Who Owns the Chapel?

Who Owns the Chapel? January 31, 2012

The property battle between denominational bodies and the local churches that disaffiliate from them is heating up—and the list of congregations that suddenly find themselves homeless has grown longer.

Less than two months after the Georgia Supreme Court ruled in favor of the denominational bodies in two church property cases in that state, a county circuit court in Virginia ruled that seven more congregations must leave their properties to the Episcopal Church (see “Court order,” Jan. 28). Two, Truro Church in Fairfax and The Falls Church in Falls Church, are among the most storied Episcopal churches in the country.

The seven Virginia congregations had disaffiliated from the Episcopal Church because they were concerned it was no longer committed to biblical and Anglican orthodoxy—as evidenced by its divergence from the global Anglican Communion on the matter of gay ordination.  They affiliated instead with the Anglican Church of North America.  “The core issue,” according to Rev. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church, is not physical property but “theological and moral truth and the intellectual integrity of faith in the modern world.”

Note: This was first published in World Magazine’s early February issue.

John Yates of The Falls Church

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