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Episcopal Letter Expresses ‘Disappointment’ With Falls Church Anglican’s Court Appeal

The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia issued a letter today stating that in the context of “a cascade of settlements” the Diocese has made with six of the seven breakaway Council of Anglicans in North America (CANA) congregations in Virginia in the wake of a decisive court judgment in January, it reports “with disappointment” that the same is not the case with the CANA congregation that occupied the historic Falls Church until last weekend. The leadership of that group, it reports, “has made it clear that they plan to pursue their appeal before the Supreme Court of Virginia unless the Diocese pays them a significant sume of money.” It added that those in the Diocese leadership “remain confident in our legal position” as an appeal goes forward.

Excerpted from the text the Diocese’s letter by Chief of Staff Henry Burt is the following:

“With disappointment, I report to you that we have been unable to reach a final settlement with the CANA congregation now known as the Falls Church Anglican. Their leadership has made it clear that they plan to pursue their appeal before the Supreme Court of Virginia unless the Diocese (with the Episcopal Church’s approval) pays them a significant sum of money; we both are unwilling to do so. As a result, we expect the Falls Church Anglican to file their petition for appeal at the end of this month, asking the Supreme Court of Virginia to hear their case. We must file a responsive brief three weeks later, and the Court will issue its decision on whether to take the case at some point this fall. We remain strongly confident in our legal position.

“Despite the Falls Church Anglican’s decision to appeal, we were able to reach other key side agreements with real and positive consequences for the people affected. The 50-year-old Falls Church Day School, which serves over 200 children, has returned to the oversight of the Falls Church Episcopal without disruption and will remain open for the long term. Also, the Diocese is leasing the rectory to the rector of the Falls Church Anglican for up to a year at a fair rent, allowing him time to relocate. Finally, Bishop Johnston has given the Rev. Cathy Tibbetts, priest-in-charge of the Falls Church Episcopal, authority to respond generously to requests for weddings and funerals in the Falls Church by members of the Falls Church Anglican.”