The theme of this 212th Annual Council is, "ONE Church : ONE Mission." The church in Virginia now and in the past has known divisions and stresses. As I travel around the diocese and read your newsletters, it is clear to me that the great majority of our churches, our clergy and our people share two emphases: the mission of reconciliation at the heart of our Christian faith and the unity we have with one another and the Anglican Communion across the world. We recognize that some people experience that unity and breadth as insufficient for the exercise of their faith. We respect their consciences but also must respond when people who no longer share our mission, seek to leave and take with them property that belongs to all of us and to our grandchildren in the faith. Our differences with the congregations that have departed the Diocese are not about property but about legacy. The church buildings of the Diocese of Virginia were given by generations past to be Episcopal Churches for generations to come and we are committed to protecting that legacy.
We have the strong support of the Presiding Bishop and the General Church in seeking to recover the properties now occupied by persons who are no longer loyal to the Episcopal Church and to the Diocese of Virginia.
We are marking 400 years of Anglican presence in Virginia. On June 24, 2007, the four dioceses in Virginia and West Virginia will gather for a celebration of the Holy Eucharist on Jamestown Island. It was on the same Sunday in the ecclesiastical year, the third Sunday after Trinity, when the original settlers at Jamestown gathered in 1607 for a celebration of the Holy Eucharist. We will welcome there the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Shori, who will be the preacher. Then, in addition, the Washington National Cathedral will celebrate Virginia State Day on Sunday, October 21, 2007. I hope many of you will make arrangements for some of your people to participate in the Cathedral's celebration of our 400 anniversary.