Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Statement from the Anglican District of Virginia on the filing of lawsuits against clergy and lay leaders by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

Contact: Jim Pierobon, 301-520-1758

A Statement from the Board of the Anglican District of Virginia

FAIRFAX and FALLS CHURCH, Va, Jan. 31 - We have learned tonight from the media that the Diocese of Virginia has filed civil lawsuits against the clergy and volunteer lay leadership of eleven Virginia churches.

These are the same Virginia churches that voted overwhelmingly to sever ties with The Episcopal Church (TEC) and affiliate with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), a fully recognized branch of the Anglican Communion under the Anglican Church of Nigeria.

We receive this news as an act of betrayal.

Contrary to statements issued by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, we have filed no lawsuits. Our only action has been to record our parish votes in December and January for the public record.

In addition, our volunteer lay leaders diligently followed the steps outlined in the Diocese of Virginia's "Protocol for Departing Congregations" trusting that the diocese would honor its own protocol. The actions taken today show that we were betrayed by that trust.

We still believe that there are better ways to settle our differences than by the unprecedented actions the Diocese of Virginia took today against lay volunteers and their clergy. We request that the Diocese of Virginia step back from this precipitous behavior and resolve to find an amicable and reasonable way forward that will honor Christ and be a blessing to His Church.

The Board of the Anglican District of Virginia

Tom Wilson, Senior Warden, The Falls Church,
Chairman, Board of Directors

Jim Oakes, Senior Warden, Truro Church,
Member of the Board

David Allison, Senior Warden, Church of the Apostles,
Member of the Board

Warren Thrasher, Treasurer
Mary McReynolds, Secretary

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Stand Up And Cheer?

BB NOTE: The following speech was given by the Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia, the Rt. Rev. David C. Jones, as his "pastoral address" on Friday, January 25, 2007 at the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia Annual Council in Richmond.

This is also the speech that caused a lot of standing ovations and cheering - perhaps not one of the brighter moments in the history of the Diocese of Virginia.

What do you think?

Report of the Bishop Suffragan, The Rt. Rev. David C. Jones

Bishop Lee, Bishop Paterson, Members of Council,

I stand here today with a joyful perspective on the health and vitality of the vast majority of our congregations. I cannot remember a time in this Diocese

when more congregations have been actively engaged in mission.
when more congregations are taking seriously the call of Christ to love our neighbor
when more people are participating in mission trips
when more people are part of a healing ministry or Bible study.

One need only to attend closing worship at one of our summer camps to experience the vitality of faith and commitment of our younger members. During the Christmas holidays, I attended the reunion of Shrine Mont campers. I left the Church of the Holy Comforter, Vienna with my spirits soaring.

This is a vital and dynamic diocese focused on the mission of the Risen Lord. It is a privilege to visit our congregations stretching from the West Virginia border to the Chesapeake Bay and the Potomac River to the James.

And I am especially proud to serve with our diocesan bishop, Peter James Lee. Bishop Lee has supported me and trusted me in ways that I do not deserve.

This week, the bishops of Province III have made this statement in support of the Bishop of Virginia:

“We the Bishops of Dioceses in Province III (the Middle Atlantic area) of The Episcopal Church commend and support our brother The Right Reverend Peter J. Lee, Bishop of Virginia, in his recent action and statement concerning several parishes within his Diocese which have withdrawn from The Episcopal Church. We support completely his decision necessitated by the Canons of our Church and morally responsible. Moreover, we commend Bishop Lee for the many ways over several years in which he tried to pastorally minister to, find appropriate compromises, and charitably respond to his detractors. We are proud to be his colleagues.”

This was signed by Bishops Ihloff, Wright, Shand, Raab, Rowley, Bennison, Powell, Chane, Eastman, Dixon, Klusmeyer, Creighton, Longest, Leighton, Baxter, Townsend and Jones.

My primary responsibilities are to oversee mission congregations and Church Planting. We have three commissions that are serving us very well.

The Commission on Congregational Missions is especially attentive to ensuring the pastoral presence of Episcopal congregations in declining and developing areas of our diocese – especially in reaching out to new ethnic populations. A high point of this past year was a Small Church Day held at St. James the Less in Ashland.

The Commission on Church Planting has its eye on new opportunities for mission and is responsible for developing new congregations.

The Commission on Congregational Development is attentive to opportunities to strengthen existing congregations through high quality diocesan programs such as the Magnetic Church Conference.

Each of these hard working commissions is committed to the priorities of our diocese and the health of congregations.

I am sad that some of our clergy have led their congregations out of the Episcopal Church. The matter is very personal to me. I have worked with a number of these clergy and their congregations in Church Planting and appreciate their passion for evangelism. But I reject with all my might the notion that our theology has changed. I find it outrageous to suggest that we have abandoned the historic faith. We continue to worship with the Book of Common Prayer and affirm that the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God and contain all things necessary to salvation.

We share a common devotion to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We share a common faith stated clearly in the Nicene and Apostle’s creeds and the Book of Common Prayer.

It is true that we are at a different place than some Christians in other parts of the world. It is also true that we have a wide breadth of opinion on current matters of faith and discipline. That has always been true. In fact, it would be difficult in the Episcopal Church to identify one common point of view on any contemporary social issue. How could we? We are the Church – the people of God assembled and serving in our own communities.

From my own perspective, little has changed in terms of our faith. What has changed is how rapid international communication has sharpened differences into divisions and divisions into schism.

In the departing congregations, I have witnessed a shift of emphasis from belonging to Christ through baptism to an emphasis on belonging through adherence to one exclusive point of view. That development is not Anglican!

What God establishes in baptism is indissoluble and cannot be compromised. All of us belong through baptism. We are God’s beloved children. The primary message of the Epiphany season is that the gospel is for all people, everywhere.

What is essentially Anglican is a common devotion to Jesus as Savior and Lord, the use of the Book of Common Prayer, and a common acceptance of the integrity of different cultures living out the Christian life. I celebrate that openness and rejoice in the freedom it affords all of us to grow into the full stature of Christ.

Some of our newest congregations have reported difficulty in attracting new members due to the negative publicity we are experiencing in the press. Some suggest that our “brand name” has been damaged. In some places and among some people that may be true.

But that does not change who we are and what we are called to be. We are the Church and Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church. Even in the face of adversity, we have our marching orders from the Risen Christ. We are to ‘teach all nations’ and baptize. We are to love our neighbor and strive for justice and peace. We cannot allow the attention on a few to divert our attention from our most sacred call – the call of God in Holy Baptism

So what should we say when encountered with negative opinions of our church?

Might I suggest that we begin by saying,

We believe in God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
We believe in Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God
We believe that Jesus was raised from the dead.
That Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior.
We are fed by Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
or we can say

Yes, I am a member of Bishop Tutu’s Church.

While we may be on the defensive as a result of a constant barrage of criticism from within, we should not lose heart. We are the Church. Jesus is the Risen Lord.

The Lion of Judah

I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals."
-Rev. 5:4-5

Mr. Tumnus: [of Aslan] He's not a tame lion.
Lucy Pevensie: No... but he's good.

-The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis

The Other Legacy: Maybe it's time to get George and Bill on the phone (er, not the White House ones ...)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Why the cheering?

Read Doug Leblanc's report on Episcopal Diocese of Virginia's Council here.

Doug writes:

…Many of the 1,000 delegates and visitors present gave a standing ovation when the Rt. Rev. Peter Lee announced that both the standing committee and the executive board of the diocese voted unanimously to take legal action over property ownership in the departing parishes.

They applauded vigorously when the Rt. Rev. John Paterson, Bishop of Auckland, New Zealand, said, “If the Episcopal Church needs a strong and united Diocese of Virginia, it is no less true that the Anglican Communion needs a strong and united Episcopal Church, and The Episcopal Church needs the Anglican Communion.”

They gave a standing ovation when the Rt. Rev. David C. Jones, bishop suffragan, read a statement of unqualified support for Bishop Lee by nearly all the active and retired bishops in Province III of The Episcopal Church (with the notable exception of Pittsburgh’s bishops).

Bishop Jones said the departing congregations had shifted their emphasis “from belonging to Christ through baptism” to “adhering to one point of view.” When he added, “That is not an Anglican development,” delegates rose again, applauding and cheering….

When Truro voted after the 40 Days of Discernment and the results were announced, you could hear a pin drop. The results were announced to a sober, prayerful, and respectful silence. This is not a happy occasion - it may be necessary - but it is not happy.

I do believe that there was grief in Richmond, but there was no place to express it. So instead we witnessed the this stand-up and cheering that merely masked the sorrow, grief, despair, anger, and bewilderment. My guess is that there is still massive denial going on as to the seriousness of this situation and a rally - which is what the Virginia Diocesan Council turned into - is not going to make it all better.


The Real Legacy

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
'Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost it's grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Brought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
'Till Hereturns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ
I'll stand

Saturday, January 27, 2007

An Orwellian Moment: It's all about "legacy"

We recognize that some people experience that unity and breadth as insufficient for the exercise of their faith. We respect their consciences but also must respond when people who no longer share our mission, seek to leave and take with them property that belongs to all of us and to our grandchildren in the faith. Our differences with the congregations that have departed the Diocese are not about property but about legacy. The church buildings of the Diocese of Virginia were given by generations past to be Episcopal Churches for generations to come and we are committed to protecting that legacy.

We have the strong support of the Presiding Bishop and the General Church in seeking to recover the properties now occupied by persons who are no longer loyal to the Episcopal Church and to the Diocese of Virginia.

The Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee
Pastoral Address
January 26, 2007

Question: What does the word "Legacy" really mean?

Answer: Is this another Orwellian Moment? Remember when Bishop Lee invented the "Unity Committee" which was quickly renamed the "Property Committee?" Now it seems he's about to rename it the "Legacy Committee." But we all know that the real name is "Litigation Committee." So each time you hear the word "Legacy," remember to translate it into "Litigation." That is what the word "Legacy" really means: Litigation.

Question: When Bishop Lee says that he has the "strong support" of the Presiding Bishop and the General (not "National") Church, what does he mean by the words "strong support?"

Answer: I don't think it means they all join hands and sing Kumbaya.

Diocese of Virginia Denies Consent to Bishop of South Carolina Election

Jean Reed, president of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, announced that that Standing Committee denied consent to the election of Mark Lawrence as BIshop of South Carolina.

Virginia Diocesan Council Update: Canon 3 revision pulled from debate by chancellor

There's a break right now so the delegates can haul their luggage out of their rooms for check-out before the end of Council. Unlike in last years, the resolutions section went by quickly and uneventfully R-5 was adopted (was Same Sex Blessings) as a substitute, but I don't have the language yet (but it was substantially changed).

There was far more activity over the new canons and revised canons: C1 failed, C-2 was referred to committee; C-3 was also surprisingly referred, and C-4 and C-5 passed. C-3, which would have required that incorporating churches include the language that they are Episcopal Churches was challenged - but not by the orthodox, but by the progressives. The reasoning was that the canon change implies that the diocesan legal team (since the chancellor was the proposer) needed the clarification because the current status of incorporation is unclear. A delegate from a progressive church asserted that he believes it is clear and by changing the canon would strengthen the orthodox position that the incorporation was unclear. He challenged the chancellor of the diocese to confirm that the incorporation is clear now or why are they changing the canons? The chancellor conferred with his advisors and then suddenly recommended that the proposed canon be referred back to committee. In other words, the chancellor indeed sees that there is no assumption in the church incorporation that a church is Episcopal and so the canon was introduced to make that clear. Challenged by the progressives that this could backfire in litigation, the chancellor pulled his canon from consideration.

Okay, I know this is very episco-wonkism, but I have to say it was a rather illuminating moment. It is also clear who are the sharp strategists in the Diocese of Virginia. The chancellor stood down rather than defend his canon at the last minute.

Here is the canon that was "referred" before a vote could be taken by the chancellor:

C-3 Amend Canon 12

Amend Canon 12 to add an additional Section 11 as follows:

Section 11. Any Church of this Diocese that incorporates under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia must include in its Articles of Incorporation a provision that the corporation accedes to the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church and of the Diocese of Virginia as an acknowledgment of the jurisdiction of the Bishop or the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese of Virginia required by Diocesan Canon 10.1 for a group of people to be called a Church.

Rationale: The Constitution and Canons of the General Convention and of the Diocese of Virginia prescribe requirements for a group of people to be called a Church (Canon 10.1) and remain a Church. While there may be appropriate reasons for an Episcopal Church to be incorporated, incorporation should not change the requirements for a group of people to be called a Church or their responsibilities as an Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia. This proposed amendment provides the explicit requirement for an incorporated Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia to include an accession statement in its organizational documents confirming its acknowledgment of the jurisdiction of the Bishop or Ecclesiastical Authority.

Submitted by:
Russell V. Palmore, Jr.
J.P. Causey Jr., Lay Delegate, St. JohnÂ’s, West Point

Usually what is saved for last is what is most controversial. That has usually been resolutions. But this year it's the Report on the Standing Committee, the Election of the Ecclesiasticall Court, and the Budget. Stay tuned.


Yes, I'm at the Diocese of Virginia Council

It's Saturday morning and I'm getting ready to go down to the last day of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia Council meeting here in Richmond. I'm here observing council, not as a delegate as I was for the last two years. If I were to describe Council I might say that this is a diocese that is in disbelief and perhaps grieving deeply over all that has happened - but has no outlet and encouragement from the leadership to express that grief in a healthy and productive way. So the result is to either put on the happy face as though nothing has changed, submerge the sense of loss, engage in angry outbursts, or be vulnerable to those who would seek to use the denial for other purposes.

I have run into old friends and there have been hugs and tears. I feel sorrow. But there is also a sense that I am now a stranger here - and perhaps I always was.


Friday, January 26, 2007

Johnston Elected Bishop Coadjutor for the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

Breaking News: The Rev. Shannon Johnston has been elected by the Diocesan Council as Bishop Coadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

Earlier: Right now it looks like The Very Rev. Shannon S. Johnston is leading. He was described to me by a one of the clergy here as a "a presentable revisionist." He is also the youngest candidate.

The Rev. Canon Irwin M. "Win" Lewis just dropped out. The Third Ballot results should come in shortly. Stay tuned.


BREAKING NEWS - Bishop Minns responds to Bishop Lee's premature and punitive actions against 27 clergy

BB NOTE: The following letter was just delivered to Bishop Peter James Lee at the Virginia Diocesan Council now underway. It is also cc'd to the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Virginia as well as to the Delegates of the 212th Annual Council and the 21 inhibited Virginia clergy. Click on headline above or read below.

Convocation of Anglicans in North America

January 26, 2007

The Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee
FAX: 804.644.6928

Dear Bishop Lee:

I am writing to you in response to your recent decision to "inhibit" 21 Anglican clergy and to rescind the licenses of 6 additional clergy who serve as faithful pastors in congregations throughout Virginia.

As you well know, such an action was not necessary since it has long been the custom of the church to permit an orderly transfer of clergy when they move from one Anglican jurisdiction to another. Indeed, several of your brother bishops in The Episcopal Church have followed this pattern and have done so with generosity and grace. Those who have applied to serve as part of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) have now been received, appropriate licenses have been granted, and they function as ordained Anglican clergy in Christ'’s one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church under my episcopal oversight.

I have already responded in my letter of January 16th to your erroneous claim that you were not able to make such a transfer because the Anglican District of Virginia (ADV) is allegedly not "“recognized". ADV is an integral part of CANA, which is -- as you have repeatedly acknowledged --— a missionary initiative of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion). Are you, by your actions, suggesting that the Church of Nigeria is somehow not fully Anglican? Such a suggestion would be ironic in light of the meeting of the Primates in Dar es Salaam to be held early next month when a major agenda topic is whether or not The Episcopal Church --— and hence the Diocese of Virginia --— should continue to be recognized as fully Anglican or moved to a diminished or separated status.

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.

In your letter to me of January 22nd, in which you expressed your concern about the recent vandalism at Truro Church, you said that it “does not honor Christ and simply gives to the world a false impression of how differences are dealt with in the Christian community.” I was grateful for your expression of concern about the damage to our property; I urge you to show the same concern for these individuals and their families.

In an open letter dated November 17, 2006 the president of the diocesan Standing Committee promised that congregations which decided to disaffiliate from the diocese, would be able to part ways "within a context of mutual understanding and compassion." There is still time to fulfill that promise.

I am mindful that you will receive this letter as you begin the 212th Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia and as your own ministry transition accelerates by the election of a Bishop Coadjutor. It is my prayer that you will be sustained by God'’s grace during these trying times.


+Martyn Minns
Missionary Bishop of CANA

Cc: 21 inhibited clergy
Episcopal Diocese of Virginia Standing Committee
Members of the 212th Annual Council

On the Road Again ...

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Living Church Reports: Bishop Duncan invited by Archbishop of Canterbury to Feb. Primates Meeting

Bishop Duncan, Another Bishop Will Attend Primates' Meeting

Invitations to the primates’ meeting next month in Tanzania, in the form of a draft agenda, propose setting aside Wednesday, Feb. 14 in order to hear from others, including two bishops of The Episcopal Church. The invitations were emailed by a member of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams' staff within the past few days.

Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan has accepted an invitation which was made to him earlier this week, according to a source who wished to remain anonymous. The identity of the second bishop of The Episcopal Church could not be confirmed at the time of publication.

Unlike Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, who usually attended primates’ meetings with one or more staff members, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will not have any aides present. Bob Williams and Matt Davies will be present as working journalists for Episcopal News Service. The Rev. George Conger will report from the Tanzanian capital, Dar es Salaam, for The Living Church. It is expected that a number of other media representatives will also be reporting on location.

In recent years, the primates have become less beholden to the agenda initially proposed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The agenda for the February 2005 meeting in Northern Ireland, for example, was changed significantly once the meeting began.

John Yates, Rector of The Falls Church, writes on Bishop Lee's Inhibiting 21 Virginia Priests

BB NOTE: This letter was received via e-mail. More on the way. Watch this space.

Dear Friends:

Again this week there have been developments which the media has reported concerning our church and our clergy, and I'd like you to hear about this from me - just briefly.

Bishop Peter Lee of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has "inhibited" the clergy of the Falls Church and the other parishes that voted to disaffiliate from The Episcopal Church--even including at least one priest who disagreed with the vote to disaffiliate and desired to remain under Bishop Lee's authority. The action is described here.

In The Episcopal Church, "inhibition" is the act whereby a Bishop commands a priest not to perform priestly duties under that church's authority. It is expected to be followed by "deposing" the priest 6 months later (maybe something like a Roman Catholic "defrocking"). This act of inhibition in itself is not likely to change much at any of our churches. Many of us will be preaching this Sunday. However, it is a painful thing for these priests who have previously devoted themselves to renewal and reform in The Episcopal Church, and now are formally censured by it. Most of them had hoped instead that Bishop Lee would "transfer" them to the jurisdiction of Bishop Martyn Minns in the "Convocation of Anglicans in North America" (CANA), under the Anglican Church of Nigeria. That is what Bishop Lee would have done if this were a friendly situation, but he considers them disloyal and considers CANA to be improper and invalid.

Bishop Lee has previously declared our churches "abandoned" and refuses to recognize the Vestries (lay councils) of these congregations any more. We expect that very soon--perhaps as early as next week--he will purport to appoint "vestry committees" in their place, in an attempt to create doubt about who the Vestry of the church really is.

I still do not expect that Bishop Lee will make any attempt to forcibly take possession of our property (the deeds to which are held by trustees for the congregation, not the Diocese), but we are prepared to respond to any such attempt.

You may know that I have spent some time meeting with some of our members who have found our decision to leave The Episcopal Church difficult. We have shared our hearts together and prayed, and are seeking God's help to walk through this time together, understanding one another and honoring one another. I have stressed that we want no one to leave and that Episcopalians who want to continue here in TFC are fully welcome and may be fully involved as always. We had planned to designate the 8:00 a.m. service in the Historic Church as one that would be presided over by an Episcopal priest on our staff, but as I was preparing to announce that, we received word of the "inhibitions" discussed above, making this pastoral response impossible. Some of these folks have organized a vestry and want to continue as TFC Episcopal, and still part of the Diocese of Virginia. It is awkward for us, but we continue in discussion about this together with them. We care deeply about them, and I believe they do for us as well. The media sometimes exaggerate and present things out of proportion, painting pictures that are not accurate. Let's try to believe the best of everyone in these matters.

Please keep The Falls Church and its leadership in your prayers.

In the family,

John Yates

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Belfast Tune

BB NOTE: Joseph Brodsky, my favorite poet who I had the chance to meet and talk to many years ago now, came to mind today. He knew much about exile, about being separated both by choice and against the will. He was an extraordinary poet and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. This poem came to mind as I saw Robin Adams name as one of the 21. Robin, rector of Church of the Word, Gainesville (and, until recently, a member of the Executive Board of the Diocese of Virginia) is from Northern Ireland and knows personally what it means to walk through the fire on your way home.

Joseph Brodsky, who was imprisoned in the Gulag for being a poet and forced into exile in the early 1970s, came to the United States speaking little English. By 1980 he would be winning awards, not only for his Russian poetry, but his American English prose. When I met him, I handed my well-worn, nearly falling apart, well marked and highlighted copy of "Less The One," for him to sign. As I handed it to him, I was suddenly horrified by the condition of his book - I had read it so many times it was almost in pieces. What possessed me to bring that copy and not buy a new one. I almost wanted to snatch it back, but he all ready had it in his hands and was turning it over and over and over again. I was shrinking into the floor. Then he turned to me and smiled broadly. I had offered him a great compliment and he wrote a special note into my book, which I cherish, especially now that he's gone.

Belfast Tune
By Joseph Brodsky

Here's a girl from a dangerous town
She crops her dark hair short
so that less of her has to frown
when someone gets hurt.

She folds her memories like a parachute.
Dropped, she collects the peat
and cooks her veggies at home: they shoot
here where they eat.

Ah, there's more sky in these parts than, say,
ground. Hence her voice's pitch,
and her stare stains your retina like a gray
bulb when you switch

hemispheres, and her knee-length quilt
skirt's cut to catch the squal,
I dream of her either loved or killed
because the town's too small.

I thought only Burger King sold Whoppers

815 now seems to be handling the Diocese of Virginia's media campaign, since they have released a "press release," while the Diocese of Virginia has not. There is no posting on the Diocesan website nor have we yet received any internal e-mail press release as is the norm from Mayo House. Interesting, no?

There are gross errors (let's call it "errors" for now, shall we?) in the 815/Diocese of Virginia-combined press release that states this: "As further evidence of their decision to abandon The Episcopal Church and the Diocese" the release said, the majority membership of the 15 churches have filed civil actions styled as "reports" with the respective circuit courts in an effort to transfer ownership of the congregations' properties. The diocese has filed responses denying any transfer of property, citing both Virginia law and the canons of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia, the release said.

Never mind that the canon is about abandoning the Anglican Communion (which shares open border on orders, or did until the crisis broke out), this is such an incredibly false assertion that it just boggles the mind. Not only is 815/The Diocese of Virginia spinning this as though the Virginia parishes started the litigation (it just completely boggles the mind how false this is - are they trying to say they are victims or something? Okay, I've just ordered a Chai ... BabyBlue is seeing red), but that there are "15 churches" who have "filed civil actions" - WRONG AGAIN!!!! They are adding the four Uganda-oversight parishes. Hello? EL Wrong-o! Again-o. Whoppers anyone?

Oh, and by the way - it wasn't an unanimous decision of the Virginia Standing Committee concerning the inhibitions. Just so you know.

Okay, have to go and land some incoming aircraft. Get your tinfoil hats at the ready.

Hmmm ...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Breaking News: 21 Virginia Clergy Inhibited By Bishop Lee

More coming ... but it sure is a sad day. We remember though, that there is no suffering that compares to the suffering Christ endured on the cross for us all and gave up His life so that we may live. It is for freedom Christ came to set us free.

Here is the list of the Virginia men and women clergy - yes, he inhibited women clergy as well. Surprised?

• The Rev. Robin T. Adams (rector, Church of the Word - former Member of the Diocese of Virginia's Executive Board - by the way, Robin was ordained by Archbishop Eames of Ireland, surprised?)
• The Rev. Marshall Brown (Truro)
• The Rev. E. Kathleen Christopher (interim vicar, Christ the Redeemer)
• The Rev. Jack W. Grubbs (vicar, Potomac Falls)
• The Rev. David N. Jones (rector, St. Paul's)
• The Rev. Herbert J. McMullan (Truro, Director of Outreach)
• The Rev. Valarie A. Whitcomb (All Saints)
• The Rev. George R. Beaven (vicar, Christ Our Lord, retired)
• The Rev. Neal H. Brown (rector, St. Margaret's)
• The Rev. Richard C. Crocker (Truro - Chairman of the Diocese of Virginia's Church Planting Commission until Dec., ordained in England)
• The Rev. John A.M. Guernsey (rector, All Saints, long-time Virginia Deputy to General Convention)
• The Rev. Nicholas P.N. Lebelfeld (The Falls Church)
• The Rev. Elijah B. White (rector, Our Saviour - and there's just no words for Bishop Lee inhibiting Elijah)
• The Rev. John W. Yates II (rector, The Falls Church)
• The Rev. Mark W. Brown (All Saints)
• The Rev. Jeffrey O. Cerar (rector, St. Stephen's)
• The Rev. Ramsey D. Gilchrist (The Falls Church)
• The Rev. David R. Harper (rector, Apostles - ordained in New Zealand)
• The Rev. Marion D. Lucas, III (Epiphany)
• The Rev. Robin Rauh (rector, Epiphany)
• The Rev. Frederick M. Wright (The Falls Church - former Member of the Diocese of Virginia's Executive Board)

More at StandFirm and TitusOneNine.


Time Out: Oscar Watch

BB NOTE: We here at the BabyBlueCafe love movies, we just have found ourselves without much time to see them (until they go to DVD!). But we still enjoy conducting the Office Pool each year and so get ready for the First Annual BabyBlueCafe Predictions for Oscar 2007. We'll put up a link for your ballot and on Oscar Night we can blog "real time" how we all do. Here are the nominees:

Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2006 will be presented on Sunday, February 25, 2007, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®.

Performance by an actor in a leading role
Leonardo DiCaprio in “Blood Diamond” (Warner Bros.)
Ryan Gosling in “Half Nelson” (THINKFilm)
Peter O’Toole in “Venus” (Miramax, Filmfour and UK Council)
Will Smith in “The Pursuit of Happyness” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Forest Whitaker in “The Last King of Scotland” (Fox Searchlight)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Alan Arkin in “Little Miss Sunshine” (Fox Searchlight)
Jackie Earle Haley in “Little Children” (New Line)
Djimon Hounsou in “Blood Diamond” (Warner Bros.)
Eddie Murphy in “Dreamgirls” (DreamWorks and Paramount)
Mark Wahlberg in “The Departed” (Warner Bros.)

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Penélope Cruz in “Volver” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Judi Dench in “Notes on a Scandal” (Fox Searchlight)
Helen Mirren in “The Queen” (Miramax, Pathé and Granada)
Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada” (20th Century Fox)
Kate Winslet in “Little Children” (New Line)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Adriana Barraza in “Babel” (Paramount and Paramount Vantage)
Cate Blanchett in “Notes on a Scandal” (Fox Searchlight)
Abigail Breslin in “Little Miss Sunshine” (Fox Searchlight)
Jennifer Hudson in “Dreamgirls” (DreamWorks and Paramount)
Rinko Kikuchi in “Babel” (Paramount and Paramount Vantage)

Best animated feature film of the year
“Cars” (Buena Vista) John Lasseter
“Happy Feet” (Warner Bros.) George Miller
“Monster House” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Gil Kenan

Achievement in art direction
“Dreamgirls” (DreamWorks and Paramount)
Art Direction: John Myhre
Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh
“The Good Shepherd” (Universal)
Art Direction: Jeannine Oppewall
Set Decoration: Gretchen Rau and Leslie E. Rollins
“Pan’s Labyrinth” (Picturehouse)
Art Direction: Eugenio Caballero
Set Decoration: Pilar Revuelta
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” (Buena Vista)
Art Direction: Rick Heinrichs
Set Decoration: Cheryl A. Carasik
“The Prestige” (Buena Vista)
Art Direction: Nathan Crowley
Set Decoration: Julie Ochipinti

Achievement in cinematography
“The Black Dahlia” (Universal) Vilmos Zsigmond
“Children of Men” (Universal) Emmanuel Lubezki
“The Illusionist” (Yari Film Group) Dick Pope
“Pan’s Labyrinth” (Picturehouse) Guillermo Navarro
“The Prestige” (Buena Vista) Wally Pfister

Achievement in costume design
“Curse of the Golden Flower” (Sony Pictures Classics) Yee Chung Man
“The Devil Wears Prada” (20th Century Fox) Patricia Field
“Dreamgirls” (DreamWorks and Paramount) Sharen Davis
“Marie Antoinette” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Milena Canonero
“The Queen” (Miramax, Pathé and Granada) Consolata Boyle

Achievement in directing
“Babel” (Paramount and Paramount Vantage) Alejandro González Iñárritu
“The Departed” (Warner Bros.) Martin Scorsese
“Letters from Iwo Jima” (Warner Bros.) Clint Eastwood
“The Queen” (Miramax, Pathé and Granada) Stephen Frears
“United 93” (Universal and StudioCanal) Paul Greengrass

Best documentary feature
“Deliver Us from Evil” (Lionsgate)
A Disarming Films Production
Amy Berg and Frank Donner
“An Inconvenient Truth” (Paramount Classics and Participant Productions)
A Lawrence Bender/Laurie David Production
Davis Guggenheim
“Iraq in Fragments” (Typecast Releasing)
A Typecast Pictures/Daylight Factory Production
James Longley and John Sinno
“Jesus Camp” (Magnolia Pictures)
A Loki Films Production
Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady
“My Country, My Country” (Zeitgeist Films)
A Praxis Films Production
Laura Poitras and Jocelyn Glatzer

Best documentary short subject
“The Blood of Yingzhou District”
A Thomas Lennon Films Production
Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon
“Recycled Life”
An Iwerks/Glad Production
Leslie Iwerks and Mike Glad
“Rehearsing a Dream”
A Simon & Goodman Picture Company Production
Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon
“Two Hands”
A Crazy Boat Pictures Production
Nathaniel Kahn and Susan Rose Behr

Achievement in film editing
“Babel” (Paramount and Paramount Vantage)
Stephen Mirrione and Douglas Crise
“Blood Diamond” (Warner Bros.)
Steven Rosenblum
“Children of Men” (Universal)
Alex Rodríguez and Alfonso Cuarón
“The Departed” (Warner Bros.)
Thelma Schoonmaker
“United 93” (Universal and StudioCanal)
Clare Douglas, Christopher Rouse and Richard Pearson

Best foreign language film of the year
“After the Wedding” A Zentropa Entertainments 16 Production
“Days of Glory (Indigènes)” A Tessalit Production
“The Lives of Others” A Wiedemann & Berg Production
“Pan’s Labyrinth” A Tequila Gang/Esperanto Filmoj/Estudios Picasso Production
“Water” A Hamilton-Mehta Production

Achievement in makeup
“Apocalypto” (Buena Vista) Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano
“Click” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Kazuhiro Tsuji and Bill Corso
“Pan’s Labyrinth” (Picturehouse) David Marti and Montse Ribe

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
“Babel” (Paramount and Paramount Vantage) Gustavo Santaolalla
“The Good German” (Warner Bros.) Thomas Newman
“Notes on a Scandal” (Fox Searchlight) Philip Glass
“Pan’s Labyrinth” (Picturehouse) Javier Navarrete
“The Queen” (Miramax, Pathé and Granada) Alexandre Desplat

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
“I Need to Wake Up” from “An Inconvenient Truth”
(Paramount Classics and Participant Productions)
Music and Lyric by Melissa Etheridge
“Listen” from “Dreamgirls”
(DreamWorks and Paramount)
Music by Henry Krieger and Scott Cutler
Lyric by Anne Preven
“Love You I Do” from “Dreamgirls”
(DreamWorks and Paramount)
Music by Henry Krieger
Lyric by Siedah Garrett
“Our Town” from “Cars”
(Buena Vista)
Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
“Patience” from “Dreamgirls”
(DreamWorks and Paramount)
Music by Henry Krieger
Lyric by Willie Reale

Best motion picture of the year
“Babel” (Paramount and Paramount Vantage)
An Anonymous Content/Zeta Film/Central Films Production
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Jon Kilik and Steve Golin, Producers
“The Departed” (Warner Bros.)
A Warner Bros. Pictures Production
Nominees to be determined
“Letters from Iwo Jima” (Warner Bros.)
A DreamWorks Pictures/Warner Bros. Pictures Production
Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg and Robert Lorenz, Producers
“Little Miss Sunshine” (Fox Searchlight)
A Big Beach/Bona Fide Production
Nominees to be determined
“The Queen” (Miramax, Pathé and Granada)
A Granada Production
Andy Harries, Christine Langan and Tracey Seaward, Producers

Best animated short film
“The Danish Poet” (National Film Board of Canada)
A Mikrofilm and National Film Board of Canada Production
Torill Kove
“Lifted” (Buena Vista)
A Pixar Animation Studios Production
Gary Rydstrom
“The Little Matchgirl” (Buena Vista)
A Walt Disney Pictures Production
Roger Allers and Don Hahn
“Maestro” (Szimplafilm)
A Kedd Production
Geza M. Toth
“No Time for Nuts” (20th Century Fox)
A Blue Sky Studios Production
Chris Renaud and Michael Thurmeier

Best live action short film
“Binta and the Great Idea (Binta Y La Gran Idea)”
A Peliculas Pendelton and Tus Ojos Production
Javier Fesser and Luis Manso
“Éramos Pocos (One Too Many)” (Kimuak)
An Altube Filmeak Production
Borja Cobeaga
“Helmer & Son”
A Nordisk Film Production
Soren Pilmark and Kim Magnusson
“The Saviour” (Australian Film Television and Radio School)
An Australian Film Television and Radio School Production
Peter Templeman and Stuart Parkyn
“West Bank Story”
An Ari Sandel, Pascal Vaguelsy, Amy Kim, Ravi Malhotra and Ashley Jordan Production
Ari Sandel

Achievement in sound editing
“Apocalypto” (Buena Vista)
Sean McCormack and Kami Asgar
“Blood Diamond” (Warner Bros.)
Lon Bender
“Flags of Our Fathers” (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by Paramount)
Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
“Letters from Iwo Jima” (Warner Bros.)
Alan Robert Murray
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” (Buena Vista)
Christopher Boyes and George Watters II

Achievement in sound mixing
“Apocalypto” (Buena Vista)
Kevin O’Connell, Greg P. Russell and Fernando Camara
“Blood Diamond” (Warner Bros.)
Andy Nelson, Anna Behlmer and Ivan Sharrock
“Dreamgirls” (DreamWorks and Paramount)
Michael Minkler, Bob Beemer and Willie Burton
“Flags of Our Fathers” (DreamWorks and Warner Bros., Distributed by Paramount)
John Reitz, Dave Campbell, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” (Buena Vista)
Paul Massey, Christopher Boyes and Lee Orloff

Achievement in visual effects
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” (Buena Vista)
John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and Allen Hall
“Poseidon” (Warner Bros.)
Boyd Shermis, Kim Libreri, Chaz Jarrett and John Frazier
“Superman Returns” (Warner Bros.)
Mark Stetson, Neil Corbould, Richard R. Hoover and Jon Thum

Adapted screenplay
“Borat Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” (20th Century Fox)
Screenplay by Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Peter Baynham & Dan Mazer
Story by Sacha Baron Cohen & Peter Baynham & Anthony Hines & Todd Phillips
“Children of Men” (Universal)
Screenplay by Alfonso Cuarón & Timothy J. Sexton and David Arata and Mark Fergus & Hawk Ostby
“The Departed” (Warner Bros.)
Screenplay by William Monahan
“Little Children” (New Line)
Screenplay by Todd Field & Tom Perrotta
“Notes on a Scandal” (Fox Searchlight)
Screenplay by Patrick Marber

Original screenplay
“Babel” (Paramount and Paramount Vantage)
Written by Guillermo Arriaga
“Letters from Iwo Jima” (Warner Bros.)
Screenplay by Iris Yamashita
Story by Iris Yamashita & Paul Haggis
“Little Miss Sunshine” (Fox Searchlight)
Written by Michael Arndt
“Pan’s Labyrinth” (Picturehouse)
Written by Guillermo del Toro
“The Queen” (Miramax, Pathé and Granada)
Written by Peter Morgan

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Commentors Anonymous: The Clinic is Open ...

The Latest "Anglican Report" includes commentary on the situation in Virginia

Bill and Kevin discuss: Camp Allen I, Virginia, Bonnie Anderson,
and Bishop Marshall.

BB NOTE: You can also subscribe to their podcast at iTunes here or to listen here, click below:

Is TEC and the Diocese of Virginia seeking to punish Virginia parishes?

Suits as Punishment?
Truro, Others Stand on Solid Legal Ground

Jan 21, 2007

Just before Christmas, my parish joined 14 others in Virginia that have voted this past year to separate from the Episcopal Church (TEC). This action was the result of a serious division building within the denomination over the past half-century concerning the role of Jesus in salvation and the interpretation and use of Scripture. The culmination for many was the refusal of TEC's General Convention this past summer to express regret for the consecration in 2003 of an openly gay partnered bishop, an action that defied explicit pleas from the leaders of the Anglican Communion and, we believe, the teaching of Scripture.

At the conclusion of the General Convention, the recently elected presiding bishop, the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, spoke of TEC as a church with two minds, and used the metaphor of conjoined twins. She expressed concern that the two bodies could not yet be separated and live. But we and others had come to realize that we would die unless we separated.

For three years prior to our votes we met with Bishop Peter Lee of the Diocese of Virginia to explore ways that we might move forward together. Throughout that time he was clear in his position that if we did not remain within TEC the diocese would claim title to our property. Despite that stance, as it became apparent that separation was likely, he organized a committee to design an orderly process for parish votes and for subsequent negotiation over property. After our votes, the diocese appointed a property committee to negotiate with us, and this committee met with our representatives late last month.

Non-Litigation Agreement Ends

While there was no guarantee that these talks would be successful, both parties had stated repeatedly in public and private that they did not want to resort to litigation. The previous presiding bishop, Frank Griswold, had treated property disputes as a diocesan -- not national -- concern. So it came as a surprise when after an all-day meeting with David Booth Beers, the lead lawyer for TEC, the diocese reversed itself and announced last week that it was ending a non-litigation agreement (a "standstill agreement") designed to allow time for negotiation.

Why does the national Episcopal Church want our buildings? It certainly does not need them. In an undated report quietly released last year -- "Average Sunday Attendance 1995-2005 by Domestic Diocese" -- it was reported that Sunday attendance in Episcopal parishes across the country has dropped 8.1 percent since 2000, from 856,579 in 2000 to 787,271 in 2005. (During that period the U.S. population rose 5 percent.) The story in Virginia is similar: Average Sunday attendance in the Diocese of Virginia dropped 2.9 percent in that time, while the state's population grew 6.5 percent. Incidentally, although TEC has tried to portray us as an insignificant minority within the church, the 15 parishes that separated in Virginia accounted for 17 percent of the diocese's average Sunday attendance. Even more startling, our average Sunday attendance is greater that that of 45 of the 100 dioceses in TEC.

Our parishes are vibrant and lively. Not only are our buildings fully used on Sundays, they are bustling with activity throughout the week as well. We need the buildings to carry out ministry. Truro hosts almost 70 ministries that use our facilities, ranging from Scout troops to TESL classes to AIDS orphan support to prayer groups. Nevertheless, TEC refuses to negotiate and instead will bring a lawsuit to force us to move. Litigation will be costly for both sides. It is likely to breed or deepen hostility. It is something the Bible says should not happen within the church. So why has TEC chosen this path?

The explanation given by Beers is that the national church has an ownership interest in all property of parishes under a canonical rule it adopted less than 30 years ago. We, on the other hand, believe that the laws of Virginia support local parish ownership. Furthermore, we believe we have a moral obligation to our predecessors whose contributions purchased and built our facilities, and who would be shocked and dismayed to hear the theological positions espoused by the new presiding bishop in numerous interviews since her election.

Why Is Church So Aggressive?

But the legal argument of TEC is similar to that of the Diocese of Virginia, which until last week was willing to negotiate a settlement. So what is really going on to cause TEC to take this aggressive stance?

The only conclusion we can draw is that these lawsuits are intended to punish parishes that have voted to leave TEC and to intimidate any others that might be so inclined. This retributive approach is concerned primarily with creating homeless parishes, even if by doing so it increases its supply of empty Episcopal buildings.

Isn't that a shame.

Jim Oakes is the senior warden at Truro Church.

Read the full article by clicking on the headline above or click here.

From the Mailbox: Bishop Lee and Bishop Minns Exchange Letters

BB NOTE: These letters were exchanged by Bishop Peter James Lee and Bishop Martyn Minns. It began as a simple request to transfer the clergy from the Diocese of Virginia to CANA, but Bishop Lee also included some rather erroneous misstatements and accusations that bare no similarity to the truth (I know, I'm a witness). Bishop Minns responds, expressing not only his deep concerns about Bishop Lee's statements, but also to clarify the truth of the situation at hand.

Check out the conversation over here at TitusOneNine.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The "Disappeared"

It appears that the data on Truro and The Falls Church and other churches that have voted to depart The Episcopal Church have been "disappeared" from The Episcopal Church "Growth and Development" pages. This is where you can look up your churches stats gleaned from the yearly parochial reports. The amazing ElfGirl at TitusOneNine (resourceful and creative as always) anticipated that might happen and has kept pdf copies of all the reports.

What strikes me is that the Diocese of Virginia is maintaining that the Episcopal Churches who departed The Episcopal Church have never actually left and still exist as Episcopal Churches (it's those dissidents who have departed, not the congregation). This is particularly the case for St. Stephen's Heathesville, though their church stats have also been "disappeared." Oops! Guess there is no St. Stephen's Episcopal (just as the voters decided) after all. It seems someone at the TEC Database Central really takes the democratic principle of the freedom to vote seriously and responsibly took the stats down, or someone swiped the stats to make Virginia come out looking better stat-wise (when thousands of members of Episcopal Churches vote to depart it does affect the diocese's status - it's not clear whether Virginia is still the largest diocese in TEC - I doubt it, congrats to the Diocese of Texas).

But one wonders if Database Central checked with 815 Central Command (or Mayo House) before conducting the "disappeared" operations - for it seems that, from the point of view of 815 - Truro, The Falls Church, Church of the Apostles, All Saints Dale City, St. Stephen's Heathesville, Church of the Epiphany, Herndon, Christ the Redeemer, Our Saviour Oatlands, St. Paul's Haymarket, St. Margaret's, Christ Our Lord (which is really weird, since Bishop Lee made a big deal about putting a new temp vicar in the building), Potomac Falls - those are the ones that spring to mind - no longer exist as Episcopal Churches in the Diocese of Virginia. All disappeared. So no Episcopal Churches, then the property must officially not be Episcopalian either. Those churches no longer exist in the eyes of 815, or is there something their webmaster knows that KJS does not?


Fortunately, ElfGirl has supplied both Truro and The Falls Church data (see graphics above - to enlarge them reading, just click on the chart). Thank you ElfGirl! Honorary TinFoil Hat is in the mail to your undisclosed location via owlpost!

If you need the info on the others, just let us know here at the BabyBlueCafe, where we have our tinfoil hats on and ready!

What is the real key to life?

BB NOTE: Excellent sermon from Jamie Haith of Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB), London (Anglican). I first got to know Jamie Haith in my capacity as an Alpha Regional Advisor with Alpha North America when he was a young worship leader at HTB and crossed the pond to do many of our Alpha Conferences in the US as a worship leader in the early days He went on to go to "theological college" and is now a curate at HTB. He is a very good teacher and shows how to reach the unchurched and the searching for Christ. Take a listen! "We feel vulnerable, we feel unprotected and we need God's protection," Jamie says. He offers an amazing defense of who Jesus really is. A great message for these uncertain times.

Friday, January 19, 2007

anything but abandonment ...

Mr. Tumnus: [of Aslan] He's not a tame lion.
Lucy Pevensie: No... but he's good.

John Yates writes to The Falls Church

BB NOTE: The following is a letter from the Rev. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church regarding Bishop Lee's January 18th letter and press release. Tip of the TinFoil Hat to StandFirm.

LATER: Here is a great interview with the Rev. John Yates and Dr. Os Guinness on why they left the Episcopal Church:

A Letter to The Falls Church
by the Rev. John Yates, Rector

Yesterday we sent an announcement about this week’s upcoming activities celebrating and exploring our many Outreach ministries - it’s called Week for the World. It’s exciting to contemplate the scores of ministries in which we’re involved.

However, yesterday’s announcement by the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, that he considers us “to have abandoned our church,” reminds us of the other crucially important mission in which we are engaged, and that is our mission to maintain our witness as an historic church that is in the Anglican tradition, true to scripture and true to our Reformation heritage. We have the great privilege to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and sacrificially serve him to extend the mighty reign of God. While the announcement by Bishop Lee was not unexpected, the letter he wrote and the claims he makes are extremely disappointing to me, especially after the efforts of the last year to build consensus around a negotiated settlement plan for churches departing the Diocese. It is only as I reflect on our fundamental disagreements about the meaning of truth, authority, the nature of the church itself, and Christian orthodoxy, that I can make sense of his position. I hope you will read his letter below, and form your own opinions. In addition, I would like to clarify just a few questions raised by this announcement.

We are described in this letter as “dissidents” who have abandoned our church, leaving behind a congregation without clergy or vestry. We are accused of “abandonment.” This is a technical word adapted from the canons of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. It really means that since our congregation has voted overwhelmingly, in accordance with Virginia law, to separate from The Episcopal Church, The Episcopal Church views this as somehow abandoning our physical church property, and, as well, the minority who opposed this decision. Given that 2,500 people are here worshiping God each weekend, it is a curious choice of words.

I think you know that our attitude towards our church members who did not want to leave The Episcopal Church has always been consistent. These are our brethren and we are still members of The Falls Church family together. We are excluding no one from worship or from parish meetings of any kind. Our vestry and clergy care deeply about every member of this church family. I have learned that last Sunday 40 of our people met in a private home to worship with an “Episcopal” priest suggested by the press secretary of the Diocese. This saddens me greatly. Bishop Lee says that these brothers and sisters have been “spiritually abandoned.” I have met with one of the organizers this week and I have sought repeatedly to reach out to those who did not agree with the outcome of our congregational vote. I will continue to do so. As I wrote you 10 days ago, I have three meetings scheduled over this weekend for this very purpose. I hope many will come.

The announcement also implies that we can no longer be considered part of the Anglican Church. While this is certainly not the most important issue, I do want you to understand the facts. The announcement misquoted a recent statement by a lawyer connected to the Archbishop of Canterbury regarding CANA’s position within the Anglican Communion. Our Anglican District of Virginia (ADV) is part of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), which is in turn part of the Church of Nigeria, the largest province in the Anglican Communion and a branch of the Communion by any definition. Just as the Diocese of Virginia currently enjoys communion with Canterbury indirectly through The Episcopal Church, so do we, the members of ADV, enjoy communion with Canterbury indirectly through CANA and the Church of Nigeria. You may wish to read both of the relevant statements here.

I don’t believe there is any present “danger” of diocesan attempts to “take over” our buildings or property here. I worry more about the smaller rural churches that are apparently being singled out as targets by the Diocese. I do expect the Diocese to attempt to organize another “vestry” at our church, since they do not accept the legality of our vestry here. I pray that none of our church family will be taken in by such efforts. There is only one vestry of The Falls Church and it is the one you elected.

The vestry meets again this Monday night and I will endeavor to keep you updated. We do not like to devote much time to these matters on Sunday mornings when we gather for worship, so please be alert to the news and watch for future updates from me.

–The Rev. John Yates is rector of The Falls Church, Falls Church, Virginia

Is this why the Diocese of Virginia's Protocol and Reconciliation Report both got the boot?

BB NOTE: One of the stunning aspects of Bishop Lee's most recent statement is that he makes no reference to the major (and I would have said signficant) contributions he and the Diocese of Virginia have made through the Reconciliation Commission (and their unanimous report) and the Bishop's Special Committee (and their unanimous report). Those were extraordinary efforts and now it is as though the Diocese of Virginia wants to pretend they never existed. But they still do: hereand here.

Is this why?

The complete text of the Presiding Bishop's January 19 statement follows.

Presiding Bishop's statement following property decisions in Virginia

The Episcopal Church, in consultation with the Diocese of Virginia, regrets the recent votes by members of some congregations in Virginia to leave this Church. We wish to be clear, however, that while individuals have the right and privilege to depart or return at any time, congregations do not. Congregations exist because they are in communion with the bishop of a diocese, through recognition by diocesan governing bodies (diocesan synods, councils, or conventions). Congregations cannot unilaterally disestablish themselves or remove themselves from a diocese. In addition, by canon law, property of all sorts held by parishes is held and must be used for the mission of the Episcopal Church through diocesan bishops and governing bodies. As a Church, we cannot abrogate our interest in such property, as it is a fiduciary and moral duty to preserve such property for generations to come and the ministries to be served both now and in the future.

The recent decisions by some members of congregations in Virginia to leave the Episcopal Church and ally with the Anglican Church of Nigeria have no cognizance in our polity. Ancient precedent (from as early as the fourth century) in the Church requires bishops to respect diocesan boundaries, and to refrain from crossing into or acting officially in dioceses other than their own. As a Church we cannot and will not work to subvert that ancient precedent by facilitating the establishment of congregations which are purportedly responsible to bishops in other parts of the Anglican Communion within the diocesan boundaries of the Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal Church continues to seek reconciliation with those who have decided to leave this Church, and reminds all parties that our doors are open to any who wish to return. Together with the Diocese of Virginia we seek to be clear about who we are as Episcopalians, and to continue to reach out in healing to this broken world. The overwhelming majority of the more than 7,600 congregations of the Episcopal Church are engaged in doing exactly that.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Anglican District of Virginia leaders urge Bishop Lee and Diocese to return to negotiating table


Contact: Jim Pierobon, 301-520-1758

Anglican District of Virginia leaders urge Episcopal Bishop and Diocese to return to negotiating table

FAIRFAX and FALLS CHURCH, Va, Jan. 19 - Two leaders of the Anglican District of Virginia today urged the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and its bishop, the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, to cease both his divisive rhetoric and his march toward the courthouse and instead return to the negotiating table.

"It is still not too late for Bishop Lee and the leaders of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia to stand down from making any more threats against faithful Christians who followed the Diocese of Virginia's protocol for departing congregations, and instead to return to the negotiating table," said Tom Wilson, Senior Warden of The Falls Church and Chairman of the Anglican District. "I still have hope, even now, that we can sit down and reason together."

The Anglican District of Virginia is a growing association of Anglican Churches in Virginia, consisting of 16 worshipping congregations and two emerging church plants. On a typical Sunday, almost 6000 people attend these churches, making Anglican District larger than almost half of the Episcopal dioceses in the United States.

"I am sorry that Bishop Lee seems to have forgotten the conclusions reached by his own Diocesan Reconciliation Commission as well as his own personally-appointed Special Committee led by the diocesan chancellor," said Jim Oakes, Senior Warden of Truro Church and a member of the governing board of the Anglican District. Oakes noted that the Truro vestry had just met last week at the request of the Diocese to appoint its representatives to negotiate with the Diocese and gather information requested by the Diocese. Before the representatives could begin negotiations, the Diocese abruptly reversed its course and terminated negotiations

The Anglican District of Virginia parishes welcome all Episcopalians and others to worship. Following the Anglican tradition, this includes welcoming all baptized Christians to the Lord's Table or Eucharist.

"Bishop Lee's memory seems oddly selective and while that grieves me deeply, I still have hope that he will come to his senses and take seriously the recommendations of both the Reconciliation Commission and the Special Committee. There is still time," Oakes added.

Both the reports from the Diocesan Reconciliation Commission as well as the Bishop's Special Committee are still available for download from the website of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and have not yet been taken down. "I see that as a sign that as long as the reports are still available to the public there is hope for an amicable settlement," said Oakes. "The facts and our history speak for themselves."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Anglican Alert - Code Red


A News Release from the Communications Office of The Diocese of Virginia

Diocesan Leadership Declares Church Property ‘Abandoned’

For release: Thursday, January 18, 2007

Contact: Patrick Getlein 1-800 346-2373 x 30

Today, January 18, 2007, the Executive Board of the Diocese of Virginia took a step forward in preserving the mission and ministry of the Diocese and the Episcopal Church for current and future generations of Episcopalians and adopted a resolution concerning the property of 11 Episcopal Churches where a majority of members – including the vestry and clergy – have left The Episcopal Church but have not relinquished Church property and have continued to occupy the churches and use the property owned by the Diocese.

Specifically, the Executive Board declared the property of those churches – real and personal – to be abandoned in accordance with the Canons of the Diocese.

“All real and personal property held by or for the benefit of any Church or Mission within this Diocese is held in trust for The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia.” (Canon 15.1)

“No part of the real property of a Church, except abandoned property, shall be alienated, sold, exchanged, encumbered or otherwise transferred for any purpose without the consent of the congregation … [and] the Bishop, acting with the advice and consent of the Standing Committee of the Diocese.” (Canon 15.2)

Having declared the property abandoned for the purposes for which it is set aside, namely the mission of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia, the Executive Board is required to protect the property, according to the Canons:

“[W]henever any property, real or personal, formerly owned or used by any congregation of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Virginia for any purpose for which religious congregations are authorized to hold property under the provisions of the Code of Virginia or any amendment thereof, has ceased to be so occupied or used by such congregation, so that the same may be regarded as abandoned property by the Executive Board, which shall have the authority to declare such property abandoned and shall have the authority to take charge and custody thereof, the Executive Board shall take such steps as may be necessary to transfer the property to the Bishop…” (Canon 15.3)

The unanimous decision by the Executive Board also authorizes the Bishop to take such steps as may be necessary to recover or secure such real and personal property.

In addition, the Standing Committee met today for its regular monthly meeting and took up the issue of the status of the clergy attached to these congregations. Following today’s meeting the Standing Committee will communicate its determination to the Bishop according to the Canons.

The 11 churches where property has been declared abandoned are:

Church of the Redeemer, Chantilly

Church of the Apostles, Fairfax

Church of the Epiphany, Herndon

Church of Our Saviour, Oatlands

Church of the Word, Gainesville

Potomac Falls Church, Sterling

St. Margaret’s, Woodbridge

St. Paul’s, Haymarket

St. Stephen’s, Heathsville

Truro, Fairfax

The Falls Church, Falls Church


A Letter to the Diocese of Virginia from the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, Bishop

January 18, 2007

Dear Friends:

Today, the leadership of the Diocese of Virginia, supported by the prayers of faithful Episcopalians in this Diocese and around the world, took action to preserve the sacred mission entrusted to us by previous generations for the future of the Church here in Virginia and across the Episcopal Church.

At the heart of our faith, is the reliability of the promises of God to God’s people. Nowhere is that reliability more clearly affirmed than in the promises of God that his exiled people will be returned to Jerusalem, to their spiritual home. (Jer. 36)

Because we believe that God’s promises to his people continue to be reliable, we will seek the return of the churches of the Diocese of Virginia that are occupied by dissidents.

We are commanded by scripture to obey the civil authority. (Rom. 13) While St. Paul admonishes individual Christians to avoid lawsuits with one another, obedience to the rule of law is a more controlling teaching. We believe the law supports diocesan ownership of church property.

In some of our congregations, members led by their lay and ordained leadership, have voted to leave The Episcopal Church and to affiliate with a non-recognized organization of churches purportedly under the authority of Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola. The organization is known as CANA, or Convocation of Anglicans in North America.

The Church of Nigeria, like The Episcopal Church, is an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion with clearly defined boundaries. Bonds of affection in the Anglican Communion hold that provincial boundaries are not crossed by bishops without expressed invitation. Bishop Akinola’s effort to establish CANA within the boundaries of The Episcopal Church has occurred without any invitation or authorization whatsoever and violates centuries of established Anglican heritage. As the Archbishop of Canterbury has made clear, CANA is not a branch of the Anglican Communion and does not have his encouragement.

When the membership of these congregations voted to sever their ties with the Episcopal Church and affiliate with CANA, they left remaining Episcopal congregations in those places without vestries, without clergy and without their churches, whether the remaining congregations numbered one or 100 souls. The spiritual abandonment of their Episcopal brothers and sisters of the past, the present and the future, is perhaps the greatest offense for which there is no redress under our tradition.

In the structure of the Episcopal Church, individuals may come and go but parishes continue. And in some of these churches there is life springing from these dry bones. At St. Stephen’s in Heathsville, the remaining Episcopal congregation, a full third of the congregation before the vote to leave, has held a congregational meeting, elected a vestry, elected a delegate to Council and currently is worshiping at a nearby United Methodist Church until they can be reunited with their Episcopal Church property. In Woodbridge, a growing congregation of 50 Episcopalians of St. Margaret’s Church will hold their congregational meeting this Sunday, elect a vestry, confirm their previously elected delegate to Council and will continue to worship at a nearby location until they, too, can reenter their Episcopal church. Similar groups are organizing at The Falls Church, and there are nearly 100 people at the Church of the Epiphany in Herndon who may reorganize and continue as the Episcopal Church in that place.

It is for these persons that previous generations of Episcopalians worshiped, worked, prayed and gave generously for the spread of the Kingdom of God. It is the trust that they created, and that we inherited, which now we must move to protect, preserve and expand for generations to come.

For years diocesan leadership has worked to accommodate the views of the leadership of these churches. We have resisted attempts to deny them seat, voice and vote at the Annual Council when they stopped funding the budget of the Diocese. They have enjoyed access to our diocesan-managed medical and dental benefits. They have enjoyed other diocesan resources like grant funding for church planting, mission work and congregational development, Shrine Mont and Roslyn. I have met dozens of times with the leadership of these churches and with their counsel in an effort to find common ground on matters of theology. Three times I invited the retired Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey to conduct confirmations and receptions when my episcopal presence was either specifically refused or would have been a source of tension for the membership. I endured being told that the parents of confirmands would not want me to lay hands on their children at confirmation and I have received other personal attacks including death wishes in letters, reports and public statements.

I have tried to find a way forward in our dispute over property that would keep us from having to resort to civil courts. No longer am I convinced that such an outcome is possible, nor do I believe that such a move at this time is dishonorable. Rather, I believe as does the leadership of our Diocese and of our Church, that the actions taken to secure our property are consistent with our mission and with our fiduciary and moral obligations to the Church of our ancestors, to the church we serve today, and to the church of those who will follow us.

The votes to separate from The Episcopal Church negated all the work we had done in good faith over the years to accommodate the views of the leadership of these churches and focused our attention on the only two remaining factors: the status of clergy and the status of property. The work of the Property Commission, which assembled immediately after the votes to separate, brought together the years of efforts at accommodation and the previous year of discussion over matters of property and clergy status. As that work was brought into the Property Commission’s view and shared with the Executive Board, Standing Committee and with counsel for the separated churches, it became clear that no position other than relinquishing our claim to Episcopal Church property would be satisfactory to those who have left. There would be no serious effort at reaching a fair market price for property. There would be no discussion of the issues on a case by case basis. There was repeated desire to wrap issues of clergy status, including matters having to do with clergy pensions, into the discussion of church property, an inappropriate bundling of unrelated issues. It became clear that the process of negotiation would be unduly cumbersome and would risk further a second alienation of those loyal Episcopalians who had already been disenfranchised by the vote of the majority of their former members.

Recently, attorneys for the dissidents sent a letter threatening action against me and any other diocesan officials who “set foot on” or “trespass” on Episcopal Church property. By contrast, your leadership has not moved to change locks or freeze assets. Rather, once again, we have moved to accommodate these dissidents at the expense of our faithful people.

Following the votes of the majority of members of these congregations, the counsel of these now non-Episcopal congregations filed reports with the clerks of the courts in their jurisdictions under a statute in the Code of Virginia that they think gives them the right to Episcopal Church property. We have intervened in that action. We are supported in this by The Episcopal Church on a national level. It is with a heavy heart that your leadership has moved in this direction, but it is not without a long period of efforts at accommodation and negotiation.

These differences are not about property but about the legacy we have received for the mission of Christ and our obligation to preserve that legacy for the future.

In the coming days and months there will be many opinions aired in the media, in letters and in countless blogs, opinions disguised as facts. I urge you to turn away from those as the distracting noise of the world intended to take your mind and your heart off the mission of the Church. Instead, I urge you to pray for our brothers and sisters who have moved to separate themselves from us. I urge us to remember that in their call away from the Episcopal Church, they may be responding to a genuine call to new ministry in a different place and in a different way. The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia will mourn their loss. We will suffer from their absence in ways we cannot know at this time in our life. I believe that they, too, will know times when our absence from their life will be a source of great sorrow for them.

My dear brothers and sisters, the Church in these communities may look different moving forward. We will look different as a Diocese. And the road ahead will be long and filled with opportunities to lose heart. We must always have our eyes fixed on God, not be anxious, and trust in the reliability of God’s promises. For even in this, God is doing a new thing.


Peter James Lee

Local NBC News Affiliate in DC reports on vandalism at Truro Church, says police treating it as hate crime

Vandals Spray-Paint Fairfax Church - Police Consider Incident Hate Crime

FAIRFAX, Va. -- A church that made headlines by splitting with the Episcopal Church is now the victim of hate crime vandalism, according to police.

A member of the Truro Church in the old town district of Fairfax City, Va., saw someone spray-painting the number "666" onto church doors over the weekend.

Authorities said the church member yelled at the vandal and the man ran away.

The Truro church recently split from the Episcopal Church because of a dispute over gay issues, but the church does not believe the vandalism is connected.

"I think this is a one-time thing, hopefully," said Harry Zeiders, Truro Church executive assistant. "I pray for the perpetrator and just hope that they don't damage any other properties."

Police are calling the incident a hate crime because of what the vandal spray-painted.

BB NOTE: Click on the headline above to go to the story.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Inside TEC?

What did Bishop Lee really mean?

Your Press Release states that Nigerians and Ugandans have taken over our churches, both as occupiers and congregants. Both of these are totally false statements. Neither country launched a campaign to take over churches in the USA. One image I had from reading your words was these “occupiers” allied with General Grant and the Yankees marching on Richmond again. As you mentioned the forbears, this was even stronger.

Which forbears do you mean? Are they those who would not have welcomed me into the Episcopal Church, as orthodox Anglicans from the Global South are not welcomed today by TEC? Or rather would it be those who were missionary minded and supported, the abolition of slavery, reaching out to all parts of the world etc? How can you claim to speak for an entire group of individuals who can no longer speak for themselves? Do you not think it possible that many forbears would be appalled at how the TEC by moving away from orthodox biblical faith has little resemblance to the church they loved? This is far more likely than your claim to the contrary. Neither can be applied to the group as a whole and serves no purpose other than to cloud the real issues.

Malcolm Phillips
Vestry, Church of th Apostles
Fairfax, VA
In a Letter to Bishop Lee of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia regarding his Statement of Dec. 17.

Read the whole letter and Bishop Lee's response at StandFirm.

Monday, January 15, 2007

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Martin Luther King, 1963

Oh the time will come up
When the winds will stop
And the breeze will cease to be breathin'.
Like the stillness in the wind
'Fore the hurricane begins,
The hour when the ship comes in.

Oh the seas will split
And the ship will hit
And the sands on the shoreline will be shaking.
Then the tide will sound
And the wind will pound
And the morning will be breaking.

Oh the fishes will laugh
As they swim out of the path
And the seagulls they'll be smiling.
And the rocks on the sand
Will proudly stand,
The hour that the ship comes in.

And the words that are used
For to get the ship confused
Will not be understood as they're spoken.
For the chains of the sea
Will have busted in the night
And will be buried at the bottom of the ocean.

A song will lift
As the mainsail shifts
And the boat drifts on to the shoreline.
And the sun will respect
Every face on the deck,
The hour that the ship comes in.

Then the sands will roll
Out a carpet of gold
For your weary toes to be a-touchin'.
And the ship's wise men
Will remind you once again
That the whole wide world is watchin'.

Oh the foes will rise
With the sleep still in their eyes
And they'll jerk from their beds and think they're dreamin'.
But they'll pinch themselves and squeal
And know that it's for real,
The hour when the ship comes in.

Then they'll raise their hands,
Sayin' we'll meet all your demands,
But we'll shout from the bow your days are numbered.
And like Pharaoh's tribe,
They'll be drownded in the tide,
And like Goliath, they'll be conquered.

Dylan 1963

One man come in the name of love
One man come and go
One come he to justify
One man to overthrow

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

One man caught on a barbed wire fence
One man he resist
One man washed on an empty beach.
One man betrayed with a kiss

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

(nobody like you...)

Early morning, April 4
Shot rings out in the Memphis sky
Free at last, they took your life
They could not take your pride

In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love

U2 1984