On the morning of August 3rd, 2006 Good Shepherd's Junior Warden, Tom Woolsey, our treasurer, Chris Jones, and I met with Bishop Adams in his office in Syracuse. The bishop was accompanied by the dean of the Syracuse district of Central New York parishes. Our senior warden, John King, was out of town.
The meeting went very well. We arrived ready to offer half of a six hundred thousand dollar bequest in exchange for a diocesan agreement to quit any claim to parish property. Property prices in Central New York are quite low compared to those in Virginia and elsewhere so the offer was a generous one. The amount offered would, we would later (after a joint appraisal) discover, fall just under fair market value. But, we reasoned, this first meeting was just the beginning of negotiations and we were ready to offer more if necessary.
It did not prove necessary. Bishop Adams expressed a great deal of interest in the arrangement. Not only did he think such a deal possible but he expressed the opinion that it was preferable to any court proceeding.
There were questions about whether a transfer of the bequest was possible. The bequest stated that should Good Shepherd "cease to exist" the principle would pass to another local parish. But, on the other hand, Good Shepherd was not going to "cease to exist". We were simply going to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church.
The bishop promised to follow up on this question from his side (as we would from ours) and to query the standing committee regarding our offer. . .
And in the comments, one from Matt Kennedy+:
. . . Although given subsequent events that will be disclosed later, I am not altogether sure there was ever, on the part of the diocese, a genuine interest in anything other than getting us to reveal information about our financial situation. I hope I am wrong.
Read it all. Past installments of this series may be found here (Spring 2006) and here (Summer 2006).