Thursday, October 2, 2008


Who owns title to the land of The Falls Church? It might actually be Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia - the oldest continuing Episcopal parish in Northern Virginia. The Falls Church News-Press Online reports:

"...But on Oct. 14, the diocese will argue that ownership properly resides with the Christ Church of Alexandria, which was deeded title to the land by a U.S. Supreme Court decision made on Mar. 11, 1824, and which has not voted to defect from the Episcopal denomination."

This strange twist in the CANA/DioVA lawsuit might not be as far-fetched as it seems. The former Church of England in Virginia was in shambles after the Revolutionary War, and the local landed gentry essentially agreed to consolidate their support to one single chapel: Christ Church, Alexandria.

It seems almost incredible that Christ Church didn't transfer the land title to The Falls at some point. But I can see a scenario where the Christ Church vestry planned to keep the title until the revitalized Falls Church stabilized, and then the Civil War caused another round of chaos and lost records.

Historic Christ Church, Alexandria, is very much an Episcopal Church. While considered liberal by the fundamentalist right, there are many conservative members and some are powerful in the local and national arenas. If the title belongs to the parish, it is a rather delicious turn of events.
(For a little background on the post-Revolutionary church in Virginia, I recommend Joan Gunderson's article, How "Historic are Truro Church and The Falls Church? with a hat tip to Daveed, he lead me to this article a few months back. Dr. Gunderson includes excellent references for further study if you are so inclined).

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