[The Living Church] 18 Oct 2008--The historic congregation of Christ Church, Alexandria, Va., is scheduled to vote Sunday on a resolution that would convey to Virginia Bishop Peter Lee title to several acres of property now occupied by the congregation of The Falls Church, one of 11 congregations where the majority of the congregation voted to leave The Episcopal Church in December 2006. The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia have gone to court claiming they hold title to the church properties.
Prior to the American Revolution, the Church of England was the established church in Virginia and churches were overseen by a vestry elected by the voters in a geographic area. After Virginia became a state, the church was disestablished and ownership of church properties in Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County passed from the Fairfax Parish vestry to Christ Church. The U.S. Supreme Court declared the vestry of Christ Church the successor to the Fairfax Parish in 1815, a ruling the court upheld in 1824.
Among the land to which the court said Christ Church held title is a portion of The Falls Church’s ten-acre campus. The original two-acre parcel includes the historic church structure dating back to the 1760s. The congregation has subsequently built another, larger sanctuary where most worship services are held. Christ Church in Alexandria has no ownership interest in the majority of the campus.