Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Oral Argument Scheduled in Virginia Case

[UPDATE 03/29/2010: The Virginia Supreme Court has notified the parties it will hear oral arguments in the Episcopal Church Cases during its session on Tuesday, April 13.]

[UPDATE 03/05/2010: The Anglican District of Virginia has issued its press release concerning the scheduling of arguments in the Virginia Supreme Court. Here is the text of that release:

On Wednesday, March 3, the Anglican District of Virginia was notified that oral arguments in the church property case brought by The Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia will be heard by the Virginia Supreme Court sometime during the week of April 12-16, 2010.

“Our parishioners have exercised their religious freedom by staying true to the Gospel, and have tried to do so in a way that avoided the need for government interference in our affairs. We continue to regret the necessity for defending ourselves in secular court, but remain fully prepared to do so and are confident in our legal position,” said Jim Oakes, Chairman of the Anglican District of Virginia.

“In the meantime, our doors continue to be open wide to all who want to worship with us. We are ready to put this litigation behind us so we can focus our time, money and effort on the work of the Gospel,” Oakes said.

All in ADV are encouraged to continue to be in prayer for the members of the Virginia Supreme Court as they review the briefs that have been filed in advance of the oral arguments.

“The Lord has blessed us time and time again throughout the litigation, but we must remain faithful in prayer not only for the members of the state Supreme Court, but for our own legal team while resting in the knowledge that ultimately He is in control and is ruling over the entire situation,” Oakes concluded.

The Diocese of Virginia has issued a press release announcing that the Virginia Supreme Court has scheduled oral argument in its appeal for its April session, which runs from April 12-16. Here is the text of the press release:

The Supreme Court of Virginia has notified the Diocese it intends to hear arguments during the week of April 12-16, 2010 in the case The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia v. Truro Church, et al. The Diocese is challenging the constitutionality of Virginia's one-of-a-kind division statute (Va. Code § 57-9(A)) and the rulings of the Circuit Court, which allowed former Episcopalians to claim Episcopal Church property as their own.

"We welcome this news and the opportunity to appear before the Court a little more than a month from now," said Henry D.W. Burt, Secretary of the Diocese. "We believe this law is clearly unconstitutional and there is too much at stake - for all churches in Virginia - to let it remain in effect. 15 other churches, dioceses, judicatories and national denominations, both hierarchical and congregational in structure, have submitted briefs as amici curiae, or 'friends of the Court,' in support of the Diocese's position on the need to strike down the Division Statute. We are deeply grateful for their support."

Mr. Burt noted further, "For more than 200 years, the Episcopal Church has had the freedom to govern itself without government interference. We look to the Court to protect the religious freedoms upon which this Commonwealth and our nation were founded."

For more information on the case, including the Supreme Court filings, please visit the diocesan News Room.
As the date for arguments approaches, I will post more about the issues on appeal. Links to my previous posts about the Virginia property lawsuits can be found at this page.

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