Friday, January 21, 2011

Live Blogging Bishop Johnston's address to the Diocese of Virginia Annual Council in Reston

Live from our reporter Intrepid:

Bishop Johnston is speaking now.

Is thanking the diocesan staff for going above and beyond to serve us in the diocese. "We have the smallest staff of any domestic dioceses."

Bishop Gulick is being welcomed and complimented for his pastoral wisdom and leadership throughout the wider church and the Anglican communion. Bishop Jones is being thanked for his seventeen years of service as bishop and thirty four years of ministry. The bishop says we need three bishops and we must call for an election of a new bishop suffragan to take place in April 2012. There will be a diocesan self study ahead of time.

Remarkable work of the "listening sessions" now being touted. The sessions were open to anyone who wished to attend. Around 800 people attended In a safe atmosphere ... All of this reflects an intentional decision on what was said rather than who said it.

We have 2000 comments on 247 pages, and "it is wonderful". This was "a true watershed for the diocese". He is comparing them with the past in the diocese, "with a dramatic shift" and a concern for "community" among all. There was a much better capacity he says for people to respect take care of and speak to one another than before, from the right and the left ... (there were people from the right there?). "There is a need for teaching from the larger church and a the local level because it is explicitly Anglican for this to happen ..."

"We are united in Christ rather than in agreement on issues ... our center holds because it is nothing less than Jesus Christ."

More in a moment ...

He is recalling the discussions ... Describing the struggle between church and culture. No real answers being offered, just a recap through open ended questions.

He will not be offering answers in this address, but through gatherings in the diocese throughout the coming year ... "After listening to hear the lay of the land there is teaching to address it ..." I have always affirmed that monogamous same sex relationships are blessed. Will be working immediately to help congregations establish pstoral responses. He wants the next general convention qto authorize ssb, "but in my jugement it is right to do something and it is time to do what we can."


Now talking about missions with native Americans in Va, in New Orleans, triangle of hooe, diocese of Christ the king, etc. "Missions are just what Christians do."

"The Diocese of Va continues to be entangled in litigation with congregations that are attempting to keep Episcopal church properties. These properties ought to be returned to us for our mission strategy and for our congregations. We have four continuing congregations that have been turned out of their houses of worship ... It is vitally important as a matter of who we are as a church that we secure a positive resolution not only for these churches but for our diocese and the whole of the Episcopal church."

"We have pursued litigation because up to this point there has been little choice. "

"Be assured in the past we have opened dialogue for settlement and we are even now pursuing settlement. We will continue to pursue all avenues for the just resolution of this suit."

He added that these costs are being cover by a line of credit based on unsecured unconsecrated lands.

No pledge dollars are being used for this

That's it for now. ... Quotation marks show the places where I am 99% sure of the text. One should be printed and available sometime soon ...

Intrepid is a member of the Diocese of Virginia Annual Council.  Bishop Johnston's text of his pastoral address is here.  In it he writes, "
You may remember that I have always affirmed that committed, monogamous same-gender relationships can indeed be faithful in the Christian life. Therefore, I plan also to begin working immediately with those congregations that want to establish the parameters for the “generous pastoral response” that the 2009 General Convention called for with respect to same-gender couples in Episcopal churches.
Personally, it is my hope that the 2012 General Convention will authorize the formal blessing of same-gender unions for those clergy in places that want to celebrate them. Until then, we might not be able to do all that we would want to do but, in my judgment, it is right to do something and it is time to do what we can.

BB NOTE: It is probably safe to assume that Bishop Johnston will be a leading candidate for Presiding Bishop. The pendulum swing indicates that he is not speaking to Virginia here, but to the wider leadership of The Episcopal Church (Bonnie Anderson does not just create a personal award and hand it out to the person who took on Lauren Stanley two years ago on the floor of Diocesan Council for nothing).

Of course, truth be told, I am frankly far more surprised (to put it lightly) that Bishop Johnson wore a cassock to Annual Council - what in the world is that all about? The Bishop of Virginia is High Church Anglo Catholic?

It is very cold here, but did hell freeze?

That is far more of a page-turner than most of this other stuff coming out of Annual Council, truly - and it doesn't even get a blip on the news radar! Sorry Bishop Meade, Bishop Johns, and Bishop Whittle - why, even, Bishop Lee! Who would have thought it?

Time for a cup of hot tea.


Grandpa Dino said...

"We have pursued litigation because up to this point there has been little choice. "

LOL. That's a good one!

Anonymous said...

How many staff does the Diocese of Virginia employ?

One western diocese of which I'm aware has 4 full time and one half time diocesan staff in total (including the Bishop).

RSchllnbrg said...


Anonymous said...

GD - I think the only choice was to acquiesce in departing parishioners taking things with them as they left. A fairly radical state of affairs that no self-respecting Bishop or Diocese could tolerate.


Anam Cara said...

Doesn't sound to me talk that would end with "departing churches" being allowed to buy the properties.

I think that was something that was being considered in the "negotiations" with Bishop Lee before 815 got involved.

Am I right, BB?

Steven in Falls Church said...

The Diocese could have chosen to stay with the Standstill Agreement, by which it had expressly committed to negotiate, but did not. By failing to meet its commitment under the Standstill Agreement, and letting that document expire, the Diocese most certainly engaged in litigation by choice.

it's margaret said...

Dear people of God --I am most certainly from a very different theological perspective than many of you. I grieve with you regarding the grievous wounding that has occurred.

But I rejoice today --I celebrate the service of Bishop Jones --faithful servant of God.

I celebrate that those who have lost their church homes still worship and engage in kingdom work.

I celebrate that the Order of Deacons is being restored to this Diocese. At last!

I celebrate having read morning prayer today, and pondering the Gospel story of the demoniac being restored to community --and thinking, if they begged Jesus to leave, what did the community do to the man they had bound in chains --whom Jesus left behind to preach the good news. How must the community change to receive the one they previously locked in chains? What must the community do to overcome their resentment of the loss of their livelihood --the loss of their herd of pigs?

The church as an institution has done much wrong --much wrong over the last two thousand years.

How are we as the people of God going to lay down our mallets with which we beat each other --and instead pick up the kingdom work --overcoming our differences, laying down the past, tending to the logs in our own eye instead of worrying about the log in our neighbor's eye?

Because, we are one.

BabyBlue said...

Anan cara, yes you are right. That's why the voting churches only filed petitions recording their votes immediately following the congregational votes to separate from The Episcopal Church. There was no petition to the court to grant the properties to the voting churches because, following the Virginia Protocol, we thought we were headed into settlement as All Saints Dale City had done before us.

The recent actions of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey to find a financial resolution with a separated CANA parish for their church property offers one hope.

I am concerned however, that Bishop Johnston may be looking to be a candidate for Presiding Bishop and so he may rebuff attempts to find resolution or spend the political capital necessary to negotiate beyond "you leave us the keys" resolution. His remarks in his pastoral address seem to indicate he seeks a wider audience (and he got it) then just the Diocese of Virginia. He is the right age and if he is successful at guiding the Diocese over the next four years, he could very well be a very attractive candidate.

I sure would like to be wrong on that one!!


DavidH said...

BB wrote: "There was no petition to the court to grant the properties to the voting churches..."

Completely false.

None of the CANA folks can possibly be surprised that the Diocese of Virginia has not been willing to simply give up Truro, TFC, etc.

BabyBlue said...

David, they didn't. No one expected them (or us) to "simply give up." The Diocese expected we would pay them millions and millions of dollars (and we were preparing to do that!). We had all ready started discussing the dollar amount. That was why we had a Standstill - we were preparing the next step to reach a settlement. The filings only changed AFTER the Episcopal Church intervened and sued everyone (with the Diocese following suit). Then the plan for resolution fell through and that was a very very sad day. I won't forget it.


Anonymous said...

Read the petitions, BB. You'll see that the departees were doing more than recording the vote. They argued that the Division Statute applied in their situation. There is absolutely no requirement in Virginia law that churches "record votes" with the secular court system. To the best of my knowledge, All Saints did not "record a vote" with the court system. The filing of the petition was a long-planned, opening salvo in the litigation which endures to this day. The structure and nature of the votes in the parishes were designed and constructed over a period of months to fit the elements of the Division Statute.

Changing the subject a bit, I find your speculation about our bishop's possible future callings to be interesting and encouraging. I think he would be an excellent Presiding Bishop.


DavidH said...

BB wrote: "That was why we had a Standstill - we were preparing the next step to reach a settlement. The filings only changed AFTER the Episcopal Church intervened and sued everyone (with the Diocese following suit). Then the plan for resolution fell through and that was a very very sad day. I won't forget it."

You've either forgotten the facts or they mean nothing to you. It quickly became clear after the CANA folks filed suit (mid-December 2006) that the CANA folks would accept no settlement other than where they got the properties. The decision was made to let the Standstill expire (mid-January 2007). This was before anyone except the CANA folks had filed suit. Then the Diocese filed suit (end of January), then TEC (albeit pretty close in time).

Anonymous said...
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BabyBlue said...

I was there DavidH. I was there. That is not accurate. We never had the first meeting - 815 intervened and it appears now that there was some internal battles in Mayo House as well. We went on the assumption of the past, that Bishop Lee and Russ Palmore had the authority to find resolution, but I think in retrospect there was severe division on that point in Mayo House.


Anonymous said...

Actually, the Diocese of Virginia is incredibly diverse in mindset and many other ways. I believe Bp. Johnston is leading us appropriately in trying to be more broad. As for wearing a cassock, this is old news. He wore one last year. He also never hid the fact that he is liturgically "higher" than some "low" church regions of VA. VA is changing. Stop being nostalgic and sentimental.

BabyBlue said...

Anon, come now - how long have you been in the Diocese? For that matter, how long have you been in Virginia?

Bishop Lee didn't use the phrase "foreign prelates" for nothing in one of his first press releases after vote in 2006.


DavidH said...

"We never had the first meeting..."

Which has what to do with anything I said? Misdirection.

And do you really think that your position was so mysterious that it could only be figured out in a meeting?

Anonymous said...

"There now appears there were divisions in Mayo House" means what?