the fallout has been particularly acute in Heathsville, a tiny town on Virginia's pastoral Northern Neck. Those who voted at St. Stephen's to stay Episcopalian were a quarter of the membership, a much larger percentage than at the other churches, and that group has already voted itself new leadership as it plans to rebuild its congregation and reoccupy the building. Small groups of Episcopalians at the other churches are just starting to organize.Blackwell and I are probably related somehow. The "B" in John B. Chilton is for Blackwell, a family name acquired when Chiltons lived on the Northern Neck in the 18th century.
But in a town of 5,000 people, the effect of the vote is different from that of the bustling D.C. suburbs, where the other churches are. It has meant tense small talk in line at the Food Lion and friction between longtime friends.
Barbara Tricarico, who voted to stay Episcopalian, breaks into tears when she looks at the cracked wooden sign her husband pulled out of the bed of a pickup truck: "St. Stephen's Episcopal Church." Tricarico just happened to see men removing it in the days after the vote, to replace it with a new sign: "St. Stephen's (Anglican)."
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"It cannot be shared when things are in limbo, and that's the position we're in," said Ward LeHardy, a congregant serving as spokesman for the majority group. Such an arrangement "would complicate legal and spiritual aspects."
That resulted in Meade Kilduff, who was baptized at St. Stephen's in 1918, sitting down in the quaint, baby-blue sanctuary of the town's Methodist church for last week's Episcopal healing service.
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Jane Hubbard Blackwell, who lives one house down a dirt road from Tricarico, has been at St. Stephen's since she was a girl. The 84-year-old retired registrar of voters has served as senior warden, Sunday school teacher and newsletter editor, among other things. Sitting in the home she grew up in, on St. Stephen's Lane across a farm field from the church, she squeezes her hands into tight fists and takes a quick, sharp breath when she characterizes how she felt, voting to leave the Episcopal Church.