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The Supreme Court has declined to wade into a dispute between the Episcopal Church and a conservative congregation that left the denomination in a rift over homosexuality and other issues.

The justices on Monday rejected an appeal from The Falls Church, one of seven Virginia congregations that broke away from the Episcopal Church in 2006 and aligned itself with the more conservative Anglican Church of North America.

The breakaway congregation in suburban Washington, D.C., claimed a right to keep the church building and surrounding property. But the Virginia Supreme Court ruled the Episcopal Church retained ownership of the historic church.

The Falls Church was one of seven Virginia congregations that left the Episcopal Church because of theological differences, including the 2003 consecration of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire.


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