Last weekend I had dinner at an old friend’s home and we got into quite a discussion about the current “troubles.” It occurred to me that my friend had not heard of or seen something called the Standstill Agreement. It’s no where to be found on the Diocese of Virginia’s website nor is there any mention of it there.
It’s as if it never existed.
Following the votes of the congregations to depart the Episcopal Church and following the Diocese of Virginia’s Protocol (which included recognizing the legal statutes of the Commonwealth of Virginia which called for congregational votes), Bishop Lee established a Property Committee to begin to negotiate a settlement that would be a witness to the larger Christian community as well as to provide a way for us all to remain in as closest communion as possible. He also requested a Standstill Agreement which assured all the parties that no adversarial litigation would be filed. That standstill agreement recognized that the filing of reports by voting congregations in accordance with the Virginia Division Statute did not constitute adverse litigation otherwise prohibited by the standstill agreement.
No where on the diocesan website is there a record of this Standstill Agreement. It was to be renewed as the negotiations continued and would provide a safe space for those conversations (following the model established by the departure of All Saints, Dale City).
However, following a meeting of the Presiding Bishop’s chancellor, the Standstill Agreement was ended by the diocese. The diocese then filed lawsuits against all the churches, their rectors, their trustees, and their volunteer lay leadership. This was followed by The Episcopal Church doing the exact same thing as well. Even to this day, it was a tremendous shock.
Here is the Standstill Agreement (click on the graphic or here and you will either be able to read the original document as or download it to your desktop). Please read it very carefully. One hopes that the Diocese of Virginia will see fit to add it to their website and clarify the order of events.