FALLS CHURCH, VA: U.S. Supreme Court Declines To Hear Religious Freedom Case
Historic Congregation Sought Review of State Decision Taking Away Church Property
FALLS CHURCH, VA (Tuesday, March 11, 2014) – The Falls Church Anglican-whose congregation voted nearly unanimously in 2006 to leave the Episcopal denomination over issues of who Jesus Christ is and the authority of the Bible-received word yesterday that the United States Supreme Court denied its Petition for Certiorari. The key issue was the Court’s interpretation of the First Amendment. In question was whether courts must enforce denominational rules that strip congregations of their property when they leave their denomination, even when those rules conflict with state laws governing secular property disputes.
The Rev. Dr. John Yates II, Rector of The Falls Church Anglican, offered the following thoughts on the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear his congregation’s case: “We have pursued this legal process out of the conviction that it is one of the ministries that God has entrusted to our church. We continued in our desire to be faithful to God’s calling to see it through to the end. We are grateful that our nation’s civil justice system allows us this recourse, and we thank the Supreme Court for its consideration of our petition. Although we hoped and prayed for a different outcome, we know that God is good, loving, and faithful. We have seen this on vibrant display in so many ways in our church life during these years, and we will continue to trust that he has even better things for us.”
After being forced by court order in May of 2012 to leave the property they held for over 275 years, The Falls Church Anglican has been meeting in a variety of locations including a Catholic high school, Baptist and Presbyterian churches, and a county middle school. The congregation remains one of the largest in the DC metropolitan area with nearly 2,000 people participating in Sunday services. Despite the litigation brought against The Falls Church Anglican, and the loss of the church’s property, vibrant ministries including a 500-member youth group, English classes for immigrants, and international outreach missions continue to spread the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ. (A sampling of life in the church following loss of her property immediately after departure and one year after leaving.)
Yates continued, “The legal process may be finished, but in the end only God’s judgment is final and only God’s judgment matters. Our prayer has always been that God would be pleased with us for fighting the good fight, finishing the race, and keeping the faith. (2 Tim. 4:7)”