That the Diocese of Virginia - even at this stage - would make such a wild pants-on-fire statement that Episcopalians are forced to worship elsewhere causes me to continue to doubt that we can believe anything they say. Bishop Lee knows this to be untrue and I just wonder how the Diocese can put up a statement like this on their website when the Bishop of Virginia knows it to be false.
Again, notice the elitist appeal is not to the Christian faith, but that "loyal Episcopalians" have "pledged themselves to the Diocese in order to ensure a lasting legacy of Episcopal faith and worship in Virginia." Pledged themselves to the Diocese? Pledged themselves to the Diocese? Is that what baptism and confirmation mean now - that we are pledging ourselves to a corporate structure? Where is Patrick Henry? As I wrote in "The Rising of the Perfect Storm" this appeal to loyalty is to a colonial structure, which in the case of the Diocese of Virginia it most certainly is - it is the classic colonial structure put in place after the Revolution, but with one ingredient that would have caused my revolutionary ancestors to turn over and over in their graves. They did not give a lot of power to the bishop or the diocese on purpose, a tradition that continued deep into the 20th century with the adherence to the "Virginia Plan" of voluntary giving. If those who redesigned the Diocese of Virginia heard such a description of their faith as "pledging themselves to the Diocese" they would have marched right back down to Yorktown again.
To "ensure a lasting legacy" of what they call an "Episcopal faith?" What is that an appeal to? Oh, we know what that means and it's shameful. Those of us who are thirteenth generation Virginians know exactly what that means and it's shameful to see this type of appeal coming out of Richmond.
I continue to earnestly pray that we will all find a way to explore options of talking to each other outside the court room. We do that at Truro with those who voted differently than the majority. We need them, we love them, they are a part of our family and their presence is a daily witness of their love for God and their desire to stay with us, even when they disagree. I deeply care about those few I know who voted differently than did, have talked with them, have heard and been heard about why we voted differently and somehow, through our loyalty to Jesus, we remain in communion with one another.
I have continued to pray that this is a "legal separation" not a divorce, a place of "escrow" to use the Windsor Continuation Group's words, and that in this separation we would take steps to make a safe place during a very turbulent and toxic time so that we, with God's help, may find a way to reason together and that perhaps one day - by the hand of God and with biblical faith - walk together again. We would save the marriage.
We are working on that at Truro in our own congregation and it's not easy, we are a rambunctious and spirited bunch, but it's vital to the health of our community and it can not be done out of some appeal to a false projection of loyalty but because we are all loyal to Jesus and the transforming life He gives to His people.
After all, He's the one who's standing at the door.
Here's the statement from the Diocese of Virginia:
While we are disappointed in today’s ruling, we are committed to exploring every option available to restore constitutional and legal protections for all churches in Virginia. Meanwhile, we look ahead to the October trial and the issues to be considered in the fall.
The Diocese remains firmly committed to ensuring that loyal Episcopalians, who have been forced to worship elsewhere, will be able to return to their Episcopal homes. Generations of Episcopalians pledged themselves to the Diocese in order to ensure a lasting legacy of Episcopal faith and worship in Virginia.