By David Thompson
It has been a long road for The Falls Church-Episcopal in its struggle to regain control of its historic church home. The seven-year battle between church defectors who held onto the property and “continuing Episcopalians” over use of the centuries-old site ended last month with a decisive U.S. Supreme Court decision, and now they are launching a concert series with hopes to rebuild their relationship with the community.
The first performance in the Community Concert Series is next Monday, April 7, at 7:30 p.m. and will feature the renowned choral group The Thirteen. The concert will take place in the main sanctuary of The Falls Church, 115 E. Fairfax St., Falls Church.
Concerts in the series will be free to attend, but the church welcomes donations to benefit its scholarship fund for young musicians. The charitable endeavor, operated by The Falls Church-Episcopal in cooperation with local schools and music education programs, seeks to assist children who have the talent and enthusiasm for music, but don’t have the financial means to fund music lessons.
A small group of parishioners is funding the concert series, and thus all donations will go directly to the scholarship fund.
While Monday’s concert will feature The Thirteen, a choral group that specializes in music of the Renaissance and Baroque eras, The Falls Church-Episcopal plans to host music of all types in order to get the whole community involved.
“We are going to be bringing in a variety of musical groups, to include string quartets, jazz and Dixieland, and even rock and hip hop,” said Robin Boyd Fetsch, a spokeswoman for The Falls Church-Episcopal. “We want the entire community to feel welcomed into our beautiful acoustical space.”
The church hopes to host the Community Concert Series on a quarterly basis, and is planning its next concert for the summertime, but the performance has not yet been finalized.
The announcement of the Community Concert Series came just weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a final appeal by the defecting congregants. In 2006, defectors from the Falls Church Episcopal Church had occupied the historic church, but were ejected from the site in 2012 after the Fairfax Circuit Court ruled the church belonged to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, and thus the “continuing Episcopalians.”
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Fairfax Circuit Court ruling put an end to litigation over property rights, and now The Falls Church-Episcopal wishes to reinvigorate its relationship with the community.
“It has been my hope for many years, as a longtime member of The Falls Church Episcopal, to offer our parish building – a centerpiece in the community – as a gathering place for all members of our greater Falls Church community. Now that we are back in our church home, our Rector John Ohmer and talented Music Minister Julie Tucker are supporting a wide range of programs just to bring us all together,” Fetsch said.