Sunday, October 22, 2006

Virginia Episcopal Church Dissolves; New Church Affiliates with Anglican Province

Contacts:; Jim Pierobon at 301-520-1758

Episcopal Church in Woodbridge, VA Dissolves;
New Christ Our Lord Church in Woodbridge Affiliates with Anglican Province

WOODBRIDGE, Va., Oct. 22 –  The members of Christ Our Lord Episcopal Church, a thriving congregation of about 200 faithful Christians in this suburb of Washington, DC, have voted to dissolve the church and to conclude its existence as part of the Diocese of Virginia of The Episcopal Church of the U.S. The members of the congregation have reconstituted themselves as a new Anglican church, named Christ Our Lord Church and affiliated with the Anglican Province of Uganda.

The eligible voting members of Christ Our Lord Episcopal Church voted Sunday, October 15 by a 95 percent margin to dissolve the church and to terminate its relationship with The Episcopal Church in the U.S. and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. The congregation also voted to relinquish to the Diocese the church property on Omisol Road in Woodbridge because it was titled in the name of the Diocese. At that meeting, the Rev. George Beaven, the vicar of the church, submitted his resignation and announced that he would retire from The Episcopal Church.

“Our members are choosing to stay an active and faithful part of the worldwide Anglican Communion because The Episcopal Church has abandoned us,” said Mr. Beaven, who has been engaged to pastor the new Anglican Christ Our Lord Church. “Twenty-two of the 38 provinces in the worldwide Anglican Communion have recognized this division in the Communion and have declared themselves in either broken or impaired communion with The Episcopal Church.”

“Our experience is that the Episcopal Church has become an unhealthy environment for orthodox Christians. In a neighborhood populated by military and other highly mobile families, our future depends on an influx of new people each year who are looking for a safe and supportive place for their families to worship and grow,” Mr. Beaven said.

“Events in The Episcopal Church that have shown profound disrespect for Scripture and Biblical teachings since Christ Our Lord Episcopal Church was “planted” in 1991 by All Saints’ Episcopal Church of nearby Dale City have made it extremely difficult for the congregation to grow,” Mr. Beaven said Saturday. The congregation determined that its future was in jeopardy if it did not take decisive and timely action to disentangle itself from The Episcopal Church.

On Monday, October 16, Mr. Beaven wrote the Rev. John Guernsey, the Rector of All Saints’ (the founding and supervising church of Christ Our Lord), officially informing him and the All Saints’ vestry of the vote to dissolve the existing church and relinquish the Omisol Road property. On Thursday, October 19, Mr. Guernsey of All Saints’ wrote Bishop Peter Lee, the highest ranking official of the Diocese of Virginia, informing him of the vote and relinquishment of the Omisol Road property. In a letter to All Saints’ in April, the Diocese had indicated its unwillingness to negotiate any purchase of the Omisol Road property by Christ Our Lord.

Because Mr. Beaven had stepped down as the pastor of the dissolving Christ Our Lord Episcopal Church, the church’s Senior Warden Scott Richardson also wrote Bishop Lee on Friday, October 20th, reporting the vote and reaffirming that the church was relinquishing its Omisol Road  property, with its mortgage, to the Diocese and turning over its personal property to its founding church, All Saints’. Richardson explained how all remaining utility bills and other obligations were being paid.

In the letter to Bishop Lee, Richardson wrote: “We wish to make the departure of our church from the Diocese and the national church as peaceful and grace-filled as possible. We leave with no hard feelings and wish you and the people of the Diocese of Virginia the best. We are thankful to you and Bishop Jones for your love and support over the years, and we pray for the day when we can be reunited fully as partners in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

In a two hour face-to-face meeting on October 19, 2006 with the Rt. Rev. David Jones, Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese, Mr. Beaven reiterated Christ Our Lord Episcopal Church's and his reasons for leaving The Episcopal Church, as well as his own desire to make this departure as grace-filled as possible.

“The new Christ Our Lord Church is excited about its future,” Mr. Beaven said. “We look forward to working together with our mission partners in the days ahead to build in this country a biblical, united missionary movement of Anglicans in fellowship with global Anglicanism, making disciples who make disciples of Jesus Christ and planting churches that plant churches in North America and to the ends of the earth.”

Going forward, Christ Our Lord Anglican Church worships on Sunday mornings at 10:00 a.m. at the Woodbridge Seventh Day Adventist Church, 13215 Minnieville Road, Woodbridge.

“I am saddened,” said Mr. Beaven, “that the Diocese chose to take such a negative tone in reporting our decisions in its Friday, October 20 release. I have nothing but the utmost love and respect for the Bishop, although I disagree with him profoundly on matters of faith and doctrine. I am particularly saddened by the Diocese’s mischaracterization of our treatment of the Hispanic congregation worshiping at our Church.

“We felt so blessed to have this building that from the start we have shared it with young churches needing a place to worship. We gave the current lessees notice in August that because our church was facing an uncertain future, their lease would terminate on September 30, 2006. We also assured them that we would do all we could to help them if they wanted to continue occupancy. We later allowed them to stay until October 15. The electricity was not turned off until October 20, after the Diocese had taken over possession of the property.”

Since the congregation began occupying the church property, Christ Our Lord Church paid off early a second mortgage of $90,000 and paid down the first mortgage by $80,000.  The congregation made extensive improvements to the  property, which appreciated by more than $1,000,000 from its $700,000 original purchase price.

Christ Our Lord offices are located at 13512 Minnieville Road, Suite 250, Box 6, Woodbridge, VA 22192, 703-583-1441.

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