Diocese of Southern Virginia Sells Disputed Property

Episcopal News Service. September 7, 1994 [94160B]

The Diocese of Southern Virginia recently resolved a three-year property disagreement with the rector and former members of St. Luke's Church in Richmond by selling the disputed property to the Episcopal Missionary Church (EMC). The former rector, Bishop Leo Combes of the EMC, and 30 members of the church disassociated themselves from the Episcopal Church in 1992. At the time of their departure, they sought to claim legal ownership of the church building. The diocese was forced to defend its claim of ownership against the EMC's legal action. Finally, the diocese offered to sell the property to the EMC congregation and a price was negotiated. "The Executive Board, the chancellor, and I believed this would be a grace-filled thing for us to do," said Bishop Frank H. Vest, Jr. of Southern Virginia. "We wanted them to be able to continue to worship in that place where many of their members had belonged for their entire lives. However, it would have been erroneous and a disservice to the Episcopal Church to allow the impression that they had a right to that property. The canons are quite explicit and it was important that the canons be affirmed. We wish them well in their future life and ministry as a congregation," the bishop said.