UPDATE: Or is this just the “virtual” interest that the diocese alleged Christ Church has in the Falls Church property? It appears so. The Diocese believes Christ Church owns everything (which of course includes Pohick Church as well, one of the early “Truro Parish” properties). But doesn’t this then assume that congregations do own their own property when its held in trust by their own trustees? Why is this upcoming congregational vote recognized by the diocese while the others caused them to sue eleven congregations? Apparently some votes are more equal than others to the Diocese of Virginia. With TEC lawyers prowling around, other congregations in the diocese should take careful note.
It’s been learned tonight that Bishop Peter James Lee and the Diocese of Virginia have requested that Christ Church Alexandria deed their disputed church property personally to the Bishop of Virginia.
A congregational vote is scheduled for this Sunday.
According to the current rector of Christ Church, Pierce Klemmt and Senior Warden, Rawles Jones, “the Diocese has asked Christ Church to quitclaim its interest in the property to the Diocese.” In a letter sent to members of the congregation, they write that “The Vestry has considered this course of action and recommends it to the Congregation.”
The Diocese of Virginia is pursuing the people of Christ Church Alexandria to turn control of their property over to the Bishop of Virginia in Richmond.
It seems quite obvious with this action that The Episcopal Church (TEC) is deeply concerned that there will be more defections from the diocese once Judge Randy Bellows issues his final ruling in November or December. The fact remains that property held in trust by the congregation belongs to the congregation and not to the diocese or The Episcopal Church in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
It appears that TEC and the diocese has finally figured this out and seeks to take control of congregations in the diocese.
While The Episcopal Church and the diocese say they are going to appeal the ruling (and Judge Bellows hasn’t even issued his final ruling yet – amazing) it is clear that the bishop is seeking to take control of properties held in trust by the congregations before the appeals process begins, lest more congregations vote to depart with their property.
This also does not bode well for the “shadow” congregations set up by the diocese either, since the diocese does not control the properties where the congregations have voted to separate from The Episcopal Church and join another branch in the Anglican Communion.
The vestry of Christ Church Alexandria has incredulously consented to the diocese’s “request” and will put forward the following resolution to the congregation of Christ Church Alexandria this Sunday, October 19 at 10:15 a.m. and will encourage their congregation to vote to turn over all “right, title and interest in and to the Property to Peter James Lee, in his capacity as Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia, and his successor Bishops.”
It might behoove members of the congregation to get themselves a lawyer not in the diocese’s pocket and get one now.
And Pohick – are you next?
OF CHRIST CHURCH, ALEXANDRIA
To Be Presented October 19, 2008
WHEREAS, Christ Church (also known as Christ Protestant Episcopal Church) has been held by the U.S. Supreme Court to be the successor to the grantee named in the following deeds, and is therefore title owner of the property (the “Property)” that is the subject of the following deeds:
Indenture dated March 19, 1746 from John Trammole (also known as John T. Tramel) to the Vestry of Truro Parish, recorded on August 18, 1747 among the land records of Fairfax County, Virginia; and
Indenture dated March 20, 1746 from John Trammole (also known as John T. Tramel) to the Vestry of Truro Parish and their successors, recorded on August 18, 1747 among the land records of Fairfax County, Virginia; and
WHEREAS, the P rotestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia (the “Diocese”) has requested that Christ Church quitclaim and release all of Christ Church’s right, title and interest in and to the Property to Peter James Lee, in his capacity as Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia, and his successor Bishops (the “Bishop”); and
WHEREAS, the Vestry deems it in the best interests of Christ Church and of the Diocese to grant the request of the Diocese;
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED:
That the Congregation of Christ Church, in a meeting duly called for the purpose pursuant to Canon 15, Section 2 and Canon 11, Section 13 of the Canons of the Diocese of Virginia, deems it in the best interests of Christ Church and of the Diocese of Virginia that Christ Church quitclaim and release all of Christ Church’s right, title and interest in and to the Property to the Bishop, by quitclaim deed; that the Congregation consents to such conveyance pursuant to Canon 15, Section 2 of the Canons of the Diocese of Virginia; and, subject to (a) receipt of confirmation from the Diocese that the Standing Committee and the Bishop have approved the quitclaim and release of Christ Church’s right, title and interest in the Property to the Bishop, and (b) fulfillment of the statutory requirements of the Commonwealth of Virginia, hereby authorizes and directs the trustees of the real property of Christ Church and the Senior Warden to execute and deliver a quitclaim deed and to take all other necessary steps to quitclaim and release all of Christ Church’s right, title and interest in the Property to the Bishop.