Virginia's Supreme Court to Hear Episcopal Diocese Case
The Supreme Court of Virginia has decided to hear arguments in a case involving the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and congregations that left the denomination.
The Secretary of the Diocese, Henry Burt, said it was welcome news. The case is set for April 12th through the 16th. In 2006 several Episcopal churches voted to not only leave the Diocese and the denomination, but to retain the church buildings they occupied. A lower court ruled against the Diocese last year, citing an old Virginia statute.
Burt: We have challenged both the ruling itself and the constitutionality of the statute that they used. The statute is called the Division Statute, which is unique in the United States and it, in essence, imposes a congregational polity on hierarchical churches.
The Diocese, Burt said, has had the freedom to govern itself for more than 200 years and it’s not alone in its challenge of the Division Statute. More than a dozen other churches, dioceses, judicatories and national denominations have submitted amici briefs in support.
Burt: They recognize the threat the Division Statute poses to religious freedom in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
John Ogle, WCVE News