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Judge Bellows Opinion

Judge Bellows Opinion

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Published by TheLivingChurchdocs
Judge Randy L. Bellows writes: “The CANA Congregations suggest that a ruling for the denomination would be to defer to the hierarchy ‘with a vengeance.’ This Court disagrees. … [W]hile the CANA Congregations had an absolute right to depart from TEC and the Diocese, they had no right to take these seven Episcopal churches with them.”
Judge Randy L. Bellows writes: “The CANA Congregations suggest that a ruling for the denomination would be to defer to the hierarchy ‘with a vengeance.’ This Court disagrees. … [W]hile the CANA Congregations had an absolute right to depart from TEC and the Diocese, they had no right to take these seven Episcopal churches with them.”

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Published by: TheLivingChurchdocs on Jan 11, 2012
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1IN RE MULTI-CIRCUIT CHURCH ) CIVIL CASE NUMBERS:PROPERTY LITIGATION ) CL 2007-248724, CL 2006-15793,) CL 2006-15792, CL 2007-556,) CL 2007-1625, CL 2007-1235,) CL 2007-1236, CL 2007-1237,) CL 2007-1238, CL 2007-5249,) CL 2007-5250, CL 2007-5364) CL 2007-5686, CL 2007-5685,) CL 2007-5683, CL 2007-5682,) CL 2007-5684, CL 2007-5902,) and CL 2007-5903.LETTER OPINION OF THE COURTREGARDINGTHE COMPLAINTS FILED BY THE PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN THEUNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND THE PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCHIN THE DIOCESE OF VIRGINIAANDTHE AMENDED COUNTERCLAIMS FILED BY THE CANA CONGREGATIONSJudge Randy I. BellowsCircuit Court of Fairfax CountyDate: January 10, 2012
 
 
2TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. INTRODUCTION……………………………..………………..……………
..
……...
...7
II. BACKGROUND OF LITIGATION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY…..…..….…
..9A.
 
BACKGROUND OF LITIGATION..…………………………………..…
.
……
..9B.
 
PROCEDURAL
HISTORY...……………………………………..…………
.....12
III. SUMMARY OF RULINGS…………………..………………………..……………
14
IV. DESCRIPTION OF THE PARTIES……………………………………..…………
15A.
 
PLAINTIFFS AND COUNTER-DEFENDANTS1.
 
THE PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN THE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (“TEC”)…………..………...………
152. THE PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN THE
DIOCESE OF VIRGINIA (“THE DIOCESE”)………………..…………
17B. DEFENDANTS AND COUNTER-PLAINTIFFS
1. THE FALLS CHURCH, FALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA……………………
18
2. ST. PAUL‟S CHURCH, HAYMARKET, VIRGINIA…………..…….…….1
8
3. TRURO CHURCH, FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA……………………..…….…….
18
4. ST. STEPHEN‟S CHURCH, HEATHSVILLE, VIRGINIA……….
.
.….…..
..19
5. CHURCH OF THE APOSTLES, FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA………….………
..19
6. ST. MARGARET‟S CHURCH, WOODBRIDGE, VIRGINIA…………..…
19
7. CHURCH OF THE EPIPHANY, HERNDON, VIRGINIA…………………
19
V. NEUTRAL PRINCIPLES OF LAW LEGAL STANDARD……………….……….
20A.
 
KEY U.S. AND VIRGINIA SUPREME COURT CASES………………..……
201.
PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN THE UNITED STATES v. MARY  ELIZABETH BLUE HULL MEMORIAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH 
, 393 U.S. 440 (1969)…………………………………………
...202.
 MARYLAND AND VIRGINIA ELDERSHIP OF CHURCHESOF GOD v. CHURCH OF GOD AT SHARPSBURG, INC.
,396 U.S.
367 (1970)…………………………………………………………
223.
 NORFOLK PRESBYTERY v. BOLLINGER,
214 Va. 500 (1974)
………
......234.
 JONES v. WOLF 
, 443 U.S. 595 (1979)……………………………………
...26
 
 
35.
GREEN. v. LEWIS
,
221 Va. 547 (1980)…………………………………….
.296.
PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN THE DIOCESE OF VIRGINIA v. TRURO CHURCH,
280 Va. 6 (2010)
…………………………
.35B.
 
OTHER CIRCUIT COURT DECISIONS1.
 
 DIOCESE OF SOUTHWESTERN VIRGINIA OF THE PROTESTANT  EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v.KATHRYN BUHRMAN,
5 Va. Cir. 497
(1977) (Stephenson, J.)……
.
………
...372.
 
 DIOCESE OF SOUTHWESTERN VIRGINIA OF THE PROTESTANT  EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v.WYCKOFF,
unpublished opinion (Amherst County, Nov. 16, 1979)
 
(Koontz, J.)
……………………….…………………………………….….....
.41
 
C. GENERAL DISCUSSION REGARDING NEUTRAL PRINCIPLESOF LAW
………………………………………………………………………...
43VI. NEUTRAL PRINCIPLE OF LAW ANALYSIS IN THE INSTANT CAS
E………
47A.
 
STATUTES…………………………………………………………………
.471.
 
Virginia Code § 57-
7.1…………………………………………………
..472.
 
Virginia Code § 57-
9……………………………………………………
.513.
 
Virginia Code § 57-
15…………………………………………………
...524.
 
Virginia Code § 57-
16.1………………………………………………
....58B.
 
DEEDS………………………………………………………………………
601.
 
The Specific Deeds at Issue.
……………………………………………
...60a. The Falls Church
……
..
…..……………….……………………………
60b.
St. Paul‟s
Church
……
....
………………………………………………
63c. Truro Church
…..……
.
.
……………………………………………
..64d. St.
Stephen‟s
Church
…..…..…………………………………………..
67e. Church of the Apostles
……………………………
..
………………….
71f.
St. Margaret‟s
Church
……
.
………………………..…………………
.72g. Church of the Epiphany
…………………………
..
……………………
762. General Discussion Regarding the Deeds.
…………………….…
..
………
77C.
 
CONSTITUTION AND CANONS OF CHURCH………………………
..
.…..
83D.
 
COURSE OF DEALINGS EVIDENCE.……………………
.
…………
.
……..
92E.
 
NEUTRAL PRINCIPLES OF LAW
CONCLUSION…………
..
……………
100

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