Trinity Vero Beach: Overwhelming Majority Favor Breaking from Episcopal Church

BB NOTE: Lorne Coyle is an old friend – he was the rector of Trinity Church, Newport, which I attended while in college in Rhode Island. Lorne has been a Deputy to General Convention as well. Trinity Vero Beach is in the Diocese of Central Florida. Here’s their statement released today:

An overwhelming majority of Trinity Episcopal Church members answering a mail-in survey about breaking from the national church are in favor of the move. The results have been sent to Bishop John W. Howe with the church’s Diocese of Central Florida. The survey had an unusually high return rate of 71%. The surveying process was managed by the Vero Beach accounting firm of O’Hare Kmetz Nuttall Elwell & Co.

Of the 528 replies, 73 percent want to leave the Episcopal Church. A total of 128 members, comprising 89 households, want to stay. Those households gave $120,136, which was 7% of the annual budget, toward the church’s ministries in 2007. In addition, those households gave $862,450, or about 6%, of the total $15.3 million given toward the construction of the Church campus. That construction consisted of Phase I, ending in 1998, which cost $5.2 million, and Phase II, ending in 2005, which cost $10.1 million. 196 declarations were not returned. Of those, some missed the deadline, some are out of town, and some chose not to respond for a variety of reasons. 17 were returned with neither choice marked.

Trinity leaders found the results encouraging. Ron Joaquim, spokesman for the parish, said, “The results are clear. We are grateful for the high level of support from our members. Our next step is to continue to work with Bishop Howe and other interested parties to move forward. Trinity is ready to work with anyone of good will to create a win/win outcome.”

“Now we believe it’s time to move beyond this and get back to doing God’s work in the community. We will continue to welcome all who seek God, including those who did not vote with the majority.”