Episcopalians Return to Historic Falls Church To Pack Chapel for Easter Service

April 8, 2012 4:45 PM0 comments

The historic chapel on the campus of The Falls Church was filled to overflowing today, marking the homecoming of persevering Episcopalian worshipers who had been banished from the site for over five years.

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The historic chapel on the campus of The Falls Church was filled to overflowing today, marking the homecoming of persevering Episcopalian worshipers who had been banished from the site for over five years.

It was a moving and joyous occasion for many who attended today, having endured the years of an occupation of the historic site by a breakaway congregation that left the Episcopal Diocese in 2006 to protest, among other things, the Episcopal Church’s election of an openly gay bishop. In January, a Fairfax Circuit judge ordered the property, and that of other Episcopal churches in Virginia where the same thing happened, back to the Episcopal diocese.

Today’s marked the first return of the “continuing Episcopalians,” who had persisted in their faith by worshiping in the fellowship hall of a church across the street. On a beautiful Easter morning, the chapel dating to 1732 was filled to capacity, with folding chairs added to any and all available open spaces, for a rousing celebration of Easter and the return to the sanctuary.

“You may notice some leading this service having breaks in their voices,” the Rev. Cathy Tibbetts, who led the service, told the congregation. “That’s because of the momentous occasion today represents. It is a wonderful day.”

Preaching on a Resurrection theme, Tibbets told the congregation, “We have come home to do God’s work.”

A congregational prayer intoned, “We pray for the well being of your church, most especially for all affected by the recent litigation now coming to its conclusion…We pray for all affected in our own community of Falls Church, for the people of The Falls Church Episcopal and the people of The Falls Church Anglican (the breakaway group–ed.), that in you we may all come to know your perfect will for our missions and ministries.. We pray for all in positions of leadership, for the clergy, vestries, and attorneys that all may be used by you, as instruments of your wisdom, grace and love during this time of transition.”

The service included a baptism and Eucharist, and was followed by an Easter egg hunt on the grounds for the large contingent of young people present for the service. Falls Church leaders present included City Council member Robin Gardner, School Board member Kieran Sharpe, Assistant City Manager Cindy Mester and former Superintendent of Schools Dr. Warren Pace and founding Falls Church School Board member Jessie Thackrey.

The final transfer of the property to the Episcopal diocese has yet to be finalized.

 

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