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Legal claims were flying last week between the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and 11 breakaway congregations regarding valuable property in Northern Virginia. “We regret the fact that this is going to be solved in courts instead of at the negotiating table,” says Steffen Johnson, a partner at Winston & Strawn who is representing the congregations. The congregations — expecting the salvo of complaints — filed a motion Jan. 29 in the Supreme Court of Virginia to consolidate the cases in an attempt to reduce legal fees, says Johnson. The diocese followed on Jan. 31, filing 11 complaints in Virginia circuit court against church officials and members in charge of congregations, including Truro Church and The Falls Church, alleging that the Diocese has “property and contractual rights in the real and personal property” of the churches, according to the complaint filed by Bradfute Davenport Jr. and Mary Zinsner of Troutman Sanders, who are representing the diocese. Davenport says he expects to respond to the congregation’s consolidation request later this week.
Anna Palmer can be contacted at [email protected].

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