Could battling Anglicans wind up in the same buildings?
By Michelle Boorstein
It's not pretty to see people fight about property.
The three-year-old legal dispute over nine Virginia churches is no exception, with the credentials of Anglican conservative priests being yanked by the Episcopal Church and conservatives threatening Episcopal leaders with trespass if found on the disputed properties. All this happened after the congregations, mostly in Northern Virginia, voted in 2006-2007 to break away from the Episcopal Church, which conservative congregants believe has strayed dangerously from Christianity.
Since the votes (which launched the legal cases), the small groups of people in some of the churches who wanted to remain Episcopalians have met in other churches and in coffee shops, waiting for the case to be resolved. Today the Virginia Supreme Court ruled against the conservatives, but the case will likely go on for months or years more.
The emotional ante got upped by the small Episcopal groups today, when the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia asked the Anglicans, who control the disputed properties: Can we share?
An attempt for both groups to use the disputed buildings didn't go well just after the votes, when the conservatives were trying to establish clear ownership (in court and in the court of public opinion) and said no. John Yates, rector of the large, prestigious Falls Church and a global leader of traditional Anglicans, said the refusal was only because it was hard to coordinate worship times. Then the conservatives sent diocesan officials a letter threatening them with trespass arrest if they came on the property.
Mike Pipkin, priest in charge for one of the small Episcopal groups, said today he's hoping to work out a deal. "We want to go home." Pipkin said he planned to call Yates to ask if there could be some reconciliation even as the multimillion-dollar legal fight goes on.
Yates said he'd have to talk with the leaders of the various churches, to see if there are any implications, legal or otherwise.
That would be a dramatic image. Stay tuned.
Michelle Boorstein| June 10, 2010; 2:48 PM ET | Category: God in Government Save & Share:
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