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Days after the Archbishop of Canterbury kicked Episcopalians off of various Anglican Communion committees, the Virginia Supreme Court has sided with the Episcopal Church in its lawsuit against Virginia parishes that broke away and aligned with the Church of Nigeria. Both the Church of Nigeria and the Episcopal Church are members of the Anglican Communion. And under Virginia law, when a national or international religious society divides, Virginia congregations can decide, by majority vote, which of the factions they prefer to follow.
In this instance, however, the court ruled:
“The evidence in the record does not establish that there has been a “division” in the Anglican Communion.
The court did find that there had been a division within the diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church, but decided that the breakaway Virginia parishes had failed to affiliate with a breakaway “branch” of the diocese or Episcopal Church.
This ruling raises a lot of questions. Would the parishes have won if they had simply banded together and called themselves “Nine Parishes of Virginia Which Has Broken Away from the Virginia Diocese. Division and Branch, etc., Inc.”? Who knows.