Edwards Responds to Dixon's Letter

David Virtue DVirtue236 at AOL.COM
Thu May 24 23:52:06 EDT 2001


Special Report

By David W. Virtue

Fr. Samuel Edwards, the traditionalist Anglo-Catholic rector of Christ
Church, Accokeek, Md. responded to Suffragan Bishop Jane Dixon assuring
her "that no such effort [is] underway and [I] did not come to the
parish with the idea of being involved in such an activity.
Nonetheless, I have been called as the Rector of this parish, and, if
the congregation on its initiative were to make such a decision, I
would support that which those have called me decide. I can do nothing

Edwards writes that "there is no sentiment in this parish to leave the
ECUSA, and as [canon lawyer] Charles Nalls told the Presiding Bishop
last week this is a parish that is desperately trying to remain within
the Church at a time that so many others-
individually or as parish families-are determining to leave."

Edwards said he would be committing an act of civil malfeasance as
Rector and a member of the Vestry by surrendering corporate rights
established in the stature law of the State of Maryland. "The property
of this parish is held in fee simple by the wardens
and vestry. The title instruments are clear as is the law of Maryland
with respect to ownership of parishes. I just cannot acknowledge or act
in favor of a trust that does not exist."

Edwards said that in his 22 years as a parish priest, "I have always
abided by the canons of the Church, but more importantly by my
ordination vows."

"The suggestion that I have done otherwise is simply unwarranted and
untrue. In contrast, the demands in your letter call upon me to violate
both canon and my ordination vows, as well as the civil law of
Maryland. By God's grace, I can do neither."

Edwards reiterates that he was canonically called and says Dixon is
asking him to violate the canons with respect to clergy call and to
ignore a valid and enforceable contract. "I would be conspiring to
secure the virtual reduction of this parish to the status of a mission
congregation without due process as may be provided for in civil or
ecclesiastical law.

Edwards concludes with the following STATEMENT:

"I have no intention of attempting to lead St. John's parish out of the
Episcopal Church. If at any time during my tenure as Rector I were to
come to the conclusion that this course of action is necessary, I will
submit my resignation to the Vestry prior to making such any
recommendation to it or to the parish."


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