FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FAIRFAX and FALLS CHURCH, VA, Nov. 16 – Representatives of two of the largest congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia Thursday – Truro Church and The Falls Church – said they are proceeding in a manner consistent with the protocol developed by a Special Committee of the Diocese to settle any property and other disputes should their congregations vote to sever ties with The Episcopal Church in the U.S.
Their confirmation of the protocol came after the Diocese issued a statement Wednesday. “There is no approved protocol,” said Patrick Getlein, Secretary of the Diocese. The Diocese’s statement followed recommendations by the vestries at Truro Church and The Falls Church, November 11 and November 13 respectively, that their congregations affiliate with a province of the worldwide Anglican Communion other than The Episcopal Church. The recommendations are to be voted on December 10-16 at each church.
“To claim that there is no approved protocol is surprising especially since a Special Committee -- comprised of three representatives from the Diocese and three representing Truro Church and The Falls Church -- was appointed by the Rt. Rev. Peter Lee, Bishop of the Diocese; chaired by the Chancellor of the Diocese of Virginia Russell Palmore; met for almost a full year; and then produced a unanimous report with the protocol,” said Jim Oakes, senior warden at Truro. “The Chancellor himself co-authored the final report that recommended the protocol,” Oakes said.
“We were saddened to read the initial response to the actions taken by our vestries,” the Rev. Rick Wright, senior associate rector of The Falls Church said. “Their decisions were taken after a great deal of prayer and deliberation that was carried out in repeated consultation with the Diocesan leadership as evidenced, in part, by materials the Diocese contributed to the public web site, www.40daysofdiscernment.org.”
The Bishop stated to representatives of both churches on October 16 that he saw the protocol as, in his words, “the right way forward.” “We took Bishop Lee at his word,” said Tom Wilson, senior warden at The Falls Church.
The Bishop reiterated that message at a November 9 joint meeting of the Standing Committee and Executive Board of the Diocese. After the report had been presented and discussed, the Standing Committee of the Diocese and the Executive Board of the Diocese voted at that meeting to receive the protocol unchanged in the face of requests that it be amended, Rev. Wright said. “The Bishop made it clear that it was his desire that the report should not be altered prior to these votes, but should be voted on as it was presented.”
Later Wednesday, Mr. Getlein circulated the report of the Special Committee to the entire Diocese.
”The Diocese’s protocol indicates a way forward that allows us to recognize that while there is a fundamental division in the Diocese, we can settle these issues in a Christ-like manner,” said Wilson. “That is still our heart-felt conviction.”
The vestry recommendations reflect the division in The Episcopal Church that has resulted from disagreement spanning the past four decades over basic truths of the Christian faith, including the authority of the Holy Scriptures and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the only Lord and Savior of humankind.
On a typical weekend, about 3,000 congregants worship at the two churches in northern Virginia.
Contact: Jim Pierobon, 301-520-1758