CENTRAL FLORIDA: Trinity Vero Beach, diocese reach agreement; new vestry, interim rector to begin July 1

May 8, 2008

Trinity Church of Vero Beach, Florida is opening a new chapter at the age of 82 with a May 7 settlement reached between the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida and those who wish to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church.


According to the agreement, "Those among the congregation who desire to disaffiliate from The Episcopal Church (Leavers) will leave the historic Trinity property by 7/1/08... Those remaining (Stayers) shall cause the sum of $700,000 to be paid to the Leavers" in installment over a decade. Furthermore, "the Leavers may take the Bell Carillon with them at their own cost for the removal and delivery."

The agreement also stipulates that worship and ministries shall continue "as currently performed" through date of departure. In the meantime, both "leavers" and "stayers" agree to abstain from litigation, and to refrain from interfering with one another's membership and ministries.

Warren Winchester, "Staying Episcopalian Representative," the Rev. D. Lorne Coyle, current rector, and Central Florida Bishop John W. Howe signed the document. Mediator John Upchurch facilitated the April 22 day-long meeting that led to the agreement.

On May 4, approximately 200 of Trinity's remaining Episcopalians gathered in the church's chapel and elected a new vestry with Winchester as senior warden. The newly elected vestry will govern beginning July 1, which will also be the first day of service for interim rector, the Rev. G. Richard Lobs III, retired dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Luke in Orlando, Florida.

Trinity is Indian River County's oldest and largest Episcopal church.

--The Rev. Lisa B. Hamilton is correspondent for Provinces I and IV. She is based in Venice, Florida and Sandisfield, Massachusetts.

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