Episcopal Split Leads to Church-State Questions

The problems facing conservative congregations remaining in the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) are fast coming to a head.

Case in point — eight Episcopal congregations in Northern Virginia will vote this weekend on whether to leave ECUSA. But the church bodies find themselves caught in a Catch-22 between church laws and state laws.

Church canon law holds that any church body leaving the denomination must turn over the keys to the church building to the ECUSA bishop in the region.

But two of the congregations — those meeting at the historic Falls Church, in Falls Church, Va., and at Truro Church, in Fairfax, Va. — actually have title to their own buildings, and under Virginia state law would not be required to move out if the groups split from the mother church.

The issue is certain to go to state or federal court.

According to the American Anglican Council, conservative congregations are faced with the prospect of having to leave the Episcopal Church because the church’s hierarchy is now actively punishing congregations and clergy who continue to speak out against the 2003 consecration of openly homosexual New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson.