Letter to the editor in the Virginia Episcopalian, July 2011
Somebody said the devil does not need to attack the Church from the outside -- Christians do a very good job on the inside. It seems to me this litigation over church property fits well into that assessment. I wonder how many people in the pews of this diocese are aware of the millions of dollars being spent by both sides on property issues -- dollars that could have been used to help the poor, the hungry, the sick, the imprisoned and to reach the unreached peoples of the world. What are we doing?
Our churches do reach out in many amazing ways, but somehow it is not enought to be a faithful, functioning member of my parish church, continuing to ignore this fight. Ignorance is no excuse. Bishop Lee had begun a dialogue which might have diverted this disaster, had he not been stopped, I suspect by the hierarchy. Now the Church of the Word which has dropped its part in the suit has been slapped with sanctions not to associate in any way with the Anglican break-away church for five years. We say we are "all inclusive" but to bar any church in this way flies in the face of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly.
And what about Paul's instruction against "going to the law," brother against brother? What has happened -- on both sides -- that property is so important? Solomon would have probably divided it down the middle, handing half to each one. Why can't we as Christians worship side by side? I do not know the answer, but I know this litigation is wrong. Alcoholics Anonymous has a tradtiion that ends, "Lest money, property and prestige divert us from our primary spirtitual aim." Is it too late to take heed? Is there anyone who can bring about a peaceful, kind solution?
How we must be grieving the heart of God!
Virginia W. Stanley
Heavenly Father, in this time of separation in our beloved Church, we pray for the just and amicable resolution of the litigation we are facing, for the healing of broken relationships, for softening of hearts hardened by hostility, and for common ground in our common prayer. Help us to marshal our mutual resources for the furtherance of your will, not ours, and to find some good outcome to the conflict that has engaged us for too long. We pray this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.