Friday, August 10, 2007

More on the Virginia 20 and the TEC/DoV Lawsuits

From here.

Loudoun Episcopal rectors have been at the forefront of the split in the Episcopal church since 2006 when the Rev. Phil Ashey of the South Riding Church and Clancy made history by being the first and second congregations in Virginia to leave the mainstream Episcopal Church and realign with the Anglican church in Uganda. The congregations disagreed with the 2003 consecration of V. Gene Robinson as the world's first open homosexual Episcopal bishop. Also, Ashey and Clancy alleged at the time that some Episcopal churches had been denying the divinity of Jesus.

Jim Oakes, vice chairman of the churches of the Anglican District of Virginia, an association of Anglican congregations in Virginia, gave the following response: "We are sorry that Bishop Lee would seek to make such a public announcement when the clergy are no longer under his jurisdiction. The clergy he seeks to depose include a bishop-elect in the Province of Uganda, as well as a number of other ordained men and women who have faithfully carried out their pastoral duties as priests in the Church....This announcement from the Diocese of Virginia is like an employer trying to fire someone who has already quit."

Nixon of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Ashburn echoed Oakes. "It's a little bit like saying, 'You can't quit; I'm firing you.' I quit a year and a half ago," Nixon said. "The only thing this does is that it says I can't have the same benefits that other priests do or other health care and pension benefits.

"He has the power to do that and that bothers me, yeah. I wish he hadn't felt it necessary to do that. We were partners in ministry for many, many years, and I don't see the need for him to deprive me of assets. What's up with that?"

Nixon said Ashey of South Riding was not on the list because he was the first priest to leave.

"Lee dealt with him under a different canon. That one deprived him of his orders in one step. Lee received such poor press for that, he decided to go another route with the rest of us," Nixon said.

"I wish they would stop suing my friends," he added. "It's ridiculous. We had a long process worked out over years and at the last minute the bishop pulled the plug."

White of the Church of Our Saviour at Oatlands said his congregation voted 131-4 to leave the American Episcopal Church and join a diocese of the Anglican Communion Province of Nigeria.

In a two-page prepared statement, White wrote, "We are among many who are loyal to the wider Communion and the teaching and practice of Christian Church throughout history. We are loyal to a higher authority than whoever had the most votes at recent meetings of national or diocesan entities...Of course I am still a priest in holy orders. I'm just serving in a different diocese of the Anglican Communion."

White said the bishop's decision would "be appealed and appealed," with the first trial taking place Nov. 19, three days before Thanksgiving. These trials, White emphasized, would deal only with real estate issues and in no way would concern canon law. The appeals will be made in Fairfax Circuit Court under the jurisdiction of Judge Randy Bellows.

"Moving against individual clergy who have already left the Episcopal Church anyway is simply ecclesiastical, routine," White said. "Attacking the properties of whole parishes of lay members is quite different, vindictive, [meant] to intimidate. It's only when church executives have lost their spiritual authority that they have to resort to secular courts and rule by threats."

Read the whole thing here.


Kevin said...

Very friendly story, but the author seems to jumbled facts which makes it a tad misleading in some parts.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see the quotes from Elijah White. His mama named him right.

Anonymous said...

Praying for you guys, BB, "Father Tim's" Prayer That Never Fails -- Thy will be done.

Miss Sippi

Anonymous said...

Let me set up a scenario.

Joe Employee is an engineer for a large company. He leaves his company for another company. When he leaves, he doesn't get to continue paying into the pension plan at the old company nor do they extend him benefits. Why? He quit working for them!

When you cease to be an Episcopal priest, you cease to be a participant in the pension plan. You've switched companies. Maybe you're doing the same job, but you're at a different company. Maybe your new job doesn't have benefits. But, that's the way the cookie crumbles.

Kevin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin said...

Kevin said...

Anon! We've been through this over and over -- Would you PLEASE go read the LAW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If Joe is an employee of a large engineering firm, when he quits the Federal law REQUIRES his former employer to offer him insurance (full price to be paid by Joe, but can not cut Joe off). Thus if Joe had heart surgery in the past year, Joe can continue his insurance on what would be a pre-existing condition for another insurance plan.

+Lee used his exemption to COBRA law to act in a way less cordial than the law protects me and deny what our secular culture does not, just because he is a religious organization (there goes the theory acting in higher standard).

So Joe has more protection because of the Federal law than these clergy. I urge you to read on insurance before continuing to post about these silly hypothetical justifications:

Anonymous said...

Is there some reason their current employer (which I think we can agree is no longer the Diocese of Virginia whether they quit or were fired depending on perspective) is not providing benefits?

Anonymous said...

Their current employers (their Anglican churches) are providing health benefits. The problem was that the DoV refused requests for these employees to pay their own way for the month or so it would take to get new coverage.


Anonymous said...

If the Anglican churches are providing benefits and pension, then I don't understand Nixon's claim in the story which implies he isn't receiving benefits:

Nixon of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Ashburn echoed Oakes. "It's a little bit like saying, 'You can't quit; I'm firing you.' I quit a year and a half ago," Nixon said. "The only thing this does is that it says I can't have the same benefits that other priests do or other health care and pension benefits.

Kevin said...

Current employer is providing benefits, but on health you have a pre-existing condition clause in almost every insurance plan. So an admin which a child who spent the last year at Children's Hospital could suddenly have the rude surprise that child's cancer is not covered by the new plan for at least six months if not a year for your typical insurance plan.

Of the four or five people that I know who have COBRAed that has been the reason.

Remember that there maybe only 20 or so clergy, but TFC has a staff of nearly 50 and Truro about 35 then your smaller parishes of about 5 or 6 plus so you are about about 150 employees affected plus their dependents so probably one cold act by +Lee affected 300 to 400 God created human beings.

This is why this issue keeps being thrown up in +Lee's supporter faces and why in appears in +Minns' letter to +Lee in the third paragraph (second issue, first is the introduction) on January 26, 2007:

"I would also point out that the manner in which you have treated these clergy, and the lay staff of the churches they serve, by refusing to permit an adequate grace period for the transfer of their healthcare benefits, appears uncharitable. Maintaining adequate healthcare coverage during times of employment transition has been a government mandate for all employees through programs such as COBRA. It does not cost the previous employing agency--in this case the Diocese of Virginia--a penny, and yet you have deliberately denied it."

Noted in a TLC interview days later that +Lee is acting in ways less charitable than the world treats its own.

It was a shameful act which betrays the love of Christ.

I as a non-CANA attending Christan challenge you, Anon or +Lee to give a reasonable defense on why deny such benefits. I assisted in benefits for construction company in Woodbridge, VA for a very head strong owner who could be a real jerk on a whim and certain in only for the money with little concern about employees. How come we were under law to provide COBRA (two did, thats out of a base of 65 and probably 120 total over four years) yet a Christan, commanded to love even his enemies can act so petty or even defend such actions?

Anonymous said...

While dismissing the Vestry members is good news, what about the judge's apparent intent to give the TEC canons the same weight as VA law. This seems like it will be problamatic in the later litigation.