[Episcopal Diocese of Virginia] Dear Friends,
Late last week, the seven CANA [Convocation of Anglicans in North America] congregations involved in the legal dispute with the Diocese of Virginia filed notices of appeal [available here], 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.
What does this mean for our continuing congregations and for our diocese? It means that the way forward is not yet entirely clear. We respect the CANA congregations’ right to appeal, but believe that it’s time that these properties were returned to the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church and that the litigation should end. We are in daily contact with the leadership of those congregations, trying to negotiate a fair and gracious resolution. In fact, since these filings, the Diocese and the Church of the Epiphany Anglican, Herndon have entered a final settlement and members of St. Stephen’s Episcopal, Heathsville returned to their church home on Palm Sunday. The Falls Church Episcopal will celebrate this Easter in the historic church, and we continue to work closely with the Falls Church Anglican to ensure a smooth transition of the Falls Church Day School.
As we walk through Holy Week, we walk in the footsteps of Christ. It is a walk of pain, of loss and of heartbreaking uncertainty. It is also a walk of sure and certain hope toward the empty tomb, discovered at first light on the day that changed everything. We must remember that our brothers and sisters in the CANA congregations walk with us, and we with them, toward that empty tomb. We walk faithfully, knowing that Easter will come.
Henry D.W. Burt
Secretary of the Diocese