The historic chapel on the campus of The Falls Church was filled to overflowing today, marking the homecoming of persevering Episcopalian worshipers who had been banished from the site for over five years.
It was a moving and joyous occasion for many who attended today, having endured the years of an occupation of the historic site by a breakaway congregation that left the Episcopal Diocese in 2006 to protest, among other things, the Episcopal Church's election of an openly gay bishop. In January, a Fairfax Circuit judge ordered the property, and that of other Episcopal churches in Virginia where the same thing happened, back to the Episcopal diocese.
Today's marked the first return of the "continuing Episcopalians," who had persisted in their faith by worshiping in the fellowship hall of a church across the street. On a beautiful Easter morning, the chapel dating to 1732 was filled to capacity, with folding chairs added to any and all available open spaces, for a rousing celebration of Easter and the return to the sanctuary.
"You may notice some leading this service having breaks in their voices," the Rev. Cathy Tibbetts, who led the service, told the congregation. "That's because of the momentous occasion today represents. It is a wonderful day."
Preaching on a Resurrection theme, Tibbets told the congregation, "We have come home to do God's work."