People who are honest about the conservative uprisings in various denominations will admit that many conservative congregations are staying put — at least for now — because the congregations don’t own the building in which they meet, and/or the land on which that building stands. The courts have been split on who actually owns the buildings and the land, but a conclusive ruling in the D.C. area has put conservative Episcopal parishes on notice: If they leave the denomination, they will have to vacate their buildings:
A Virginia judge has ruled against seven conservative congregations that broke away from the Episcopal Church in 2006, rejecting their argument that they should be able to keep some $40 million in church real estate that the national denomination also claims.
The case has drawn worldwide attention because it involves a cluster of large, prominent churches with well-known conservative pastors and because the issues at hand — particularly the Episcopal Church’s acceptance of same-sex relationships as equal to heterosexual ones — are roiling much of organized religion. Various Protestant congregations in particular have wound up in litigation across the country.