Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Anglican District of Virginia Bishop calls for talks with the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia

On behalf of the Anglican District of Virginia, The Rt. Rev'd David Bena calls for a return to the table for new talks, that "all three sides lay down their 'legal weapons of mass destruction' and save millions of dollars in legal costs - money that can be used for Christian mission." May it be so!

Via e-mail:

News that the Judge has ruled that we can retain our properties has brought a sense of peace throughout all ADV churches this Christmas. Our leaders had been following the "Bishop's Protocol for Departing Congregations" when negotiations broke off and we found our clergy and lay leaders being sued. Now, two years and millions of dollars in legal fees later, the Judge has ruled that we did follow Virginia law in departing the Diocese of Virginia with our properties and that the law
(57-9) is constitutional. Now what?

While the Episcopal Church and even the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia may choose to appeal the judge's ruling, my impression is that the judge's ruling is very well put together, reflects the constitutional "free exercise of religion" for us, and will be very difficult to overturn. So I hope we don't have to spend countless more dollars defending ourselves if an appeal is filed. Isn't there a better way? A more Christ-centered, Gospel way?

Two years ago, before the lawsuit was filed, representatives of both the Anglican District of Virginia and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia were able to sit together at a table, and pray and talk in a respectful way. Can't we return to that spirit of reconciliation? Can't all three sides lay down their "legal weapons of mass destruction" and save millions of dollars in legal costs - money that can be used for Christian mission? For instance, are there Diocesan mission projects to which the District might contribute? Are there District mission projects to which the Diocese might contribute? Can't we all just let the judge's ruling be the judge's ruling and now spend some time together talking about reconciliation and mission?

A number of us in the ADV have been praying about how to reach out to the leaders of the Diocese of Virginia, to hold out an olive branch, but we don't know how. Perhaps in this peaceful season of Christmas, we'll find a way. Now that the court case has been settled, maybe we can all reach a peaceful settlement with each other in the Lord. Would you pray with me about that?

Yes. And God bless us all, every one.


Anonymous said...

I have had the opportunity to worship in non-tec anglican settings, and in tec settings - both conservative-biblically-orthodox and not-so-conservative-biblically-orthodox settings over the last few months. I am heartened by the number of prayers for reconciliation, for an end to law suits, etc. Bishop N\Bena's message is very helpful. It seems that both the grass roots on all sides and the leadership of most conservative bodies are sickened by the waste of money, time and energy being poured into these legal proceedings. I fear, however, that the leadership of TEC (both episcopal and legal leadership) are willing to fight to the death. I pray that I am wrong. I would hope that the TEC leadership is also sickened by the continuing court battles. I suspect that the propect of further defections makes litigation a far more attractive alternative for TEC bishops and lawyers. If I were in their shoes I would be concerned that if they were to lay down their arms and make the decision not to pursue any more legal action against conservatives who wish to leave with their property, that the exodus would be overwhelming. Many (not all, I'm sure) conservative clergy, parishes, and perhaps bishops and dioceses, are only being held within TEC by the continued threat of litigation, not by a sense of loyalty. Thank you Bishop Bena for holding out the olive branch (once more!). I pray that it may take root.
Grant LeMarquand

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful exercise in PR by Bishop Bena. Something tells me he'd be singing a very different tune if the trial court had ruled against the breakaways.

Unknown said...

Thanks for your post, Grant - I too pray it will take root.

Anon, that's an interesting post of yours. Hope your enjoying your mug of - is that spiked Butterbeer? So - tell me, how is it that with our parishes having won overwhelmingly in court and Bishop Bena offers an olive branch to sit down with the Diocese and figure out how to work together and that would have been different if - what?

If the roles had been reversed, would the diocese have approached David Bena looking for ways to us all to work together and stop the litigation? Well, I hope so.

If the outcome had been different and Bishop Lee would have put out the same olive branch, perhaps there is hope after all that the litigation will stop and the Diocese of Virginia and the Anglican District of Virginia can sit down and talk about how we can move forward together. For even though we are estranged, we are still family.

What do you think?