Speak Out: Should Churches Surrender Donations?

Seven Northern Virginia churches are still battling their former diocese in court.

The Episcopal Church is the last place local church members want their money to go. Some even went so far as to , choosing instead that their donations be spent inside their own churches.

But thanks to a by a Fairfax County Circuit Court judge, Truro Church, The Falls Church and five other congregations stand to lose a good portion of their donations to the denomination and diocese .

Everything the congregations acquired before Jan. 31, 2007, the date Judge Randy Bellows notes as the official separation from The Episcopal Church, must be forfeited to the denomination and diocese. The congregations must also surrender the churches and other property they've cultivated for decades.

Truro, Falls Church and other congregations argue that the ruling . The Episcopal Church claims that the property never belonged to the congregations to begin with.

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in support of the congregations, stating that the donations should go to the churches instead of The Episcopal Church, as the donors wished.

Where do you stand? Should money and items donated five or more years ago go to the congregations the donors intended or The Episcopal Church? Speak Out In The Comments.

And check out these stories for more about the issue:

Stuart Schadt February 24, 2012 at 12:32 PM
Your article simplifies a complex issues. These congregations and their leaders knew that all their assets and properties belong to the denomination. They have tried to use legal manipulations to circumvent that. Judge Bellows using entirely state code and no church law has ruled against them. It is time for them to quit investing in Lawyers, turn over the property and move on to carrying out the mission and ministry of their churches.
Mike James February 24, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Having spoken directly with the people involved, we need to get to the reason why this whole debacle happened. The reason: the congregations didn't like that gay people were being ordained ministers so they voted to split away from the main church. It's one more nail in the coffin of the radical right wingers going too far. Now, just like in the republican primaries, they are eating their own. It seems like God is serving up some divine justice here.
boseamus February 24, 2012 at 03:02 PM
They, both the politicians and those who would that they be thought pious, worship Moloch. The state fears not to simply allow it, it insists on supporting it. Night is day and day is night, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera
amb February 24, 2012 at 04:10 PM
If you had really "spoken directly to the people involved" and were more educated about this issue you would know that the reason the split happened was not because "gay people were being ordained ministers" but because major foundational theological tenets of the church were being challenged and rejected by the leadership of the episcopal church usa. Talking about the role of the Bible and the role of Jesus Christ (the real issue for most of us) doesn't sell the story the way oversimplifying the split and painting the congregants as backwards homophobes does. I assure you that many tears have fallen over this split and over the portrayal of members of these churches as people who "don't like gays". You may also be interested to know that many members of the various congregations mentioned serve in public office -many as democrats! Some of them may not appreciate being labeled as "right wingers" deserving a nail in their coffin and eternal judgement. So maybe the judging should be left to God -- or at least to people who know a little more about the issues and the people involved.
Mike Ritter February 24, 2012 at 04:34 PM
The judge did what was legally correct. He ruled on law, not emotion. The fact that the VA AG, who has demonstrated over and over, his hypocrisy, intervened, is of no surprise. It supports his political base for when he runs for governor.
Danny Haszard February 24, 2012 at 04:47 PM
*Fraud for God* In my case I was swindled by the Watchtower society Jehovah's Witnesses of nearly all my financial assets.This is how they did it,you get swept up in their 'world going to end before you get old enough to need it for retirement. So, you are pressured to give it all to the church. -Danny Haszard still recovering FMI http://www.dannyhaszard.com
Mike James February 24, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Having studied Leviticus in the old testament, it's interesting to note that as a Christian you cannot follow the old testament. Paul makes this very clear: Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law (the old testament) by becoming a curse for us. (Galatians 3:13) Once again, the sword of truth (Jesus Christ) trumps ideology. Jesus never condemned homosexuality, in fact he went out of his way to have so called sinners of all sorts around him. He especially derided the God of the old testament, saved his wrath for the religious leaders of his own time and hypocrites of his own followers. The state allows homosexuality because the state is based on religious freedom. The state had this to say about the matter: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. You'll notice that the people who started the country didn't say "endowed by religious institutions". Why? because religious institutions are not about freedom but about imposing sanctions on others who don't follow their beliefs. Each religion has it's own ideas about what should be followed and what sanctions should be imposed if they are not adhered to. The writers of the constitution, having lived it, understood that religion has a highly divisive nature. Americans who are gay, are entitled to the same unalienable rights as you are.
Mike James February 24, 2012 at 05:07 PM
to amb, it was one of the leaders who told me this and I do know quite bit about the matter involved here. I understand that your angry and upset but homophobia has no place in any church that follows the teachings of Jesus. Jesus's teachings are inclusive and not exclusive. I am sorry that you are upset and I wasn't trying to judge you or the church members but I do suggest that you have judged gay folks as unacceptable for church leadership. How many tears do you think they have shed as practicing Christians to be told they arent fit for leadership? Do you really want to be part of a church that dishonors others? The job of any Christian is to listen and act from their hearts and NOT their divisive minds. You need to open your heart and listen to what Jesus is whispering in your ears...perhaps you will find grace in his words. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
Derrick Heath February 24, 2012 at 05:55 PM
If you a strictly use the laws to govern this issues, then. Under a Contract law or based on assumptions or verbal agreements in law The head or hierarchy part of the church changed its stance and there for changing the basic agreement with each Division or Church Location and it’s parishioners. The basic (change) rule or agreement of how the administrative body governs or empowers people and policies, Thus, effectively changes the agreement under which each division or church raises monies or charitable contributions from its parishioners or community. Therefore the money should stay with the division or local church under the basis which The monies was given or raised. Example Let say you bought season ticket to the Redskins now and when the season started, the organization change the team to the Cowboys?? and made the ruling after the fact. Since we are talking about a religious issue, In my opinion I think GOD would leave the money with the people that raised it, to do his work. In my eyes this seams to be a bit greedy of the higher church. Derrick
Dave Phelps February 24, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Jesus derided the God of the OT? According to Christian theology, He is the God of the OT. Mike, maybe you are out of your field in this discussion.
Mike James February 24, 2012 at 10:09 PM
I meant to say he derided some of the old testament teachings. According to Christian theology he is the God over ALL religions which makes holy wars pretty much inevitable at least for people who like to argue over scriptures of any stripe.
Dave Phelps February 24, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Sorry Mike, again, He is not God of all religions. That is a non-sequitur I am afraid. I think you need a new topic to blog on.
Mike James February 25, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Sorry Dave, John disagrees with you. Besides I've heard many Christians say this so functionally this is what they believe. If you don't believe it, that's ok with me. I wasn't blogging or proselytizing just telling you what Christians believe from what they've told me. "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father (God) except through me." John 14:6
Larry Bradshaw February 25, 2012 at 04:34 PM
The thing about organized religion is that it's organized. The organization holds all rights not explicitly transfered or assigned to others. Individuals or groups of individuals within any organization may come or go, and they have no claim on organization property unless they have an explicitly stated interest. This is old law I think, and is where stock ownership in corporate organizations came from. No doubt the organization in this case is incorporated, and a non profit, and offers no public or private stock ownership to individuals or groups internal or external. Taking religion out of the discussion, the legal question seems simpler. Perhaps the individuals or groups should simply plea for assignment of property and appeal to the morality of the organization, rather than ask a court of law to force distribution of property as a corporate law argument. Thanks Larry


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