Tuesday, March 18, 2008

'Shadow' of litigation overcasts both houses


[The Free Lance-Star] 18 Mar 2008--Given what was said and what has been written about a group of churches known as the Anglican District of Virginia, I must spend a moment correcting the record. I must defend the members of ADV, as any shepherd would defend his flock against attack.

Overwhelming majorities of the ADV congregations exercised their American rights of freedom of religion, freedom of affiliation, and freedom of choice when they voted 14 months ago to separate from The Episcopal Church. Their referendum was based on the unfortunate reality that The Episcopal Church is on a prodigal course away from its Christian and Anglican roots.

Contrary to what the DOV has been saying publicly, many of the individuals who chose not to vote with the majority are still active members of ADV churches. Every week, in fact, these members worship and volunteer in ADV buildings. ADV churches continue to work together with Episcopal parishes, whether it's by holding funeral and wedding services, or by cooperating in ministry projects like the Lamb Center, a daytime homeless shelter in Fairfax County.

The DOV has embroiled the ADV churches in litigation for over a year. Pressured by national leaders of The Episcopal Church based in New York City, the diocese abruptly broke off what had been amicable settlement negotiations and filed lawsuits against the ADV churches, their clergy, their lay vestries, and unpaid volunteers. The DOV initiated these lawsuits to seize ADV church property.

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