Bishop Lee responds to defections

Truro and the Falls Church have voted to leave the Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Church of Nigeria.

Statement from the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia

Today a small number of congregations in the Diocese of Virginia announced that they have voted to separate from the Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Church of Nigeria and Bishop Akinola. I am saddened by this development.

The leadership of the Diocese of Virginia has labored for three years to seek another course that would have maintained the integrity of the church and the spirit of inclusiveness that has been a hallmark of the Diocese and the Anglican Communion. The votes today have compromised these discussions and have created Nigerian congregations occupying Episcopal churches. This is not the future of the Episcopal Church envisioned by our


I have called a special joint meeting Monday of the Executive Board and Standing Committee of the Diocese, with counsel, to consider the full range of pastoral, canonical and legal obligations of the Church and our responsibilities to those faithful Episcopalians in these congregations who do not choose to associate with the Church of Nigeria.

In the interim I have asked the leadership of these now Nigerian and Ugandan congregations occupying Episcopal churches to keep the spiritual needs of all concerned uppermost in their minds at this difficult moment in our Church history, especially continuing Episcopalians. I also have directed diocesan personnel to work with the leadership of the departing congregations and with those who wish to remain in the Episcopal Church to reach agreements for the shared use of the Church property for the purposes of worship and other needs until final disposition of the Church’s property can be settled.

I want to be clear on this point: Our polity maintains that all real and personal property is held in trust for The Episcopal Church and the Diocese. As stewards of this historic trust, we fully intend to assert the Church’s canonical and legal rights over these properties.

Today is indeed a sad day for the Church and for many in the Church. It is also a day of abundant hope that in our 400 years as Virginia’s oldest Christian community, the Episcopal Church in Virginia will continue to serve Christ faithfully by serving his people.

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