Skip to comments.[New Va.] Bishop Writes Diocese: "The legal struggle will continue...freedom under attack," he says
Posted on 10/13/2009 7:44:41 PM PDT by rabscuttle385
Dear Diocesan Family,
A panel of the Virginia Supreme Court will hear our petition for appeal on October 21 and, while it is unfortunate that these legal proceedings were necessary, I trust that this hearing will bring us one step closer to resolution.
I am proud that the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church have chosen the path consistently to defend loyal Episcopalians, and to safeguard and to protect the Church's legacy and the Church from unwarranted governmental and legislative interference. It is with the same determination to stand by the people, traditions and legacy of our diocese that I look toward our appeal.
For nearly 225 years, the Episcopal Church has had the freedom to govern itself according to its beliefs. But that freedom is under direct attack here in our diocese in the form of a Virginia law that allows the government to interfere with the faith, polity and structure of our Church and other hierarchical churches in the Commonwealth.
I believe that this law is unconstitutional and that there is too much at stake to let it remain in effect. The legal struggle to secure our right to organize as we choose and safeguard our churches from those seeking to seize them has not been easy. This journey has been a long one, but now more than ever we must all gather around those who need us most at this difficult time.
Loyal Episcopalians have been exiled from their Episcopal homes for too long and I ask you to keep all of them in your prayers. This includes St. Stephen's, Heathsville; St. Margaret's, Woodbridge; Epiphany, Oak Hill; and The Falls Church, Falls Church.
These parishioners have been denied the ability to worship as they wish at the very same churches where they were married, where they baptized their children and where they buried their loved ones. I view this next hearing with great hope for the day when I will join these faith-filled Episcopalians as they return to their church homes to celebrate and worship together.
The Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston Bishop of Virginia
The morally and spiritually bankrupt Diocese of Va. steps in it again.
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I was going to ask if Shannon was a ‘he’ or a ‘she’. Then I googled a picture. I still wasn’t sure, so I had to read the text. “(he likes to be called Bishop Shannon)”. So it appears that Shannon is a ‘he’.
For anyone not in on the “joke”...
This refers to the case where disgruntled Anglicans / Episcopalians cannot simply leave the denomination and take their historical buildings with them.
The denomination has the deeds to the building, and makes the case that the rest of the members decided to leave and therefore no longer able to worship in those buildings.
The same is true in United Methodist churches too — if a parish leaves the denomination then the denomination keeps the buildings.
So, this letter is backwards to what it seems to be.
Well, bottom line, are the liberals or the good guys winning for the most part?
Except the largest and most powerful of the Northern Va. parishes involved pre-date the founding of the Episcopal Church, and their deeds are all pre-Dennis Canon.
You can read about the various court cases involving the TEC and parishes/ dioceses in better detail at
So far the good guys are winning and the trial judge wrote such a strong decision that it's unlikely to be overturned on appeal. The Bishop is backing a three legged horse in this race.
Actually for a lot of Episcopal churches, the title on the deed is in the local church, but the Episcopal Church claims that the church’s property rights are overriden by the “Dennis Canon,” which was unilaterally passed a few years ago by the General Convention without the specific agreement of any of the churches. The Dennis Canon says that all church properties are simply held “in trust” for the diocese and national denomination.
The state courts have split in how to deal with this. Some have recognized the individual church’s title, while others have sided with the Episcopal Church, saying that as part of a “hierarchical denomination,” individual churches are deemed to be bound by decisions of the national body.
Not true, as to these cases. The Bishop of N.Fla held the title there, and those congregations generally walked away without a legal fight. But you are certainly incorrect here.
It depends on the state. Some states treat the church cases like they would any other property dispute, and review the recorded documents. Other states do whatever the church bosses tell them to. And finally, in Virginia, there is a state law that gives the congregations even more leverage against the bosses.
It's not clear why the bosses chose Virginia to make a fight. It was the weakest legally for them, and it had a particularly weak set of facts. (The then bishop cut a deal with the Christians, and then, under extreme pressure from the party bosses, backed out of it after the Christians had met all of his requirements.
Where’d they get this snivelling little company man from?
>> Whered they get this sniveling little company man from?
The Church’s “hierarchy” maintains an ample supply of sycophants.
That's why this sixth-generation Anglican swam the Tiber.
From my side of the Tiber, that looks like a huge steaming load of "stuff". IIRC, those are the Christian parishes that took their physical plant with them when they abandoned Vicki Gene's sinking ship of fools.
What you need to know is that most of the nine congregations who divided from the Diocese of Virginia to join another branch of Anglicanism, have no shadow congregations. Only a few have small groups who did not accept the vote which came after the long discernment process.
You should also note that these people are even today welcome to join worship there any time, as many individuals have.