In a move that has garnered scant attention, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, faced with plummeting revenue from its constituent parishes due to COVID-19 and the loss of more than 15 percent of its Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) over the past 10 years, has announced that it is in discussions with Truro Church to sell the property to the dissident group.
The property was the one of several that were the subject of multi-million dollar litigation, after dissidents attempted to wrest the property from the Episcopal Church.
Since the 1970’s, the property was one of several in the area that served as the epicenter of ultra-conservative factions within the denomination. The property recovery litigation ultimately held the Episcopal church to be the lawful owner of the property.
The congregation is known to be fiercely homophobic and to promote conversion therapy. In addition, as reported in previous Anglican Watch posts, the church is alleged to told youth not perceived as sufficiently conforming to gender stereotypes that they are unwelcome in the church’s youth group.
More recently, allegations have surfaced that the late Marshall Harrison Brown, assistant rector of Truro, may have solicited homeless men receiving services from the church for paid sex. The church has not responded to requests for comment regarding the allegations.
Presently, the property is leased to Truro Anglican rent-free, with Truro to pay for the church’s upkeep and maintenance. The lease runs through 2037.
Now, despite the church’s dismal history on LGBTQ+ rights, Bishop Susan Goff says:
“I believe this effort embodies our diocesan goals of supporting and growing our priority ministries, healing across differences, resourcing God’s mission, sharing the faith of Jesus with youth and others, and honoring and caring for God’s creation,” said Bishop Goff. “And I am hopeful the discussions will lead to an outcome that allows The Diocese to deepen and expand our commitment to more than 68,000 members and 425 clergy.”
Of course, one wonders how a church that tells youth perceived as LGBTQ+ to leave, or at which clergy allegedly hire homeless men for sex on church grounds, results in “sharing the faith of Jesus with youth and others.”
Moreover, the standing committee has long wanted an Episcopal parish in Fairfax City proper, which is reflected in the provisions of the current lease. The latter provides the diocese with access to the property for services and events.
Thus, the news appears to represent an abandonment of diocesan goals to eventually plant a church in Fairfax City.
Of course, the decision to spend millions on litigation, only to turn around and sell the property to the dissidents, may seem curious to many, especially in light of ++Katherine’s directives not to reward dissidents for bad behavior via the sale of property to them.
The announcement also appears to undercut the diocese’s claim that it wishes to maintain ownership of its historic properties. While the colonial-appearing chapel only dates to 1934, the parish itself dates back to 1845.