Two large conservative parishes in the Diocese of Virginia, The Falls Church and Truro Church have moved towards secession from ECUSA and stated that they intend to join CANA.
The Falls Church vestry has voted to recommend this. In a letter to parishioners, John Yates the Rector of that parish said:
…The decision of the vestry, as we met last night, was to recommend to the congregation that The Falls Church disaffiliate with The Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Anglican District of Virginia, an association of Virginia churches who are joining together to realign traditional Anglicans in Virginia. The district is part of CANA (the Convocation of Anglicans in North America), a branch of the Anglican Communion within the Church of Nigeria that has The Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns as its Bishop. The vote was 15 aye, 2 nay, and 1 abstention.
The Vestry and I will be providing you with as much information as we can about the Anglican District of Virginia and CANA in the next few weeks. We will have two congregational informational meetings to explain and discuss these matters, as well as to go over the resolution and ballot, which we expect to use in the congregation-wide vote on this matter.
The first meeting will be next Monday Nov. 20 at 7:30 pm in the Main Sanctuary. The next will be on December 3rd, when the 9:00 am & 11:00 am services will be shortened to have a meeting after each of those services. Please plan to attend! I may also be sending out additional information via email.
The congregation will decide this matter at a meeting that begins Sunday morning Dec. 10. Please do make plans to vote; I am sure you can appreciate how important that vote – and your individual vote! – will be. This is likely the most important vote that this congregation will take in any of our lifetimes, perhaps ever. The voting times will be stretched over a week to enable those who may be traveling on Sunday to vote. The polls will be open from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm and from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm on Sunday, December 10th, as well as a couple of hours Tuesday evening, Wednesday afternoon, and mid-day on Saturday the 16th. The results will be announced on Sunday, December 17.
We have informed the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia, of the vestry’s decision. As a congregation, we are following a protocol, approved by the Diocese, that sets out a procedure for congregations considering whether to sever ties with The Episcopal Church…
Truro Church vestry has made a similar recommendation. A joint press release reads as follows:
Fairfax, VA, Nov. 15 – In a congregational meeting Sunday afternoon, Nov 12, the Vestry of Truro Church, Fairfax, announced to their parish that they unanimously recommend that Truro should sever its ties to The Episcopal Church (TEC) and remain as full members of the Anglican Communion by joining the Anglican District of Virginia Anglicans in the Convocation for Anglicans in North America (CANA).
On the following Monday, Nov. 13, the Vestry of The Falls Church, Falls Church, also voted to recommend that they sever their ties to the Episcopal Church and join the Anglican District of Virginia, CANA.
Both congregations will review the recommendations and vote on the final Vestry resolutions, starting on December 10.
The congregations are following a protocol, approved by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, which sets out a procedure for congregations considering whether to sever ties with The Episcopal Church.
“The meeting of the Truro vestry was prayerful and somber,” said Jim Oakes, Senior Warden Truro. “We shared prayers and tears as we voted to recommend to the Truro parish this course of action. It was an extraordinary meeting.”
The Falls Church Senior Warden Tom Wilson agreed. “With great sadness and yet firm conviction we took this initial step toward our respective votes,” he said.
This action comes following a discernment period by two of the largest and oldest parishes in the Diocese of Virginia. “In that time we studied, reflected, prayed, and engaged in deep and significant conversations not only in the Vestry, but also with the congregation and with the diocese,” Mr. Oakes said. “It became clear to us that this was the best direction for us to recommend to the parish.”
“We have witnessed firsthand how the Episcopal Church has separated itself from the historic Christian faith of the Anglican Communion over the last few decades,” said Mr. Wilson. “Both Truro and The Falls Church have had to come to grips with the direction TEC is moving. We are at an historic crossroads.”
Other Episcopal congregations are also preparing to vote, as the crisis in the Anglican Communion – precipitated by the recent actions of the TEC General Conventions in 2003 and 2006 – continues to deepen and divide. “It is clear that there is a division in the Episcopal Church,” said Mr. Oakes. “Our next step is for our congregations to pray and reflect on the Vestries’ recommendations as we continue to move forward.”
The congregational voting begins December 10.
A letter to Truro parishioners is posted here.
The Diocese of Virginia has also issued a press release: Two Vestries Vote to Recommend Separating from The Episcopal Church. This release contradicts some of the points in the letter above.
The Vestries of Truro Church, Fairfax and The Falls Church, Falls Church, two Episcopal congregations in The Diocese of Virginia, voted Monday night to recommend to their congregations that they sever ties to The Episcopal Church. The vestry decisions follow the conclusion of a period of “40 Days of Discernment” in each congregation.
“We are very, very sad that the vestries are going to recommend to the congregations that they sever ties to The Episcopal Church,” said Bishop Lee.
In a letter to his congregation communicating the decision, the Rev. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church, asserted that the congregation is following a protocol approved by the Diocese that sets out a procedure for congregations considering whether to sever ties with The Episcopal Church.
“There is no approved protocol,” explained Patrick Getlein, Secretary of the Diocese.
At a meeting of the Executive Board and Standing Committee last Thursday in Burke, members of those bodies received and considered the report of the Special Committee set up by Bishop Lee in late 2005 to help those congregations continuing in conflict over the decisions of the 75th General Convention in 2003 to get on with their mission in as close a union as possible with the Diocese of Virginia. The report contains a section entitled Protocol for Departing Congregations.
“The Executive Board and Standing Committee both voted to receive the report but it is inaccurate to say it was endorsed or approved,” explained Mr. Getlein.
“There is no protocol,” said Col. Jean Reed, president of the Standing Committee. “The Standing Committee intends to meet with those churches proposing to separate from The Episcopal Church and review their situations on a case by case basis.”
The Living Church has a report: Falls Church, Truro Vestries Recommend Disaffiliation. It includes this:
With a combined membership of more than 5,200 and average Sunday attendance of 3,200, Truro and Falls Church are among the largest and wealthiest congregations in The Episcopal Church. In 2005 the combined reported pledge and plate income for the parishes was in excess of $7 million.
Episcopal News Service has this report: VIRGINIA: Bishop saddened by vestry recommendation to leave Episcopal Church
The two parishes have issued a further press release in response to the one from the diocese, read it here.