( Dear Readers: Please do not share with the general public. The church involved wants to keep this out of the newspapers to avoid any shame on the Christian community as 1 Cor 7 recommends. This letter is from the Senior Pastor of Messiah Church in Chesapeake, VA–and a dear friend of many in the community. )
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As you may remember, we disassociated ourselves from the Episcopal denomination in 2006 because we believe that they have severed themselves from their biblical and Anglican roots. We were quickly informed that within two weeks they would take over our building and replace me as the rector (senior pastor) of the parish. Thank you for your prayers, because 11 years later we are still in our building. Please continue to pray, as we recently received a summons from the Chesapeake Circuit Court brought by our former diocese, basically asking us to hand over the church building and property to them.
For churches in Northern Virginia that left a different diocese, the legal case continued for years until the Virginia Supreme Court ruled against our group in 2013. Until that court battle was resolved, there was no effort by our former diocese to take our property. In 2014 we received legal advice that the title to our property is stronger than those in Northern Virginia. We had two meetings with the Episcopal Bishop and his attorney in 2014, in which we communicated the strength of our legal position. We did not hear from them again until 2016 (which would have been the last time I sent out a prayer request to you). I met with the Episcopal bishop privately about settling this out of court. However, his discussion always began with us giving up the property to them. Then on August 1, 2017, I received the summons on the front door of my home.
Please pray that:
- Jesus will be honored in all that is said and done.
- The Holy Spirit will guide and guard the discussion.
- Our attorney and leadership team will discern God’s will.
4.The bishop, the diocese and the Episcopal denomination will relinquish any and all perceived rights to our building and property.
- This matter will not go to the courts nor generate negative press.
- We will continue to use our building and property to make tangible the life-transforming power of God’s love.
Thanks so much, Marty