Your will be done, Lord.
Where do you come up with the phrase "shadow congregation" What does that mean? Does a congregation that Worships regularly, has a Sunday school, altar guild, vestry, coffee hour, goes on a weekend retreat to Shrine mont, donates time and money to charities within the city of Falls Church and surrounding community,visits their sick, holds Bible studies and adult education and Prays for each other not meet your citeria for a church?
Shadow congregations are those that are developed by the diocese for their litigation. The strategy in the initial lawsuits (that are now suspended for the time being) was to put in place shadow congregations for each of the churches that voted to separate. Then the litigation could be between the two congregations, the original congregation and the shadow set up the diocese specifically for the litigation.The diocese worked hard to establish the shadow congregations in Virginia, especially for those congregations with historic property. They weren't entirely successful, though we know they tried hard.The first time I saw this strategic plan was around the time of General Convention 2003. The memo may have been written by David Booth Beers, I can't remember who initially wrote it, but it was passed through what was then the Via Media/Integrity network. At that time the attention was fixed on dioceses separating from TEC rather than parishes and the idea was to set up shadow dioceses that would be ready to move once a diocese separated from TEC.The California parishes that left the Diocese of Los Angeles moved so fast that the Diocese had no time to create shadow congregations. Perhaps because of the protocol, the shadows were not put in place in Virginia until after the diocese's Standstill Agreement was dissolved by the diocese. But it is no secret that the creation of the shadow congregations is primarily a legal strategy to keep the property.The attempts by the diocesan attorneys to invoke the idea that the shadow congregation is The Falls Church - or the "real" Falls Church was apparent in court yesterday. The fact remains, however, that The Falls Church voted according to the statues of the Commonwealth of Virginia (and according to the Diocese of Virginia protocol developed by Bishop Lee and his personally-appointed committee) and legally separated from the Diocese of Virginia. It is the diocese that has created her shadow in their attempt to get at the property.It would be authentic if the diocese assisted those who may wish to remain in the diocese in planting a new congregation in the City of Falls Church. But that is not what they are doing - and that makes all the difference.bb
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