Once again it appears that the Diocese of Virginia has conveniently forgotten that it constituted a Standstill Agreement with the Virginia churches that voted to separate following the Virginia statute 57-9. Oops.
It continues to be missing from the Diocese of Virginia’s website, as if it never existed.
It’s existence is a problem for the Diocese and for The Episcopal Church because the agreement, requested by the Bishop of Virginia himself, assured all the parties that no adversarial litigation would be filed. And none was.
That standstill agreement recognized that the filing of reports or petitions by voting congregations in accordance with the Virginia 57-9 did not constitute adverse litigation otherwise prohibited by the standstill agreement. No one sued anyone.
Here is the Standstill Agreement in its entirety, signed by the Diocese of Virginia:
TERMS OF STANDSTILL AGREEMENTAPPROVED BY THE STANDING COMMITTEEAND EXECUTIVE BOARDOF THE DIOCESE OF VIRGINIA
DECEMBER 18, 2006
1. The Diocese of Virginia (“Diocese”) and The Episcopal Church (“TEC”):
a. will not initiate any attempt to take possession the congregations’ property.
b. will not initiate any canonical or ecclesiastical actions against the congregations or their clergy or vestries.
c. will not initiate any civil legal action against the congregations, their clergy, their vestries, or their trustees.
d. will permit the congregations’ clergy and stay to continue to pay premiums and receive benefits under the Diocesan health care plan until at least January 31, 2007.
2. The congregations:
a. will not initiate any transfer or conveyance of their property.
b. will not initiate any civil legal action against The Diocese/TEC, but may report their congregations determinations by filing a petition/report with the relevant VA Circuit Courts pursuant to Va. Code 57-9 without violating the agreement. The congregations’ Va. Code 57-9 filings will state that notice has been provided to The Diocese/TEC. The congregations will not take any further steps to bring the Va. Code 57-9 filings to judgment. Upon the Diocese’s request, the congregations will seek a stay of their Va. Code 57-9 filings. If the Diocese seeks to intervene in the Va Code 57-9 filings, the congregations will not oppose such intervention and upon the Diocese’s request will jointly with the Diocese move to stay the filings. In not opposing the intervention, the congregation of course reserve the right to contest the Diocese/TEC’s alleged interest in the property.
3. The Diocese/TEC and each of the congregations:
a. will seek in good faith to negotiate with each other an amicable resolution of their differences concerning the property and clergy status.
b. may terminate the agreement by giving 7 days notice to all other parties, but this shall not affect the agreement between any remaining parties unless they independently invoke their right to terminate. This Agreement shall terminate on January 18, 2007 unless renewed by mutual agreement.
The Agreement was terminated by the Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church and their termination was followed by their filing of lawsuits against those the Bishop of Virginia once declared he wanted to remain in as close as communion as possible with.
Even now, that continues to be our prayer. Even now.