Washington Times, Julia Duin:
The diocese [of Virginia] will cite 18th-century cases to argue that the Falls Church, a 276-year-old congregation that is the oldest of the departing parishes, cannot lay claim to its property on 5.5 acres in the city of Falls Church. Attorneys have produced two 18th-century land deeds that say Christ Church possesses the property.
The deeds, dated March 19 and 20, 1746, say the land was owned by
"Truro parish," the designation for Colonial churches in Pohick, Alexandria and Falls Church. The diocese unearthed two U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 1815 and 1824 saying that Christ Church, founded in 1773, is the successor to Truro parish and that the Falls Church was a ward of the Alexandria congregation.
The diocese's attorneys say they can prove that Christ Church still owns about 2 acres of what the Falls Church occupies. That part of the property includes the "historic" Falls Church - a brick building completed in 1769.
In order to argue this case in court, the diocese needed Christ Church's permission to act as its proxy. Although the diocese notified opposition attorneys on Sept. 5 that it would represent Christ Church, it was not until Sept. 22 that the vestry, or governing board, was told of the matter. The vestry approved it Sept. 24. Read Duin's article here.
The Virginia property case is unique in that the Circuit Court judge has followed the state's Reconstruction era "division statute." The Diocese has said the statute is unconstitutional and that it will appeal.