Saturday, 4 June 2016
Liverpool and Akure
We linked in the previous article to a statement The Diocese of Liverpool and the Anglican Communion from Paul Bayes, the Bishop of Liverpool. He wrote:
…Over a year ago, as part of this walking together, I asked the Suffragan bishop of Virginia, the Rt Revd Susan Goff, whether she would become one of our honorary assistant bishops (or “assisting bishops” as they call this sort of arrangement in TEC). She kindly accepted this invitation and, again last year, we secured the necessary permissions for her to minister here. As +Susan is an overseas bishop, these permissions do not extend to the conducting of ordinations. I remain delighted that our ministry here will be enriched by what +Susan will bring to us as a teacher, pastor and disciple. She will also be able to hear and to engage with the wide range of views in our Diocese on the way the Gospel is understood in these days.
It seems that this invitation has caused the Diocese of Akure, Nigeria, which has been another of our link dioceses, to issue a statement indicating that they no longer wish to be in a link-relationship with Liverpool. I regret this. I would prefer to walk together with Akure as well as with Virginia, within the one Communion whose life we share.
I have not yet received formal notification directly from the Bishop of Akure, but as and when I do I shall write to him expressing this regret. If our partners choose to close this door, this is a matter of sorrow for us but of course we respect their decision as free partners in a free relationship.
At one time this link was three-way and provided wonderful opportunities for sharing and mutual learning, though my colleagues tell me that five years ago, in 2011, the then Bishop of Akure formally indicated that his Diocese did not feel able to remain in such a three-way relationship…
Ruth Gledhill has now published an article Nigeria diocese severs link with Liverpool over same-sex blessings bishop.
This in turn links to a statement from the Bishop of Akure, Simeon Borokini. In which he says:
…Peace of the Lord be with you and all yours in Jesus name. I received a message from our Primate in Nigeria, who is currently the Chairman of GAFCON today about a partnership that is in the Western news. That there is a three way Diocesan partnership between the Diocese of Liverpool, England, the Diocese of Akure, Nigeria and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia in the United States.
Also, that recently, the Diocese of Liverpool made the assisting Bishop of Virginia, Susan Goff, an assisting Bishop in Liverpool. Susan Goff is in favour of blessing same sex unions and this has been a part of the litigation against the orthodox in Virginia.
Therefore, in view of the above and being aware of the fact that Nigeria does not support same sex marriage, we in Akure Diocese cannot have any link with Liverpool Diocese…
There is also a letter from the GAFCON Chairman, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, in which he writes:
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Saturday, 4 June 2016 at 2:34pm BST
…In the beginning, the focus of our concern was North America and we thank God that he has raised up the Anglican Church North America as a new wineskin in that continent. Now our concern is increasingly with the British Isles. A line has been crossed in the Church of England itself with the appointment of Bishop Susan Goff, of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, as an Assisting Bishop of Liverpool. The false teaching of the American Episcopal Church has been normalised in England and this divisive act has meant that the Church of Nigeria’s Akure Diocese has had no alternative but to end its partnership link with Liverpool Diocese.
At our recent Primates Council meeting in Nairobi we reaffirmed our solidarity with the leaders of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans in the UK and the Anglican Mission in England at this testing time…
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
| Church of England
It should be noted that once again that it is curious that links with the USA are threatened in this way when links with other parts of the world where the marriage of same-sex couples is fully affirmed by the church seem to pass without comment.
Take the link between the Diocese of Carlisle and the Diocese of Stavanger in the gloriously gay affirming Church of Norway which exists whilst Carlisle has a link with a diocese of the Southern Cone.
Or what about Portsmouth's links with both West Africa and Stockholm?
Or indeed, what about the whole of the Church of England's relationship with the whole of the Church of Sweden?
Why are none of these things a big deal amongst GAFCON people? Because they are not primarily about America?
Oh my, yes, possible indirect LGBTI ANGLICAN contamination from the diocese of Virginia, TEC, might be harmful to the spiritual well-being of CANA folks in the U.S.A., Nigeria and NOW in the Liverpool and the rest of the UK. Strict and religiously observant, the CANA Anglicans have squandered millions of U.S. dollars in legal fees as they poached (for years) on TEC property! It appears the GAFCON, CANA and NIGERIA extra-holyones will have no part of praying together or walking together...they clearly prefer selective company and troublesome, and costly, international "sit ins."
And likewise the Simeon Borokini, when he was at the place, came and looked on the Liverpool Diocese, and passed by on the other side.
A microcosm of deeper seismic faults.
All the bodging over the cracks with polite duct tape, cannot change those fault lines in the communion.
It doesn't need diplomatic duct tape, it needs love. And love does not dominate. Love serves.
Like it or not, we are one in Christ.
I am still in communion with Liverpool, Virginia and Akure, whether they know it or accept it or not. Because we are all inseparable from Jesus Christ.
The communion, the unity, the shared consciousness, the eternal co-existence... is only, ever, that shared union and communion of the Holy Trinity, that has been going on for all eternity, and which we are invited to share in.
As fallible human beings, we don't get to give out the invites to the party.
Whichever way we open our hearts to Christ, that opening to Christ, that faith in Christ, means we are part of the communion. It is the only union that Christ operates.
Christianity is not a club where we choose the membership.
In all our diversity, we co-exist in a unity that is eternal. And that unity is sustained by love and grace.
More love and grace is needed in this case of Akure - Virginia - Liverpool. But then again, more grace is needed in all our lives.
Duct tape bodging will only, ever, paper over the cracks. In the end, we need to stop trying to control one another's agenda, and recognise that in the eternal communion love always comes at a cost, but love is also all gain, it is Christ, it is God.
Where there is hurt, there is prospect of the operation of love, rather than alienation and separation. And through that we may grow towards and into God, and become more of who we are called to be.
Even with all our differences.
We need to stop being so afraid, we need to stop looking at one another and judging and discriminating... 'you're not such a pure Christian as me'... and we need to look at God, to look and gaze, and to seek grace, even in our own limits, to love one another, and share in the love God has for us, a love to the point of no return.
This whole affair is a sad little episode of alienation and separation. When you consider the vulnerability of so many Christians in these dioceses, it is very sad indeed.
Lord have mercy.
Susannah, that comment made me rethink my instinctive response of "Screw 'em, I'm not in communion with these hatemongers." Thanks for that much-needed reminder of the need for grace, most important when its recipients are behaving so badly.
You're right, we are in communion: and you're also right to say that this unity can't be used to impose uniformity. Not even a question of "shouldn't"; it can't. Provinces are just too far apart in their understandings.
Anyone who threatens to walk if their conditions aren't meet should simply be told to go. Go with regret, but go all the same. Hopefully, they'll one day feel able to return, but only when they're able to do so without strings attached. Communion must rest on friendship and mutual respect, or it's no communion, no communion at all.
Severe links! From the Diocese of Azure's point of view that's taking the proverbial sledgehammer to crack a nut. If this is to be the policy Bishop Borokini will have to cut off pretty well every diocese in the Church of England for having 'links' with the Episcopal Church.
@ Kelvin Holdsworth, insightful observation. GAFCON appears to be playing a long game with ACNA its favorite to replace TEC/Canada. It's called telegraphing the punch.
Nicholas Okoh, Primate of ALL Nigeria and Chair of the dissident GAFCON sodality, has now pronounced anathema on the Church of England and TEC, by this, his extravagant claim to Anglican orthodoxy in support of the Nigerian Diocese of Akura's breaking of fellowship with the C.of E. Diocese of Liverpool.
By this breaking of relationship with the Church of England (already broken with TEC). Nigeria and GAFCON are declaring a state of self-initiated schismatic breakaway from the world-wide Anglican Communion.
If it were not so like a situation of the Tail Wagging the Dog, this chutzpah could have quite serious consequences for the future of the Communion.
However, Okoh and his associates within the Gafcon crowd - including Bishop Peter Jensen, former 'Anglican' archbishop of Sydney - are, by now, used to hurling epithets at TEC, and any other Anglican Province that does not go along with their sola-Scriptura definition of the Gospel - a situation that should mark Gafcon out as potential outsiders from the Anglican Communion.
The sooner the Gafcon Provinces openly declare themselves to be a separate Church from the more eirenic Churches of the Anglican Communion in Fellowship with Canterbury, the better for all concerned. They should not, however, be allowed to arrogate to themselves the Anglican brand-name.
Just to show little is new, this reminds me of two old stories:
In 1914 Percival, the Bishop of Hereford, appointed B.H.Streeter, known as a liberal theologian, to a canonry. Frank Weston, Bishop of Zanzibar, responded by posting a solemn excommunication of Percival on the door of his own cathedral.
I recall from a Church Times not long ago the story of someone visiting country churches in the 1950s, finding one (I think it said in Lincolnshire) where the only information on the porch noticeboard was a printed sign declaring 'We Are Not In Communion With The Church of South India'
I am content to add the Liverpool-Nigeria story to the list of 'pointless ecclesiastical gestures'.
Thank you, Susannah, for your very helpful comments. The gospel in a nutshell: grace and love. Of which we all need more.
The phrase which struck me most in the Bishop of Liverpool's piece was, "I have not yet received formal notification directly from the Bishop of Azure". How sad that Paul Bayes has had to respond to reports of this breaking of a relationship rather than being able to have a real grace and love filled conversation with the Bishop of Azure himself. I try very hard not to listen to what other people are saying about third parties, whether about the people themselves or their actions, but try to engage with the individuals directly. I hope and pray that Paul Bayes will get the opportunity to speak directly to the Bishop of Azure without other people staring over their shoulders or breathing down their necks. And that they will be able to meet with each other (whether in person, by Skype, by telephone call or letter) as fellow believers and followers of Jesus Christ.
May the love, peace and grace of the Lord be with us all.
This is a sad and difficult situation. Every believer has privileges and responsibilities. Doors must be left open for dialogue and friendship. And we must pray for each other.
"Susan Goff is in favour of blessing same sex unions and this has been a part of the litigation against the orthodox in Virginia."
CANA has several parishes in VA. It would always have been the case that this move would inflame Nigeria. These parishes were sued and lost. The Diocese of VA won. Did anyone expect Nigeria to welcome their companion diocese in the CofE asking for an 'assisting Bishop' from Virginia?
CSeitz: Hope springs eternal; we are a people of hope (not political power plays).
Pam: Yes, keep the door open. But don't let them take the door, the knob, and the rest of the building with them when they leave. As long as they are part of the Anglican Communion they may keep that name, but when they choose to be something else it's time to get new stationery.
This won't make Canterbury give up on GAFCON... This will make the central powers that be scramble to placate GAFCON.... No point hoping for a sudden liberal response.... Even Rowan Williams disappointed
The stench of purity and righteousness coming from some parts of Africa is truly revolting.
Once again, it is worth noting that the Anglican Communion is an informal fellowship of Churches that has blurred edges and a variety of relationships between local Anglican Churches. Our Anglican Church of Australia remains an autonomous Church, with no reference to the Anglican Communion in its Constitution. It is formally in communion specifically only with the Church of England and although there is provision for ending that bond, in reality there is no possibility of it being broken. My Diocese of Sydney has various links with both the US Episcopal Church and the ACNA. However, at the local level, here and probably elsewhere (except in the US with its many divisions and legal disputes, and in regard to support of other Anglican/Episcopal Churches), none of this is of much practical importance.
"These parishes were sued and lost" I seem to remember that those parishes were sued because the disaffected parishioners wanted to leave TEC taking the church where George Washington prayed with them, along with a few other churches as well. It's OK to leave, but do remember to leave the silverware.
This is about as effective as 1980 Birmingham City Council putting up signs. we are a nuclear free zone!
Maybe, counter-intuitively, we should love-bomb the Anglican Church in Nigeria - sending them messages of love and affirmation of their communities and service of the poor and needy.
Many of these African nations face huge and complex problems, and Christian mission surely struggles to fulfil the words of Isaiah to 'comfort ye, comfort ye, my people'.
Perhaps the leaders of the Nigerian churches need to be sent love and grace, from the Church of England membership, to break down divides, and offer prayers, invite prayer requests, and even practical ways of support.
In short, the creation of a counter-narrative to the one playing out over human sexuality.
I'm moved to write this, from the work my own daughter does in the slums in Uganda, and the huge challenges that exist, and marginalised lives wracked by poverty, alcoholism, sex, abandonment, political violence, loss of hope.
Even though we often highlight differences here at 'Thinking Anglicans' over issues of sexuality (and those differences are accentuated by GAFCON too), there is huge need in Africa (even with Nigeria's oil reserves).
We need to keep loving one another, and not give up, even when we have different views. How lovely it is, when brothers and sisters dwell together in unity.
Susannah, with the best will in the world, it is almost impossible to love those who reject your fellowship. We cannot coerce anyone to love us - against their will. If the Archbishops of the Gafcon Provinces are determined to reject us - on whatever ground they find necessary - there is little that can be done to force them into submission. Nor should we try. There is more to worry about than post- colonial hubris
All power to your dear daughter's elbow. What she is doing is more productive and Gospel-centred than the current spat between Christians of different views on gender and sexuality.
cseitz: "Did anyone expect Nigeria to welcome their companion diocese in the CofE asking for an 'assisting Bishop' from Virginia"
Christopher I'm sure you mean well but once again you rather miss the point in your post above. CANA is not part of the Anglican Communion. TEC is. The primates meeting even affirmed that TEC was part of the Anglican Communion and affirmed its desire and intention to walk together. That's all the diocese of Liverpool is doing. CANA, ACNA and all those other little two bit churches on the other hand, deliberately chose to walk apart, and tried to take some property with them. Did anyone really expect that the C of E would be very impressed by that? Time for CANA and Nigeria to face the consequences of their choices.
"A line has been crossed in the Church of England itself with the appointment"
Good. Can we be properly affirming now?
I hate to say it, but Susannah's right about what is asked of us in terms of following Jesus as we walk with our Nigerian brothers and sisters.
Thank you, Susannah, for your sane and very Christian remarks - as usual! I'd like to add that I suspect the citizens of Nigeria and other countries with very conservative bishops, probably have so much else to think about that the decisions of their bishops have little footing in the reality of their day-to-day lives. I strongly suspect that, as in the US, we are being treated to the temper tantrums of the bishops, not the beliefs and concerns of a majority of the "people in the pews."
Of course we should love the people of Nigeria. But why does that mean kowtowing to religious leaders who don't want us? Bishop Bayes is right to stand his ground---and to be sad to have to do so.
My point was very simple, Mr Godsall. No one should expect Nigeria to respond any differently to a VA Bishop doing what has been done in a partner diocese, given the legal outcomes in VA. I am not trying to "mean well" but thank you. I am making a simple observation.
This is why TEC needs to formally abandon the Anglican Communion.
As long as we remain, we are enabling the Global South fear-mongering and extortion. Canterbury has shown that it values numbers (reported numbers, at least) over filial respect, and is corrupted too far to save. Even the white-liberal-guilt of "won't someone please think of the poor Africans!" is simply to enable and fund exactly this sort of political manipulation.
The Anglican Communion is not just dead, but rotten and it infects us, just as surely as if we were carrying a rotting corpse with us.
I've asked this elsewhere, but I'm gonna ask again: What the h*ll is a "confessing Anglican"? Didn't we decide, in the decades after the Reformation, that a "confession" was something we could do without? The same group is fond of that word, "orthodox" and the phrase "'the' biblical teaching" or "'the 'biblical idea," but I've never seen Anglicanism as particularly interested in such constructs.
@cseitz: I fail to see a connection between preventing schismatics appropriating Episcopalian churches and Nigerian bishops having a strop, beyond that the Bishop likes the schismatics.
cseitz: "I am making a simple observation."
Christopher, I don't think you are making any such thing. You are trying to 'spin' the facts. The facts are that CANA parishes are not part of the Anglican Communion, by their own choice, and they tried to steal property that belonged to someone else. That's the simple observation. Nigeria are very welcome to walk with the Anglican Communion. If they prefer to belong to some other grouping, that's fine as well. What they are less free to do is pretend they are doing one while actually doing the other.
Look, Mr Godsall, the events in N-VA were tragic and unnecessary. The result was loss-column on all sides. A booming, historic parish was decimated and their conduct through it all was exemplary. The previous PB Frank Griswold held the view that Bishops ought to negotiate these conflicts as they saw fit. Peter Lee was doing that. When a new PB took office the legal team prohibited that long-standing approach. It was but one example of increasingly centralization with all the costs associated with that. CANA congregations are part of the Province of Nigeria. Tragically, the majority of provinces of the Anglican Communion are no longer in communion with TEC. There is plenty of sin and injustice to point to in this sorry and expensive affair.
The so-called "orthodox" anglicans in the U. S.:
"Mercy, Your Honor! I'm an orphan!"
True Trumpian tactics.
Are the majority of Anglican provinces no longer in communion with TEC....who ( besides some African provinces) have formally broken with TEC?
I am confused. (Not unusual!)
If Nigeria is still part of the Anglican Communion - and they have voted for and accepted the consequences imposed on TEC, and TEC is a full member of the Anglican Communion - then surely they ARE in communion?
Some bishops may not wish to take communion with others, but unless Nigeria formally leaves the Anglican COMMUNION, then it must be true that, by definition, the Nigerian Church is in communion with the other members of the Communion?
The daily office was the main service when last the Provinces gathered at Canterbury because they do not take communion together. The provinces of the Anglican communion are in a broken Eucharistic season. This has been true for some time now.
cseitz: "Tragically, the majority of provinces of the Anglican Communion are no longer in communion with TEC."
Look, Christopher, we see your spin again. Sadly, that's all it is. You sound rather like Keifer Sutherland in the wonderful film 'A few good men'. He was no more convincing in his witness statements either.
Whatever authority the Primates have, the vast majority voted in January to walk together in the same communion. As I have said before, if some - including you - prefer to walk apart, then no one is stopping them. The CANA parishes tried to make a legal case for stealing property but that case was found to be illegal. End of story.
cseitz: "The daily office was the main service when last the Provinces gathered at Canterbury because they do not take communion together. The provinces of the Anglican communion are in a broken Eucharistic season. This has been true for some time now."
By their own choice, and because of their own un-Christian bigotry. And funded and encouraged by rightwing American dollars (remember the rich rightwingers who kept showing up with cash to pay for the split?)
Look, we were all around when the Chapman memo was made public. We all remember when the coordinated and well-funded plan (Scaife, Bradley, Olin, Ahmanson money) coordinated out of the IRD to steal parishes and property and replace TEC in the communion was exposed. (So called "steeplejacking.") That their nefarious plan didn't work out is no reason to have pity on the schismatics and the people who followed their lead. Quit pretending that property thieves (who were stopped) and bigots are victims. They are a lot of things, but they are not victims. And the majority of us proudly supported our last Presiding Bishop taking the fight to the courts (where it belonged) when the nasty Chapman memo plan was exposed. (Somehow the English never heard about this deliberate and coordinated attack on TEC when they whine about the lawsuits.)
I have no doubt, after years of watching this stuff, that the press release from Nigeria was probably written in the US. We saw this before, when American spellings were left in and global announcements from the Southern Hemisphere turned out to have been penned in Colorado.
Mr. Seitz, I wondering if you would answer two questions. Most of us here know your connections and your involvement. (1) Did you see this press release from "Nigeria" before it was released? (2) Did you help write it or contribute or comment on the content before it was written? (3) Can you in all Christian honesty say that you have no knowledge of this being penned by someone outside of Nigeria?
Yes, a bishop from Virginia, in communion with the CofE, was welcomed into the Diocese of Liverpool. Nothing of any interest there. But the howls from Nigeria probably penned from a "think tank" of four guys in America who need to keep stirring the pot to get right-wing funds, that IS interesting. If perhaps an old, old story by now.
A great honour for Liverpool to be thus abused, for doing the truth.
I certainly agree that "the events in N-VA were tragic and unnecessary" and that was true not only in northern Virginia.
Those behind the Chapman memo sold a bill of goods to a lot of congregations that they could leave TEC and take their property with them. As most of the lawsuits have turned out, that was simply not true.
There was another way that would have made the huge expenditure of time and money of both sides unnecessary. This was exemplified by a parish in Florida where I used to worship regularly when visiting relatives there. I thought it was a great parish and enjoyed worshiping there very much. I was sad when the majority of the leadership decided to leave TEC. But they decided not to try to take the property with them when they left TEC. The money could have been spent on litigating the property was instead spent by both congregations on furthering the mission of Jesus Christ. The result is a strong ACNA congregation and a strong TEC congregation of those who decided not to leave TEC.
I wish the congregations in Northern Virginia had been as wise.
FINALLY! Some others are getting tired of the outright dishonesty from the allegedly-orthodox!
God be praised, and Dennis Roberts and Andrew Godsall, thank you!
"four guys in America who need to keep stirring the pot to get right-wing funds."
Gosh, it would be nice to have funding of any kind!
Ephraim Radner lives and works in Toronto. I live and work in France and Toronto. Philip Turner is retired. Mark McCall as well. You can see my professional cv at Wiki.
I have no idea who wrote the letter. ACI was famously opposed to ACNA when it started and you will search in vain for any statement we wrote in support of Gafcon. We helped start Communion Partners and have supported it and those who see its value (SE Asia, Indian Ocean, Middle East, Burundi, +Josiah Idowu-Fearon, et al).
Who are you?
"The daily office was the main service....." I do not understand how "Christians" can use our Lord's table as a protest pulpit. Is his body not given for us, Does he not invite us (all of us) to take and eat ("o taste and see...."), does he not offer his blood which was shed for us and for many for the forgiveness of sins.....? How can any "Christian" turn that into a political statement. Is the sacrament not an outward and visible sign of a inward and spiritual grace? Shame on those who would call themselves Christians, but are quick to mock and diminish the bread broken for us.
cseitz, I'd love to see you address Canon Kelvin's post, way back at the top of this thread: why is this just about breaking communion w/ CofE dioceses that have relations w/ Those Naughty Yanks, when other parts of the wider communion are just as (if not more) LGBT-affirming? Do Episcopalians in the U.S. of A. just make a splashier target for pulpit-pounding than those Nice Norwegians and Sweet Swedes?
For months people have been calling for a church which permits diversity. Akure has just acted on such diversity saying that they don't wish their links with Liverpool any longer to exceed the links they have with other dioceses. If one supports diversity within the church,it is a perfectly reasonable step - even if we feel it is misguided and sad.
As Sara says, the politicisation of the matter by GAFCON is hard to accept, but again is it really different than the political comments posted here by both sides? If we had a platform, wouldn't most of us use it too?
I don't like the Nigerian decision. The communications are mean-spirited. But I think overblown reaction to their decision might be a greater ill.
JCF: Didn't know CANA had any parishes they were supporting in Norway or Sweden...
"I wish the congregations in Northern Virginia had been as wise." +Peter Lee was on very good terms with Falls Church and Truro. Negotiations were proceeding well, just as they had done in other dioceses like CFL and Dallas, where parishes left with financial arrangements acceptable to both sides.
But that came to an end once +KJ-S took office.
But one can be more hopeful that +Curry does not have that same spirit. It has been a hard lesson to learn and very costly.
"+Peter Lee was on very good terms with Falls Church and Truro. Negotiations were proceeding well, just as they had done in other dioceses."
I didn't remember things being quite that rosy. I ran across a February 16, 2007 article from the Washington Post, which included this statement:
"Things came to a head in recent weeks when 11 Virginia congregations voted to leave the U.S. church and join the Church of Nigeria -- and to keep their valuable properties. Lee moved swiftly to remove credentials of the conservative priests, declare their churches abandoned property and file lawsuits asking courts to declare the churches property of the diocese, which comprises 182 congregations.
"Since then, he has been vilified by conservatives who say he led them to believe before the vote that it would be possible for them to keep their properties under a settlement."
(I would give the link, but every time I do so, my comment goes to spam.)
At the time of the split in Northern Virginia, GW Bush was in office and thus his neocon staff populated numerous Episcopal Parishes there. That was the spirit in NoVa when the split happened. As the administration changed, things got kinder and gentler. That is my perspective as a former native who was traveling back to care for dying parents. Sadly, a nearby supportive and kind parish "went to the dark side," leaving me with no nearby pastoral support. Sad.
The DNA of the colonial Virginia churches was congregational. When Virginia was asked to put forward a Bishop to be consecrated they simply said they weren't interested. They had gotten along just fine with church commissioners and the distant Bishop of London. Truro Parish and Falls Church were classical examples and remained so into our era. (I believe that to this day the Episcopal Diocese of VA has no TEC accession clause).
+Griswold was content to honor the diocesan integrity and leave negotiations to Bishops. One of the biggest episcopal churches in the country, in Plano TX, negotiated a separation with the Diocese of Dallas. Similar cases dotted dioceses during the early 2000 period.
By 2006-7 things were becoming extremely parlous. The decision of the new PB to run things out of 815 with a litigation team changed the landscape and +Lee was instructed to get in line.
The rest is history.
CSeitz's history is seriously flawed.
Virginia’s colonial church was never properly “congregational,” but rather “parishional.” The colonial unit which elected a vestry and appointed a rector was the parish, not the church. A parish was a geographical unit and usually maintained two or three churches: a main one and several “chapels of ease” to spare parishioners day-long journeys to and from church.
Efforts to impose a bishop on the American colonies under Charles I and later never got as far as a call for nominations.
When the Diocese of Virginia was allowed to incorporate in 1785, it took less than a year to elect its first bishop -- the Rev. Dr. David Griffith, rector of Fairfax Parish. Unable to travel to England for consecration, he resigned his election in 1789. In 1790, the Rev. Dr. James Madison, was elected and consecrated. (His second cousin of the same name was a politician of some note.)
While there was a Truro Parish in colonial Virginia, the current Truro Anglican Church has no relation to it, other than the name and its location in what was once part of the parish. Truro Church was founded in 1843 as Zion Church. Its initial services were conducted by faculty members and students from the Virginia Theological Seminary. Zion Church changed its name to Truro only in 1934.
The Falls Church began as a chapel of ease of Fairfax Parish. George Washington was a vestryman of the parish, not of the Falls Church per se. But the church was abandoned by 1784 and not refounded until 1836 – again by VTS professors and students. The original building dates to the colonial period, but it was recovered by Assistant Bishop William Meade as part of his campaign to recover church property lost in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War and the disestablishment of the church. Whether he recovered it from the Methodists, feral pigs, or both is disputed, but it certainly wasn’t being used for Episcopal Services.
So the claims put forward by both churches that because they existed before the diocese was formed they were not bound by its rules are akin the captain of the USS Bon Homme Richard (LPD-6) claiming that as his ship was active before the US Navy was organized, he’s not bound by its regulations.
In addition, the reason Virginia has no accession clause is that they were among the original group who acceded to the Constitution of the Episcopal Church in 1789.
Article V Section 1 of the Constitution of The Episcopal Church requires that _new_ dioceses entering into union with the General Convention express an "unqualified accession" to the Constitution and Canons of the Church in their proposed Constitutions.
This requirement was added to the Constitution in 1982. Prior to that date, it was required that new dioceses "accede" to the governing documents of the Church, but the form of such accession was not recited. For the earliest dioceses, it initially took the form of the ratification of the Constitution and Canons in 1789, and later by resolution or other action of their various local conventions, or in some cases by inclusion of such accession in the diocese's own governing documents.
This explains why a number of dioceses do not have "accession clauses" in their Constitutions as this was not required at the time they entered into union with the General Convention.
And how does what you write change anything about the character of VA churchmanship, which to this day has never had an accession clause to TEC and has consistently had a congregational/parishional polity -- call you what you wish.
And can you seriously refute that +Lee sought previously to negotiate with parishes seeking independence as had his colleagues in CFL, EDOD and other dioceses? This was the tenor of TEC in the years prior to +KJS.
Otherwise your comment is to the side of the main theme, which has to do with parishes in VA being congregationally minded and historically powerful as independent entities, a DNA going back to the colonial period -- just as there is a Prince George Winyah parish church in Georgetown SC.
+Lee as a VA churchman got this -- until ordered otherwise.
Some Virginia congregations do hold to congregational or parochial opinions and attitudes; but the polity is strictly episcopal. That was the question settled in the courts. The Episcopal Church and its parishes have never had a congregational polity. In particular, the alienation of parish property has always been subject to approval by a hierarchical authority, in accord with English common law, and later by canon (and in some places civil law.)