FAIRFAX and FALLS CHURCH, Va., Dec. 17 – The Falls Church and Truro Church reported today that both congregations voted overwhelmingly to sever ties with The Episcopal Church in the U.S. and join the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, or CANA.
Of the 1,348 eligible voting members casting ballots at The Falls Church this past week, 1,228, or 90 percent, voted in favor of the first question, or “resolution,” on the ballot about whether to sever ties. On the second and final resolution, 1,279 of 1,350 eligible members, or 94 percent, voted in favor of retaining the church’s real and personal property.
Of the 1,095 eligible voting members casting ballots at Truro Church, 1,010, or 92 percent voted in favor of severing ties. On the second resolution, 1,034 of 1,095 eligible members, or 94 percent, voted in favor of retaining Truro’s real and personal property. Both churches used essentially identical ballots. The specific text of each resolution at The Falls Church follows at the end of this release.
Each of these churches conducted their votes as part of a congregational meeting. They followed steps recommended by a “protocol” for departing congregations unanimously recommended by a Special Committee of the Diocese of Virginia and supported by Bishop Peter Lee.
That protocol states that a “70% majority of the votes cast shall be necessary” to support separating from the Episcopal Church. It also states that if the vote to disaffiliate passes by the 70% majority, a second vote, also requiring a 70% majority, is needed for the “departing congregations” to be able to leave with their “real and personal property” at a price to be negotiated later.
“This is a new chapter for The Falls Church and other congregations voting thus far and early next year,” said the Rev. John Yates, Rector, The Falls Church. “While we look forward to continuing a productive role in the Anglican Communion, we harbor no ill will to our colleagues in the Diocese of Virginia. And we agree, as Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has indicated, that when two groups have irreconcilable differences, the pastoral thing to do is find a gracious way to separate.”
“Our churches conducted our congregational votes by following the straight-forward procedures established by the Virginia legislature,” said Jim Oakes, Senior Warden of Truro Church. “Our churches have also held congregational votes in line with the protocol established by Bishop Lee’s Special Committee. We fully expect to amicably resolve all questions regarding the status of our clergy and our property.”
CANA is missionary initiative of the Church of Nigeria and the Anglican District of Virginia. It will provide oversight and a U.S.-based structure for these northern Virginia churches leaving the Diocese of Virginia.
“This has been an extraordinary journey,” said Tom Wilson, Senior Warden of The Falls Church. “It was heartening to see so many of our people take part in this process and speak clearly where we stand. We look forward to our future as active members serving Christ in the Anglican Communion.”
The churches contemplate officially reporting their votes in accordance with the requirements of Virginia law.
The text for each resolution at The Falls Church was as follows:
Resolution 1: “Resolved, that a division has occurred within the Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church, and the Diocese of Virginia; that The Episcopal Church has departed from the authority of the Holy Scriptures and from historic Christian teaching on the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as the only Lord and Savior of humankind; The Falls Church shall sever its denominational ties with The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia and affiliated with the Anglican District of Virginia, an association of churches under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a branch of the Anglican Communion; and that the Vestry and trustees of The Falls Church are directed to take such actions as are necessary or appropriate to carry out these resolutions, effective immediately.”
Resolution 2: “Resolved, that if a majority of The Falls Church severs its denomination ties with The Episcopal Church and The Diocese of Virginia, the real and personal property of the Falls Church should be retained by the majority of the Congregation.”