The Virginia Supreme Court has overturned a judge's decision allowing breakaway Episcopal churches to keep church property.
The ruling was a blow to nine northern Virginia congregations that had split from the Episcopal church in a disagreement over acceptance of gays and other theological issues.
"We are disappointed with today's ruling and will review it as we consider our options," Jim Oakes, chairman of the Anglican District of Virginia, which is the umbrella organization for the nine Anglican congregations, told The Christian Post in a statement. "This is not the final chapter in this matter."
The case has been sent back to a circuit court to decide ownership based on real estate and contract law.
"This decision brings us one important step closer to returning loyal Episcopalians, who have been extraordinarily faithful in disheartening and difficult circumstances, to their church homes," said the Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston, bishop of Virginia, in a statement.