Friday, December 08, 2006

The Postman Rings Twice: Letter #2 Arrives in the Mail from the Episcopal Bishop of Virginia

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.


Jeff H said...

So did this go out to all parishoners, or just the special ones?

Unknown said...

Good question, Jeff - perhaps he sent it to the entire mailing list for the parishes. It was xeroxed and he didn't use the "nice" stationery as he did for the threatening letter of last week. That could very well be that it was sent to the mailing lists.

If he sent it to the mailing list, he might want to be prepared to hear from the parish. Many of the those parishioners never heard back from him when they wrote him after General Convention 2003. For many, if not most of them, this will be the first correspondence they've gotten from him, two days before the vote.

Anonymous said...

There is a large demand for cats in TEC to keep the mice under control in the vacant churches

Anonymous said...

Not exactly covering himself in glory, is he?

Sounds a bit like a panic in the halls of power....

Anonymous said...

BB -- all parishioners got the same "friendly" letter. Don't you feel loved?

Karen B. said...

Wow. It just gets more surreal. I truly feel insulted that +Lee could not respect us enough to engage the issues at a level that responds to our concerns. That bit about wanting a "pure church" is just too bizarre and sad.

So thankful for the grace and strength God is pouring out upon the vestry and Truro leadership in these days. Sending hugs & prayers from afar this weekend.

Anonymous said...

Probably couldn't afford another mailing on "nice" paper. He has a fiduciary responsibility - right?

Anonymous said...

Well, I didn't get a letter from Peter Lee so now I'm REALLY insulted. I'm tellin' ya, this is the LAST STRAW for me and my house. All generations shall call me The Non-Lettered. Hmmph.

Anonymous said...

BB -

Will you please post a PDF of the latest letter? I'd love to send it along to the navel gazers in my vestry.

Unknown said...

I couldn't put the letter up as a pdf on the blog (or if I can do that, I will need to learn how!), so I took a snapshot of it and posted it as a photo.


Anonymous said...


Dear beloved [kiss, kiss] parishioner,

Your parish is about to have a vote [duh?] about the Whole EPISCOPAL Church.

We can still get along. We always got along, yes were different, but we can learn from that. Here are some esoteric cannons to make you thing this is important [insert relevant esoteric cannon]. By the way, next year is the 400 year anniversary of Jamestown, see that means we've gotten along for 400 years.

Oh yeah, you might want some Scripture [being a bishop and all], ah, oh yeah, until the Day of Judgement we are promised that the wheat and weeds will grow up together.

Faithfully YOUR bishop,

[Okay, so I have done a little editorial summary of his letter].


Anonymous said...

My wife and I received our letter from Mr. Lee on December 8.

We haven't figured out if he believes that we are the weeds or the wheat.

Anonymous said...

I feel left out - I am a Truro vestryman and did not receive either letter. Does that make me wheat or a tare?

An Anxious Anglican

Bill said...

My prayers are with all of you this weekend. Your stand and decision honours our Lord.

Anonymous said...


No they can't take the cat, they can just break your heart. Remember Isaiah 1:18!

Jeff H said...

Dang...I wish I was still a member so I could get a letter of my own.

Anonymous said...

jeff h:

Maybe bb can photocopy the photocopy for you. It does look suitable for framing . . . . Kind of like the fake diploma I got when I graduated from law school. Just a blank piece of paper. Which is about as substantive as Bishop Lee's letter .. ..

Anonymous said...

My son-in-law received a letter at his house and it was addressed to his wife who was also my daughter. We celebrated her "homegoing to be with Our Lord" a year ago last April. If this is an indication of the abilities of the Diocese of Virginia, they best fold now.

Karen B. said...

I finally have figured out what to post on Lent & Beyond in terms of prayer suggestions for Truro and the other VA parishes as they begin the vote tomorrow. Here’s the link:

three prayer suggestions:
1) peace
2) A prayer for God’s light & truth to guide (from Ps 43)
3) To be able to stay thankful in the midst of this, and focused on the big picture.

Anonymous said...

Hey - it's on the Diocesan website. Essentially Peter is telling it like it is (finally):

1. Vestries as individuals should either honor their oath or admit that they did not swear an honest oath.

2. As far as property - it's not yours. It's belonged to the Diocese for hundreds of years.

3. Be true to your principles - split off and be the church you want to be - Nigerian, whatever. But go on your own.

Godspeed, but leave the Episcopalians behind!


Unknown said...

We wish to remain Anglican.

And by the way, the oath says we'll uphold the teachings of the Holy Scriptures (which Bishop Lee left OUT of his letter last week).

Again, it is The Episcopal Church who left us - we want to remain Anglican.

Remember BIshop Ridley!


Anonymous said...

This letter did nothing more than add fuel to our fire - literally!

Anonymous said...

An Anxious Anglican:

Oh dear, here let me help you ...

Dear vestrymember:

THREATEN, threaten, threaten, threaten, threaten, threaten, threaten, threaten, threaten, threaten, I'll have your house to!

Dear beloved [kiss, kiss] parishioner,

Okay, do you feel better now?


RE: And by the way, the oath says we'll uphold the teachings of the Holy Scriptures (which Bishop Lee left OUT of his letter last week).

What?! You must have been paying attention or something, well, never mind that. We're the new magisterium, we rank Rome, what w/o sola scriptora what? Well, nevermind that a spirit moved and replaced the Bible with these lovely cannons, we cite them often, you should memorize them, what inconstant, oh those must be older one we still have on the books, we'll have to fix that at the next General Convention.


What?! You released greenhouse gases from DioVA contribution to the deforestation, shame on you, now will blame you for both the release of CO2 against cannon 1762936493-473723893 and the deforestation which DioVA passes a resolution 8948934-47we783 against.

Oh yeah, tomorrow's vote, lovie, lovie, kissie, kissie, we can get along, we've always been different but we got along, unity remember that, we do value you ... Faithfuly Your Bishop ...


Too much fun! If you all could lift all those voting in prayer, I'd be grateful.

Anonymous said...

Clancy -- please accept our condolances on the loss of your daughter. To get a letter like that addressed to her adds to pain that is still so fresh. Our own daughter went home in January 2004. May the Lord truly bless your family with His peace.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Pat. Our daughter, Diane, was Senior Warden at Truro few years ago and was a prime mover in the Orthodox Movement in The Episcopal Church.

The Lord said, 'It is enough, Diane, and time to come home."

Anonymous said...

Pat, We understand the pain. Our Lord understands the pain--but, the pain does perstist at times.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Clancy -- Yes, the pain does persist at times. I am so sorry. Yes, it is a joy to know they are with the Lord who loves them, but missing a child hurts. It sounds like your daughter left a wonderful legacy.

Anonymous said...

As a United Methodist in Florida, we do have close ties to Truro Church. It is our home away from home, and members of our family are still very much involved there.

One very much involved there has said, "I believe I am where God wants me." One cannot ask for more than that.