Friday, July 13, 2007

Dark Shadows in Orkney Springs

Well, it is Friday the 13th after all.

Last week the Diocese of Virginia sent out this "invitation" to a "retreat" at Shrine Mont. We got one too. Oops.

The Diocese and the continuing congregations are pleased to announce a joint parish retreat to be held at Shrine Mont October 7-8.

This retreat is for the Episcopal congregations whose majority membership voted to separate from the Diocese AND for members of other not-yet-reorganized Episcopal congregations affected by those votes.

Mark your calendars for October 7-8.The retreat will begin after lunch on Sunday, October 7 and continue through late afternoon of Monday, October 8 (Columbus Day).

More details to follow.

Yikes, this is not exactly an "inclusive" retreat - not everyone is invited. We do wonder how the credentials will be scrutinized - especially for those non-shadowed congregations? Will they require references? Will there be a litmus test? How will they know that the people who come are in their "inner circle" or not? Is that what "more details to follow" means?

In order to officially qualify for this retreat one must be able to prove that you are in one of the "shadow" congregations set up by the diocese where churches with overwhelming majorities of the laity followed the Diocese of Virginia Protocol and voted to separate from the Episcopal Church.

One wonders how they will know who's one of them and who's not? Is there some sort of secret handshake? Will they have their own special Inquisitorial Squad - with a few bottles of Veritaserum on hand in the tea cups, just in case? We wonder.

Out of the fifteen congregations that have voted (and other congregations have since formed), there are only three congregations that the diocese has been able to organize "shadows" - one shadow actually meets in the vacated church building left behind by another one of the departing congregations that are now under Archbishop Orombi of Uganda. The diocese had tried to organize a shadow for that congregation but there was only one dissenting vote in that congregation and that person didn't show up on Sunday. Oops. When another church nearby voted overwhelmingly to follow the protocol and separate, the diocese organized a shadow of that church and put them up in the old vacated building. But we're not sure they really want you to know that.

So this retreat is for the shadows. But wait, they are also inviting virtual members of congregations that don't actually exist! Hot dog! Now that's our kind of retreat.

We do wonder how they will verify those virtual members? Will we need to show our confirmation ID-cards at the door? Will we have some sort of retina scan - or should we just wear our tin foil hats?

We also wonder what sort of seminars will be offered. We have a few ideas:

-Litigation is Your Friend
-If it Ain't Broke, Break It

-Hierarchies Are Us
- Really!
-Understanding the Dennis Canon in Seventy-Two Easy Steps

-CIA Spells IRD

-C3PO Lives: Inside the Report on Protocol Droids
-Go Tell It In The Court Room

We do wonder about one more thing, though. Did they realize when they scheduled this retreat, that they may be greeted by hundreds and hundreds of joyful members of the largest church that voted to separate - and who will be just finishing up their own annual retreat at Shrine Mont? That could make for a very interesting Sunday afternoon in Orkney Springs.

So who wants to call the Media?


Anonymous said...

In the meantime, I'm going on a REAL retreat this weekend with the two guys that are doing great in our NoAH program. Where to? Bigfoot Horse Trail Camp in the De Soto National Forest, of course.

Lizzy said...

Why do you refer to those choosing to stay with the Episcopal Church as "shadow" congregations? Some of these people, I assume, are formerly members of your congregation?

Anonymous said...

Good question, Lizzy. BB, you strike me usually as a reasonable, faithful, and compassionate Christian. This entry, though, is mean-spirited. Would you not agree that people who did not wish to separate from TEC may be hurt, may be helped by being together, may be in need of spiritual refreshment? Why would you put them down so?

And yes -- wasn't/isn't HP&TOOTP just fantastic?!? I'm ready for the IMAX version! WOO HOO!

Anonymous said...

The ironic thing is that members of the Falls Church (Anglican) will be departing Shrinemont from their retreat (Oct 5-7) as members of the Falls Church Episcopal check in (Oct 7-8)

Unknown said...

Truro doesn't have a shadow. In fact, there were those who voted not to separate that served on our Search Committee to call a new rector and were part of the unanimous recommendation to the Vestry to call Diocese of London clergy-resident (and a former target of Bishop Sauls) Tory Baucum as Rector of Truro. They understand what the diocese is trying to do and so far haven't taken the bait.

There is an Episcopal Church - Good Shepherd - just up Braddock Road, though. The current president of Region VII worships there and I respect her very much - if someone wanted to go to an Episcopal congregation I'd recommend there. Holy Comforter is also nearby up 123 and the rector there, Rick Lord, I also respect. I'd recommend there as well. There's also St. Andrew's Burke and I know many of the people there and they are believers and the rector there is the current (and past) Dean of Region VII and I respect him very highly as well - so I'd recommend St. Andrew's as well. I voted to separate, but I'm not a separatist (which ironically again the diocese seems to maintaining as their own strategy by calling Truro Nigerian in an effort to call up Old Virginia prejudices, let's just be frank about that too).

But those who voted to remain Episcopalian have remained at Truro. The shadows are legal effort by the diocese for the lawsuit. Northern Virginia still has many Episcopal churches within shouting distance (Virginia is the largest - or was the largest until the votes - Diocese in TEC). So the idea that Episcopalians who want to remain Episcopalian have nowhere to go for refreshment is preposterous.

At Truro the worship remains as it did before the vote, we use the 1979 liturgy with blended worship.

And I am still an Episcopalian - at least for now. Perhaps that's why I received the invite to the retreat. Perhaps there is an assumption that if one is still confirmed Episcopalian - and I am, though I have been reaffirmed by Lord Carey as an Anglican - one has lost their church. But that is not true. I have not written Bishop Lee to tell him I no longer am Episcopalian (though some at Truro have). That day may come, but not yet.

The shadows are established for the 815 lawsuit and this retreat is part of that effort. It's cynical and it makes me sad. I mean that - you can see the grief here occasionally. I am sad. It wasn't supposed to be this way. There are those still working inside the diocese who are trying to pull it back from the brink and I support what they are doing.

These "retreats" merely deepen the divide and that is why I write about it here. If I saw a retreat at Truro where the diocese was trying to bring us together to negotiate a settlement (which is what the ADV leadership keeps saying over and over) I'd be there in a jiffy. I have heard in the past the Suffragan Bishop come up with some very creative solutions, but for now he has been silenced.

Even a small candle brings light into the shadows.


Anonymous said...

All votes of Truro vestry must be unanimous to pass anything.

Anonymous said...

There could be an even more awkward momement between The Falls Church Anglican's time (ends after lunch) and the Falls Church Episcopal's time, as in an email to all of their members, the senior warden of the Episcopal contingent has said that their retreat begins WITH lunch...hopefully he will correct that mistake...

mousestalker said...

I doubt there will be a problem. I fully expect both of Fall Church Episcopal's members will be polite.

Kevin said...

This is the weekend of the TFC retreat!?

Granted, both Truro & TFC continue use of Shrinemont has been VERY puzzling to me since that is the seat for DioVA (for their choice to use and DioVA allowance) -- there seems a huge disconnect for me -- As in a lack of integrity on both parties part.

Unknown said...

We're not separatists, Kevin. We're trying to find a way to live together, even at this late hour. Well, I pray for that.

One area that we agree is that Shrine Mont is a place that belongs to the Lord, it was created for refreshing our walk and our work with the Lord. Shrine Mont is open to all - not just Episcopalians (that's been made especially clear in recent years) as a place to retreat. Both Truro and The Falls Church have invested in the restoration of several cottages at Shrine Mont. In fact, Truro just funded the restoration of the old rectory there and it looks beautiful!

I have found that it was a very positive step that Shrine Mont continues to reach out and welcome all - including Anglicans. It is amazing place to be and I've gone there for every Mother's Day weekend for twenty two years.

But I will tell you that I heard today news that The Diocese of Virginia is going to force Shrine Mont to cancel both Truro and The Falls Church standing reservations. Yep. So is appears that the Shadows will have nothing to worry. The Anglicans are no longer welcome. interesting timing, isn't it? Perhaps the thought of being greeted by all those Falls Church folks in October was just too much for the shadows after all.

Once again, we may have an illustration that it is not we who are walking away, but the Episcopal Church - which may - if this rumor is true - not be so inclusive and welcoming after all.

This certainly is not the Virginia way. I'm a thirteenth-fourteenth generation Virginian. Virginians don't do this. We're all cousins after all.

That's over 1,000 people shut out of Shrine Mont if this is true. It's looking more and more likely that 815 is now running the shop.


Kevin said...

BB -- It happens to be declared the Seat for DioVA. It like the National Cathedral is the seat of EDoW.

That is where I'm struggling, if CANA has voted to leave TEC, than why pay homage to DioVA See if DioVA choses to join TEC in a law suit than why all a pilgrimage to it's See?

So it boggled my brain Truro went in May as if there was no change -- it's been declared the Seat for as long as I can remember (DioVA does not have an actual Cathedral which is why many functions occur at National Cathedral).

For the record BB, I *LOVED* Easter Vigil at the National Cathedral, I think St. A's did a little better job, but still not bad, however Easter '03 was the last I celebrated there since I felt in impaired communion. Principle is principle!

There is a WHOLE lot said by TFC & Truro still using a privilege, not only that but a retreat at the TEC DioVA Seat. You may see it as a pretty retreat center, but with that declaration, there is A WHOLE LOT more significance than you probably realize.


Kevin said...

It's like Queen Elizabeth I going to a retreat at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Unknown said...

The Diocese of Virginia made a decision several years ago to de-emphasize the whole "shrine" aspect and emphasize the universal "retreat" aspect. On the Shrine Mont brochures the marketing company that was hired to reinvent Shrine Mont for a larger retreat community replaced the "Shrine" logo with the logo of a porch chair.

You can see that porch chair logo hanging on the stairwell to the Dining Room in Virginia House/The Hotel.

I wrote a commentary about that chair years ago for the Truro Family News. Not so sure it played well at Mayo House. But again, it is the diocese that opened Shrine Mont up as a retreat center - not just for churches, but for businesses and organizations as well.

Shrine Most has an amazing history - it's early vision was to be a center of training of missionaries and clergy who were going to overseas missions for a career. The bishop at the time also emphasized those in training at VTS should go to the mission field and the vision for Shrine Mont would that it would be a place that would equip those folks for the mission field.

In fact, Dr. Woodward, who really built Shrine Mont, was such a person. Trained as a doctor, he also took holy orders, married the bishop's daughter, and went into mission in China for twenty years. When Dr. Woodward's wife's heath became an issue, the returned to Virginia and he began to build on the vision for Shrine Mont.

One of the men who helped him was Old Mr. Moomaw who was a child who helped carry the stones for the shrine up the mountain. When I first started going to Shrine Mont, Mr. Moomaw was still running Shrine Mont and I listened to his stories of its founding.

My perspective has been that it was a hopeful sign that there is still hope for amicable negotiations the more we can find some ways to remain in contact with one another. I took this as a hopeful sign that as long as we continued going to Shrine Mont, there might be some hope between the ADV and the Diocese of Virginia.

But it now appears, if rumors are true, that the Diocese of Virginia has cut that off. We did not. We were at the negotiating table as well and who cut that off?

I remain - though evidence does little to support it - hopeful that we will still find a way to return to the table and maybe the place to meet one day will be Shrine Mont.


Kevin said...

It will be a loss of a beautiful place, however the fact remains it's technically the see.

I can appreciate the Evangelicals do not place the same emphasis on that level of ecclesiology. Yet it is still the see.

It should not be cut-off by Truro and TFC but sacrificed. A decision was made and a cost of that decision is forgoing a visit to a beautiful retreat site. Truro continued use and TFC desired use is perplexing to me. As if one is seeking to separate from TEC (thus DioVA being pledge to TEC) and still enjoy the benefits of TEC.

All your words about Shine Mont as true, yet it's still the seat for DioVA!

This more than the law suits should have been a cost of the vote last December. Pretty, yes, memories, yes, but as the see. ADV is not in subordination to DioVA. It should not be doing a pilgrimage to the see. It says a whole lot ecclesiastically.

Anonymous said...

Sad to see this controversy. I last saw Shrine Mont in 1963; it was a milestone in the advent of my Christianity, an experience that kept coming back to me on my way to finding Christ. Sad to say, that last didn't happen in ECUSA, although I was a cradle Episcopalian (went to Shrine Mont as one). As revisionist as it was even back then, it at least pointed to Christ.

The Spotsyltuckian said...

There are many things bb has written that simply are not true. It's St. Margaret's that worships in the site vacated by Christ Our Lord. It didn't start with one person. There were 34 who voted not to separate from TEC. From those ranks, people re-constituted as the one and only St. Margaret's Episcopal, themselves, and then requested assistance from their Diocese. Everything bb writes about this situation is untrue, plain and simple.

There's nothing cynical planned about the retreat at Shrinemont. The idea comes from members of the four Episcopal churches that have re-constitued after a majority of their parish voted to leave TEC. It's not against anything - it's for us - to celebrate our continued existence, in a place we all love very much.

I must agree with Kevin - I'm puzzled. If people vote to leave an organization, why do they still feel entitled to use its facilities? BB attempts a line of logic that implies there's nothing religious about Shrinemont; that it's merely some kind of secular country retreat. The fact is that Shrinemont and the Diocese are of one denominational entity. There's no separation between the two. If you've voted to leave TEC, I'm puzzled as to why you'd still want to use the facilities of an organization you've left behind. Once again, if you voted to align with CANA, you are no longer an Episcopalian - you can not have it both ways.

If incoming people that weekend see folks leaving that they know, and they are old friends, there is no problem, on a one-to-one basis.

Things can be amiable again, too, one day, as separate organizations, once the law suit is settled, all Episcopal property is restored, and those who've voted to leave, set up elsewhere. As someone said, although we may not be brothers and sisters anymore, there's no reason why we can't be distant cousins.

Unknown said...

No, that's not accurate. The first service at the empty Christ our Lord building after the congregation voted and departed was to be for those at Christ our Lord who the bishop considers "loyalists" back in October 2006. Only one person voted to remain Episcopalian so there was only one person Bishop Lee would deem a "loyalist" from Christ Our Lord.

The Diocese made a big deal about establishing a service for a shadow Christ our Lord. (see the diocese's press release here:
But that person did not show up at the services at the old property - it was made up of other Episcopalians who came from surrounding Episcopal churches as an effort of "support." This was two months before St. Margaret's voted.

After St. Margaret's voted (and things were not going too well establishing a Christ Our Lord shadow since no one from Christ Our Lord showed up), the diocese decided to use the Christ Our Lord building for the St. Margaret's shadow instead.

You can read more here too:


1achord said...

Baby Blue, where did you come up with this "shadow" business? We are not a shadow, we ARE St. Margaret's Episcopal Church. The others, who were once our dear friends, voted to leave the Episcopal Church.

The Spotsyltuckian said...

Actually, bb, i think we're both right in our ways: its just our timelines were off. I was speaking of everything that happened after the St. Margaret's vote; you were thinking of what happened to the CoL folks.

I can tell you that we who temporarily worship at the continuing St. Margaret's Episcopal, located in the former CoL plant, are anything but shadows. We now average over 60 worshippers on Sunday. Some came over from the old church, some are newcomers.

One of our newcomers said he was attracted to us by his desire to find a traditional Episcopal home, and that if he'd sensed any anger or bitterness over what had happened, he wouldn't have stayed - but he felt nothing like that - he just felt the good old St. Margaret's Episcopal hospitality, he said, as soon as he walked in the narthex. That kind of warm hospitality to whoever shows up is in the deepest, finest traditions of St. Margaret's.

We have Adult Ed, Sunday school, we perform much local outreach and service to the poor - none of these are the acts of the cynical shadows that you describe. Indeed, we don't direct our thoughts much to those still in the old church, and when we run into them, dealings are cordial.

We expect that the court, based on decisions, thus far, in Florida, South Carolina, Pittsburgh and California, will rule in favor of the Diocese - and after that happens, we'll see if any of our old friends up on the hill in the old church will remain with us, as we regain the property. They are surely welcome in our Episcopal home in the same way we welcome diversity in all of our membership.

I've met with folks from the other 3 continuing Episcopal churches that are also temporarily meeting in alternative locations, and i find, likewise, nothing but good humor, kindness, and a willingness to share what we do have (which is much less than what we had before) - as we all face the future with hope, not the past with recriminations. That will certainly be the dominant theme at the Shrinemont Retreat.

From my perspective, bb, a lot of the stuff you write, like calling folks shadows, comes off as mean-spirited. If you're truly interested in an amicable relationship, that aint the way to go about it.

Kevin said...

From my perspective, bb, a lot of the stuff you write, like calling folks shadows, comes off as mean-spirited. If you're truly interested in an amicable relationship, that aint the way to go about it.

Then pressure your bishops to drop the law suits and return to the bargaining table as they did before +Lee met with ++KJS and Beer, Esq. in January and filed these suits using the 'shadows'(or 'continuing') as plaintiffs, since this is done on your behave.

At least you should pressure your bishop to get the suits corporate body verse corporate body and drop the names of clergy and vestry members as that seems like vengeance, not a very Christian thing to do if this is purely a property fight, that could be done between legal entities and leave people out of it.

I'm currently attending a non-CANA parish, so these admonishments are as a Christian to another Christian that you also role in this and a duty. BB is named as a defendant and if there are thing written here that you do not like, you could effect change by stopping or modifying things done on your behave to fit how you would desire to have your name associated with it -- currently your congregation is being used in more than just property disputes and is a poor witness for your name but more importantly the name of Christ.

I'm glad you have found good humor and peace. As I wrote stuff you seemed to agree with about Shrine Mount, there stuff from a now more outside position I as charge the continuing Episcopal churches should do.

May the Lord step into this mess and bring His righteousness and peace, in all things may He use the struggles that we maybe transformed into the likeness of Jesus our Savior.

The Spotsyltuckian said...

You bring up a good point, Kevin, let's look at this a little closer.

In Eastern Prince William County there were three Episcopal Churches, before the troubles.

The first, All Saints, successfully negotiated with the Diocese, proving that it could be done, as it was done. I've spoken to my old friend, since, the now-Bishop-elect John Guernsey, Rector of All Saints, and the financial arrangements, as he described them, were practical and fair, to both sides, indeed, gracious, as John has subsequently and publicly thanked the Diocese, to that effect.

The second, Christ Our Lord, abandoned their plant and left it not quite empty since a local Latino congregation shares the building.

The third, my parish, St. Margaret's voted to leave TEC and retain the property.

So, the first church sucessfully negotiated with the Diocese. The second abandoned it's building. The third left TEC, but kept the property.

I consider the first course of action to be honorable. I consider the second course of action to be honorable. Both are fair acts of individual and corporate conscience. Would you consider the third course of action to be just as honorable as the first and second? If so, please explain.

When the third church voted, there were 34 dissenting votes. If voting is an act of conscience, for either side, why is it that those who voted to stay in TEC, should lose their place of worship? In bb's example, at Truro, for those who voted to stay, how could it have been an act of conscience, if they said, the outcome of the vote doesn't matter, and they decided to stay anyway, in a church, presumably not in accordance with their doctrinal and theological beliefs.

If Bishop Robinson had not been consecrated, and I considered that a serious matter of conscience, I would have left the Episcopal Church. It never would have occured to me that when I left, though, that I could/should have retained the property. On what basis would I have had that right?

It's my understanding that while negotiations were yet on-going, the vestry in these churches, voted to incorporate themselves, and to file papers at the court house as if they already were the owners of the property, or at the very least, staking a claim to it. That was the first legal action in this struggle. Technically, that isn't suing the other side, but it is the initiation of a legal action that resulted in the displacement of members of the original church - who were left without a facility to worship in, so they re-established themselves, canonically, in a new location, as the continuing body of the original congregation.

If there weren't any lawsuit, today, do you think the people now in possession of these churches, would come back to the table and negotiate, when they are already residing in the property? What incentive would there be for them?

Do you consider it fair, then, for those displaced by these actions, those who voted to remain members of TEC, to simply accept a fait a'compli and never return to the places where they, their parents, and their children, worshipped for many years? Why shouldn't the Diocese meet legal actions initiated first by those who voted to leave, and act on behalf of loyal members of the denomination of which the Diocese is the leader?

Or, to return to the original question, do you think those who voted to remain in TEC, have any stronger claim, to utilize TEC facilities, like Shrinemont, than those who voted to leave TEC, and are no longer members of TEC? (You and I seem to be in agreement of this point.)

Kevin, I don't ask these questions to be antagonistic. To me, they are logical questions I've built up over time. I'm very interested in your reaction and I'm listening with ears open to hear you.

1achord said...

BB, I have to tell you that I truly admired your "Alabaster Jars" entry; it brought me close to tears. It was nice to be able to agree with you.

But to publish this news about a gathering of Christian folks who are trying to follow Christ, and to suggest that there might be a clash between two groups of Christians, and to end the article by suggesting that the Media be called — this sounds a bit like trying to make a mountain out of a molehill, and to bring about more dissension than already exists.

Kevin said...

The Spotsyltuckian:

You are incorrect in your understanding on the CANA 11. There was a protocol for parishes to leave and property would be able to negotiate for the property, it was a special committee of six, including the chancellor, it was unanimously endorsed and given to the bishop on 9/23/06. He reviewed it for a very long time and gave it to the Standing Committee on 11/8/06 they voted to reject it on 12/14/06 (all dates from memory so could be a tad off). Still the CANA parishes continued to follow the protocol including allowing Rus Palmer to speak at congregational meeting and dissenting vestry members (or in TFC abstaining members), after the vote CANA parishes filed as required by law (this is a quirk in the law, I personally feel it EXACTLY the same as SC case, which CANA folks unapologetically rip into AMiA, but planks in eyes and all that). Before I left CANA parishes for reasons of lack of discipline and professional neglect, I heard that CANA & DioVA had several meeting and things went well. After +Lee met with ++KJS 1/8/07 (?) all negotiations were cut off and by the end of the month law suits filed and clergy inhibited.

To your question of fairness. I think we have a property dispute. I believe that it would be best if both parties could work it out on their own. I believe that an impartial civil judge is probably the course that will happen as the parties can not agree - it was a sudden turn a round and in a much different direction than the protocol directed.

However, if the civil courts is where this must be worked out, why name the members of clergy and vestry as defendants. I know TFC & Truro are corporate bodies, so this could easily be done between legal entities with out naming all vestry members and rectors. That implies seeking damages, those damages could have been avoided by TEC.

In the case of TEC, Yates+ has offered use of the Historic Church, Nicholas+ desired to stay with TEC, so a priest who they were comfortable already serving them. However +Lee inhibited him and cut off negotiations and filed suit -- it that fair or honorable?

When I write, the stupidity that was even allowed by the bishop, stopped!! In fact part of it had to do with unjust actions that IMHO were legally stupid as well. Those who did or condoned these actions are named as a part of the law suit. While I do ponder if CANA did not bring this on themselves in the Heaven (thinking Joshia 7), in saying you should ask your bishop to at least drop the clergy & vestry from the suit if not outright suspend the suits and return to the bargaining table, I'm actually asking for removal of the one thing that was brought any measure of justice in my personal situation. However, just is just and fair is fair and seeing about two hundred others, who are innocent of the one situation, named and go through these hardships does not seem like a just thing. In fact I can not rejoice in those who did play their petty games going through this, but as you saw above, I do pray the Lord will use the fire to transform them, hopefully into full repentance, if not maybe to learn in some measure better behavior.

Yet, just is just and fair is fair. I said what I did about Shrine Mont for that reason, even if currently some are leashed because of these suits, I'd rather it be a boring property fight between entities as this is a painful divorce.

That is my take on matter. Thank you for your ears.

May the Lord's peace be with you.


(FYI - I'm currently with an AMiA church plant ('02) and we own very little, we rent usually space from a Baptist church, a week ago last & for Maundy Thursday we worship at WCF due to space conflicts, I met my bishop in the basement of a Methodist parish with really ugly chairs, we hold Evangelistic events at the historic Atlas theater and the rest in homes -- you are actually very blessed in this time for one thing these past six months really enforced in me is that the Church is first relationship with Living Stones and we can so easily make an idol out of structures.

No building, but our parish admin on missions in Kenya, we're raising support for a Rwandan missions trip, one goes on missions in Cambodia as is trying to get a sick kid here for brain surgery, one priest will return from India/Pakistan this week, we have one church plant started and another in the wings {maybe, if we get our act together} about 300 strong, yet no building.

Keep your eyes on Jesus more than the rest of this stuff & the rest is amazing!)

Unknown said...

That is a very good reminder, Kevin - let us fix our eyes on Jesus. He is our redeemer.