Breakaway Anglicans Ordered to Return Property by April 30

Altar image by ruskpp/

Altar image by ruskpp/

A Virginia judge has ordered seven congregations that broke from the Episcopal Church to return all property to the local diocese — from valuable land to sacred chalices — by April 30.

The Diocese of Virginia had wanted the properties returned by March 30, a week before Easter. But Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows agreed to give the breakaway congregations more time.

In a closely watched case that reached the Virginia Supreme Court, Bellows ruled in January that congregations had the right to leave the Diocese of Virginia, but not to take church property with them.

The Gospel According to Charles Dickens: Christmas as Ebenezer

An illustration from Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." Image by Tim King.

An illustration from Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." Image by Tim King.

An ebenezer is a reminder. It tells the story of God’s faithfulness and our repentance. It is a marker for transformation and conversion.

Dickens, I would assume, did not give Scrooge the first name “Ebenezer” without reason. While the word has fallen out of common use (the hymn “Come Thou Fount” is often sung now with the word “altar” in replace of “ebenezer”) it is still powerful with meaning.

“Ebenezer” is the marker that commemorates the moment that everything changed. In difficult times it is the reminder that what was true at the time of the original change, namely God’s faithfulness, is still true today.