January 19, 2012 at 9:30 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Breakaway Episcopal churches lose court case in Virginia
Gene Robinson, gay news, gay politics dc

V. Gene Robinson's elevation to Bishop in New Hampshire sparked parishes to break away around the country. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge issued a ruling on Jan. 10 against seven conservative Episcopal congregations in Northern Virginia that broke away from the church in 2006 in protest of the church’s earlier decision to accept same-sex relationships.

The ruling could force the breakaway congregations to turn over to the Episcopal Church buildings and property in Virginia worth more than $40 million that the conservative faction seized after congregations voted to separate from the church over the gay relationship dispute.

However, a final decision on the matter may not come for another year or more if the losing side chooses to file an appeal.

The dispute between the conservative and more progressive congregations within the U.S. Episcopal Church came to a head in 2003 when church leaders approved the ordination of a gay Episcopal priest, V. Gene Robinson, as the Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, making Robinson the denomination’s first out gay bishop.

Nicholas Benton, editor and publisher of the Falls Church, Va., News Press, said the court ruling would have an enormous positive impact on the LGBT-supportive Episcopal leaders and worshipers who lost possession of their church buildings, including an historic Episcopal Church building in the City of Falls Church.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • These nutty breakaways can’t have their cake and eat it, too. Let them all join up with the homophobic Ugandan Episcopal/Anglican Church.. Better still, let these hardline bigots move to Uganda.

  • How can you scream ” we are being persecuted” and then sue your own group because they are following the Law you have set for yourselves upon entering into this faith? This is wrong. God forgive them who did this.

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