November 9, 2006
Diocese of Virginia, All Saints’ Church Agree on Disposition of Property
For the Diocese of Virginia: Patrick Getlein: 800-346-2373 x30
For the Standing Committee: Sarah Bartenstein: 804-288-3318 x323
For All Saints’, Dale City: The Rev. John Guernsey: 703-670-0093 x7
Today, the Bishop of Virginia, the diocesan Standing Committee, the diocesan Executive Board and the Vestry of All Saints’ Church, Dale City announce that they have reached an agreement on the disposition of real and personal property in the event that the congregation of All Saints’ Church votes to end its affiliation with The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia when it holds a congregational meeting in early December.
“I believe today we have reached an agreement that shows forth the fruits of Christian charity to our brothers and sisters at All Saints’, while honoring our responsibility as stewards of property in the Diocese of Virginia,” said the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, Bishop of Virginia.
Bishop Lee said his fervent hope is that the people of All Saints’ will not vote to leave The Episcopal Church.
“Should that be their choice,” he said, “we will solemnly mourn their departure.” In the event they do vote to depart, he said, “this agreement provides a faithful way forward for this particular situation.”
“In this time of division within the Episcopal Church and even our own diocese, we are grateful to God and to each other that we were able to reach an amicable, Christ-like resolution of our differences,” said the Rev. John Guernsey, rector of All Saints’. “This agreement enables both All Saints’ and the Diocese to move ahead with our respective missions and the work of ministering God’s love to people in Virginia. We pray the very best for one another as we go forward.
Though details of the agreement are not public, the general provisions provide for the transfer of title to the consecrated property on Saratoga Lane – the church building where the congregation currently worships -- from trustees for the congregation to the Diocese. The Saratoga Lane property is subject to a mortgage of about $188,000 from the Diocesan Missionary Society which the Diocese has agreed to assume.
The Diocese will lease the property to the congregation for five years at $1 rent per year while All Saints’ proceeds with a building program on other property. The congregation will bear responsibility for all costs associated with use of the Saratoga Lane property, including utilities, insurance, routine maintenance and capital repair.
In addition, the Diocese has agreed to release its claim to a piece of unimproved, unconsecrated property on Gideon Drive in Dale City which the congregation purchased in 2001 with the expectation of building a new church. The congregation carries about $2.6 million in debt on the property. Since the purchase of the property, the congregation launched a capital campaign to pay the debt and begin the process of constructing the new facility. According to Mr. Guernsey, however, the congregation’s capacity to raise funds was significantly curtailed by the actions of the Episcopal Church’s General Convention.
The agreement also addresses All Saints’ obligations with respect to the dissolution of their parochial mission, Christ Our Lord, Lake Ridge.
The agreement, which has been approved by the Bishop, the Standing Committee, the Executive Board and the All Saints Vestry, is the product of nearly nine months of discussions involving representatives of all parties at various points throughout the process. Now that all parties have assented to the provisions in the agreement, any further action hinges on a vote by the congregation to depart The Episcopal Church.
The leadership of the All Saints’ has indicated that the congregation will take that vote in early December.
All parties to the agreement are satisfied with the result.
“We are grieved by the direction of the Episcopal Church, but we are thrilled finally to put the property issue behind us and move forward with our mission to be a church ‘overflowing with God’s love and healing power,’” said Mr. Guernsey. “This win-win agreement frees us to step into a new day for our congregation.”
“While we continue to hope and pray that the people of All Saints’ will remain in the Diocese of Virginia,” said Jean D. Reed, president of the Standing Committee, “we are grateful that we were able to develop a way to deal with the property should the congregation ultimately decide to leave.” He added, “Our deliberations with the leadership of All Saints’ were conducted in a spirit of Christian love, and respect for one another’s consciences.”
Col. Reed said, “Throughout these discussions, the members of the Standing Committee have been unified in our respect for the people of All Saints’ and unanimous in our hope that All Saints’ remain in the Diocese. We believe that our canonical responsibility is to be faithful stewards of the property and assets which have been acquired by generations of Episcopalians not only in our own day, but for generations to come.”