Monday, December 8, 2008

Rector's Journal: Failed Negotiations, Email Exchanges, An Ambush, the Rest of the Story....

On Friday December 12th, 2008, the Diocese of Central New York will attempt to takeover both the property and the assets belonging the Church of the Good Shepherd. In 2007 the Church of the Good Shepherd disaffiliated from the Diocese of Central New York and the Episcopal Church because the Episcopal Church with the full support of the Diocese, embraced teachings with regard to human sexuality that are contrary to scripture and that, if followed, will do grave harm to souls and bodies. As a result of Good Shepherd's disaffiliation, the Diocese of Central New York filed a lawsuit claiming all parish property and assets. Though Good Shepherd sought to settle the matter out of court, making two formal monetary offers the diocese cut off negotiations and filed the suit. If the Diocese wins the lawsuit, the over 50 people we feed at our soup kitchen each week on the south side of Binghamton will go hungry, the message of the good news of Jesus Christ will be silenced on the corner of Livingston and Conklin, and there will be one more empty and darkened church in Binghamton...

The history is a lot more involved of course. My wardens, treasurer, and I sat in Bishop Adams' office in October of 2007 and drew up a protocol for property negotiations. The protocol stipulated that before the diocese could hear any settlement offers, the Church of the Good Shepherd would have to formally disaffiliate from the diocese and the Episcopal Church. The timing of departure, then, was coordinated with the Bishop face to face.

Failed Property Negotiations with the Standing Committee:
We disaffiliated formally, in accordance with the protocol, on November 8th, 2007 by a unanimous vote of the vestry expecting, on the basis of Bishop Adams' word, to engage in a process of negotiation whereby, if successful, we could depart with our property. The protocol, drawn up with the bishop's participation, called on us first to present proposals to the diocese which, if accepted by the Standing Committee, would make it possible for the diocese to relinquish their claims to our property and assets.

Our first settlement offer was refused by the Standing Committee outright. No written explanation. No counter offer.

Our second settlement offer was, again, refused without explanation or counter offer.

We began to think about preparing a third. When this was mentioned, the diocesan representatives grew quite cold, suggesting that "the time had now come" to think about "surrendering" our property and assets and moving on.

The Standing Committee seemed a dead end. One aspect of our confusion was the assumption on our part, at this point still entertained, that we could use our assets to make offers for a property settlement. As this exchange of emails shows, the problem was basically that the Standing Committee rejected our offers because they were going to claim our assets as well. How could we offer to settle the property claims using what they considered diocesan money?

This was made clear by Bishop Adam's Canon to the Ordinary, Karen Lewis in a conversation I had with her by phone.

Realizing what was happening, we decided to see if we could get a face to face meeting with Bishop Adams and perhaps find a way to negotiate regarding the assets first.

Hoping for a Meeting with the Bishop: The Struggle for Dialogue with Canon Lewis
In the past our negotiation meetings with the bishop had been warm and friendly. This time our request for a meeting was met with the following from the Canon to the Ordinary, Karen Lewis:
The Bishop and I are willing to meet with you, however, prior to the meeting, we will need to receive from you a written listing of the items we will be discussing and any requests you will be bringing to the meeting. We will be unable to set a meeting date/time until we have had a chance to review your proposal. As to the speculation and confusion, we are clear on what we understand the next steps to be and will be more than willing to share those with you.

I realize xxxxx mistakenly sent you an email intended for me regarding the date of the 19th – again, we will be unable to set a date for a meeting until we have a chance to consider your proposal. I look forward to receiving something in the mail or via electronic means sometime in the near future...

We simply wanted a face to face meeting to find out what was going on. The diocese would not meet without a formal meeting agenda and proposal of some sort. I wrote back:
Dear Karen,

I think this leaves us only more confused.

I understood that we were in a process of negotiation. Is that true?

The process you propose does not seem conducive to negotiation. If we met, you might tell us what you find objectionable about any proposal we bring and offer a counter and we could, perhaps, work something out together in a context of mutual regard and respect.

The problem so far, at least as we perceive it, is that we have put forward a number of proposals, under the impression that negotiation was a possibility, only to receive rejections with little or no explanation and no counter proposals at all. That does not seem like a process of negotiation.

Is this is a real process?

If so, please be assured we are more than willing, as we have already shown, to dialog and negotiate in good faith.

I think we need to speak face to face or at least over the phone before we send a proposal.

We need to know more about the process you are proposing.

In Christ,

She responded:

Gosh, I’m now more confused than you. I remember in our phone conversation approximately two weeks ago, I shared with you that I am not privy to the Standing Committee’s discussion or why they make the decisions they do. I also said that I am not able to respond to your property concerns, that I only could be involved in conversations regarding the financial assets. And so I requested that we separate the two areas of concern: property issues and financial assets. I further requested and I thought you had agreed, that what would be necessary was for you to provide in writing, your understanding/needs/concerns regarding the financial assets. That would provide us something to be responsive to and the basis for further conversations.

Standing Committee’s have a canonical duty to approve all property sales. Thus, I have no ability to influence or even deal with that situation.

Regarding the process of negotiations – any negotiation requires a basis from which to begin. That is what we need and have requested from you. Again, we need to have a basis for conversation prior to any face-to-face interaction. I’m only trying to understand where you are coming from at this point in time. A written piece will provide time for reflection on our part and clarity of your understandings.


I had not agreed to provide in writing our "understanding/needs/concerns regarding the financial assets". Rather I noted that we would like to try to work something out from the asset side rather than the property side and at this point I had no idea what that might be or how it might work. But to get a handle on just what possibilities there might be, we needed to meet face to face with the bishop. We really had no idea where we were in the process of negotiations or what was going on and to keep things from spinning out of control and into litigation we thought a sit-down would be best. I sent the following reply:
Thank you Karen,

That helps. Email conversations are sometimes difficult due to the medium.

I think I understand more clearly now and it does sound more consistent with our phone conversation although I do not believe you mentioned that a written proposal would need to be in hand before you would even agree to a meeting. We were hoping to meet in order to get ideas for framing the proposal.

The reason we requested to meet is that, as you might imagine, after working very hard on two proposals and receiving so little feedback, we would like to understand the parameters within which we are negotiating before sending another proposal up blindly.


Good Shepherd's Treasurer, who had been copied on these exchanges, wrote back as well:

Isn’t our position on our finances obvious from our second proposal to the standing committee? Clearly, the desire is that we are working towards some sort of settlement here and I am pleased that we are still talking, but come on!? You know what we want.

Our position is you have no claim to our finances, material effects, or property; your claim is that you have rights to all. Currently, we have gone down the path of settling this outside of court with you by giving you our finances in exchange for you releasing your supposed claim to the property and material effects. Since, the property is apparently off of the table based on the inability of the Standing Committee to make any compromise at all, where is the middle ground? Where is the “settlement” that keeps us out of court on this? I think it is obvious what our position is and I don’t think we need to send any more proposals, right?

I’m sorry if I appear a bit discourteous here, but I feel like we are getting the run around and somehow we need to come to a resolution. I speak for the entire Vestry when I say we are still committed to coming to a fair settlement here. However, based on the standing committee’s response, and your attitude (at least as I perceive it), the likelihood of this seems to be slipping away from us. If we can’t even sit down and talk together like two Christians groups without stipulations how does this get resolved?

Look, I know you feel you are in the right and that you believe you have rights to everything. We disagree and you must know that everyone in our congregation has struggled hard to get us to the position our Good Shepherd is at right now. We are growing; we are serving Christ in our community; we are making a difference and we desire to keep doing that. Do you really want to try to crush that? Is that in best interest of Christ’s Church as a whole?

Even before we were split there were three Churches in the Binghamton area within 2 miles of one another. Good Shepherd was always on the chopping block, but we have made it work to the betterment of our community and congregation. What is the point of attempting to close us if the congregation wants to make it work? If anyone disagrees that Good Shepherd should remain open, they left our congregation four years ago and there is only a vocal minority (two, I believe) within your district clergy that would see Good Shepherd burned to the ground. I don’t understand why the Presiding Bishop’s opinion on selling the Church to us even enters into the equation when this Church should have been closed years ago as voiced by this vocal minority?

We have approached this process with the hope that both sides have been honest and open with one another and I hope this desire still stands.

Is your perception of what is going on here different?

In Christ,


To which Canon Lewis responded here:

I have taken considerable time to reflect on your recent communication. I am somewhat surprised at your choice of words and assumptions regarding what you believe I think or feel, but I choose to put those aside so that I may be responsive to your statements.

It is helpful that you have stated clearly your position – it has not been articulated with such clarity prior to this time. My understandings are:

1)That you are the spokesperson for the leadership of the congregation,
2)That your position is that all financial assets, tangible personal property, and real property are legally those of Good Shepherd, and
3)That your understanding of a “fair settlement” is that the leadership of Good Shepherd receive the property in exchange for the financial assets you currently hold

If I have articulated the position of your leadership accurately, then our options have obviously narrowed significantly in scope. Although a meeting is not out of the realm of consideration, I’m wondering as to what our meeting will entail since, as I stated previously, neither the Bishop nor I have an ability to deal with the property issue. I would urge you to contact Holly Eden for a conversation on their decision-making process.

Please let me know if I have been accurate in understanding your recent email, and let me know what it is you hope to accomplish via a meeting.


The Rev. Canon Karen C. Lewis

Now our treasurer did not write that he was the "official spokesman" for Good Shepherd. He wrote: "I speak for the entire Vestry when I say we are still committed to coming to a fair settlement here...". Secondly, Canon Lewis' suggestion that we return to the Standing Committee was a non-starter since, again, we received no word from that Committee regarding what an acceptable proposal might look like. With that dead end fresh in our minds, we simply wanted to meet with the bishop to assess where we were and where we might go next to avoid litigation. We just wanted a meeting.
Dear Bishop Adams and Canon Lewis,

Blessings. Just a brief note, sorry for the late's Lent and a busy time for everyone I think. I did not hear Chris suggesting that he is "the spokesperson" for Good Shepherd. I understood him simply to be reiterating the position we have taken in our written proposals. We initiated our discussions with the bishop last year because we wanted and continue to want to do all we can retain our property while at the same time maintaining the high level of cooperation and respect between us and the diocese. I think, if nothing else, the email exchanges and phone calls we've had lately demonstrate the need for face to face discussions so that we do not misunderstand one another. How many conflicts, I wonder, might be avoided through clear charitable and respectful communication? That is all we were asking for with regard to the meeting, a chance to meet and talk and find out where we are.

May God bless you and keep you

In Christ,

Finally, we were granted our wish:

I think you are accurate in saying that a face-to-face discussion will help clarify a number of things. As such, the Bishop’s schedule is tight with HOB meetings and such, and my travel and such, but have cleared a time slot when we can both be present to you and whomever else you bring for conversation. This time is next Wednesday, February 27, 2008 at 3:30 pm in the Diocesan Office. I appreciate your willingness to come here for our conversations – both the Bishop and I have meetings on either side of that time slot. Please let me know of your attendance at that meeting. Thanks.


We were grateful for this opportunity, but since my wardens and treasurer work, the day chosen was a difficult one. I wrote back:
Dear Bishop Adams and Karen Lewis,

Thank you for this. We are both grateful and appreciative. That date and time is quite good for me but not so good for Chris Jones or my wardens who, unfortunately, to a man, will be out of town.

If that is the only time you will agree to meet, then I will certainly be there.

However, it might be better for the process in general if I were able to bring my treasurer and/or wardens so that they would be in on the discussion as well and not have to hear about it second-hand. Would a later or earlier date be possible? We'd certainly be willing to wait for a convenient time.

In Christ,

Apparently rescheduling was impossible:

I appreciate the difficulty of the nearness of the date and how that conflicts with the schedules of folks, however, we would like to go ahead with Wednesday's meeting so we can move this conversation forward. Unless I hear otherwise from you, we will see you then.



Fortunately, some vestrymembers were able to fill in:
Dear Karen,

Weather permitting, we will be there today. Might you be so kind as to let me know how much time you have to meet with us. The vestrymembers attending our meeting today also have tight schedules.

In Christ,

Her reply:

The roads are okay today and we’ll hope they stay that way. We have an hour and one-half available before I need to leave for another meeting. I believe that will be adequate time for our conversation.



An Ambush Meeting With Bishop Adams -- and Bunches of Lawyers
We did make it up safely.

On previous visits with the bishop, we had been ushered into his office where we would sit comfortably and discuss matters informally. This time we were ushered into a conference room.

Bishop Adams and Canon Lewis, however, did not arrive alone. Two attorney's, the diocesan chancellor, Paul Curtin, and one of Syracus' best and most expensive lawyers Jonathan Fellows, arrived.

Here is the report of the meeting I wrote to my vestry afterwards:
We did not have a good meeting with the bishop yesterday. Before going on, I will ask that everyone who receives this email not forward it or discuss it with anyone at least until after Sunday. As a vestry we will want to spend time on Saturday (at the retreat) thinking about how to present this to the parish in a united way and a way that communicates our trust in God. This passage in particular is, I think, important to study and digest at present:

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1st Peter 4:12-18)

John Chaney, Don Dean and I arrived in Syracuse at 3:30pm on Thursday for a meeting that was supposed to include the bishop and his Canon to the Ordinary, the Very Rev. Karen Lewis.

Every meeting we've had with the bishop in the past has been held in his office. This time we were ushered into a larger conference room where we were joined not only by the bishop and the canon, but by two attorney's, Mr. Fellows and Mr. Paul Curtain (the diocesan chancellor).

In sum, the position of the diocese is that there has never been a process of negotiation and that this was our understanding, not theirs...this despite the bishop's own words to the contrary. The proposals we offered were, they suggested, so far below what they could even consider as near acceptable that there was no way for the Standing Committee (SC) to do anything but reject them. Since the SC has rejected our proposals and since the bishop cannot make property decisions without their approval, they suggest we are at an impasse.

When asked whether they would consider an agreement according to which the ownership issue might be set aside and an agreement reached that the diocese would not to pursue the property legally in exchange for a certain amount of money (thereby circumventing the Standing Committee), the chancellor, Paul Curtain, stepped in along with Canon Lewis to say that such an arrangement is "impossible" and "illegal". Of course, having discussed this plan with our attorney and others, I have serious doubts that it would be "illegal" and I am certain it is not "impossible."

When discussing how and why the "tone" of our discussions has changed, Karen Lewis mentioned her email exchanges with our treasurer, Chris Jones and her telephone conversation with him in which he indicated that we are unwilling to simply hand over our property and assets. The bishop, also, expressed a sense of being "hurt" over the way that I have been writing on the internet regarding this crisis. While acknowledging that I have not named him nor specifically referenced him except in a positive way, he feels "hurt" that I consider the position of the Episcopal Church to be heretical and soul-destroying. I asked him why he would ever believe that I thought otherwise? If I did not think this matter one that has to do with the salvation of souls and the truth of the gospel, I would never have left the Episcopal Church nor would Good Shepherd have done the same.

I mentioned that from our perspective the tone changed when we began to suspect that we had been set up and handled deceitfully (though I did not use those words). We laid out to him the timeline of events from our perspective. 1. We came to him with our concerns last year and indicated that we would like to leave the Episcopal Church but wanted to find a way to do that together that would not hurt the diocese or us. 2. We were told that it may be possible to retain our property but in order to begin that sort of negotiation we would need to actually leave The Episcopal Church. 3. We did so in full communication and coordination with the diocese. 4. Subsequently there has been no hint of willingness to negotiate from the diocese. Instead we have sent two proposals and have received no counter proposals at all. 5. We received only a a letter from the chair of the Standing Committee letting us know that it is time to think of vacating the property and handing over assets.

t appears, from all of this, I said, that we have been misled. We were told negotiations would be possible if and when we left the Episcopal Church. We left and now we are told that negotiations are impossible and that it is time to hand over our property and assets.

Paul Curtain, again, suggested that "negotiation is your [meaning ours] word. It has never been ours [meaning the diocese]."

The meeting ended when it became obvious that the positions were not going to change on either side. We were somewhat hampered in our ability to discuss matters since our attorney was not present.

I suppose we ought to have been more cynical and distrusting going into this meeting. We assumed however, that the bishop would be a man of honor and the diocese would act with integrity.

For lack of a better word, this meeting was essentially an ambush. We ought to have walked out the moment we saw the attorneys but we were not yet sure where the conversation would go and still, at that point, had hope that perhaps there might be a way talk through the issues.

In any case, below you will find the "Settlement Agreement" the diocese would like us to accept. They wanted us to call a special meeting answer by March 14th.

I told them we would answer when we answered, probably after our next regularly scheduled vestry meeting. They cannot and will not dictate a time-line.

I think we will want to speak about it at the retreat on Saturday quite a bit.

My opinion is that the Settlement Agreement will make good lining for my kitty litter pans, but I am not quite pleased at the moment and you must make up your own minds.

Please read the attached documents.

Note: forwarded message attached.

The Stipulation gave us six months to vacate the building and the Rectory and relinquish all assets to the Diocese. The money we collected during that six month period we could keep for ourselves. After the completion of the sixth month period, we might on a month to month basis, remain in the building for another six months if we agreed to pay the diocese a monthly "rent" of $1700.00.

This, as you can imagine, was not received well.

An Angry Bishop -- Who Doesn't Like Stand Firm Either
A few days later I received the following letter from the Bishop:
Dear Matt:

I wish to express my appreciation for the time you and your fellow parishioners spent in conversation with us last Wednesday, February 27, 2008, It was an opportunity to listen to your thoughts regard ting the future of the assets of Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton. Although we do not agree in respect to its disposition, it was helpful to hear forthrightly your opinions. Again, I encourage you to contact the Standing Committee with any questions you may have regarding their decision on your recent property proposal.

As we agreed at the end of the meeting, we expect to hear a report on the thoughts you and your leadership have regarding our settlement offer on or before March 14th, 2008. If you have any questions regarding the offer, please contact Canon Lewis at the Diocesan Office at your convenience. You and the people of Good Shepherd remain in my prayers.

In Christ,
+Skip Adams
Gladstone B Adams III

I wrote back:
Dear Bishop Adams,

Thank you for your letter. It was good to hear from you.

Your memory of our meeting, however, is mistaken.

We said very clearly that the nearest date at which you might expect a response to your proposal would be March 26th, subsequent to our next regularly scheduled vestry meeting, not March 14th.

We are, moreover, grateful that you set aside time to meet with us but did find that Canon Lewis was somewhat less than transparent with regard to the context of the meeting and the list of participants.

I find it hard to believe that you would give your consent to conceal from us the fact that your chancellor and attorney would be present at the meeting (although, distressingly, others have reported similar experiences with you in the past) and therefore have every confidence that Canon Lewis' lapse in forthrightness will not be repeated. At the same time, I hope you understand that the trust we once shared has been damaged in a significant way.

May God bless and keep you,

In Christ,

He was not happy:
Dear Matt:

I received your letter on March 14, 2008 and find myself somewhat confused. My recollection of our conversation is that your regularly scheduled meeting was for this week, Holy Week, and you indicated you probably would have to move the meeting, but did not specify any date or time. Furthermore, I am well aware that you had a vestry retreat since our meeting and would be very surprised if the Stipulation of Settlement we presented you was not discussed during that time and was also part of the conversation you had with the congregation during Sunday’s Christian Education time.

I will remind you that you were the one who requested our meeting and also declined several times to provide us with an agenda for the conversation. My decision as to who would be present for our conversation was predicated upon the lack of knowledge as to what was to be discussed and therefore I believed it necessary to prepare for any number of concerns you might bring to the table. Given your lack of forthrightness and your continued writings on Stand Firm (which added an eleventh suggestion to the original 10 suggestions for resistance and differentiation: “Do Not Wage Reconciliation”) I regrettably agree that the trust we may have once shared has been significantly damaged.

Thus, I expect to receive a signed copy of what I perceive to be a very generous Stipulation of Settlement in my office by the close of business ( 4:30 p.m. ) on Thursday, March 27, 2008 . If it has not been received by that time, the Stipulation will be revoked and we will consider other options to bring closure to this situation.


Gladstone B. Adams III


Here is the summary I sent to the vestry along with a copy of the bishop's letter above:
Dear Vestry,

We received this letter on Good Friday. You have probably already heard about it, but you should read it. The bishop is mistaken on several counts here and pretends that he did not know what he clearly knew all along with regard to our position vis a vis the present heresy, namely that we cannot be reconciled until the diocese recants her present unbiblical position

In Christ,

As a vestry, we sent the following response to the Bishop:
Dear Bishop Adams,

Thank you for your note dated March 20th, 2008. We received it on Good Friday.

You are mistaken on several counts.

First, Fr. Matt, Mr. Dean, and Mr. Chaney made it very clear during their meeting with you on February 27th that you would not hear back from the Church of the Good Shepherd until after our next regularly scheduled vestry meeting. Fr. Matt, Mr. Dean, and Mr Chaney did not then nor did they ever agree that we would send a response to your proposed Stipulation Agreement by March 14th.

Our regular March vestry meeting was postponed due to Holy week until Wednesday March 26th. You are correct that there was a vestry retreat in the interim and you are also correct that we discussed the proposed Stipulation Agreement with the congregation during Christian Education one Sunday morning. These meetings were not, however, for the purpose of articulating an answer to your proposal.

On the evening of the 26th the vestry of the Church of the Good Shepherd considered the proposed Stipulation Agreement and came to a decision. You should receive our written response via the postal service in the next few days.

Second, it is not true that Fr. Matt, Mr. Dean, or Mr. Chaney “declined” to provide you with an agenda for the February 27th meeting. Fr. Matt was very clear as to the reasons we requested that meeting. We were concerned that the once amicable relations we enjoyed together were worsening due to miscommunication and, given that our previous face to face meetings had proven fruitful, we hoped to reestablish respectful dialog. Fr. Matt made this very clear to Canon Lewis in the email note to her excerpted below:

“We initiated our discussions with the bishop last year because we wanted and continue to want to do all we can retain our property while at the same time maintaining the high level of cooperation and respect between us and the diocese. I think, if nothing else, the email exchanges and phone calls we've had lately demonstrate the need for face to face discussions so that we do not misunderstand one another. How many conflicts, I wonder, might be avoided through clear charitable and respectful communication? That is all we were asking for with regard to the meeting, a chance to meet and talk and find out where we are.”

To which Canon Lewis' responded:

“I think you are accurate in saying that a face-to-face discussion will help clarify a number of things...”

Your decision to invite your attorneys to this meeting and then to conceal the fact that they would be present is both disappointing and, as Fr. Matt noted in his letter dated March 12th, less than forthright. As the excepts above show, your decision cannot be rightly attributed to any lack of clarity on our part with regard to the purposes for which we sought the meeting. Your decision to invite attorneys to the February 27th meeting and then conceal that fact has served only to escalate tensions at a time when we sought to alleviate and reduce them.

Third, it is somewhat surprising that you would point to Fr. Matt's writings on Stand Firm as if his position and opinions on this matter have been held in secret. He has, from the very beginning, both in writing and face to face, let you know that he considers your position with regard to human sexuality heretical, wholly irreconcilable with the scriptures. This is why he, with our support, asked that you not preach or celebrate during your canonical visits to Good Shepherd. The Church of Good Shepherd has been equally clear with regard to these matters in writing and in person. We remind you of your last meeting at Good Shepherd when the vestry, out of a sense of charity and Christian duty, warned you that according to the clear teaching of God’s Word you are actively promoting and supporting false doctrine, endangering your own soul, and leading those who follow you away from Christ and into the darkness.

Together, for the last five years, we have said that so long as the Diocese of Central New York and the Episcopal Church continue to reject the clear teaching of scripture on this matter, there can be no reconciliation. If we did not consider your present course deadly to souls, we would not have thought it necessary to disassociate from the Episcopal Church.

That being said, should the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Central New York recant and return to her biblical foundations, we will most gladly and warmly seek reconciliation. Until then, to do so would be to give the impression that this new false teaching does not, in fact, involve a betrayal of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Neither Fr. Matt's position, nor that of the Church of the Good Shepherd, have ever been held in secret. We have been quite clear (as have you) both publicly and personally with regard to doctrinal matters. Nevertheless, this clarity has not been an impediment to our amicable, even charitable, negotiations with regard to property and assets up to this point and should not represent an impediment to our working toward an amicable negotiated settlement presently or in the future.

Notwithstanding our deep theological differences, we earnestly desire to continue our negotiations and invite you to continue our dialog, praying that the mutual respect and honesty that once marked our relationship might be restored.

Finally, we remind you of St. Paul's words in his first letter to the Corinthian church with regard to litigation:

"Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!" (1 Corinthians 6:5-8)

Let us heed the Word of God together.

Despite the damage that has been done, we believe that the blood of Christ can heal every wound and bind every broken circumstance. We remain open and willing to restart our negotiations and hope that you will agree.

In Christ,

The Rector, Wardens and Vestry of the Church of the Good Shepherd

The lawsuit was filed soon afterwords.

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