Thursday, November 29, 2007

More from the Court Room: Testimony on the Diocese of Virginia's unanimous report that it was at a "Level Five Conflict"

BB NOTE: More from Day Two of the trial in Fairfax Circuit Court. This is testimony from one of the members of the Diocese of Virginia's Reconciliation Commission, a commission who's members were appointed by Bishop Lee of the Diocese of Virginia following General Convention 2003. In 2005 the Commission released a unanimous report that admitted that the Diocese was suffering from a "Level Five Conflict" - or the highest decree of conflict. Here Dr. Paul Julienne testifies on that conflict. Mr. Peterson is an attorney for the CANA Churches and Ms. Zinsner is an attorney for the TEC/Diocese.

19 Q Could you take a look through that and tell

20 me what that is?

21 A This is the final statement that the

22 Reconciliation issued, and dated January 14th, 2005.



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1 And the statement was given to each of the delegates'

2 participants in the 2005 Annual Diocesan Council.

3 MR. PETERSON: Your Honor, I'd move for

4 admission of Exhibit 15 at this time.

5 MS. ZINSNER: We object on the thicket

6 grounds. This document is rife with religious

7 controversy. There's discussion of all of the things

8 we briefed in our thicket brief.

9 THE COURT: Okay. Well, why don't you

10 explain then, Mr. Peterson, why you're seeking the

11 admission of this document.

12 MR. PETERSON: If you would like me to,

13 I would be happy to. The reason we're seeking the

14 admission of this document is that the Reconciliation

15 Commission was set up by members of the Diocese of

16 Virginia appointed by Bishop Lee. Their goal was to

17 find ways to try and unify and bring together the

18 congregations and heal the issues that came out of the

19 2003 General Convention.

20 What happened was something very

21 different. And if I can walk you through the report,

22 I'm going to ask him about specific statements or



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1 specific findings by the Reconciliation Commission

2 which did, in our view, anything but find a way to

3 unify the Diocese of Virginia.

4 THE COURT: Explain to me how that's

5 relevant to the issue of division in this litigation.

6 MR. PETERSON: I think it's relevant

7 because it shows the division occurring, and the

8 reason and the rationale and what happened with

9 respect to really this Diocese breaking apart.

10 And I think we can show it in

11 non-secular terms without going into the religious

12 thicket.

13 If you allow me to go into the specific

14 findings of that Commission, they're basically, in our

15 view, saying we think we're going to be walking apart

16 and breaking apart.

17 And we don't have to go into the

18 specific issues of why that is, but the fact that they

19 recognized it I think is sufficient to show that

20 there's been a division within the Diocese.

21 THE COURT: All right. Well, I'm going

22 to take under advisement the admission of the



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1 document, but you can go ahead and go through the

2 document with him. And at the conclusion, you can

3 offer the document again, and I'll make a decision at

4 that point.

5 MR. PETERSON: Okay.

6 BY MR. PETERSON:

7 Q Can you tell me whether the Reconciliation

8 Commission's report was issued unanimously or not?

9 A The Reconciliation Commission operating on a

10 principle of consensus. While we respected one

11 another's opinion, the final report was one which I

12 would consider to be unanimous in that everyone on the

13 Commission had an opportunity to see it, and object to

14 particular terminology if they didn't like it, and

15 revise it.

16 In fact, that happened a number of cases. So we

17 revised the document and it was a unanimous, agreed to

18 consensus document.

19 Q The final product was.

20 A The final product was, yes. The final

21 product was an agreed document.

22 Q Do you believe that the Reconciliation



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1 Commission's unanimous report found ways to promote

2 unity or maintain unity in the Diocese?

3 MS. ZINSNER: Object to the

4 characterization, your Honor.

5 THE COURT: Overruled.

6 A So I can answer that?

7 Q You can.

8 A Yes, okay. I think we made some

9 recommendations that would help to lower the rather

10 intense level of conflict in the Diocese.

11 Q All right. Well, let me ask you about the

12 specific findings of this unanimous report. Take a

13 look at Page 1, Column 1 and the second paragraph.

14 THE COURT: Excuse me. Do you have a

15 copy of the report? By the time I find it in these

16 seven volumes, we'll be at lunch.

17 MR. PETERSON: Yes. And if you can

18 give me a second, I'll find that for you. If I may

19 approach?

20 THE COURT: All right.

21 Q If you take a look at what would be Page 1,

22 Column 1, the second paragraph. It quotes it as the



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1 use of the term "bitter divisions".

2 Can you tell me what the Reconciliation

3 Commission's unanimous report meant by "bitter

4 divisions"?

5 A Probably the best way to answer that would

6 simply be to read the rest of the sentence in the

7 report which says, "a bitter division in parts of our

8 Diocese that have arisen in response to these

9 decisions of the 74th General Convention of the

10 Episcopal Church and the continuing controversies they

11 have engendered."

12 Q What specifically, though, did it mean? Was

13 it referring to the events of the 2003 General

14 Convention?

15 A It was referring to the events of the 2003

16 General Convention, the Episcopal Church through the

17 consecration of Bishop Robinson in November of 2003.

18 Q And if I asked this, I apologize. But

19 Bishop Peter Lee is the Bishop of the Diocese of

20 Virginia?

21 A Yes, he is.

22 Q Do you know whether he voted to consent to



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1 the election of Gene Robinson at the 2003 General

2 Convention?

3 A Yes, he did support it.

4 Q I want to direct your attention to

5 additional language in the unanimous Reconciliation

6 Commission report.

7 Page 1, Column 2, second paragraph. I don't have

8 a complete copy in front of me. I've given you and

9 Judge Bellows my last set. But it says -- asks, "Can

10 we continue to live together?"

11 What was the Reconciliation Commission -- what

12 was it referring to when it said "we"?

13 A "We" was referring to, at least the way I

14 would understand it, was referring both to us on the

15 Commission and our parishes in the Diocese that we

16 represent.

17 Q Dropping down to the next paragraph it

18 states, "We understand from some of those among us

19 that the answer may ultimately be no and that, in this

20 case, there must be provision for an amicable

21 divorce."

22 What did the Reconciliation Commission mean by,



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1 "making provisions for an amicable divorce?"

2 A Well, we could certainly see the handwriting

3 on the wall in other parts around the country and what

4 was going on in the Anglican Communion that there

5 might conceivably be a need to separate from the

6 Diocese at some point. And if that were ever to

7 happen, that this should be done in an amicable way.

8 Of course, in 2004 we didn't know what the future

9 would hold, and the Reconciliation Commission didn't

10 pursue that line at this point but --

11 Q Did the Reconciliation Commission attempt to

12 characterize the level of differences in the Diocese?

13 A Yes, we did. One of our members actually

14 came up with a secular conflict model of that which we

15 all found very helpful.

16 Q Right. Following up on that, if you can

17 take a look at bottom of Page 2, second column, and

18 carrying over to Page 3 of the first full column.

19 Would you mind reading that? I apologize. I don't it

20 don't have a full copy in front of me.

21 A All right. This is starting at the third

22 line from the bottom on Page 2 of 12; is that correct?



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1 Q Third line from the bottom on Page 2, yes.

2 A All right. "The reality that we face is

3 that within our Diocese, our Church and our Communion,

4 as within the Reconciliation Commission itself, our

5 people and communities who are still in conflict over

6 the events that occurred in August, 2003 at the 74th

7 General Convention. We note that there has been

8 little significant reconciliation and that many in the

9 church are struck in a "Level 5 conflict"," and then a

10 parenthetic clarification of that on the part of the

11 Commission. "A Level 5 conflict is one where

12 "individuals have firmly committed themselves to a

13 particular commission, the outcome can only be defined

14 in terms of win, lose or compromise. Each disputant

15 attempts not only to increase the effectiveness of his

16 argument and his power in this situation, but also to

17 undermine the influence of those who oppose him." Per

18 "Management of Differences," that's a title, "by

19 Warren Schmidt and Robin Tanenbaum originally

20 published in the Harvard Business Review,

21 November/December, 1960."

22 Q And did the Reconciliation Commission



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1 unanimously agree that there was a Level 5 conflict in

2 the Diocese?

3 A Yes, I think that's one of the things that

4 we would all agree to without hesitation.

3 comments:

Václav Patrik Šulik said...

MS. ZINSNER: We object on the thicket grounds.

This has got to be one of the funniest things I've heard in a long time. I know what it's all about, but it sure sounds like something from a Monty Python sketch.

Br_er Rabbit said...

I object on the briar patch grounds.

Andy said...

Wow. I read the excerpt and was reminded of Christ's description of "every idle word" being brought back to account.

Prayers continue for the parishes on this end.