Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Trial Begins in Clash Over Va. Church Property

[Washington Post] 14 Nov 2007--Tens of millions of dollars of Virginia real estate are at stake in a trial that began yesterday in Fairfax County Circuit Court, where priests, members of bitterly divided churches and lawyers filled the pews. It is one of the largest property disputes in Episcopal Church history.

The trial comes almost a year after the majority of congregants in 15 traditional Episcopal churches voted to leave the national church because of disagreements about the nature of God and salvation and about whether gay men and lesbians should be fully accepted. Northern Virginia has since become one of the most active areas in the country for the conservative, breakaway movement, and clergy around the country are watching this trial to see what happens to Episcopalians who want to leave -- and take church properties with them.

The land issue is a manifestation of a larger debate within the Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch. Traditional Anglicans are frustrated with decades of what they see as watered-down Christianity, and the dispute threatens to split the Communion.

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