Eleven conservative church congregations splitting from the Episcopal Church in Virginia have won the right to keep their church building and other disputed property.
The final rulings in the long-running case concerned whether four parcels of land and the Falls Church endowment fund belonged to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia or to the congregations now affiliated with the breakaway Anglican District of Virginia.
A Fairfax County judge ruled Friday that the property in question, which includes the historic Falls Church, belongs to the congregations. The fate of the endowment is still undecided.
The congregations, which left the Episcopal Church in 2006 over its views on homosexuality and theology, considered the ruling a huge victory.
“We are grateful that the court has agreed with us,” said chairman of the Anglican District of Virginia Jim Oakes. “We hope that the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia will realize that it is time to stop this legal battle.”
The diocese said it was happy the court agreed to hear more arguments on the endowment fund, but said it plans to appeal the rest of the decision as “serious constitutional issues remain.”