A Letter to the Deputies of the 2015 Episcopal Church General Convention
March 4, 2015
To: Deputies of the 2015 General Convention,
We were among the 5,000 signatories of an unanswered petition requesting an accounting and transparency from the Church in spending more than $20 million dollars of church funds for litigation in 94 civil lawsuits. Five dioceses and hundreds of parishes wished to depart the Episcopal Church with their property but the Presiding Bishop and her chancellor abruptly ended peaceful negotiations for departure and filed civil lawsuits to seize those properties. Over forty of the lawsuits involved actions against parishioners who voluntarily served as vestry members or other leadership positions. In several cases, the Presiding Bishop was seeking the personal assets of these parishioners for monetary punitive damages causing undue and unjust personal financial hardship and mental suffering to them. In the past two decades, an estimated 1.5 million Episcopalians transferred to another Anglican Church, left for another denomination, or left the Christian faith altogether and more than 500 Episcopal Churches have closed.
Further, more than 700 former clergy and 12 Bishops were defrocked or suspended from their ordained ministry when they sought transfer to another Anglican Church. By misuse of the canons, and without a hearing or trial, the Presiding Bishop extinguished the right of those clergy to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority conferred in ordination at the Anglican Church body where they have transferred. Countless lives were shattered and relationships destroyed by these actions, for these good men and women did not take their solemn vows of ordination lightly, and they were unjustly defrocked for it.
Two Dioceses, the Diocese of Pittsburgh and the Diocese of South Carolina, saw the harshness of the Presiding Bishop's action against her Brothers and Sisters in Christ and lessened the Abandonment charge to "restrict [the] exercise of ministry" only within TEC.
We seek an end to these unprecedented unjust acts by an appropriate resolve and executed by this 2015 General Convention committing the Episcopal Church to make full restitution for these actions, with the 94 lawsuits withdrawn from secular courts and all associated court costs paid for by the Episcopal Church. We call for the Convention to support those Dioceses and parishes wishing to depart from the Episcopal Church, to go with your blessing, recognizing that departing are members in good standing and the convention supports their quest to transfer and/or become recognized members of the Anglican Communion if they so desire.
To our 700 Clergy Brothers and Sisters, realizing the church can never make amends for what the Church has done, we call for the Episcopal Church to begin a process of healing and conciliation for all concerned at the diocesan level and the church begin with all rights and privileges of ordination totally restored.
Finally, to all members of the church, we call for the Episcopal Church to communicate an apology for misleading your members, for lack of transparency in your leadership roles and hold yourselves accountable for all these actions, with the assurance this will never happen again.
Bradley Hutt, former Senior Warden, Christ Episcopal Church, Clinton, MD.
Bill Boniface, former Senior Warden, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Croom, MD.
Nancy Virts, former Senior Warden, All Faith Episcopal Church, Charlotte Hall, MD.
Bob McCarthy, former Senior Warden, St. Georges Episcopal Church, Valley Lee, MD.
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