Americas

Big Win for Va.'s Breakaway Anglican Parishes in Property Fight

Judge rules that 1867 law on church divisions applies in battle with Episcopal Church, diocese.

A Virginia judge Thursday upheld key arguments of 11 Anglican churches seeking to keep their property and assets after leaving the Episcopal Church and its Virginia Diocese. The Anglican District of Virginia (ADV), a coalition comprised of defendants in the case, called the ruling an "initial victory" in one of the biggest church property battles in recent history.

"We have maintained all along that the Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia had no legal right to our property because the Virginia Division Statute says that the majority of the church is entitled to its property when there is a division within the denomination," said ADV vice-chairman Jim Oakes.

The highly anticipated ruling is the first of several in the multi-stage trial that will decide whether the breakaway churches can keep their property and assets, which are worth an estimated $30 million to $40 million. Defendants include the historic 2,000-member Falls Church in the city of Falls Church, and the 1,300-member Truro ...

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