Judge Denies Motion by Breakaway Group to Keep Church Property Pending Appeal

Ruling shortly before 10 p.m. tonight, Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows denied a motion by breakaway members from the historic Falls Church to maintain control of the church’s property pending their appeal of the judge’s January 2012 ruling that the property revert to control of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

The judge’s ruling followed a lengthy hearing on whether or not the motion would cause either the breakaway group, which has occupied the church property since 2007 when it voted to leave the Episcopal denomination, or the Episcopal Diocese and its “continuing Episcopal” congregation meeting outside the church property in the City of Falls Church, “irreparable harm.” Following the hearing, the judge granted the two sides an opportunity to work out an amicable agreement for shared use of the property pending the outcome of the appeal.

However, according to News-Press sources, while the Diocese was willing to work out such a temporary shared use option, the breakaway group, known as the Council of Anglicans in North America (CANA), was not. Upon learning of this, Judge Bellows issued his ruling denying the CANA motion. As a result, the breakaway group is ordered to sign over all church property assets to the Episcopal Diocese on Monday, prior to May 1, and is ordered to vacate the church property in total by two weeks from that date on May 15.