The Senior Warden and the Priest In Charge at The Falls Church Episcopal have issued a statement to members of the Episcopal Church in Falls Church VA concerning the rulings by Judge Bellows on the property case of the Virginia churches. In discussing the meaning of the ruling Senior Warden William Fetsch and The Rev. Michael Pipkin say:
What does all of this mean?
The bottom line is that there has been no decision on the ultimate questions of property or assets. Despite what many are writing in the press and what you may read on the internet, the Circuit Court opinion does not reach ultimate questions of disposition of property. These issues are scheduled for trial in October 2008. What happened today is only a small step on this long road toward finality.
While some are declaring this as a victory for “their side,” Judge Bellows’ opinion reminds us that we remain Brothers and Sisters of the Anglican Communion. We are ultimately saddened not by the loss of this case, but in the sadness that is a schism of the Body of Christ.
For the civil courts to look into our Church, which is the Body of Christ, and to declare it divided is ultimately a very sad thing – and certainly NO victory for anyone. And yet, in the brokenness of this moment, in our sadness and in their joy, Jesus is alive and present, and the Holy Spirit continues to work in and through us all.
As for us at The Falls Church Episcopal, we have a lot of work to do, and none of it has anything to do with who owns 115 E. Fairfax Street. There are many in our neighborhood who are in need of the Christian message of love and community that we claim as followers of an incarnate God.
With or without today’s decision, we remain the Church – we will continue to worship, and we will continue to reach out to those in need. We will provide for the needy, minister to the sick, comfort the mournful, and we will strive for justice and peace among all people.
In our work as the Church, we will continue to partner with local organizations, such as Homestretch, and we will develop partnerships with other Falls Church congregations – Episcopal or otherwise – as we meet our Lord in the faces of our neighbors.
While we are may be saddened by today’s events, we are reminded of the need, now more than ever, to proclaim our presence in Falls Church, and to reach out ever more diligently.
In the days ahead you will surely be provided the opportunity to discuss this with friends, family, and neighbors. I urge you to discuss these events, keeping in mind the charity, love, and peace that our Lord showed in his own Passion. I also urge you to invite your friends, families, and neighbors to join us as we continue to grow and proclaim the Good News of God in Jesus Christ!
The complete joint statement of Rev. Michael Pipkin and Senior Warden Bill Fetsch with The Falls Church Episcopal and a triumphal letter from John Yates of the CANA congregation can be found here.