Va. Episcopal property dispute trial continues

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) - A Fairfax County judge will begin hearing testimony in a long-running legal dispute between the Episcopal Church and several conservative Virginia congregations.

Judge Randy Bellows heard opening statements Monday in what is expected to be a six-week trial to determine who owns church property at seven breakaway congregations.

Several prominent congregations with roots dating to Colonial times, including Truro Church in Fairfax and The Falls Church, voted in 2006 to split from the Episcopal Church and align with a group of conservative Anglican churches. The congregations disagreed with what their members felt was liberal Episcopal doctrine on homosexuality and other issues.

Bellows ruled in favor of the breakaway congregations back in 2008, but the Virginia Supreme Court ordered a new trial.