Dark Shadows in Orkney Springs

Well, it is Friday the 13th after all.

Last week the Diocese of Virginia sent out this “invitation” to a “retreat” at Shrine Mont. We got one too. Oops.

The Diocese and the continuing congregations are pleased to announce a joint parish retreat to be held at Shrine Mont October 7-8.

This retreat is for the Episcopal congregations whose majority membership voted to separate from the Diocese AND for members of other not-yet-reorganized Episcopal congregations affected by those votes.

Mark your calendars for October 7-8.The retreat will begin after lunch on Sunday, October 7 and continue through late afternoon of Monday, October 8 (Columbus Day).

More details to follow.

Yikes, this is not exactly an “inclusive” retreat – not everyone is invited. We do wonder how the credentials will be scrutinized – especially for those non-shadowed congregations? Will they require references? Will there be a litmus test? How will they know that the people who come are in their “inner circle” or not? Is that what “more details to follow” means?

In order to officially qualify for this retreat one must be able to prove that you are in one of the “shadow” congregations set up by the diocese where churches with overwhelming majorities of the laity followed the Diocese of Virginia Protocol and voted to separate from the Episcopal Church.

One wonders how they will know who’s one of them and who’s not? Is there some sort of secret handshake? Will they have their own special Inquisitorial Squad – with a few bottles of Veritaserum on hand in the tea cups, just in case? We wonder.

Out of the fifteen congregations that have voted (and other congregations have since formed), there are only three congregations that the diocese has been able to organize “shadows” – one shadow actually meets in the vacated church building left behind by another one of the departing congregations that are now under Archbishop Orombi of Uganda. The diocese had tried to organize a shadow for that congregation but there was only one dissenting vote in that congregation and that person didn’t show up on Sunday. Oops. When another church nearby voted overwhelmingly to follow the protocol and separate, the diocese organized a shadow of that church and put them up in the old vacated building. But we’re not sure they really want you to know that.

So this retreat is for the shadows. But wait, they are also inviting virtual members of congregations that don’t actually exist! Hot dog! Now that’s our kind of retreat.

We do wonder how they will verify those virtual members? Will we need to show our confirmation ID-cards at the door? Will we have some sort of retina scan – or should we just wear our tin foil hats?

We also wonder what sort of seminars will be offered. We have a few ideas:

-Litigation is Your Friend
-If it Ain’t Broke, Break It

-Hierarchies Are Us
– Really!
-Understanding the Dennis Canon in Seventy-Two Easy Steps

-CIA Spells IRD

-C3PO Lives: Inside the Report on Protocol Droids
-Go Tell It In The Court Room

We do wonder about one more thing, though. Did they realize when they scheduled this retreat, that they may be greeted by hundreds and hundreds of joyful members of the largest church that voted to separate – and who will be just finishing up their own annual retreat at Shrine Mont? That could make for a very interesting Sunday afternoon in Orkney Springs.

So who wants to call the Media?