Here is the letter from Bishop Martyn Minns, Missionary Bishop of CANA, to all the churches of the Anglican District of Virginia, in preparation for the ruling that should come at any time from Judge Randy Bellows.
Via e-mail: February 27, 2008, Anglican District of Virginia newsletter.
I'm writing to you all to express my gratitude for your faithful witness as we have embarked on this journey together to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ during one of the most challenging periods in the history of the Anglican Communion. We have experienced those challenges not only within the global communion, but particularly right here in Virginia. Your sacrificial giving in supporting the work of ministry through your time, your talents, and your financial resources is a powerful witness to the world of your dedication to Jesus Christ and to the work of His church. Your devotion to the integrity of a biblical witness is a testimony of steadfast faith in Christ in a time of great challenge.
As you know, CANA continues to grow at a remarkable rate. In the past year alone we have quadrupled in size and we continue to receive and plant new congregations. Here in Virginia, the CANA and Ugandan congregations of the Anglican District of Virginia continue to reach out with Christ's love to preach the Gospel, to serve one another, to extend a warm hand of fellowship to our communities, and to celebrate the sovereignty and faithfulness of our God as we go from strength to strength.
You also know that another milestone is soon to be upon us. I ask you all to be in prayer and preparation for the time when we receive the decision from Judge Bellows in Fairfax Circuit Court. We expect him to rule on the applicability and constitutionality of Virginia Statue 57-9 under which we filed reports of votes to sever ties with The Episcopal Church. As you remember, following those filings we entered into negotiations with the Diocese of Virginia based on the protocol unanimously recommend by a committee chartered by Bishop Lee. TEC forced the Diocese to break off those negotiations and to file suits against all 11 churches, their rectors, and vestries. We expect Judge Bellows ruling at any time.
Judge Bellows has signaled he could rule in one of three ways, either that:
1. There has been a division and the 57-9 statute is constitutional.
2. There has been a division and the 57-9 statute is unconstitutional.
3. There has been no division and so that 57-9 statute does not apply.
As you can see, each possible ruling will require responses from us as well as from the Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church. Whichever way he rules, we must bear in mind that this will be only one of a number of issues on which he will likely ultimately rule, and we must stay focused on our ministry and mission. Thanks to the Lord and to your support and prayers, we are ready for all three possibilities.
Last week I asked Jim Oakes, Vice Chair of the Anglican District of Virginia, to gather some leaders together from the CANA churches in the ADV to pray and plan for our next steps. John Yates, the rector of The Falls Church, opened our time together with a reading from Habakkuk 3:
The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.
I can assure you that we will continue to seek the Lord in providing for our needs as we earnestly ask Him for His help. He works through you as you continue to pledge and give to this very public witness of standing firm for the Gospel and for the integrity of His Word. We also hear from friends in other denominations in Virginia and around the United States who support and pray for us, knowing that the decisions and actions here will be felt beyond our own denomination. We appreciate the prayers and financial support that comes from inside and outside our denomination. We are not alone.
Please pray as we await this first decision. Pray for Judge Bellows in the great responsibility he's been given to make this first decision. Pray for the legal team and the CANA churches leadership as we respond to this first decision.
And pray for Bishop Lee and the Diocese of Virginia as they also respond to the decisions of the court. Pray for all the churches in the ADV that we may, even through difficult times, continue to trust the Lord with our future, being assured that He will not let us go. Pray that we will continue to seek Him first and His righteousness, eager to stand in the gap and eager to forgive.
As soon as Judge Bellows hands down this first decision, all the ADV churches will be notified. We have been blessed by a remarkable legal team and we are grateful for their diligent preparation for this decision and the work ahead. May the Lord bless you and keep you as we solemnly observe this season of Lent, looking forward to that day when we celebrate His victory through the cross.
Angela and Rachel and I keep you in our prayers. We are confident that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
The Sovereign LORD is our strength. May He, indeed, make our feet like the feet of deer, enabling us to go on to the heights together and for His sake. Amen.
Your brother in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns
Missionary Bishop of C.A.N.A.