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Virginia attorney general steps into church property cases
irginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on Feb. 22 jumped into a church property dispute that is roiling some of the oldest congregations in the state. The case involves seven churches that have left The Episcopal Church over its break with historic Christian doctrines and practices. In January, Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows ruled that the Diocese of Virginia, not the local bodies, owns the property of the seven churches and gave the congregations until April 30 to vacate the buildings. The ruling also indicates that all local church funds and other items at the churches belong to the diocese....
The United Methodist Church in Nebraska many decades ago, made each church sign a contract that the church property belongs to the denomination and not to the local congregations. This is because some churches, even way back when, and I don't think they were Methodist, back in New England decided to separate from the denomination and become independent. Since they didn't have any such agreements, they were able to take their church buildings with them. If these churches in Virginia sign a similar contract, I doubt they have a legal leg to stand on for their congregations to keep their church assets. These church buildings are often part of the support for the retirement fund for church officials. So, for good or ill, one can see why mainline denominations are so keen to keep the property in the denomination's name.