"A Virginia judge Thursday upheld key arguments of 11 Anglican churches seeking to keep their property and assets after leaving the Episcopal Church and its Virginia Diocese. The Anglican District of Virginia (ADV), a coalition comprised of defendants in the case, called the ruling an 'initial victory' in one of the biggest church property battles in recent history."I spent my school years from 6th through 8th grade, and again from the last couple months of 11th grade through graduation in Falls Church, VA. In seventh grade our Virginia History class went on a series of Saturday field trips to some of the local historical sites, and among them were The Falls Church and Truro Parish. George Washington was a vestryman at the Falls Church, which is located a couple blocks from the Falls Church Presbyterian Church where my parents were members, and where I was first received into communicant membership.
This ruling is based on Virginia law which uses "neutral principles" in determining questions of ownership of church property, which I assume means that the denominational hierarchy is not automatically presumed to be the owner of the property. In addition, an 1867 law governing divisions of property in a church split says the faction with the majority of votes is entitled to the property.
It's pretty sad when things get to this point, but I expect we will see more and more of this, especially where there is such a wide gulf between the denominational hierarchy and the people in the congregations.