Bishop Peter James Lee: This litigation became necessary when eleven diocesan congregations chose to leave the Episcopal Church but continue to use the Church’s property to the exclusion of those members who chose to remain loyal to the Episcopal Church …. Defending our heritage and securing our future is expensive. We have spent so far nearly two million dollars on litigation costs as a defendant. We are blessed with dedicated and very effective lawyers, a number of whom are either working pro bono or at discounted rates as a gift to the church. Mike Kerr, our chief financial officer, with the authorization of the Executive Board has obtained a line of credit for the legal fees so we are current in paying them. The interest on the line of credit is being paid by endowment income so that no pledge money from churches or individuals is used for legal fees. At the conclusion of this litigation, we expect to pay off the line of credit by selling undeveloped and unconsecrated property, a process that is already under way. No one likes lawsuits but at the same time, our generation has a stewardship responsibility to protect the property of our churches for Episcopalians in the next 400 years.
Bishop John W. Howe: In all of these situations I am very pleased we have been able to avoid litigation or acrimony. We are very conscious of the fact that we remain brothers and sisters in Christ with those who have felt the need to leave The Episcopal Church. This is a sad time, in many ways, as we part company with folks with whom we have worked and worshipped. But we bid them Godspeed, and I would like to ask all of us to think of this as a time of new beginnings rather than endings.