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, August 25, 2008

News for Week Ending 8/25/2008

Anglican Province of America remains outside Partnership

The Anglican Province of America (APA), one of the “continuining” Anglican churches, and one of the original members of the Common Cause Partnership (CCP), has decided to step back to observer status, at least for now, rather than accept the governance plan proposed for the group. The small, Anglo-Catholic church is discomforted by the fact that women’s ordination remains an unresolved matter within the CCP.

The APA recently posted on its Web site its Presiding Bishop’s address to the APA Synod, which concluded last month. (The APA, which is only 10 years old, has a complex history that is described in the Presiding Bishop’s address. Wikipedia offers additional background information it here.) The Most Rev. Walter H. Grundorf devoted a major portion of his talk to the APA’s relationship to the CCP.

Grundorf explained, “Those of the APA and others who left in the 70’s over the ordination of women and Prayer Book are theologically and culturally different from those who are now leaving.” While acknowledging that the APA and CCP have many goals in common, Grundorf asserted that “there can be no inter-communion with other members of CCP who accept the practice [women’s ordination]. APA will remain outside the CCP—it is connected through the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas, though it has no vote—in the hopes that the CCP eventually will reject women’s ordination.

Episcopal Church suffers another setback in Virginia court

Virginia Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows dealt another blow to The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia in their battle to restore the property of parishes that have left the diocese to join the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The judge ruled on issues related to the October trial scheduled to resolve property issues regarding the parishes.

Specifically, Bellows declared that he will not allow the church and diocese to make a contracts argument attacking the constitutionality of the state statute on which the breakaway congregations have based their property claims. Nor will he allow an argument that the congregations waived their right to invoke the statute. The court documents can be read on the Diocese of Virginia Web site here. According to a statement issued by the diocese on August 20: “While we are disappointed in today’s ruling, we are committed to exploring every option available to restore constitutional and legal protections for all churches in Virginia. Meanwhile, we look ahead to the October trial and the issues to be considered in the fall.”

San Joaquin bishop asks clergy to recognize his authority

According to an August 22, 2008, press release from the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, Bishop Jerry Lamb has written to active clergy who have been canonically resident in the diocese but who have not recognized his authority as bishop. Recipients of his letter have been instructed to acknowledge Lamb’s authority by September 5 or face disciplinary action. The San Joaquin convention, led by then bishop John-David Schofield, voted to leave The Episcopal Church last December and to join the Anglican province of the Southern Cone. Bishop Lamb was elected as a provisional bishop in a special convention of the reorganized Episcopal diocese in March.

Leaked Duncan e-mail regarding “concerns” acknowledged

On August 20, 2008, the Anglican Communion Network (ACN) posted an e-mail message from ACN and Common Cause Partnership moderator Bishop Robert W. Duncan to Bishop of West Texas Gary Lillibridge. The message had been sent to Lillibridge on August 11 and, according to the story on the ACN Web site, was then forwarded to the other members of the Windsor Continuation Group with Duncan’s permission. The message was posted on Fort Worth-based Katie Sherrod’s blog on August 18, which apparently convinced ACN to acknowledge and post the message on its own Web site.

Duncan wrote to Lillibridge about his concerns for the recommendations of the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG). (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The WCG had proposed moratoria on blessing of same-sex unions, consecration of bishops living in openly gay relationships, and cross-border interventions. Duncan’s primary concern in the e-mail message is with the third moratorium. Duncan wrote:
The second [difficulty] is the notion that, even if the moratoria are held to be equally necessary, there would be some way to “freeze” the situation as it now stands for those of us in the process of separating from The Episcopal Church. The three dioceses of Pittsburgh, Quincy and Fort Worth have taken first constitutional votes on separation with second votes just weeks away. We all anticipate coming under Southern Cone this fall, thus to join San Joaquin. This process cannot be stopped — constitutions require an automatic second vote, and to recommend against passage without guarantees from the other side would be suicidal.
The ACN story quotes Duncan as saying, “I am happy to publicly acknowledge this letter and my description of the concerns we in the Common Cause Partnership have about the proposals of the Windsor Continuation Group.”

Trinity Chapter proposes shared cathedral

The Cathedral Chapter of Trinity Cathedral provisionally approved a “Special Resolution” July 24, 2008, that was the subject of a press release on August 22. (The body of the press release is posted here on the Diocese of Pittsburgh Web site. [Update, 12/19/2011: The press release is no longer available at the site shown. It is available from the Internet Archive here, however.) The resolution announces that, in the event that the October 4 diocesan convention approves realignment, the Cathedral Chapter intends that Trinity Cathedral be shared by members of The Episcopal Church and members of the realigned diocese. The resolution proposes an arrangement under which the cathedral would function under the authority of the bishops of both jurisdictions.

Monday, August 18, 2008

News for Week Ending 8/18/2008

Fort Worth diocese explores Rome link

Events took a surprising turn in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth last week. The Dallas Morning News reported August 12 that four priests from the diocese met with the local Roman Catholic Bishop, Kevin Vann, on June 16. They presented the bishop with a document critical of both The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. Under the heading “Proposal,” the document (available here) says: “We request that the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth provide guidance and assistance as we look for a new way that would lead our Diocese into full communion with the Holy See.” The Diocese of Fort Worth has always been heavily Anglo-Catholic, and its bishop, the Rt. Rev. Jack Iker, is one of two diocesan bishops of The Episcopal Church who will not ordain women.

Bishop Iker issued a statement August 12 denying that the priests were representing the diocese or its bishop, and he asserted that the plan “to realign with an orthodox Province as a constituent member of the worldwide Anglican Communion” at the November diocesan convention was still in place. The diocese distanced itself further from the actions of the four priests in a statement issued August 16 and reported here.

Quincy diocese issues “resource”

According to Episcopal News Service (story here), the Diocese of Qunicy (Ill.), led by the other diocesan bishop in The Episcopal Church who does not ordain women, the Rt. Rev. Keith Ackerman, sent a 35-page document to all Quincy Episcopalians. The document, “The Church in Crisis: A Resource for the Diocese of Quincy” was sent using the mailing list of the diocese’s newsletter. A DVD of a Fort Worth presentation by the Southern Cone’s primate, the Most Rev. Gregory Vanables, was also included. The Southern Cone was the realignment destination for the Diocese of San Joaquin, as it appears to be for Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, and now Quincy. According to The Living Church, the diocese will consider a vote to realign at its annual convention on November 7–8.

“The Church in Crisis” represents the views of those supporting realignment. Moreover, as Anglicans Online so delicately put it: “There is considerable disagreement among observers as to whether all of the statements made in that document are actually true.”

Bishop Scriven to leave Pittsburgh

Bishop Henry Scriven, who has been an assisting bishop in Pittsburgh since 2002, announced August 15 that he will be returning to England to begin work January 1, 2009, with the South American Missionary Society (SAMS). He will leave Pittsburgh in mid-December. The Living Church reported the news here, after an announcement was posted on the diocesan Web site here. Letter from Bishops Scriven and Duncan to the people of the diocese are available on the latter page.

In his letter, Scriven wrote, “[M]y decision does not reflect any change of heart regarding realignment or my confidence in the vision and leadership of the diocese.” Echoing this, Duncan wrote, “Henry is committed to our re-alignment and to helping us through this fall’s decisions, as well as to serving us in the first months after our vote on October 4.”

Monday, August 11, 2008

News for Week Ending 8/11/2008

Lambeth commentary abounds

In the week following the Lambeth Conference, there are probably hundreds of stories and commentaries about what did and did not happen, as well as what all that means. There is not space here either to list or analyze them all. Readers can investigate the links offered below and can easily find others on their own.

Episcopal News Service offered a wrapup of the conference here. The Episcopal Café folks have offered a feed of bishops’ blogs, where you can read as many commentaries on Lambeth as anyone could possible want. (Hint: Click on the title of an entry to view to post on its own blog. Since the blogs are not exclusively about Lambeth, an increasing number of new posts about other topics will appear at the top of the listing over time.) A variety of stories and opinion can be found on Thinking Anglicans, which did a particularly good job of collecting links to Lambeth material. Start here and work backwards. More material may be added after this is posted, so you might want to work forward as well.

For a collection of very different takes on Lambeth, you might want to read that of the Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori here, of Bishop of Winchester Michael Scott-Joynt here, or of Anglican Communion Institute Senior Fellow Ephraim Radner here.

Notable video interviews are also available. Among there are ones of Pierre Whalon, bishop of the Episcopal Church’ Convocation of American Churches in Europe, and Gregory Venables, Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone. Video from the conference is also available from Trinity Wall Street and Episcopal Life Online.

Presiding Bishop, Bishop of New York discuss Lambeth in Webcast

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Bishop of New York Mark Sisk offered their impressions of the Lambeth Conference in a Webcast from the Episcopal Church Center in New York City August 7. Many of the questions answered by the bishops had been submitted by church members via e-mail.

The bishops spoke positively about the conference—the Presiding Bishop called it a “remarkable encounter”—though they also noted the vast cultural differences in the regions represented by attending bishops and the misunderstandings by bishops of other provinces about what Episcopalians believe and what The Episcopal Church has done. Both bishops suggested that there was general support for a “coöperative” Anglican covenant, but little interest in the punitive features of the St. Andrews Draft.

Episcopal News Service reported on the Webcast here. Video of the event is available here.

Lambeth Conference creates big debt

While bishops, journalists, and bloggers debate the lasting significance of the 2008 Lambeth Conference, one product of the conference is inescapable—the conference is deeply in debt. The Press Association puts the deficit of the decennial meeting of bishops at £1.2 million (about $2.3 million). The Presiding Bishop was asked about about the deficit in the August 7 Webcast (see above). She indicated that The Episcopal Church has been asked for additional funds for the conference, and some bishops have agreed to subsidize the travel of participants from other provinces. Jefferts Schori also suggested that the church might assist the Archbishop of Canterbury should he chose to make a fund-raising trip to the U.S. to retire the Lambeth debt.

Archbishop’s personal views on homosexuality scrutinized

The Times ran a story and a number of opinion pieces on newly revealed correspondence from Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams from more than seven years ago, when he was Archbishop of Wales. (Ruth Gledhill’s blog tells the basic story and has links to other material from the newspaper here.) Although defenders of the archbishop declared the revelation old news, many found the strength and clarity of Williams’ sympathy for homosexual relationships striking, particularly in view of his continued support of Lambeth Resolution I.10 as the established teaching of the Anglican Communion. The archbishop issued a statement defending his position here.

GAFCON Primates’ Council to meet in August

The Anglican Communion Network issued a brief statement on Lambeth August 7. “No Decisions at Lambeth Conference” is more narrative than analysis. Its last paragraph, however, notes that the Primates’ Council announced at GAFCON will meet for the first time in August. In fact, there is now an announcement about this on the GAFCON Web site, which suggests that the primates—we do not know which primates will participate or where they will meet—will issue a statement about Lambeth at their gathering.

Monday, August 4, 2008

News for Week Ending 8/4/2008

Cardinal suggests Anglican orders may never be recognized; homosexuality “disordered”

Cardinal Walter Kasper, who heads the Roman Catholic Council for Christian Unity, told bishops at the Lambeth Conference July 30 that the approval of women bishops would cause great difficulty in achieving unity between his church and the Anglican Communion. (The Roman Catholic Church declared Anglican orders “absolutely null and utterly void” in 1896.) He also asserted that the Catholic Church continues to see homosexuality as “disordered.” Details can be read in a story from The Times and another story from the Guardian.

Lambeth ends without schism, but conflicts lie ahead

The Lambeth Conference, the gathering of Anglican bishops presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury every ten years, ended Sunday, August 3. By design, no resolutions were passed by the assembled group of more than 650 bishops, whose number, in other circumstances, might have been swelled by the more than 200 traditionalist bishops who boycotted the event.

The organizational business of the conference concluded with a final presidential address by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, the issuance of a report of the work of the indaba groups (see next story), and a press conference (audio available here).

According to Archbishop Williams there was strong sentiment for unity among the bishops, as well as a consensus for absolute moratoria on the blessing of same-sex unions, the consecration of gay bishops, and incursions of one province into another. He also said he saw a consensus for a covenant and for greater co-ordination of relief and development work.

As a practical matter, Williams intends to call a meeting of the Joint Standing Committee of the primates and Anglican Consultative Council in November and a meeting of the primates sometime in 2009, before the Anglican Consultative Council meets to consider the next draft of a covenant in early summer. He plans to move forward with plans for the pastoral forum suggested by the Windsor Continuation Group, yet another plan to minister to (some would say appease) minorities within provinces such as The Episcopal Church.

Further details can be read in the Episcopal News Service story here. The Guardian offered a brief Q&A piece on Lambeth here. The New York Times has a story here.

Somewhat discouraging view of the conference can be found here, here, and here.

More news stories and commentary, both positive and negative, can be expected in the coming days.

Indaba group report represents only concrete product of Lambeth Conference

A 42-page report issued August 3 and summarizing the discussions of bishops in their “indaba” groups is the only concrete product of the 2008 Lambeth Conference. “Lambeth Indaba: Capturing Conversations and Reflections from the Lambeth Conference 2008/Equipping Bishops for Mission and Strengthening Anglican Identity” attempts to summarize the discussions of the bishops conducted in their small groups during the conference. Such a document stands in sharp contrast to the list of resolutions typically generated by the decennial gathering of Anglican leaders.

Because of the nature of the process that produced it, “Lambeth Indaba” can hardly be expected to be any kind of statistically significant snapshot of opinion of Anglican bishops. According to the introduction to the report: “This document is not the primary outcome of this Conference. Written words can never adequately describe the life-changing nature of our time together.”

Episcopal News Service offers highlights of the document here.

Global South shows 2-track reaction to Lambeth

Bishops in the Global South seem to be pursuing a 2-track strategy with regard to the Lambeth Conference and Anglican Communion. On one hand Orombi described the archbishop as “one man appointed by a secular government” who has betrayed the Anglican Communion by inviting American bishops to Lambeth. His position, according to Orombi, is “a remnant of British colonialism, and it is not serving us well.”

Despite any consensus the Archbishop of Canterbury may see for a moratorium on border crossings, Episcopal News Services reported July 30 that Kenya’s Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi has said that Global South churches have no intentions of eschewing cross-border incursions. “We won't stop going to America to preach the Gospel. We are going to preach the Gospel. We are going to tell the good news to the people,” Nzimbi said.

More affirming was the statement issued by Global South bishops who actually chose to attend Lambeth. As this is being written, the statement is endorsed by about ten bishop, mostly Global South primates. The bishops express appreciation of pronouncements by Rowan Williams—it should be noted that the statement was written before Lambeth concluded—and of the work of the Anglican Covenant Design Group and Windsor Continuation Group (WCG). The statement calls for the “swift implementation” of the WCG interim proposals, including that for a pastoral forum whose chair “should work alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury in the exercise of his ministry.”

Anglo-Catholics issue threat to Church of England

The decision of the Church of England’s General Synod to move forward with allowing women bishops in the church—see Pittsburgh Update story here—continues to inspire angry words. Some Anglo-Catholic parishes are considering a move from the CoE to the Roman Catholic Church over the issue of women bishops. The Telegraph reported August 1 that the Rt. Rev. John Broadhurst, Bishop of Fulham, has charged that, if Anglo-Catholic parishes realign with Rome, any attempt by the CoE to retain parish property would have to be considered theft.

Church property issues in England are clearly different from those in the U.S. Bishop Broadhurst supports his argument by asserting that much CoE property came from “the pre-Reformation Catholic Church” or was a product “of the Tractarian and Catholic revival.”