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Good News


This morning, the church I serve -- and by that I mean The Falls Church Episcopal, the Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church -- received good news.

The Virginia Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church in a long-awaited decision, affirming a ruling from Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows - a ruling which allowed the return, about a year ago this time, of The Falls Church Episcopal congregation to their buildings and grounds. 



(I say "their" buildings and grounds instead of "our" buildings and grounds because as much as I love and enjoy being a part of The Falls Church Episcopal, I didn't join them as their rector until September of last year, and it seems a bit presumptous of me to claim that chapter of this congregration's difficult history as if I were a part of it.) 

By way of background for those who may not be familiar with the recent history of this litigation: attorneys for the former members of The Falls Church Episcopal who had voted, in late 2006, to disaffiliate from the Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church - and yet who were making the legal case that they and not The Falls Church Episcopal and the Diocese of Virginia owned the financial resources and property of The Falls Church Episcopal - had asked the Virginia Supreme Court to overturn the lower court's/Judge Bellows' ruling.

In today's decision, the Virginia Supreme Court also "remanded" (sent back down to the Fairfax Circuit Court) for a future decision to determine a minor fractional difference in funds owed to the Diocese of Virginia.

J.P. Causey, the chancellor for the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, said this morning, "We consider this a very clear-cut and definitive decision which we believe puts an end to this litigation."

While today's ruling is good news, even better news is that, I hope, both sides of this dispute can now put a long legal dispute behind them/us, and everyone (I hope) can focus all of our energies on our day-to-day ministries. 

For example:

One of our parishioners -- a 12-year old! -- has a special ministry to provide toothpaste, shampoo, toilet paper, and other supplies most of us take for granted to the homeless and other in-need folk who attend our neighboring Falls Church Presbyterian's Welcome Table, which two years ago fed eight people a Wednesday and now feeds over 220.  

I attended Welcome Table last night and was delighted to see that parishioners of The Falls Church Episcopal responded with huge generosity to this young man's request for supplies.

And, for example, on Saturday, April 27, The Falls Church Episcopal will be participating in Rebuilding Together (formerly known as Christmas in April). 

And on Wednesday, May 15, we'll be hosting a community open house, and then a community supper at 6:00 p.m., followed by a festive "Renewal of Ministries with the Welcoming of a New Rector" service at 7:00 p.m. 

And on Sunday June 16, we'll celebrate the 100th birthday of Jessie Thackrey -- you read that right, she's turning 100 and yet still attends the 11:00 a.m. service almost every Sunday and shakes hands with everyone around her at the Peace, and tells delightful stories: she's one of the pillars of Falls Church and The Falls Church Episcopal and it'll be a real joy to celebrate her.

And of course, at root and giving life to all these ministries is what happens each and every Sunday: the continuation of "the apostle's teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers."


So yes, while today's good news is good news, it's only truly good news to the degree it points us to - and allows us to be - the Good News of God in Christ.

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