Bishop Says She Made Diocese Sue 11 Churches

Article excerpt


The Episcopal Church's top official says she forced the Diocese of Virginia to sue 11 churches that broke away a year ago over disagreements on biblical authority and the 2003 consecration of a homosexual bishop.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said she acted to prevent "incursions by foreign bishops" during a four-hour deposition taped Oct. 30 and entered yesterday as evidence during a trial involving the largest property battle in Episcopal Church history under way at Fairfax Circuit Court.

According to prior testimony, Virginia Bishop Peter J. Lee was ready to accept buyouts from the 11 departing churches, several of which sat on historic pieces of property in Fairfax and Falls Church. That changed after he met with the new presiding bishop soon after her Nov. 4, 2006, installation.

"I told Bishop Lee I could not support negotiations for sale if the congregations intended to set up as other parts of the Anglican Communion," Bishop Jefferts Schori said, referring to the 77 million-member worldwide body of which the Episcopal Church is a part.

What particularly angered her, she said, was the presence of the Nigerian-controlled Convocation of Anglicans in North America, then headquartered in Fairfax. An American bishop for CANA, the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, had been consecrated that August.

CANA's presence "violates the ancient principle of the church that two bishops do not have jurisdiction in the same area," said the presiding bishop, whose face appeared on three screens positioned around the courtroom. …