Friday, April 20, 2007

The fledgling Anglican District of Virginia, a group of 11 local churches that have broken with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia over theological issues, will ordain its first three priests and a deacon today in Falls Church.

Though the district is involved in lawsuits with the diocese, it is proceeding with creating its own clergy. Bishop Martyn Minns, the outgoing rector of Truro Church in Fairfax, will preside and the Rev. John Yates, rector of the Falls Church, will preach.

The deacon, Dean Miller, is from Truro. The three ordinands — David Hanke, Eric Hornbuckle and Patrick Ware — are from the Falls Church. The ceremony will be held in the Falls Church on Broad Street.

The bishop also leads the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA), which includes the 11 churches and roughly 20 other parishes and 50 clergy from around the country.

On Wednesday, CANA asked the Fairfax County Circuit Court to dismiss a diocesan lawsuit against roughly 75 lay leaders of the 11 churches on the grounds they serve without compensation and that Virginia law protects them from a lawsuit.

CANA’s filings state that according to Virginia law, the individual parishes, not the diocese or denominational headquarters in New York, own their property.

“Our lawyers have argued that there is no point in naming us parties in the lawsuit as there was no allegation of misconduct and there are no specific claims against us,” said Jim Oakes, senior warden for Truro.

A diocesan spokesman had no comment on the filings.

Tomorrow, Truro will host a farewell reception for Bishop Minns, 64, who will be formally installed as CANA’s presiding bishop May 5 at a ceremony at Hylton Memorial Chapel in Woodbridge. Truro is expected to announce his successor soon.

Mr. Oakes acknowledged that finding a priest willing to succeed Bishop Minns has been difficult because the diocese could also sue the replacement. One leading candidate suddenly withdrew his name from consideration in March. The parish’s search committee this month forwarded its choice to Truro’s governing board.

Though CANA’s offices are across Main Street from Truro, much of the organization is still being run out of the church. Truro contributes about $140,000 a year to CANA, Mr. Oakes said.

Bishop Minns returned Thursday from a trip to Colorado Springs, where he met with parishioners of Grace Church and St. Stephen’s, a congregation that has broken with the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado. It has provisionally affiliated with CANA, pending a May 20 congregational vote.

Bishop Minns urged congregates to join CANA, according to the Rocky Mountain News, and spoke out in support of their embattled rector, the Rev. Don Armstrong, who has been accused by his diocese of embezzling church funds.

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