Opened up the mail today and found Letter #2 from the Bishop of Virginia. Unlike the last one (see here for info on that one), this one was a xeroxed form letter addressed to "Dear Friend in Christ."
Question: Was this letter sent to the entire parish just two days before the vote?
In this letter, Bishop Lee makes a significant error. He alledges that churches are engaged in this process because they think they "might be more pure than their former identity." Pure? Is he kidding? As Martyn Minns said recently, there is no such thing as a "pure" church or a "perfect" church because if we joined it, we'd ruin it. If Bishop Lee thinks that this is what this is all about, just where has he been? I'll tell you one place he hasn't been - and that was Camp Allen.
And he can't even call it "a church" or "a congregation" or even "the body of Christ." He calls it a "separate group." Looks like the lawyers have been busy.
He then says that our vote should be a vote for "remaining one with your diocese, and reject the tempting calls to division and the false promises of a pure church." It's clear that he still doesn't get it and I am amazed that after all this time he still isn't listening - this is not about finding the perfect and pure church. We aren't going to join some pure "pie in the sky" church, Bishop Lee, we wish to stay in the Anglican Communion.
We aren't leaving - The Episcopal Church has left us. We want to remain Anglicans.
It is the actions and statements of The Episcopal Church that are breaking trust - including this same bishop who only a week ago today was threatening the volunteer Virginia Vestries with fifteen different canon citations, including threatening to sue us personally and individually (what's he going to do - take my cat?).
The fundamental issue is a loss of trust - the loss is deep and significant and so far the bishop has done nothing to illustrate that he wants to restore that trust. Once that trust is lost - and a tremendous amount of trust was lost last week - it is very difficult to get it back. It is a matter of trust.
LATER: I couldn't put the letter up as a PDF on the blog, but I did take a photo of it which you can see below. If you click on the image, you can read the letter for yourself.
It is interesting that his one piece of Scripture has to do with the wheat and the weeds, which I thought was about the Kingdom of Heaven, and not about the truth of Scripture, or the unique nature of Jesus Christ, or discerning revelation. It looks like he's changing the meaning of words, er, weeds - the weeds don't represent erroneous interpretations of Scripture and affirming that there are lots of ways to God or that Jesus is not the way, the truth and the life. The point of this passage is that God will judge us on the Final Day, not that we should stand by and nod and smile as the Word of God is reinterpreted to fit the cultural innovations of the day, while TEC promotes actions that are contrary to scripture as well as reimagine who Jesus is. God will sort out who are his disciples on the Final Day - but it is the work of the Church to defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ and go into the world proclaiming that Jesus is Risen!
He seems to think The Episcopal Church can believe and do whatever it wants irresponsibly, with no accountability. If that were true, then Ridley and Latimer and Cranmer died for NOTHING!
It is an exercise in denial. He writes as though this was just an argument over whether to rent the car from Avis or Hertz.
LATER: You can see a copy of the letter here.