to Jim Oakes, spokesperson for the seven Anglican congregations.

The court ruling tells Truro to give up the church property and land to the diocese as well as all personal property acquired before Jan. 31, 2007.

"Although we are profoundly disappointed by today's decision, we offer our gratitude to Judge Bellows for his review of this case," said Oakes. "As we prayerfully consider our legal options, we above all remain steadfast in our effort to defend the historic Christian faith." 

Where will the congregation go? There's no final word, but Bob Tate, Parish administrator at Truro Church, suggested to the church on a temporary basis at a Nov. 14 meeting.

There will be a prayer and worship service in Truro's main sanctuary at 7:30 tonight.

Check back for more information.

christopher james January 12, 2012 at 03:24 AM
When divorce happens and people focus on the “things”, the children suffer. When this schism happened and CANA focused on the “things”, the people suffered. When CANA quite appropriately and righteously stood up and said that the doctrine being followed by TEC was no longer Christian, they indeed should have walked out and took the congregations with them. Had they done that the new congregations (and the new buildings) would be flourishing and the ones left holding the buildings of the past, would have collapsed as predicted now under the weight of the costs of maintenance. Yet, like Lot’s wife, the TEC leaders looked back, longed for the buildings, longed for the past, longed for the slavery, just as the people of Israel did when they were in the desert. They became blind guides focused on the properties rather than the real church, which is the people. They have failed many. I pray they can now focus on what is of interest to God, people’s lives, their salvation, and their sanctification. The God we serve not only owns the cattle on a thousand hills, but the hills themselves. May the shepherds repent and get back to tending to their flocks. Christopher James
Kim Luckabaugh January 12, 2012 at 12:00 PM
Truro has TRIED to work things out with the diocese; however, the diocese has REFUSED to ANY form of compromise. They have had an all or nothing approach. This decision stabs me so hard and I don't even go to church there! This is wrong and I hope an appeal (if possible) is forthcoming. I am praying for the leaders at Truro and the other churches and their congregations! They have served the community far more than the diocese ever will.
Douglas Stewart January 12, 2012 at 01:39 PM
The city is planning to raze Westmore Elementary so I don't think that fall-back plan for Truro is an option anymore.
Leigh K January 12, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Strangely enough, I feel exactly opposite from Mr. James (above). I am an Episcopalian who is very proud of her church's stance on gay rights, so I guess you could say I'm on the side that "won" this court battle. That said, I think the whole argument over property takes us all away from our values and belittles us, on both sides. I want the Diocese to do the right thing and make sure that the congregations who have left the Episcopal Church get to stay in their buildings. I understand there are huge monetary implications there. (Truro and The Falls Church are goldmines when it comes to property values.) But I don't think that should matter. While I will always disagree with these parish's decision to leave our Church, particularly for the reasons they did, I don't wish their parishioners to be displaced. Buildings do matter in the sense that they represent generations' worth of traditions for the families that attend there. It makes me incredibly sad that we're fighting this out in court instead of doing what our values tell us to do, which is to love one another as Christ loved us. Giving the people their church building is the loving thing to do.
Seahawk Dad January 14, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Leigh, I believe God speaks in many ways, through verse but also through us, and you have expressed my sentiments exactly. My wish is that as Christian and even Jews and Muslims, we learn to revel in how alike we are in most ways instead of how different we are in ways less consequential.


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