A years-long dispute between the Episcopal Church and several breakaway congregations over homosexuality and important tenets of Christian doctrine was back in a Virginia courtroom on Monday, where the fight will likely be decided on mundane aspects of real estate and contract law.
A Fairfax County judge heard opening statements in the case between the denomination and seven dissident congregations, who voted nearly five years ago to leave the Episcopal Church and realign as conservative branch of the worldwide Anglican church. The move was precipitated by the 2003 consecration of an openly gay bishop from New Hampshire. However, it also involved fundamental differences on Scriptural matters, including what some conservatives say is equivocation from Episcopal leadership on the divinity of Christ.
On Monday, more than a dozen lawyers representing various parties in the dispute returned to Bellows’ courtroom for opening statements in what is expected to be a six-week bench trial. The various parties plan to introduce roughly 8,000 exhibits.
Read the whole article here.
From the Fairfax Times:
Among the seven former Episcopal congregations still aligned with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) and currently active in the property dispute (of the original 11, ed.), are Church of the Apostles in Fairfax, Church of the Epiphany in Herndon, Truro in Fairfax city, and The Falls Church in Falls Church.
UPDATE: 8:15 p.m.
Report of first day with opening statements here.