FAIRFAX, Va. (August 19, 2008) – The 11 Virginia Anglican congregations sued by The Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Diocese of Virginia responded to the Fairfax County Circuit Court ruling issued today concerning the Contracts Clause and the assertion by TEC and the Diocese that the 11 Anglican congregations waived their right to invoke the Virginia Division Statute.
Judge Randy Bellows ruled that TEC and the Diocese failed to timely assert their claim that the 11 Anglican congregations contracted around or waived their right to invoke the Division Statute.
In addition, the judge ruled that the Division Statute does not violate the contracts clause provisions of the U.S. and Virginia Constitutions as applied to these properties. The rulings can be found at www.anglicandistrictofvirginia.org. Today’s rulings mean that there are only a small number of issues remaining to be decided at the October trial, and the 11 Anglican congregations are hopeful that they can be resolved quickly.
“We are pleased that Judge Bellows ruled in our favor on these questions. He ruled very clearly that our congregations are able to rely on the Virginia Division Statute in order to keep our church property. We have maintained all along that our churches’ own trustees hold title for the benefit of their congregations. TEC and the Diocese have never owned any of the properties and their names do not appear on deeds to the property. The Virginia Supreme Court has consistently stated that Virginia does not recognize denominational trusts of the sort asserted by TEC and the Diocese,” said Jim Oakes, vice-chairman of the Anglican District of Virginia. All 11 churches are members of Anglican District of Virginia.
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