[St. Louis Examiner] 29 June 2007--Virginia Anglicans who split from the Episcopal Church last year are accusing their former diocese of “intimidation,” after the diocese moved to specifically name dozens of its former congregants in a land lawsuit.
A hearing is set today in Fairfax County Circuit Court to resolve whether about 75 now anonymous defendants — all vestry members or trustees of eight dissident churches — can be named in the suit.
The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia is suing to reclaim the properties after one of the most high-profile rifts within the Christian Church in modern American history. The conservative congregations left the Episcopal Church in December after a long-standing feud over the interpretation of scripture, a fight intensified by the ordination of a gay bishop four years ago in New England.
“It’s just harassment of defendants, that’s all it is,” Jim Oakes, vice chair of the Anglican District of Virginia, the umbrella group for the churches, said of the most recent motion. “It’s frankly intimidating to soccer moms and people who aren’t used to encountering our legal system.”