(UPDATE) Truro Institute: Partnership of Truro ACNA and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia announced

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Updated to include a statement from Truro ACNA,  including a statement from the Archbishop of Canterbury; scroll to the end.

Not addressed is whether Tory Baucum, rector of Truro ACNA, has reversed his 2013 decision to break his peace-building relationship with Johnston. The implication, however, is that he has.

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A letter from the bishop of Virginia.


April 23, 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Diocese,

In this Easter season, I am pleased to report that we have witnessed a rebirth of peace and reconciliation at our historic Truro Church campus in Fairfax City. Years of costly litigation have given way to a new era of community building and peacemaking.

As I noted in my Pastoral Address at January’s Annual Convention, members of the Diocese have spent the past three years building new ties of trust and friendship with the Truro ACNA congregation, which is leasing the Truro campus from the Diocese. Those efforts have helped to give birth to an Institute for Peace and Reconciliation at Truro. The governing board of this Institute will have equal representation from the Diocese and the Truro ACNA congregation.

The final pieces fell into place last week when the 18-member vestry of the Truro ACNA congregation voted unanimously to approve all documents related to the creation of the Institute. Our own Standing Committee already had given its consent to this proposal, subject to the final review of documents by our Chancellor and by me. All of this has now been accomplished.

Our agreement provides for an important three-year period of discernment. You will be hearing a lot more about our activities at Truro during this period, as both the Diocese and the ACNA congregation reflect and pray on whether we have successfully launched this important Institute. If both of us agree at the end of three years that we have succeeded, the congregation will be granted a 50-year lease to the property that the Diocese will continue to own. We in the Diocese will not only participate in the Institute, but also will have continued access to the property for office space, events and services to ensure a long-term Episcopal presence at Truro.

I am aware that some in our Diocese may still have strong concerns about making long-term agreements with a congregation that left us and holds fundamentally different views on important matters of theology.

But after much prayer and reflection, I feel very strongly that we are being called to live into the Gospel in this way. Building new relationships with the ACNA congregation has helped us to recognize that there is so much to gain and to achieve. Indeed, there is much more that unites us than divides us. A number of years ago, someone sitting next to me on a plane asked what I did for a living. When I told her, she said, “The Episcopal Church – isn’t that the one with the lawsuits?” Soon, I hope such a person would say, “Isn’t that the one with the peacemakers?”

The initial work of the Institute will involve seminarians and will focus on reconciliation among Christians, Muslims and Jews. Naturally, the very fact that such a major ministry is being run jointly by an Episcopal diocese and an ACNA congregation, two entities that had previously been very publicly in opposition, will be an additional narrative in itself. This is precisely the kind of witness that our Diocese and our Church need to provide in this divided and polarized world. A peace center has been born at a time when we desperately need it.

Blessings to all of you during this joyous Easter season.

Faithfully Yours,

The Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston
Bishop of Virginia


Update: From Truro ACNA,

Years after the costly litigation and sometimes on-going animosity with the EDV [Episcopal Diocese of Virginia], we have arrived at a new era of community building and peacemaking.

This new ministry, formed by Truro Anglican, will have equal representation on its board from EDV and Truro, along with representation from the Dean of Coventry Cathedral and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The following is a quote from Archbishop Justin Welby, regarding this ministry:

“I am deeply moved by the establishment of the Peace Centre at Truro, not least because I have looked more closely at it in the days following the terrorism in Westminster, merely 400 yards from Lambeth Palace. The kingdom of God is proclaimed in practices that develop virtues. The Peace Centre will proclaim that reconciliation is the gospel, with God through Christ, but like the Temple in Ezekiel 47, releasing a flood of water that as a mighty river becomes the place of fruitfulness and healing for the nations. Thank you for your step of faith. We too will work with you as best we can.”

The ministry will work with seminarians and other young people to seed our respective denominations with a new generation of peace makers, by teaching them and letting them live into the challenging work of reconciliation. Just the fact of the joint involvement of EDV and Truro Anglican is a living testament to the work the Institute hopes to accomplish.

Along with the founding of this ministry, EDV has signed a long-term lease with Truro Anglican. The initial term is twenty years. There is an initial test period of three years where both parties will discern and evaluate the work of the Institute. This will allow us to determine if the Holy Spirit is truly present in this ministry. If it is determined by both parties that the ministry should continue, our twenty year lease becomes a fifty year lease (for a total of fifty-three years). If it is determined that the ministry should not continue, Truro has the remaining seventeen years under its lease to determine its future home.

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24 Responses to "(UPDATE) Truro Institute: Partnership of Truro ACNA and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia announced"
  1. This sounds interesting and potentially hopeful. I wish great success for the endeavor.

    When my father was dying (2008), the hospice that we used had a community/support event held at Truro. I would have liked to have had that support, but I didn't go. I was in too raw a form to deal with the homophobia.

    It would be nice if the peace and reconciliation is for all people.

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    • Yes Cynthia, I agree.

      Since the division at Truro had much to do with the different beliefs of the "respective denominations" regarding LGBTQ folks, if LGBTQ youth and seminarians are not part of the welcome to the Peace Institute, then I think that it fails before it is started.

      I'm also waiting for the other shoe to drop; I'm wondering if entities such as GAFCON, AMIE and ACNA itself will wade in with statements of some sort.

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      • "if LGBTQ youth and seminarians are not part of the welcome to the Peace Institute, then I think that it fails before it is started"

        My feelings exactly. I am every kind of ambivalent about this---but I'm also on the other side of the country. I pray Bishop Johnston & DioVA know what they're doing [Comments like ACNA "Charlie's", below, don't help my blood pressure!]

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  2. [Thanks for commenting - please sign your full name when you comment. Editor]

    The creation of the ACNA was far from only being about issues of sexuality. It was about the authority and reliability of the Scriptures and over the question of whether Jesus Christ is the way to the Father, or merely a way.
    Questions about whether sexually active persons with same-sex attraction were living within the will of God may have been the most obvious concern, but for those who left ECUSA to form the ACNA, a far more important question was fidelity to the Thirty-Nine Articles and the teachings of the earliest Books of Common Prayer.

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  3. FYI the language "people with same-sex attraction" is considered offensive by many LGBTQI people. It sounds like a disease, rather that a state of being, created in the Image of God. Most of us gay people do not recognize non gay people as experts in who we are.

    I'm glad that the 39 Articles are in the Historical Documents section of the BCP. And I just don't think that the olden days of the early BCP's were that great for women, minorities, poor people, slaves...

    It really comes down to whether or not you believe in continuing revelation. To me, continuing revelation goes with the "reason" portion of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. Also, we have scholarship that tells us how the church was created and why certain books and doctrine was accepted. It clearly was an act by people, fallible humans in a pre-scientific era.

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    • "It really comes down to whether or not you believe in continuing revelation. To me, continuing revelation goes with the “reason” portion of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason."

      No, I do NOT believe in "continuing revelation." And if I did, I would expect the Lord of Heaven and Earth to be consistent and not change his mind arbitrarily, according the passing fancies of the various eras of human history.

      As a matter of historical context, Richard Hooker, who referred to "Scripture, tradition, and reason" in his "Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity" did not mean to create three separate sources of authority, so that one could choose which source one liked and assert the findings of that as truth. Scripture stood supreme to Hooker, as it did to rest of the early Anglicans. Reason was the tool by which we understand what Scripture says, and tradition is the finding of the ancient Church in areas where there was some dispute; the Chalcedonian formula is an example of tradition. Tradition is not simply ancient customs (or perhaps not-so-ancient).

      By the way, if logic holds any power, those ancient days of the 39 Articles and early prayer books were presenting perfectly acceptable views, if one takes your position of a flexible Bible, whose meaning depends not on what the text says but on the cultural context. And, by your understanding, what might arise as the mood and feelings of the culture change, as they inevitably do? You have no guarantee that we are only a few decades away from a utterly changed society.

      And if the Bible is indeed the Word of God, it is not dependent on whether or not a society is pre-scientific, for the Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of communicating clearly (or at least up to the point that our finite minds can grasp; we certainly do not understand everything). If the Bible is merely the guesses of fallible and limited human beings, then it is of little worth for anyone.

      I have a degree in science, by the way - it is a great way to examine the world and to learn things, but its knowledge is limited and subject to change.

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      • Isn't this the same dilemma facing Peter and his companions as they sit to eat with Cornelius? As the Holy Spirit descends upon Cornelius and his family. Peter needs to process this and the divine vision undoing the dietary laws. The question facing Peter, and us, is - is this a new thing that takes me away from where God has invited me to go or is this an expression of the Spirit that I have never seen or contemplated before? The dietary laws, are an indelible part of Scripture as are the commandments surrounding Temple worship - and yet as followers of Christ; we have come to understand these things in a new light and see that they are not operative in our faith life. I see the same thing at work in the issue of full inclusion of my LGBT+ brothers and sisters. This isn't an aberration, but a fuller expression of Jesus' invitation (and command) to "love thy neighbor" and open the circle of inclusion as wide as possible. It is also, for me, a deep desire to "judge not lest [I] be judged." I believe our answer to these questions should be the same as Peter's - "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?"

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      • The Scriptures are a comprehensive whole, to be interpreted (according to the understanding of the English Reformers and thus the 39 Articles) as being such; while they may have difficult sections, the clearer illuminates the less clear. The Scriptures are not like your grandmother's button box, where you go in, find something to your liking, and then use that.
        Article VII notes (in the last half), "Although the Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the Civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth; yet notwithstanding, no Christian man whatsoever is free from the obedience of the Commandments which are called Moral." The Anglican Reformers were scarcely unfamiliar with the question of such things as the dietary laws, and noting that Paul dealt with the question extensively in Galatians, and also spoke to it in other epistles, they wrote Article VII. Jesus himself showed that the dietary laws were of only temporary nature when he said in Mark 7:18 that "Nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him 'unclean'?" Mark goes on to note at the end of verse 19, "In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean." The dietary laws, and the ones concerning clothing of mixed fibers, etc, were all part of the training discipline of the OT people of God, to help them to learn to be purely devoted to the Lord, as Paul notes in Galatians.
        Peter did not (according to the text of Acts) decide to drop the dietary laws on his own; he was instructed by God to do so. Even if he had, he was an apostle, and we are rather short on apostles these days; the last known apostle died by the end of the first century.

        The whole point of my first comment on this article is that the ACNA and ECUSA have different and (to my mind at least) mutually exclusive views regarding the nature and authority of Holy Scripture. I served in ECUSA for many years and I have friends who still serve within ECUSA, many of whom have theological views similar to mine, although they continue to stay. I felt that I could not, in good conscience, do so, and left for the ACNA shortly after it was founded. But I stayed in longer than some others; the Lord is in charge of the timing of such things; the "remainers" I know serve under bishops who do not press them to change their minds.
        The issues are not simply what to do about those of varied sexual identities and attractions, but what the nature and purpose of Scripture is, who Jesus Christ is, and whether he is the sole refuge for sinners or merely a good man who taught some wonderful things and got himself ensnared in politics that were over his head. The ACNA holds one position on these matters, and ECUSA holds another, and it is better if we separate. It is a shame that there has been such hostility between the two bodies, but not really a surprise.

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      • So Peter was in defiance of Jesus regarding the dietary restrictions? You point out that Mark stated that Jesus had declared that all foods were clean, but it seems that by the time of the events in Acts, Peter is still clinging to the dietary restrictions of the Law.

        God had to send Peter his own personal revelation at this later time, after the ministry of Jesus was finished, because the teaching of Jesus was insufficient for the Apostle?

        That's just one tangle you create when approaching scripture as you do, as a comprehensive whole. If the story is literal and historical as written, you have an apostle defying his savior in this one minor area. How much more might not have been written about? We know that Paul had some major issues with the chief of the apostles, perhaps there was much more.

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      • I don't think that you are fairly laying out the theology of those of us who believe in inclusion as the way of Jesus.

        This year I've been hanging out with scholars who study the history of the church and read Greek, Latin, Syriac, etc. None of them read into Scripture the animus that conservatives have towards LGBTQI people. My own humble study in Greek yields a very different understanding than most English translations offer. Also, as these scholars delve deeply into the history and the reasons for including some gospels while excluding others, it turns out that they were a bunch of humans, just like us. There's no magic in the Council of Nicea, or the one's in Constantinople - Jesus wasn't there to direct it. Is revelation to be found in Holy Scripture, yes! Of course, but it has to come through the lens of reason and the heart, and yes, I do believe that the Holy Spirit is present and relevant in this process.

        Is it so hard to recall that in the Bible women are treated as chattel and that Holy Scripture has been misused to justify the burning of witches (typically uppity women), racism, and anti-semitism. Using Scripture as a weapon against any people might be blasphemy. The Incarnation came to be the "Good News to all people everywhere" (literal Greek translation).

        Who ever said that the 32 Articles were divinely inspired? Why would one believe that?

        Who says that members of TEC don't believe Jesus is the Incarnation (and not just a nice guy)? The "nice guy" story certainly isn't pervasive or part of church teaching. +Michael Curry describes the entire Episcopal Church as "Incarnational" and I agree.

        When one unpacks the "logic" and sources of belief, I come to a place where all I can do is turn to Jesus, who said love all your neighbors and don't judge, and who broke many taboos to treat women with respect, to heal the sick, and give the "living water." Homophobia is not living water. It is likely sinful.

        I don't mind if people feel they need to turn elsewhere. But I don't think that taking the property is OK, and I do think that the peace and reconciliation efforts are Christ-like. Blessed are the peacemakers. I'm not one of them, it isn't my gift, but they give me hope.

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      • Ms Katserelis, I can understand why you believe what you believe. I simply think that you are wrong, as you think I am wrong. The scholars you cite are operating from the assumption that the Bible is the product of ordinary people seeking to understand spiritual experiences and the spiritual realm, and in the course of so doing, making what is, in essence, the best guess possible - and finding that their insights sparked resonance in the hearts of others. That what seems to be being said when you write, "as these scholars delve deeply into the history and the reasons for including some gospels while excluding others, it turns out that they were a bunch of humans, just like us. There's no magic in the Council of Nicea, or the one's in Constantinople."
        Your assertions about the formation of Scripture, and of the Councils, is pretty much a "button box" approach, which operates under the assumption that those who chose what is in the Bible, and decided what doctrines they would enshrine as the teachings of the Church, did so on the basis of reasons and forces that are explainable entirely by historical circumstances.
        I know that people believe that, but I do wonder what will happen when historical circumstances change and mindsets change. There is absolutely no guarantee that the future of human civilization is one that will see liberal Western democracy, a la Bernie Sanders and similar thinkers, as the eventual state of the entire world. In fact, I would not be surprised to see (not that I will be around!) that a century from now, much of the world will be under brutal dictatorships. If that were to happen, the state of how decisions are made within a faith (if your thesis is correct) would give an entirely different result than the decisions you are thankful for now.
        I've examined the evidence (I prefer to believe the truth, whether it seems to be pleasant or not), and I keep coming back to the conviction that Jesus is the incarnate Son of God, that the Creeds are correct, and that what the XXXIX Articles say is a good summary of the teachings of Scripture. The events of Jesus' life, and the history of the early Church, find no better explanation than that the living God was at work in Jesus and through Jesus, and that the Holy Spirit was the ultimate author of the Scriptures, which the Church recognized, but did not select.

        I am not sure who the scholars are to whom you refer, but I do know that Robert Gagnon, a professor at Pittsburgh Seminary (a PCUSA seminary) has written a 700+ page study on the teachings of the Bible on sexuality, upholding (at great personal expense, it turns out, to Dr Gagnon) the historic position. It has certainly been disagreed with, but its arguments have not been refuted.

        ECUSA can believe what it wishes, but I think that they have traded their spiritual birthright for a mess of modernist pottage that will feed for the moment, but not for eternity. Perhaps I am wrong; I don't think so, of course, but I have looked long and hard at all the pertinent facts and ideas, and have come away with the conviction that historic Christianity is true.

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      • Mr Allen, the answer to your question is pretty simple: when Mark notes that Jesus "thus pronounced all foods clean," he was stating that what Jesus said was an implicit teaching, later made explicit as those who believed in him reflected on his teachings in the light of his death and resurrection. So, Peter did not know that Jesus taught all foods were clean the day Jesus spoke about what makes a person clean or unclean, and choose to live in defiance of that, but rather, the vision that God sent made explicit what Jesus had taught - and Peter had no problem at all going to present the Gospel to a Gentile "God-fearer" and then baptizing him and his household when they believed in Jesus and received the Holy Spirit.
        I began a Bible study on Acts yesterday with a small group, and it was interesting to note that, just before the Ascension, the disciples were asking, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" They were still looking for a Messianic kingdom, in a civil, political sense, and did not understand as yet what Jesus had come to do, which was not just for Israel but the entire world.
        When Paul was converted, he did not begin his ministry of evangelism to the Gentiles immediately. Rather for about ten years, he focused on studying the Scriptures (our OT) and seeing the prophecies about the Messiah in the light of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. After that time of study, he was prepared to show from the Hebrew Scriptures that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the promised Messiah and that he was the king, not of an earthly kingdom, but of a spiritual kingdom that transcended earthly political arrangements. As a result, the early Church spread throughout the known world and wound up transforming the Empire and (in due time) the entire world.
        The idea that we are reconciled to God through an alien righteousness, the righteousness of Christ imputed to us when we place our hope in him, is a radical idea that is to be found in no other faith, for they all hold to the idea that we human beings must earn our acceptance by God (or the gods, or "the universe").
        It took centuries for a lot of what was implicit in the Scriptures (which now included what we know as the New Testament) to be unpacked, so that the Creeds were written, and such statements as the Chalcedonian Formula written down - not to add to Scripture, but to set forth its teachings on matters that are hard to understand.
        We continue to go forward in the same way - never contradicting the plain meaning of Scripture, but nevertheless, drawing out what it actually says as it manifests the transforming grace of God.

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      • when Mark notes that Jesus “thus pronounced all foods clean,” he was stating that what Jesus said was an implicit teaching, later made explicit as those who believed in him reflected on his teachings in the light of his death and resurrection.

        Yes, one would need to strain at a nat and swallow a fly in order to justify their approach to scripture.

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      • Charlie, I believe that the moral arc of the universe ultimately bends towards justice. That moral arc is more and more people claiming their birthright as bona fide Children of God, or in secular terms, more people accept the Universal Declaration on the Human Rights of Mankind. I believe the moral arc is bent by none other than the Holy Spirit working through people.

        Holy Scripture is a gift, but it comes with the responsibility to discern how the Spirit is leading us today. We are always on the journey out of Egypt, moving towards the Promised Land. Arrival at the Promised Land depends a lot on how we, as a society, treat the least of these and how successfully we love our neighbors, all of them.

        Jesus' call to love and care for one another is the essence of Christianity. We can look to Scripture for how to do that, but some of it contains cautionary tales and some is metaphor. Metaphor is what makes it continually universal, like the journey out of Egypt. The people of the time would have understood the parables and much of the teaching as metaphors. Biblical literalism is a product of the 19th Century, relatively new in the scheme of things.

        There is no conflict between believing Jesus is the Incarnation and believing that reading Scripture is a discernment process and not a recipe book. Especially when accompanied by deep prayer.

        You have a sense of "truth" and I can back up my sense of truth with some of the greatest minds and best translations. But at the end of the day, the Incarnation opens channels to our hearts and minds. If the fruits of that are joyful and healthgiving, then one is likely on track. If the fruits cause anguish and suffering (like LGBTQI teens whose suicide rates are terrible), then a re-examination is due. It's Jesus who told us that we "know them by their fruits," i.e. that is the yardstick for discernment. The fruits. Intolerance has yucky fruit.

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  4. “The Episcopal Church – isn’t that the one with the lawsuits?”

    I'm not sure what the good Bishop is saying here, but if he's implying that all litigation is unChristian, then he is misguided.

    Indeed, to discourage all lawsuits is to establish the status quo more firmly, to entrench the rich and privileged more deeply, and to leave the powerless without lawful recourse.

    Surely, like most spheres of human activity, it all depends on the particular lawsuit?

    For a recent example of good litigation, we need only look at the many lawsuits filed on behalf of immigrants suing to block the Muslim-ban order.

    And of course, looking further back, Brown v. Board of Education was deeply Christian in its inspiration. As the sainted Pauli Murray would tell us.

    For scriptural authority, consider Luke 18:1-8--the parable of the importunate widow. Jesus holds her up as a model for us to emulate.

    She certainly seems to have been a persistent litigant, in a just cause.

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    • I don't think that's what the bishop means. He simply doesn't want TEC to be known _primarily_ for its lawsuits.

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      • But again, what is the harm in being known for lawsuits sparked by efforts to include all God's people?

        Do we think less of the NAACP because sometimes it litigates?

        If we are part of the Jesus movement, we need to own the fact that sometimes a movement requires litigation.

        This is a kingdom we are building.

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  5. A statement from Archbishop Foley can be found at http://www.anglicanchurch.net/?/main/page/1436.

    Bishop Guernsey's statement can be found at http://www.anglicandoma.org/uploads/BishopGuernseyLetter4-25-17.pdf.

    It would appear that the vestry of Truro Anglican has acted against the wishes of it's bishop.

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    • And there you have it, the other shoe has dropped!

      If the bishops have their way with this, the paper that it's printed on will soon be stacked up in the nearest loo.

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      • My hope is that Truro continues in its defiance. Being from Virginia (NoVa), I suspect they will go the way of their conscience.

        It certainly does reveal the bishops' mindsets and it makes me happy that TEC is pursuing a more merciful, compassionate, and just path for LGBTQI inclusion. And I'm proud of the Diocese of Virginia for making the effort at peace and reconciliation. There is something Godly in leaving the door open and meeting in the midst of conflict. I admire it, though I fear the hurtful voices of exclusion. Let the peacemakers deal with it...

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  6. Commenters: If your comment is about the reaction by ACNA, you may want to make your comment on our April 25th post on the subject here,

    https://www.episcopalcafe.com/acna-archbishop-on-counterfeit-reconciliation-of-truro-acna-diocese-of-virginia/

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  7. The clergy at Truro took an Oath of Canonicial Obedience when they were ordained. They have CLEARLY broken their oath. Put more simply, the Truro clergy bucked the godly authority the Lord placed over them - both their bishop and archbishop. As a priest ordained in the Diocese of Virginia, I can tell you the Diocese's "Peace and Reconciliation" heart was no where to be found when I was defrocked without trial or lost the better part of my Church Pension Fund in 2000. The CPF is arranged to highly penalize those who get kicked out or leave before 25 years. I only made it to year 15.5. The Diocese of VA's actions speak so loud we cannot hear a word they are SAYING.

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    • Wait. You're saying the ACNA Truro clergy are bucking the "godly authority the Lord placed over them." But you left TEC bishop for ACNA you were not bucking the "godly authority the Lord over them?" when you broke with TEC precisely because you rejected that authority?

      Wait #2. You made the choice to leave TEC. You were not forced. But you wanted TEC to change the pension rules for you? You knew the rules when you quit to join ACNA. Either that or you were convinced that they rules would be changed for those that left.

      Here's the thing: You want to choose your bishop. As its name suggests, in The Episcopal Church you don't get to choose your bishop.

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