It looks to this non-lawyer that the breakaway Anglicans in Virginia (i.e. the Convocation of Anglicans in North America–CANA) were too clever by half in removing the hem of their garment from the Episcopal Church USA (TEC) and affiliating with the Anglican Church of Nigeria. In ruling against them today, the Virginia Supreme Court held that while a division in a diocese can be ugly and contentious, only if you constitute a bona fide division of TEC are you entitled to hold on to your buildings. And you can’t be a division of TEC if you belong to the Church of Nigeria. Q.E.D.
So it’s back to court the parties go. Over at the Episcopal Cafe, Jim Naughton’s immediate take is that this bodes very well for the Virginia diocese and TEC. That’s because when it comes to deciding on the merits a property dispute involving a hierarchical church, Virginia case law is all on the side of the hierarchy. I presume that in CANA-land, there is much gnashing of teeth and regret that they didn’t just create themselves as an association of dissident congregations within the diocese. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. History doesn’t allow do-overs.