Pittsburgh Update

Pittsburgh Update publishes weekly summaries of recent developments in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, The Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion that affect or could affect Pittsburgh Episcopalians. Emphasis is on reporting, not interpretation. This is a service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh. This site is in no way affiliated with the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh or the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.

A Pittsburgh Episcopal Voice          

A Service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh         

Monday, March 31, 2008

News for Week Ending 3/31/2008

Diocese of San Joaquin (Calif.) reorganizes

The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin held a special convention March 28-29 in Stockton and Lodi, Calif., to fill open diocesan offices and voted unanimously to accept Bishop Jerry Lamb as provisional bishop for the diocese. He had been recommended by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. The convention took a number of other administrative actions, including election of deputies to the 2009 General Convention, formation of a new standing committee, adoption of a budget, and restoration of the previous diocesan constitution containing language acceding to the constitution and canons of The Episcopal Church.

The special convention was necessary because, in December 2007, a majority of those attending the convention of the Diocese of San Joaquin voted to adopt constitutional changes intended to allow the diocese to withdraw from The Episcopal Church. Bishop John David Schofield then announced that the diocese was joining the Province of the Southern Cone (in South America). (See ENS story here.) Bishop Schofield was deposed by vote of the House of Bishops in March.

Episcopal News Service has provided extensive coverage of the special convention. Stories from ENS may be read here, here, here, and here.

N.Y. trial court rules in favor of TEC in property lawsuit

Episcopal News Service reported March 26 that the Queens County (N.Y.) Supreme Court—a trial court, not an appellate court, despite its name—had ruled that the property of St. James’ Church, Elmhurst, N.Y., is held in trust for the Diocese of Long Island and The Episcopal Church. The court’s decision can be found here.

The ruling responded to a lawsuit filed by the members of the parish who voted in 2005 to split from The Episcopal Church and to affiliate with the Anglican Church in America. St. James’ was a colonial Church of England parish that officially became part of The Episcopal Church in 1793. The court found that The Episcopal Church is indeed a hierarchical, not a congregational, church, and that St. James’ is bound by the Dennis canon.

The plaintiffs, now members of the St. James’ Anglican Church, were ordered to turn over possession and control of the parish property to the priest-in-charge appointed by the Bishop of Long Island. The court blocked The Episcopal Church from collecting damages for trespass, however.

It is unclear whether the decision will be appealed.

Bishop’s supporters plan prayer vigil

Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship, at 13 Pride Street in Pittsburgh, has scheduled a 24-hour prayer vigil for Bishop Robert Duncan and the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes “as they fight to protect and maintain the Orthodox faith in the Episcopal Church.” The vigil is scheduled to begin on Friday evening, April 11, and to end Saturday night. Details are available here.

Deposition of bishops sparks controversy

A letter from the Bishop and standing committee of the Diocese of South Carolina has kept alive the controversy surrounding the House of Bishops’s votes to depose Bishop John David Schofield of San Joaquin and Bishop William Cox, the retired suffragan of Maryland. Both the House of Bishops parliamentarian and the Presiding Bishop’s chancellor, David Booth Beers ruled that the House of Bishops needed only a majority of the bishops present and eligible to vote, and there was no objection at the time of the vote. The letter from South Carolina insists that the canons had not been followed, and Bishop Mark Lawrence has announced he will not recognize the election of a new bishop for San Joaquin.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Editorial Note

A New Service

Over the next 6 to 12 months, Episcopalians in the Diocese of Pittsburgh anticipate that disputes within this diocese, in The Episcopal Church, and in the wider Anglican Communion will lead to significant changes to the Anglican landscape:
  • A group of provinces (i.e., national/regional churches) within the Anglican Communion might establish their own communion of “orthodox” churches.
  • Pittsburgh’s Bishop Robert Duncan, who has been certified by the Title IV Review Committee as having abandoned the communion of The Episcopal Church, might be deposed by the House of Bishops and removed from all positions of responsibility within the church.
  • Divisions within the Diocese of Pittsburgh might develop into a schism that results in lawsuits over ownership of diocesan and parish property.
  • Depending on how events play out, the Diocese of Pittsburgh might have to choose new leaders, including an interim bishop.
To provide accurate and timely information about unfolding events, the editors of this blog will post weekly summaries of developments in the Diocese of Pittsburgh and the wider church. We plan to tell you what has happened and to point to stories and essays that will help you make sense of those events. We want to be as objective as possible, but we recognize that, ironically, objectivity is a very subjective commodity.

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Update (3/15/2010): As of today, the proper address of Pittsburgh Update is http://update.pittsburghepiscopal.org/. See posts here and here for additional details.