A letter to the Diocese of Virginia from the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, Bishop
October 2, 2006
On August 20, 2006, the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns was consecrated a bishop in the Church of Nigeria. That act established his canonical residence in Nigeria and ended his canonical residence in the Diocese of Virginia. Consequently, as a Bishop from another province of the Anglican Communion, Martyn’s ability to function in any jurisdiction other than Nigeria, where he is canonically resident, requires that he be licensed by the Bishop with oversight.
As you well know, the vestry of Truro Church, where Martyn had served as rector since 1991, desired that he be allowed to serve in an ordained leadership capacity while they continue their search for a new rector, and I have been in conversation with the vestry as well as the diocesan Standing Committee, the diocesan Chancellor and others seeking their counsel on this question. Those conversations have concluded in such a way that I believe responds pastorally to the needs of Truro Church and maintains the integrity of the Canons of the Diocese and of The Episcopal Church with respect to ordained service, diocesan and provincial boundaries and episcopal authority.
Accordingly, I have licensed Martyn to serve as priest-in-charge of Truro church through January 1, 2007. The details of the license also establish that Martyn will perform no episcopal acts in the Diocese of Virginia through January 1, 2007 and that Martyn will exercise his ministry in compliance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church and The Diocese of Virginia. The license I issued requires Martyn’s signature. While I have not yet received the executed license, and had not intended to write to you until I had received it, I write to you now in light of the wide publicity being given to Martyn’s letter to the Truro congregation issued late last Friday.
I believe our response to this peculiar situation achieves the goal of discerning a resolution that expresses our concern for the pastoral needs of this congregation, honors the Church and glorifies God.
While I believe this resolution brings this matter to a close, I have no illusion that it satisfies those who continue in conflict over the actions of the 75th General Convention. As you read this, some in the Diocese are in the midst of an organized program of discernment to examine the future of their relationship with The Episcopal Church and The Diocese of Virginia.
While there can be no predetermined outcome for the results of engaging the Holy Spirit, as I write this, I am mindful of the centuries of the faithful who built up the Diocese of Virginia following periods of great division and destruction. I pray that, whatever may be the result of this period of discernment for the members of these congregations, in the end each member will choose to remain a faithful part of the Body of Christ as constituted in our Diocese and in our Church.
Peter James Lee
Bishop of Virginia