I have just learned from one of the Church of England bishops that Episcopal bishops are going around the Lambeth Conference and saying that it was the Virginia churches that sued the Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church. That is false. Completely false. In fact, the voting took place at the request of the Bishop of Virginia and was clearly stated in his protocol which was followed by all eleven churches. We did not sue them – they sued us.
Let me say that again.
We did not sue them. They sued us – twice. The Diocese of Virginia sued 200 lay volunteers and their rectors and then Katharine Jefferts Schori did the same thing.
The lawsuits were filed suddenly and without warning after Bishop Lee pulled out of his own negotiations following our vote.
You can see here the “Standstill Agreement” we had in place to govern our negotiations following the votes. It is clear in this Standstill that the Diocese recognized that the recording of our votes at the courthouse was not – I repeat – was not a hostile action but was what the law required. The Diocese recognized this, as you can see in the Standstill Agreement. Filing our votes was not a suing the Diocese or the Episcopal Church. It was not a hostile act. The Diocese of Virginia acknowledged this clearly in their Standstill Agreement.
We never took the next step of transferring property because 1) we believed we all ready owned it and 2) we were going into negotiations with the diocese. That was where we stood.
Following Bishop Lee’s direction, each of the parish vestries elected two representatives to Bishop Lee’s “Property Committee.” Bishop Lee also chose representatives of his own. But within days – before even one meeting of his own Property Committee – the Standstill was not renewed and lawsuits were filed by Bishop Lee and Bishop Schori. It was a shock.
Let me say that again. It was Katharine Jefferts Schori and Peter James Lee that sued 200 lay volunteers – men and women – in Virginia for voting as Bishop Lee’s Protocol for Departing Congregations directed.
I know. I was one of them.
And I have never sued anyone.