Saturday, January 15, 2011

Substitute Resolution on property litigation proposed for Diocese of Virginia Annual Council next week

VA Laity for a Win Win Settlement is reporting that the original submitters of the two resolutions that have all ready been proposed for the Diocese of Virginia Annual Council next week have drafted a proposed substitute resolution that VA Laity calls "quite promising."

From Finding Common Ground in Common Prayer:
The Diocesan Annual Council meets in Reston VA from January 20-22. Two resolutions related to the property litigation were submitted in advance. One called on the Diocese to enter into negotiations with the departing congregations "so that a bilaterally beneficial outcome might be achieved and an increasingly prolonged and mutually destructive process of civil litigation be avoided." (Read the full text here.) The other called on the Bishop to pursue recovery of the disputed property "by all available means.” (Read the full text here.)

In the time-honored Episcopal tradition of finding an approach that everyone can support, those who submitted these mutually-exclusive resolutions have drafted a proposed substitute resolution which turns out to be quite promising. The resolution and background statement read as follows:


Resolved, That the 216th Annual Council request the members of the Diocese of Virginia, corporately and individually, to commit to praying regularly for God's guidance for the resolution of the property issues in the Diocese that are presently the subject of litigation.


We agree that this matter of property ownership needs to come to a resolution that is according to God's will and that brings him glory. What we may not agree upon is what our expectations of that outcome should be. Therefore, we will lay our differences and our desires before God in the faith that through the Holy Spirit the path of the Diocese in this matter will be his path.

"Negotiation becomes attractive when all parties believe that it is a feasible alternative to achieving their objectives. The same is true, of course, for litigation," Virginia Laity writes their commentary on the proposed substitute resolution.  "In the end, there is a better chance that all parties will be satisfied when they negotiate; if they litigate, it is certain that one or all will be unhappy with the outcome. We think it makes sense to give negotiations a try."

Read it all here.


Steven in Falls Church said...

An appropriate photo, too -- that's about how well-attended our churches would look if seized by TEC.

TJ McMahon said...

I guess I am confused by the resolution itself and what it intends to accomplish. Prayer is, of course, a good thing in and of itself. But the resolution includes no commitment to negotiation. It therefore reads as a "feel good" resolution with no actual effect.

Andy said...

A refreshing, Biblical approach. Though it may not represent an actual solution, it is a way forward that is free 815 intrusion. Like the quote in the essay, a solution that is "reached" will be far more agreeable, equitable and reasonable than a solution that is "imposed".

May the Almighty guide the process.

jschwarz42 said...

A very good decision by the submitters (particularly of R-9, which, for the reasons I stated in comment on your earlier story, would have been quite mischievous if passed, would have actually made real negotiation, which is quite delicate and needs to happen quietly and privately, more difficult, and would have hardened positions by publicly embarrassing the Diocese). They are to be complimented on agreeing on this

There are times when a "feel good" resolution (TJ McMahon) is better than one that demands action but would be destructive and counter-productive in its practical consequences.

- John

TJ McMahon said...


The issue I have with the resolution (in my case this is an "academic interest"- I am far distant from Virginia) is that nowhere does the resolution even request that the diocese negotiate. If you take the bishops and others on both sides at their word, they are all responding to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, whether they are performing SSBs, involved in lawsuits, or breaking away from TEC.
I am not suggesting that either of the 2 original resolutions be accepted, but that since both of those suggest a course of action (one to further the lawsuits, the other to end them), that a compromise resolution needs to suggest an alternate course of action- in this case, entering into good faith negotiation or mediation.

Anonymous said...

For Once I'm going to agree with John, at least on the point that trying to force an action is probably not a good idea at this point.

This substitute resolution, if it makes it out of the Resolutions Committee, could serve as the beginning of a discussion. While I suspect it's an over reach, a desirable outcome could be a series of meetings with the laity to determine the wishes of those who constitute the DioVA.

Anonymous said...

TJ - there's no reason to assume that the Diocese is not open to or has not pursued negotiated solutions. A resolution at the General Convention does not change the status quo.


Closing Down said...


"A resolution at the General Convention does not change the status quo."

Does this apply to the Dennis Canon, too?

Anonymous said...

"there's no reason to assume that the Diocese is not open to or has not pursued negotiated solutions"

To the best of my knowledge, TEC has rebuffed any and all attempts at negotiations. Whether DioVA is willing to negotiate independently from TEC is another question.

TEC and DioVA filed virtually identical suits which the courts have joined together. From the viewpoint of the CANA congregations, what the dioocese does is irrelevant unless TEC were also willing to negotiate.

If the judge were to rule that TEC has no standing, that would be another matter, but that's pretty unlikely since he did not do so in the 57-9 portion of the proceedings.


Anonymous said...

LL2 - I continue to think that the Dennis Canon will have little impact on the outcome of the Virginia disputes. I could be wrong, but that's my guess.

Ralph - it's very hard to negotiate when the departing groups are occupying the premises and excluding Episcopalian members of the parish. The exclusionary occupation substantially distorts the negotiating environment. Nonetheless, I assume that all attorneys of the calibre of those engaged by the Diocese are always alert to a settlement that, while not gaining every objective, would substantially meet the objectives of their clients.


Anonymous said...


Perhaps you mean those peole who are keeping the heat and lights on? Something the Episcopal remnant is incapable of doing?

Let me spell this out simply. Episcopalians are welcome to worship with the CANA congregations. No one forced them out. No one told them thay had to leave.


DavidH said...

"Perhaps you mean those peole who are keeping the heat and lights on? Something the Episcopal remnant is incapable of doing?"

Ralph, as long as you have a fool-proof crystal ball, could you please let me know who'll win the SuperBowl? I'd like to place a bet.

Other than the certainty of people who have a vested interest in their failure, I've never seen any evidence of the predictions of doom for the continuing congregations should they get the properties back.

"Let me spell this out simply. Episcopalians are welcome to worship with the CANA congregations."

This has always been the CANA party line: you're welcome to do things our way.

Anonymous said...

Ralph - you deliberately miss the point. I occasionally do worship with the CANA departees on the theory that they left, I didn't, and they are, to a point, welcome to join me at our church (although, if house guest standards applied, they long ago would have been deemed to grossly have overstayed their invite). But I am also welcome to attend Mass at the St. James, the LDS services down the road (although I probably couldn't score a Temple Recommend), and go to temple at a local Synagogue on Saturdays. (Actually, I think I am probably more welcome, as an Episcopalian, at any of those other venues. You should hear some of the things that get said in the CANA group about The Episcopal Church and Episcopalians. Terribly unkind and uncharitable at times. And the worst of it is that the clergy and lay leadership are among those saying these things. So, although I can make myself welcome at my church, there are a lot of people in there who have stated some very strong negative views of Episcopalians, enough to make me question the warmth of the welcome.)

But, as you well know, the Diocese of Virginia has not been able to conduct services with Episcopalian clergy since the people who felt they had to leave, stayed. That they keep the lights on while they're in occupation has nothing to do with it, in my view of things. They would have been keeping the lights on wherever they went had they done the right thing originally.



Anonymous said...


I'm not deliberately missing the point. There have been malicious rumors that Episcopalians were not welcome at our services. That is flatly untrue in my church.

If you have heard, first person, uncharitable things said regarding Episcopalians, then I'm sorry. That is to no one's benefit. It does cut both ways as I've heard similar stories regarding experiences by CANA members in Episcopal churches. (I have not experienced that directly myself.) While I may disagree with the Episcopal remnants, they are not my enemies.

You and I will differ about what was the "right" thing for the CANA congregations to do. However, the facts are on the ground. Should CANA prevail, an accomodation can be made for Episcopal services at these properties. (Such discussions were underway until TEC/DioVA filed the lawsuits.)

Should TEC/DioVA prevail, the script will be that the Diocese will arrange for large numbers of people who were never members to show up to display the "vibrant future" for the congregation. After a few weeks, about 20% of the original pre-split congregation will be attending. The diocese may even pay for a priest for a few months.

As neither the diocese nor the Episcopal congregations can carry these properties, they will be sold within a year or two.

With perhaps one exception, these will never again be viable as Episcopal churches. Economics and ASA are working againt that possibility. Good faith negotiations, based on reality more than ego, can yield benefits for both sides.

For DavidH: Bet on the Steelers!


Lapinbizarre said...

Familiar with this 1938 Ogden Nash poem, RalphM?

Anonymous said...

No, Lapin, I am not. Applies pretty well to the DioVA and TEC though...

Anonymous said...

Ralph - in a comment on a recent, earlier post, a commenter named "Ralph" ( I assume it's not you, Ralph M) stated that the CANA congregations' position is that Episcopalians are not Christians. You can understand, with that assumption abroad in the CANA community, a Christian of my stripe might not feel particularly welcome at worship. If the other Ralph is correct, why would the CANA congregations permit non-Christian worship in the properties they have just succeeded in wresting away from Pagan hands?


Anonymous said...

Scout, you seem to have maintained some relationships with those now in CANA - do you really think that is their position? Quite frankly, the comment seems out of character for you.

That is not the position of CANA, nor is it my position. I'd direct you to the CANA website
to read CANA's views relationships to other provinces. I'd be interested in a link to the statement by the other Ralph if you have it.


Anonymous said...

Ralph - it was the penultimate comment on the 15 December post of BB re the establishment of the "Win-Win Coalition." The sentiment is one that I have heard in various forms expressed by CANA members, particularly in the days before the departure. I have also heard The Falls Church referred in recent times as "The Gay Church." Hard to imagine, but, sadly, true.