The Falls Church v. Protestant Episcopal Church in the U.S.Annotate this Case
The parties to this complex dispute were Plaintiffs, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia (the Diocese) and the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America (TEC), and Defendants, seven local congregations, including The Falls Church (collectively, the CANA congregations), Appellant in the present case. After The Falls Church disaffiliated from TEC, Plaintiffs filed complaints asserting that all personal and real property held by the CANA congregations was actually held in trust for TEC and the Diocese. The trial court found that Plaintiffs carried their burden of proving they had contractual and propriety interests in the church property at issue and granted relief to Plaintiffs. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part, holding (1) Plaintiffs had a proprietary interest in the properties, and therefore, a constructive denominational trust should be imposed in the properties; (2) the trial court correctly ordered Appellant to convey the property to Plaintiffs; and (3) the trial court erred in its disposition of personal property acquired by Appellant after the vote to disaffiliate.