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Episcopalians are worshiping in The Falls Church again

Episcopalians are worshiping in The Falls Church again

The steadfast folks who remained in the Episcopal Church when most of their congregation and all of their clergy voted to breakaway and take the property with them returned to The Falls Church yesterday. Matt Rhodes offers a first person account.

Walking through the doors of the Historic Falls Church this morning – our congregation’s first day of worship on that property in more than five years – I had no idea what to expect.

Plans were in place for a large turnout, and we even had an option available if we were confronted by someone with a gripe against us and the Episcopal Church and who chose our service as the time to make a vocal statement of opposition. The signage was in place, the nursery was staffed and stocked with activities, and the police officer tasked with getting people safely across the street was stationed on East Fairfax Street.

Everything was ready, and yet I still didn’t know what to expect. Truth be told, the whole situation felt a bit surreal. Amy, the girls and I were part of the nearly 80 percent of our congregation who joined TFCE after the 2007 split, and we were all returning “home” to a place we had never attended. Some I spoke with likened it to being tourists who had just been dropped off by our bus and were waiting to enter a historic site to take some pictures and enjoy a tour.

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Chris H.

Thanks for the clarification John. I noticed the words "Campus" and "chapel" in the article and wondered if they were actually in the main sanctuary.

Chris Harwood

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Claire Carter

Thank you. I am a lawyer, but I was not aware of their agreement or the specifics of the court order. I think the agreement itself speaks highly of both groups.

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John B. Chilton

Actually, Claire, you draw a seemingly logical but false conclusion. The breakaway group has not vacated the premises. The court order requires them to vacate at the end of the month. The rector of the breakaway group and the continuing congregation (the Episcopalians) have an agreement in which the Episcopalians can use the chapel on Sundays. Easter was the first of those Sundays. The breakaway group also held services on the property on Easter Sunday. The "chapel" isn't small, obviously, but it isn't the main sanctuary.

Here's an aerial photo of the facility

http://www.americananglican.org/assets/News-and-Commentary-Files/2012/03_2012/falls-church-arial.jpg

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Claire Carter

Thank you for the articles. It appears that they have vacated the premises, but have not relinquished a legal claim that is pending in the courts. Giving the building back - or not asserting actual possession rights - in the physical sense is what I was referring to earlier.

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John B. Chilton

The other congregation has not vacated. Here are many of the details:

http://www.thediocese.net/News/newsView.asp?NewsId=40968229

and

http://www.thediocese.net/News/newsView.asp?NewsId=40968228

Quoting: "the seven CANA congregations involved in the legal dispute with the Diocese of Virginia filed notices of appeal, seeking to overturn the Fairfax Circuit Court's final order that all real and personal Episcopal property be returned to the Diocese of Virginia by April 30. In addition, four of those congregations (Church of the Apostles Anglican, Fairfax; the Falls Church Anglican, Falls Church; St. Paul's Church Anglican, Haymarket; and Truro Church Anglican, Fairfax) have sought stays to suspend the execution of the court's order until their appeals are decided. If the stays are granted, then the CANA congregations would remain in place. The Falls Church Episcopal would be able to use the historic church with the permission of the rector of the Falls Church Anglican. The court will hear this motion on Friday, April 20....."

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