To the Family of The Falls Church,
Tonight we have received extremely disappointing news regarding the lawsuit.
Judge Bellows found against our church and our six sister churches and in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia in the lawsuits that T.E.C. and the Diocese filed against our churches.
Judge Bellows’ opinion directs that the real property (the land and buildings) of the churches and the personal property of the churches acquired before January 31, 2007 are to be turned over to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.
The Judge’s opinion indicates that a proposed final order reflecting these rulings is to be submitted to the Court within 45 days.
The Vestry will meet Wednesday to pray and discuss the entire matter. I hope that on Thursday evening (January 12) as much of our church family as possible can gather for a parish meeting and time of prayer and worship at 7:30 in the Main Sanctuary.
I am attaching a link to Judge Bellow’s ruling in case you want to examine it, but note that it is over 100 pages long. LINK HERE FOR THE TEXT OF JUDGE BELLOW'S OPINION.
From our human perspective this is sad, sad news. But no specific time table has yet been stipulated for the implementation of the Judge’s decision and there will be no immediate impact upon our upcoming worship services and scheduled activities. We do not yet have full clarity on just what legal options remain for us in response to this decision. We will carefully consider this and keep you posted.
When we decided to defend ourselves in this lawsuit, we knew that the rulings could go against us. We have given thorough consideration to plans, should we be forced to leave the property. We will continue as a strong church family. We will move forward in Christ together with an invigorated sense of purpose as well. Of course we are disappointed but we will not look back. “Anyone who puts his hand to the plow and then looks back is useless for the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).
If this turns out to be the final decision, then we will take it as having come with God’s permission and we will trust that He is leading us, and where God leads us is a good place. I take great comfort again in the words of Christ, “What I am doing now you do not understand. But afterwards you will understand“ (John 13:7).
All is well.
The Rev. Dr. John Yates II
Rector, The Falls Church
Link HERE for the written opinion from Judge Bellows.