Skip to comments.End Of The Line [Truro and Falls Church]
Posted on 11/16/2006 5:30:37 PM PST by sionnsar
Truro Episcopal Church, which once included George Washington among its vestrymen, and The Falls Church, two of the oldest Episcopal churches in Virginia and the country, have both decided that they've had enough:
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.
UPDATE: From the Diocese of Virginia.
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.
UPDATE: This thing might just get nasty because according to The Living Church, the loss of these two parishes would be a major financial hit for the Diocese and for TEC.
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. Both congregations also predate the Revolutionary War, with Truro Parish being established in 1732 and The Falls Churchs first building completed in 1734.
Good for them. I will pray that both congregations stay strong and know that other Christians are standing with them.
Forgive me for asking an ignorant question, but does this mean it will be easier for them to keep their buildings and property?
I am not sure. It would be a good idea to verify when exactly the Church in the United States was actually formed. Remember? They had to ask England for a bishop. Prior to the Revolution, the Church was overseen from England and visiting bishops were sent from there to tend the flock in the new world. Subsequent to the Revolution, the appointment of a bishop from England became an impossibility. The solution was to seek a bishop from Scotland instead (as recommended by the Church of England) Bishop Seabury was sent to the United States to be its first Episcopal bishop
The Scottish Episcopal Church enabled the creation of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America after the American Revolution, by consecrating in Aberdeen the first American bishop, Samuel Seabury, who had been refused consecration by bishops in England, due to his inability to take the oath of allegiance to the English crown prescribed in the Order for the Consecration of Bishops. The polity and ecclesiology of the Scottish and American churches, as well as their daughter churches, thus tends to be distinct from those spawned by the English church - reflected, for example, in their looser conception of provincial government, and their leadership by a presiding bishop or primus rather than by a metropolitan or archbishop. The names of the Scottish and American churches inspire the customary term Episcopalian for an Anglican; the term being used in these and other parts of the world. See also: American Episcopalians, Scottish Episcopalians
It's not just the loss of The Falls Church and Truro but the loss of all the other churches spawned by these two, including Church of the Apostles in Fairfax. (My family attends this church, and we are voting members of the congregation.)
Apostles has $1.5 million in pledges and plate support, although this number has been steadily dropping (as has the attendance and membership) since the General Convention in 2003.
The establishment of both churches pre-dates the creation of TEC and the Diocese of Virginia--they were charted under the Church of England while Virginia was still a royal colony.
I am sorry to hear this -- and that an effective counter could not have been formed (but even entire dioceses, such as San Joaquin, are finding themselves beleaguered).
Just FYI, my wife and I, cradle Episcopalians, left ECUSA for the APCK back in 1983 after we landed in an (even then) apostate diocese.
I'm a cradle Episcopalian too, although my family started out at The Falls Church. I was baptized by Rev. Yates.
At least I'm not in one of liberal, God-hating Episcopal parishes.
I'd have to dig into my family's history... but one church I remember as a child has shown up on the radar recently as completely apostate, and I don't even revisit anymore the website of the (Frank Lloyd Wright) church of my teen years... but for almost a quarter-century I've been a non (P)ECUSAn Anglican.
The faith lives on, whatever the state of the church.
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