Episcopal diocese says court is next in church property dispute - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Episcopal diocese says court is next in church property dispute

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Episcopalian leaders say they're done negotiating and plan to take legal action for the return of property held by eleven parishes that broke away because of the church's tolerance of gay clergy and relationships.

Bishop Peter Lee and the executive board of the Diocese of Virginia declared the land and buildings held by the churches "abandoned" and said they'll go to court to recover or protect diocesan property.

The diocese and members of the breakaway Truro Church and The Falls Church -- the state's largest and most prominent Episcopal parishes -- agreed in December to delay legal action over parish properties for 30 days.  That agreement expired Wednesday.

A spokesman for the breakaway churches says they're all prepared for a court fight.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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