The Falls Church
Message from the Rector
June 9, 2011
On Tuesday, the trial in the church property lawsuits filed against our church and six of our sister churches by the Diocese of Virginia and the national Episcopal Church wrapped up.
There were 22 days of trial stretching over almost seven weeks. I have been told that Fairfax County Circuit Judge Randy I. Bellows heard testimony from more than 65 witnesses and that literally thousands of documents were put into evidence. Bill Deiss, Rick Wright, Tom Wilson, Dan Henneberg, and I all testified on behalf of The Falls Church. Those from our congregation who have been present in the courtroom during the trial have told me that the presentation of our church's case has gone well.
With the trial completed, the case now moves into the next phase, in which the lawyers for each side submit to the Court their written arguments about the evidence presented at trial and the controlling law. Each side will submit three sets of briefs - in August, September, and October - up to a total of 600 pages per side. Judge Bellows has said that after all of this briefing is finished, he will set another day for the lawyers to come back to court to answer any questions he has. Sometime after that, perhaps late this year or early next year, we expect that Judge Bellows will issue his ruling.
I know that a great many of you have been praying for this case, for our witnesses, for our legal team, and for Judge Bellows. Thank you. We have seen many answered prayers throughout the course of this long trial, for which we thank God.
Although the trial is over and the focus has shifted, please do not let up in your prayers for this entire situation. Pray for our legal team - Steffen Johnson, Gordon Coffee, Jim Johnson, Paul Farquharson, and Scott Ward - as they prepare our legal papers over the next several months. Please continue to pray in Christian grace and love for those who have continued to press these lawsuits against our churches.
Please pray for continued wisdom and discernment for Judge Bellows as he considers all of the testimony, evidence, and legal arguments and as he prepares his decision. Above all, please pray that the Lord Jesus Christ would be honored and exalted by all that we do and by all that occurs, including the final outcome.
In the family,