February 27, 2017

March 2, 2013

How Far Has the Vestry of Truro Moved?

One of the shocking observations that arises out of the whole Truro/Baucum/Johnston affair is the massive shift that has occurred in the position of the vestry since the difficult days of the initial conflict with the Diocese of Virginia.

At that time (2006) the vestry of Truro wrote a document entitled “The Sources of Division” which set out in some detail the nature of the division between the church and the diocese. It’s an instructive document, very helpful in pointing out how far from genuine Christian faith the diocese (and TEC in general) had moved from orthodox Christian faith. But what it also, sadly, does is expose how far the vestry and current rector of Truro have moved from that position originally held by Truro Anglican Church.

In its recent apologia “FAQ on the Settlement Between Truro Anglican Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia (EDV)” [pdf] Truro Anglican still refers to this original document. As we will see, their conclusions cannot however be reasonably drawn from it.

Here are some key statements from the 2006 document:

...the presenting issues of sexual ethics are symptomatic of much deeper differences over the authority of Holy Scripture, the content of the gospel message, and the meaning of Christian mission.

This is actually a citation from an earlier 2005 document that the vestry produced. But the meaning is clear. TEC and the Diocese of Virginia have a “deeply different” gospel message and understanding of Christian mission.

But now the vestry claim,

Bp Johnston confesses faith in the risen Christ, as outlined in the Nicene Creed

and yet we are forced to ask, what of the rest of it?

Consider this for a moment. When the then Bishop of Virginia, Peter Lee, retired in 2009 he gave an interview to the Washington Post where he said,

I want to raise the strengths and uniqueness of what it means to be an Anglican Christian—of holding Orthodox views…

Indeed, he has made numerous statements that, superficially, sound orthodox. This, for example, on the announcement of his retirement:

...the final months of our ministry together will not be a time of tidy endings.  But they can be a time of reaffirmation of where we stand, on the rock, on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ.

In a March 2009 piece in the Diocesan newspaper on the hymn-writing of Samuel Stone he affirmed:

[Stone’s] focus is correct, then and now: the Church’s one foundation is indeed Jesus Christ her Lord. The Risen Christ is both the focus and the source of our unity and our mission, whatever differences might occur in different generations and cultures.

No doubt Bishop Lee also stood and affirmed the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds regularly in church services.

The point I’m making is this - despite all these apparent affirmations of orthodoxy the vestry and rector or Truro were not naïve enough to be fooled. They recognised it all for what it was - TEC-babble. Episcospeak. Nice-sounding words but vacuous. As so many of us have learned, it is one thing to hear these words from TEC leaders, it is another to be convinced that they believe them. The rector and vestry of Truro knew better. They had heard and read all these words from the mouth and pen of Lee but they were not duped. They recognised that behind the language lay a massive gulf and divide and so they reluctantly but necessarily divided themselves from them.

So what has changed? Frankly, very little. Bishop Johnston was an assistant bishop in the diocese at that time. He was part of the leadership about which the vestry wrote and there is no evidence that since that date he has changed his views - on the contrary, he has solidified the diocese’s practice of same-sex blessings. He remains a man who holds to what the 2006 vestry understood to be a deeply different gospel message in content and in expression in ministry and the current vestry and rector have provided no evidence to the contrary.

Which brings us back to the sorry fact that it is not Johnston that has changed. It is the vestry and rector of Truro. They are affirming as a brother and valid Christian minister a man who their predecessors less than 10 years ago understood to believe a different gospel. That they should think that a simple affirmation of the Nicene Creed and the ability to speak in a gentle tone overturns that assessment is possibly the most worrying aspect of this whole saga.


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My thoughts exactly, David.

We simply ask, “What has changed?”  Is there some inside story we are missing?  If so, we would gently remind Truro that the rest of the world is missing it also.  If the need to remain mute on these issues was vitally important to a successful settlement, then possibly Truro should have considered that before releasing such incendiary remarks to a very wounded and very tired group of Anglicans throughout the world who have been manning their positions on their Little Stone Bridge for all too many years.

[1] Posted by Jackie on 3-2-2013 at 04:33 PM · [top]

My first thought was that everyone claims to be orthodox and we can’t know until the test is given, then when the trumpet sounds on the plain of Dura all those orthodox one God only crowd bows down to the golden idol and we know.  only three stood up and went to the firey furnace.  But it may be that the leaders are just not very smart or know the Word of God very well and are not shepherds but just lackeys.  They are easily foolded.  So now we see why Turo is in trouble.  The sheep will be scattered and a new temple will arise there. So sad, but so prevelant.

[2] Posted by PROPHET MICAIAH on 3-2-2013 at 06:46 PM · [top]

David, thanks for this post.  Also, Jackie, I’m glad you chimed in and linked your original article because I had been thinking about it, but hadn’t had the opportunity to track it down. 

I’m glad you linked it for three reasons.  First, because it articulated what needed to be said then (and now).

Second, for the simple reason that it had the datestamp: April 24th, 2012.  I would have guessed this had happened 4 or 5 months ago, and had forgotten that this has been going on for nearly a year now.  Had this situation been adequately addressed by ACNA a year ago, it wouldn’t have been available for Welby to herald as a model for reconciliation.

Third, the comments section illustrates the challenge: not only has this change of perspective effected the Truro Vestry, but the diocesan offices as well.  BB, the diocesan communications officer went to bat for Tory.  This was sobering to realize at the time, and is only more concerning a year later.

[3] Posted by Fr. Andrew Gross on 3-2-2013 at 07:38 PM · [top]

Fr Gross, good point.

“Had this situation been adequately addressed by ACNA a year ago, it wouldn’t have been available for Welby to herald as a model for reconciliation.”

It is high time that concerned people in ACNA talked to their clergy and asked them to raise the issue with their bishops.  Things like this can fly under the radar and no doubt when first enquiries were made of Baucum+ by others in ACNA, he gave soothing responses.

I sense that those in charge at Truro are hoping this will all just die down.  But that is not good enough - important questions have been raised, and answers must be given.

This really does concern everyone in ACNA, so I would suggest to everyone in ACNA: do not feel that, just because you may be in another diocese on the other side of the country, it is not proper for you to raise the issue with your clergy and bishop.

[4] Posted by MichaelA on 3-2-2013 at 08:19 PM · [top]


I would strongly encourage people to read the entire vestry document from 2012 to which you refer.  For instance, they quote the same passage from 2005, that you do here, stating that, “‘the presenting issues of sexual ethics are symptomatic of much deeper differences over the authority of Holy Scripture, the content of the gospel message, and the meaning of Christian mission’” to demonstrate that their position has not changed.

And the vestry goes on to answer the question:

Q. Does Truro still stand by its decision to separate from TEC in 2006?
A. We wish to be very clear that we still stand firmly for the decisions we made as a Vestry and Parish in 2006 to separate ourselves from TEC and EDV and join CANA and ADV. CANA was one of the founding organizations of the new Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and ADV has now become a part of the new Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic (DOMA) under Bishop John Guernsey.

We will not return to TECTEC and EDV continue to engage in teaching and practices on issues of human sexuality that we believe promote an erroneous understanding of human nature and obscure the iconic radiance of God’s image in human beings, created as male and female.  We believe this teaching impinges on the Gospel in profound ways and that it is false (see Ephesians 5:31-32).  This is, in part, what we mean by “serious theological differences.”

They also explain at some length the statement, “Bp Johnston confesses faith in the risen Christ, as outlined in the Nicene Creed.”  And there is a statement that deals explicitly with the reasons for Fr. Baucum taking Bp. Johnston to England.

I agree with Michael A’s statement that, “important questions have been raised, and answers must be given.”  But many of the answers are given if one reads the entire document; and the the complete context is helpful if we are going to judge where the vestry stands now.

[5] Posted by ToAllTheWorld on 3-2-2013 at 11:11 PM · [top]

TATW, I have read the whole thing of course! The problem is that despite their protestations nothing has changed in the diocese. In 2006 the vestry of Truro stated that the leadership of the diocese shared in TEC’s different gospel and different mission.

Now they claim that Johnston, part of that leadership, shares the gospel with them and can also share in mission.

It’s an incoherent non-sequitur. Johnston has stated that his theology has not changed so what exactly has? The bottom line is the vestry has decided that what they previously needed to clearly divide from TEC over now no longer requires division.

The ridiculous thing is that in one sentence they affirm that the diocese denies the gospel and then in the next insist Johnston promotes the same gospel. It makes no sense.

[6] Posted by David Ould on 3-2-2013 at 11:32 PM · [top]

Dr Munday, thank you for that link.  This FAQ document produced by Truro Church in May 2012 fills me with misgivings.  Let me explain why. 

1. Firstly, because recent events indicate that one of the key assumptions on which it is based has not been fulfilled.  Note the following excerpts:

“3. The hope of negotiating a favorable settlement. In early April, the Episcopal Diocese agreed to allow us to remain for a time in these buildings. Thus, we could protect our ministries (e.g. Truro Pre-School and Kindergarten and Love the World Fellowship) against an abrupt and disruptive move. This delayed departure will allow us a fixed date by which we can build out and move into suitable interim office and worship space and allow all our ministries time to implement thoughtful transition plans. ...
The settlement provides for a 14-month, rent-free lease of the property beginning May 1 and ending June 30, 2013. We will continue to pay our own operating expenses.”

There is a post on another article on Stand Firm that alleges that +Johnston has extended the lease of Truro Church until 2015. 

If so, it doesn’t sound like “remaining for a time in these buildings”.  Nor does it sound like avoiding “an abrupt and disruptive move”.  It rather sounds like an extended stay, which is likely to become permanent in due course.  The price is obvious enough – they say and do what +Johnston wants.

2. There is some badly screwed-up doctrine in the document.  After stating that +Johnston confesses the Nicene Creed, it says:

“This is orthodox Christian teaching on Jesus. This is a reliable criterion concerning whether or not someone is a Christian (Acts 16:31 and Romans 10:9).”

No, it isn’t. 

Romans 10:9 doesn’t just state: “If you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, you will be saved”, which is what +Johnston does when he confesses the Creed.  Rather, Paul in Romans 10:9 says that you also have to “believe in your heart”.  And in Acts 16:31, “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” is only part of what Paul and Silas preached to the jailer - they said a lot more, and at the end of it the jailer acted to identify with the faith in a significant and exclusive way. 
If Truro Church wants “a reliable criterion concerning whether or not someone is a Christian” then they should have looked at 1 John 1:6-7:

Quoted text

“If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

Now, let us look at the sentence in the Truro document that follows immediately after the quote above:

“This does not mean that his life or teaching is always consistent with the professed faith. At times, this can be said of all of us. But inconsistent belief is better than consistent unbelief. Of course, consistent belief is what we should all aspire and strive for.”

This so twists the actual circumstances onto an irrelevant principle, that it appears to have been written at 815.  +Johnston teaches, consistently and deliberately, that Christians may bless homosexual relationships as though they were marriage.  That is not “occasional inconsistency with one’s profession”.  Rather, it is deliberately teaching error in order to sway the faithful away from the faith.  Matthew 18:6 is applicable.

3.  The document then goes on to imply (in very vague terms) that Reverend Baucum’s friendship with +Johnston can be justified from patristic teaching. 

Quoted text

“Finding redemptive strategies in the midst of shattering differences forced Tory to look to the Great Tradition of apostolic Christianity for models of co-existence, apologetics and evangelism. ... He has also learned much from St. Augustine’s various rhetorical strategies in his controversies with Manicheans, Donatists, Pelagians, and Pagans. From experience and study he has concluded that love – commitment to the eternal well-being of his theological opponents – must be the motivation and design of all persuasion and polemics.”

This is specific as the document ever gets.  It carries a veneer of learning, but anyone with a working knowledge of patristics knows that it is fluff.  There is no substance there at all.

4.  You write:

“And there is a statement that deals explicitly with the reasons for Fr. Baucum taking Bp. Johnston to England.”

Yes there is.  But what does it tell us?

“These are not opportunities to promote the teachings that have divided the Anglican Communion. They are instead ones in which Bishop Johnston will have the opportunity to meet orthodox Anglicans in England and learn about another part of the Anglican tradition to which Tory is deeply committed and, regrettably, which is in short supply in North America. That is why he is taking Bishop Johnston to England.”

“…another part of the Anglican tradition … regrettably, which is in short supply in North America” – that can only mean that it is in short supply in ACNA.  And Baucum+ regards it as regrettable that it is.  But if it is so desirable for North America, why is he taking +Johnston to learn about it, and not taking his ACNA colleagues to learn about it? 

It appears from this that Baucum+ has a certain issue or agenda for which he trusts +Johnston more than he trusts ACNA.  That is extraordinary.

5. Dr Munday, after reading this document, I feel much stronger concerns about what has been going on at Truro.  The need for answers to questions has become even more pressing.

[7] Posted by MichaelA on 3-3-2013 at 05:01 AM · [top]

I think I can hazard a guess as to what the “another part of the anglican tradition” is, which Tory Baucum wanted +Johnston to learn about in London:

In October 2012, Revd Jamie Haith of Holy Trinity Brompton arrived in Washington D.C. to found “HTC” (i.e. Holy Trinity Church).  Although the web-site of the church disclaims that it is a plant of HTB, it is pretty clear that it is.  See the endorsement given by Nicky Gumbel of HTB:  http://www.htchurch.us/talks-a-video/from-our-friends

As far as I am concerned, HTB can establish plants anywhere it likes.  And this one doesn’t claim to be Anglican, as such.  But it does claim to be planted by a large Anglican church in London, and the new pastor does claim a link (sort of) to the Bishop of London:

“Jamie’s spiritual formation has been in the charismatic evangelical stream of the Church of England, a Christian heritage which has been described as “not afraid to reason and not ashamed to adore”. HTC has that same flavour, as well as the same relational links to HTB and also the Bishop of London, spiritual father to Jamie and Andy.”

See: http://www.htchurch.us/about-htc/our-team

So why does this matter?  Well, for two reasons:

(a) I am curious as to why +Johnston or Ms KJ Schori aren’t screaming blue murder about a CofE church planting a church in the middle of Dio Virginia.

(b) The timing of this with Tory Baucum’s visit to London where he introduced +Johnston to Nicky Gumbel+ seems beyond coincidence.

Now you may say: “Michael, what is the problem with this? Surely you are in favour of church-planting by Anglicans, and if this can be done in co-operation with the local bishop, then all the better?”

To which I respond, I see two problems:

1. In London Baucum obviously brokered a deal between +Johnston and Nicky Gumbel+ whereby HTB could plant a new church in Washington DC, and +Johnston wouldn’t object.  That is fine, but what did +Johnston require in return for this?

2. This also begs the question of Tory Baucum’s relationship with his colleagues in ACNA.  Why is he arranging this, without apparently informing his bishop or the ACNA house of bishops about this wonderful new ministry?  And, more to the point, why does he see +Johnston as the appropriate person with whom to do it? His words in the document linked by Dr Munday imply that he saw +Johnston as the most appropriate person to deal with, and implies some criticism of his ACNA colleagues with the word “regrettably”.

[8] Posted by MichaelA on 3-3-2013 at 05:42 AM · [top]

Hi MichaelA,

While I agree with what you have written on this matter, I should point out that Bishop Johnston does not have jurisdiction in Washington DC…so he would not be the one to shepherd or give permission for such a plant.

[9] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 3-3-2013 at 06:12 AM · [top]

Just a note: when I looked at the service location/contact info for the HTC plant in the DC area, it was listed as being in McLean, Virginia.

[10] Posted by Reformed Wanderer on 3-3-2013 at 07:12 AM · [top]

Ah, okay, that makes sense

[11] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 3-3-2013 at 07:27 AM · [top]

I am sure you locals will be able to sort that out.  But in any case, I can see that the HTC plant is only of marginal relevance to this thread.  My apologies.

To summarise my posts above, three issues arise from the May 2012 Truro Church document linked by Dr Munday:

1. If it is confirmed that the lease to the congregation of Truro Church building has been extended to 2015, then a major premise of this document has been cut away.  The congregation were sold the idea by their leaders that there would be a temporary delay in moving out of the building, just enough to avoid disrupting ministries, and this has turned out to be untrue.

2. The theology in the document as to how fellow believers and false teachers respectively are recognised is wrong.  The Bible is misquoted and the Church Fathers misused.

3. The reasons given in the document for Rev’d Baucum’s trip to London with Bishop Johnston do not appear to have any relevance.

[12] Posted by MichaelA on 3-3-2013 at 07:32 AM · [top]

For the sake of the ACNA, Archbishop Duncan should inquire and investigate this matter and report publically to his jurisdiction what he decides on a basis of Scripture and theology.

There is a disturbing and disgusting disconnect for me, when the ACNA head goes hat in hand to the former ABC or meets with the current ABC and is not invited to Lambeth or to Welby’s investiture - but rather the heretic/apostate/false teacher Shori is on the basis of political/organizational connection and collegiality.

The cost of being connected to the ‘posh and awe’ and name of Canterbury and the political Anglican church are too great.

Connection (conversation, compromise, collegiality) with heretics -like sex with prostitutes and homo-bi-etc. sexuals - is dangerous, disorienting, diluting and deadly.

Scripture forbids it.  Dinner with sinners is evangelism, but false teachers and hypocrits, pretenders are to be confronted in love, taught the truth, given a chance to repent, then cast out until they do.  This is the clear and consistent teaching of the Epistles.  II Timothy 2:22-26 preceds II Timothy 3:1-5 for a reason.

Time for Anathema Maranatha.  Baucum is wrong.  Welby (if he’s talking about reconciling Shori’s heretics with Duncan’s conscientious objectors) is also dead wrong.

[13] Posted by St. Nikao on 3-3-2013 at 08:02 AM · [top]

I’m fascinated with the silence from 815 and ENS. On the surface this issues seems like one that would make KJS sizzle. One of her bishops talking nice with her incarnation of Satan? She has to be involved with this in some way since +Johnston hasn’t been silenced by fearless leader.

[14] Posted by Chris Walchesky on 3-3-2013 at 09:55 AM · [top]

“We believe this teaching impinges on the Gospel in profound ways and that it is false (see Ephesians 5:31-32).  This is, in part, what we mean by “serious theological differences.””

Perhaps they should refer to the “context” for Ephesians 5:31, which is Ephesians 5:1-14, which happens to be the appointed Epistle for today, in the 1928 Lectionary.  I will leave it to the reader whether bishop Johnson’s recent “revelations” from the Holy Spirit are consistent with Ephesians 5:9 in the context of the verses before and after (quoted here from the KJV as presented in the ‘28)

“5 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;

2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.

7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.

8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:

9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)

10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.

11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.

12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.

13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.

14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”

[15] Posted by tjmcmahon on 3-3-2013 at 10:15 AM · [top]

I want to be cautious about reading too much into any of this.  I am at some distance, but I understood that the TEC diocese did not have much alternative use for Truro; they could not get a shadow congregation started there.  It may be rent-free, but upkeep on church complexes of that kind is not nominal, so the TEC diocese was cutting its losses as much if not more than being generous.  TEC behavour can usually be analyzed in financial terms.  If there had been a shadow congregation, I suspect it would be more like the Falls Church situation.  Anyway, I don’t know that the property rental situation is indicative of any theological shift on the part of Truro.  I don’t think they are going back to TEC.

As to the new Holy Trinity plant in Northern Virginia, it is not officially Anglican.  I can imagine a number of reasons why - it is a seeker/Alpha based church that prefers to play down denomination, that HTB would prefer it that way to avoid making the plant more controversial - but I understand it was some pretty active NoVa ACNA laypeople who were behind it.  And suggests to me that it was unlikely that ACNA is other than pleased with the development or that TEC was consulted.

The fact that little is coming out from the ACNA may suggest to me there may be more information on this plant than we know, but some sort of agreement with Johnston on it or that it was the subject of discussions at HTB’s indaba strike me as not the most likely things to have happened.

[16] Posted by pendennis88 on 3-4-2013 at 05:48 PM · [top]

[12] - MichaelA, I think I may have been the one who tossed the 2015 date out there.  Please do take this as very “soft” information - and I probably should have explained it more carefully.  My source is the director of a parachurch ministry that used to have offices in Truro-owned property and which found other office space last year.  Thus, the information I had is admittedly third-hand.  I heard it as the date by which this temporary arrangement between Truro and DioVA will come to an end.  From what I heard (and again, this is third hand), Truro has concrete plans to vacate the property in Old Town Fairfax.  The current arrangement is temporary in nature.

When this arrangement was announced last year, I viewed it as a bit of temporary purgatory that Truro would be going through.  Personally, it’s not so much the cooperation between Truro and DioVA that has to be done right now that bothers me (though I wonder how wise it really is for Truro), it’s that Baucom and Johnston seem to enjoy this cooperation so much.  While I hear that the break between Truro and DioVA is definite, and I believe it is indeed happening, it’s almost like watching a “velvet divorce” - you can’t quite tell if the breakup is going to happen until one party or the other actually packs up and leaves.

[17] Posted by Reformed Wanderer on 3-5-2013 at 12:18 AM · [top]

Reformed Wanderer, I agree with you about what has bothered me. I couldn’t care less if one church chooses to rent facilities from another organization, be it a Moslem, Buddhist, or TEC one.  Might not be the best idea, *practically* speaking, but there’s no wrong doing in that.

What I do care about—and this has been said enough so that all but the most hopelessly obtuse or desperate can see it—is the proclamation that that which unifies us is far greater than that which divides us, that we can focus on “mission and ministry” together, because we all share the same gospel, and further that we can introduce a known false teacher and wolf to others to support and promote the false teacher’s “ministry.”

[18] Posted by Sarah on 3-5-2013 at 12:45 AM · [top]

In 2006, Martyn Minns was Rector. Without having fact-checked, I doubt that anyone on the 2006-7 Vestry is currently serving. THAT’s what’s changed.

[19] Posted by AnnieCOA on 3-6-2013 at 05:26 PM · [top]

Thanks Reformed Wanderer.  I suppose in a sense it doesn’t matter - we will know soon enough if the original intention to quit the building within 12 months has been changed.

[20] Posted by MichaelA on 3-7-2013 at 03:17 AM · [top]

Baby Blue has just posted what I think is a very good statement from the vestry of Truro which is a resounding “not at all” to the question at the top.  It goes on to describe the reconciliation between Baucom and Johnston as a personal one - a lack of animosity - and not at all a change in belief.  That is what I had tended to think what was going on.  The prior reports from Coventry have, of course, not without reason created the danger that some in the CoE may think there has been some change of heart in Truro parish when there has not been, and that is regrettable.  I don’t doubt there would be people in TEC and its diocese that would like to project that, but I think the clarity of the Truro vestry response ought to stop it dead in its tracks.

[21] Posted by pendennis88 on 3-11-2013 at 01:15 PM · [top]

Not sure how this statement makes any difference at all. None of the things articulated in the statement were ever in dispute. No one ever suggested Truro or her leaders were anything but orthodox and no one questioned her position on homosexuality. The problem is that the relationship with Bishop Johnston is not merely personal. It includes as Truro documents and the actions and words of her leaders plainly demonstrate, mutual ministry and the mutual promotion of ministry. This statement, strangely, doesn’t even begin to address the problems David articulated above.

[22] Posted by Matt Kennedy on 3-11-2013 at 01:28 PM · [top]

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