Skip to comments.VA: Statement from Bishop Lee on The Falls Church, Truro vote to leave TEC
Posted on 12/17/2006 11:24:32 AM PST by rabscuttle385
December 17, 2006
A Statement from the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia
Today a small number of congregations in the Diocese of Virginia announced that they have voted to separate from the Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Church of Nigeria and Bishop Akinola. I am saddened by this development.
The leadership of the Diocese of Virginia has labored for three years to seek another course that would have maintained the integrity of the church and the spirit of inclusiveness that has been a hallmark of the Diocese and the Anglican Communion. The votes today have compromised these discussions and have created Nigerian congregations occupying Episcopal churches. This is not the future of the Episcopal Church envisioned by our forebears.
I have called a special joint meeting Monday of the Executive Board and Standing Committee of the Diocese, with counsel, to consider the full range of pastoral, canonical and legal obligations of the Church and our responsibilities to those faithful Episcopalians in these congregations who do not choose to associate with the Church of Nigeria.
In the interim I have asked the leadership of these now Nigerian and Ugandan congregations occupying Episcopal churches to keep the spiritual needs of all concerned uppermost in their minds at this difficult moment in our Church history, especially continuing Episcopalians. I also have directed diocesan personnel to work with the leadership of the departing congregations and with those who wish to remain in the Episcopal Church to reach agreements for the shared use of the Church property for the purposes of worship and other needs until final disposition of the Church's property can be settled.
I want to be clear on this point: Our polity maintains that all real and personal property is held in trust for The Episcopal Church and the Diocese. As stewards of this historic trust, we fully intend to assert the Church's canonical and legal rights over these properties.
Today is indeed a sad day for the Church and for many in the Church. It is also a day of abundant hope that in our 400 years as Virginia's oldest Christian community, the Episcopal Church in Virginia will continue to serve Christ faithfully by serving his people.
Trad Anglican ping
It was last fought over in the Civil War.
Advocates of same-sex marriage, consecration of divorcees as bishops who are now in open homosexual relationships, ordination of women and homosexuals, adoption of the UN's agenda, murder of children in the womb, peace-at-eny-cost, etc.
However, excluded are those who advocate the inerrancy of Scripture, and adherence to traditional Anglican values, abandoned many years ago by 815.
To rephrase the bishop's statement: "I want to be clear on this point: We stole the Episcopal Church fair and square, so we're entitled to the property that goes with it."
In 1762, the wood building was judged to be "greatly in decay". The vestry (the church governing body), meeting at The Falls Church, ordered a new brick building constructed on the same site. In 1763, George Washington and George William Fairfax were appointed church wardens with responsibility to contract for a new building. This was Washingtons last official act on behalf of this church after the parish was divided in 1765 and before work began. After 1765, the seat of Truro Parish, which had been here, returned to the southern part of the county and this church became the seat of the new Fairfax Parish.
Work on the new church was begun in 1767 by Colonel James Wren who had designed the building and was a member of the vestry as well. The new building was completed late in the fall of 1769. It is the oldest remaining church building north of Quantico in Virginia.
During the Revolutionary War the building was a recruiting station for the Fairfax militia. Tradition holds that the Declaration of Independence was read to local citizens from the steps of the south doors. After the "disestablishment" of the Anglican Church in 1784, the building was virtually abandoned. Those whose leadership helped to once again open the doors of the church for worship in the early 1800's included Francis Scott Key, who was a lay reader, and Henry Fairfax, who used his own funds to restore the building. Several of the early students and faculty members of the Virginia Theological Seminary, which was established in 1829, traveled to The Falls Church to hold services.
Services were again disrupted during the Civil War when the church was used by Union troops as a hospital and later as a stable. An active congregation has worshipped here continuously since about 1873.
The interior was repaired by Fairfax in 1838-39, again after the Civil War, and remodeled in 1908. The most extensive renovations were completed in 1959. At that time, the galleries, which had been provided in Wrens design but were omitted from the original construction, were finally installed and a new chancel was added.
The structure of the church, except for repairs of war damage and the chancel addition, is the original 1769 construction. Some of the repairs made after the Civil War are evident in brickwork below the windows and in the lower part of the brick doorway at the west end of the church. The Federal Government repaired and paid for damages caused by Union forces.
Historic Marker Outside the Historic Church on Washington Street
The Various Sections of the Historic Church and Property
West Entrance (Narthex). This has been the main entrance since 1865. In colonial times the principal entrance was by the south doors; it remained so until the interior was changed with the 1865 repairs.
Interior view of the Historic Church
The Aisles. Aisles in the colonial church were located as now, but were then paved with tiles and were somewhat wider. A single row of box pews, each with a door and with the floors raised slightly above the aisles were located to the side of each aisle; two rows of box pews were in the center of the nave between the aisles. That arrangement remained substantially unchanged until 1861. Between 1861 and 1865 the interior of the church was virtually gutted. The present interior, from 1959, is the fourth version.
Memorial Markers. Several pews have silver markers. Those on the fifth row are in memory of George Washington and Robert E Lee. They were given by local chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1926.
Baptismal Font. This stone font is from the colonial period. It was taken to the Star Tavern by a soldier and consigned for shipment to his home around 1863. It was recognized and hidden by local townspeople, and returned to the church in 1876.
Chancel. The present chancel was built in 1959 by removing part of the original east wall. Until then, the holy table and communion rail were along that wall. Until 1861-65, colonial tablets with the Lords Prayer, Ten Commandments, and Creed were also above the altar on the east wall. These, too, were destroyed during the Civil War. The eight tiles below the Present table are from the original 1769 aisles.
Pulpit Location. The wide space between the two center windows in the north wall marks the location of the colonial pulpit, which was high, reached by several steps and had a sounding board above. In 1838, the pulpit was moved nearer the east wall in the chancel area. Its present site dates from 1959.
Gallery Level. The pipe organ, installed in 1967, is the first in this church. Built by the Schantz Organ Co., the 750-pipe instrument is divided into two sections. The great organ is exposed on the gallery rail and the swell organ is enclosed in a case on the west wall. The Irene Mori Memorial Harpsichord (Zuckermann, 1973) was built by members of this Parish.
Rendering of the South Yard and Historic Church
Churchyard. The oldest marked graves (1805) are below the large white oak in the south yard, but earlier burials occurred here. Records show payments in 1778 to the sexton for mending graves. Rounded indentations in the 1805 stone likely resulted from bullets fired by soldiers quartered here in 1861-65. A Revolutionary War veterans grave is near the wall, west of the 1805 stone. A monument commemorating Henry Fairfaxs restoration of the church, in the 1830s is near the west end of the south walk. The inscription is copied from the text of a lost plaque reported by a Civil War correspondent in Harpers Weekly of August 31, 1861. At the west end of the front walk is a marker for an unknown Confederate soldier. Near the north fence is the grave of Mr. Read, minister of the Baptist Church who was shot by Col. Mosby (the "Gray Ghost" of the Civil War) as a spy in 1862. Near the north walk, four dornicks (rough, low stones) predate any standing gravestones.
The oldest tree on the grounds is a huge white oak (south yard) - it is the largest specimen of Quercus alba now recorded in Virginia. Other large trees include a tulip poplar, hickory, silver maple and American holly. Major trees are marked with common and botanical names.
Memorial Garden A garden has been developed in the east end of the north yard - only native trees, ferns and wildflowers are used. Between that garden and the educational wing is the site of the colonial Vestry House, a one room frame building which served as the "seat" of the parish.
Rendering of the Sanctuary
Santuary. A new sanctuary which seats 800, was added in 1992 to the east end of the education and administration building.
Southgate. In 2000, the church bought the Southgate property and signed a purchase option on the adjacent parking lot. This property was purchased to handle in the short term, the educational needs of the congregation. In the long term, it is our prayer that we will be able to convert the space into a building that will support the mission of TFC.
Memorial Garden Chapel
Memorial Garden Chapel. A small chapel was added and consecrated in 2004 in the Memorial Garden. With its peaceful ambience and period furnishings, It has become a wonderful place for worship, celebrating small, intimate services, and a quiet place to be near loved ones at rest in the Memorial Garden.
"Be still before The Lord and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
when they carry out their wicked schemes."
(Psalm 37:7, NIV)
"The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them;
but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming."
(Psalm 37:12-13, NIV)
The vote was 90% to leave.
We will prevail.
On leaving? Yes. On the property? It will be a loooong legal battle.
The only way the Diocese even has a chance at winning is if the national church steps in with funding.
TFC/Truro and the other churches constitute an incredibly large chunk of the Diocese's income...and some churches (like Apostles) have refused to send anything to Richmond for several years already.
Plus, TFC/Truro have a multitude of lawyers and church-state legal experts in the membership. Believe me, this battle will not only be long...but it will be very bloody.
Extremely long, bloody, and costly.
Ah B, blessings on you and your fellow parishioners. As for your former heresiarch, well, one more episcopal skull for the pavement of hell.
K, God bless you for your kind words. We will covet all orthodox (small o!) prayers!
"We will covet all orthodox (small o!) prayers!"
Likely you'll have plenty of Orthodox (big O!) prayers too! I have a feeling you'll all be fine from now on.
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Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15
It all turns around these words of which Bishop Lee seems to have forgotten the true meaning. We need to keep him in our prayers too.
How hard have we collectively fought for Hagia Sophia?
I don't know - was not there. The Principal church of eastern orthodoxy is not a half mile from my house - the falls church, is.
Sounds like there might be a hint of bigotry in the appeal.
There has been more than just a "hint" of bigotry in some of the statements by TEC leadership heretofore; insinuations that the Southern bishops were benighted bigots because they did not understand the revisitionist hermeneutic that endorses the gay agenda.
Of course they understood it; it was heresy and smelled of the Devil so they rightly wanted nothing to do with it.
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