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, September 29, 2008

News for Week Ending 9/29/2008

Virginia diocese sharpens legal strategy as court date looms

Litigation instigated by 11 Diocese of Virginia congregations that are now part of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) returns to court on October 6, 2008. (The most recent Pittsburgh Update story on this litigation can be found here.) The parties will now argue specifically about the disposition of property. The Diocese of Virginia has indicated that it will try to limit the property covered by Virginia’s controversial “Division Statute.” which it believes to violate the First Amendment. It has also dropped its objections to the votes by which congregations decided to leave The Episcopal Church. These moves are described on the diocese’s Web site here. A CANA statement on the decision not to contest the voting by the departing congregations can be read here.

The diocese has also reached a settlement with two missions that hold no real property, Potomac Falls Church, Sterling, Va., and Christ the Redeemer Church, Centreville, Va. The CANA statement describes this development as well, and the diocese has a statement that can be read here.

The diocese plans to appeal the application of Virginia’s Division Statute.

Pittsburgh convention votes on realignment Saturday

The diocesan convention, meeting at St. Martin’s, Monroeville, on October 4, will vote whether it should leave The Episcopal Church and become a part of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published a story September 28 describing what happened in the Diocese of San Joaquin in the wake of its vote for realignment. There are, however, both differences and similarities in the Pittsburgh and San Joaquin situations.

The Pre-Convention Journal provided to convention deputies can be found as a PDF here.

Monday, September 22, 2008

News for Week Ending 9/22/2008

Welsh bishops to care for oppponents of women’s ordination without special bishop

Meeting as part of the semiannual gathering of the governing body of the Church in Wales, on September 17–18, the bishops of the Church in Wales announced that they would not replace Bishop David Thomas, who had been appointed in 1996 as Provincial Assistant Bishop, with his major charge those who could not accept women’s ordination. The bishops stressed they would continue to provide care through their regular diocesan structures. Archbishop Barry Morgan noted: “However, we no longer consider that the continuation of additional episcopal provision for one part of the Church on grounds of belief or doctrine on one particular issue is either necessary or consistent with Anglican ecclesiology. All Church in Wales clergy and parishes are in communion with their respective Diocesan Bishop, regardless of whether or not they agree on every issue. Episcopal oversight and care for all within each Diocese is the responsibility of the Diocesan Bishop.”

House of Bishops votes to depose Bishop Duncan

At a meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, on September 18, 2008, the House of Bishops voted 88 to 35 with 4 abstentions to consent to the deposition of Bishop of Pittsburgh Robert W. Duncan. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Duncan was certified by the Title IV Review Committee in December of last year as having abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church under Canon IV.9.

The Salt Lake City meeting was the first House of Bishops meeting at which the bishops of the church could vote whether to consent to Duncan’s deposition based on the charges from the Review Committee. It had been thought likely that the bishops would defer a decision until after the diocesan convention voted on “realignment” on October 4. After much discussion, however, the bishops decided to proceed with deposition.

Bishop Duncan, who did not attend the House of Bishops meeting, announced that he had become a bishop of the Southern Cone before Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori could talk with him or issue the official letter of deposition. Duncan also announced that he was working for the diocese as a consultant and expects to be asked back as bishop after “realignment.” The diocese has created a new blog containing testimonials supporting Bishop Duncan.

News coverage of the action by the House of Bishops has been extensive, both in Pittsburgh and elsewhere. Rather than offering our own list of links, we instead direct readers to “Thinking Anglican,” a site in the U.K. that has done a particularly good job of documenting Web stories on the deposition vote and its aftermath:

The Presiding Bishop wrote a personal letter to Bishop Duncan that can be read here. The actual deposition can be found here.

Readers will have no trouble finding other news and comment about the deposition vote by following the links provided by “Thinking Anglicans” or by doing their own Web searches.

Court appoints masters in Calvary lawsuit

Judge Joseph James issued an order September 17, 2008, appointing Stanley E. Levine and Campbell & Levine, LLC, masters in the Calvary Lawsuit. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The masters are to inventory real and personal property held by the Diocese of Pittsburgh from October 14, 2005, forward, and report to Judge James on any possible violations of the stipulation. Plaintiffs and defendants are to share costs. The court order can be found here.

Monday, September 15, 2008

News for Week Ending 9/15/2008

Canadian primate asks for talks on boundary crossings

According to Anglican Journal, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has asked the Archbishop of Canterbury to facilitate a meeting that includes the primates of the Canadian, U.S., and Brazilian provinces and the Southern Cone primate, the Most Rev. Gregory Venables. Venables has facilitated episcopal incursions into dioceses of each of the other churches. Archbishop Rowan Williams has said he will try to arrange the requested meeting. Episcopal News Services has provided more background on the request here. The Toronto Star quotes Venables as saying it would be “difficult for me to attend.”

The Anglican Journal story cited above also reports that Canadian bishops will be discussing the moratoria urged at the recent Lambeth Conference. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Hiltz indicated that the moratoria present serious difficulties for the Canadian church, and there is concern that graciousness respecting moratoria relating to homosexuals will not be matched by those who have engaged in boundary crossings.

Clergy and lay leaders who left Canadian Church sue Bishop of New Westminster

Anglican Journal reported September 15, 2008, that 17 clergy and lay leaders who left the Anglican Church of Canada for the Anglican province of the Southern Cone have sued Bishop Michael Ingham. In a suit filed September 9, plaintiffs seek to have the court declare that the Bishop of New Westminster acted improperly in attempting to regain diocesan control of two breakaway parishes, St. Matthew’s, Abbotsford, and St. Matthias and St. Luke, Vancouver. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Diocese of New Westminster posted a statement on its Web site concerning the suit September 11.

Bishop apologizes; PB removes inhibition

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori lifted the inhibition imposed on the Rt. Rev. Edward MacBurney, retired Bishop of Quincy. MacBurney was inhibited April 2, 2008, in response to a presentment issued by the Title IV Review Committee January 24, 2008. MacBurney was charged with conducting unauthorized confirmations in the Diocese of San Diego at the urging of Southern Cone Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables.

According to a September 10 story from Episcopal News Service, MacBurney “voluntarily submitted to discipline.” Bishop of San Diego Jim Mathes, who had filed a complaint against MacBurney, said, “Bishop MacBurney's decision is the result of my efforts and those of others to find a non-judicial outcome to an unfortunate event.”

Court approves special master

Lawyers both for Calvary Church and for diocesan leaders were in court again September 8 to argue Calvary’s request for a neutral party to inventory and oversee the use of diocesan assets. Calvary also wanted parishes to be allowed to escrow assessment payments in light of the upcoming realignment vote at the October 4 convention. The Post-Gazette reported on the brief hearing here. Attorneys agreed that Judge Joseph James could appoint a special master to inventory diocesan assets, and agreed to allow parishes to escrow assessment payments. As this is being written, Judge James has not yet issued a written order, so details of his decision are not yet clear. The diocese issued a statement September 9 on the hearing.

Across the Aisle event attracts more than 300

Episcopalians planning to maintain the Episcopal Church presence in Southwestern Pennsylvania should the diocese vote for “realignment” at the October 4 convention attracted more than 300 people to a two-hour program called “A Hopeful Future for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh: An Alternative Solution.” The gathering was sponsored by Across the Aisle, a theologically diverse coalition of clergy and laypeople in the diocese. (See Pittsburgh Update story here), The gathering was reported by both the Post-Gazette and the Tribune-Review (ignore the misleading headline, however). Presenters assured attendees that there will continue to be a Diocese of Pittsburgh in The Episcopal Church.

The program for the event can be viewed here.

House of Bishops to take up Duncan deposition

In a September 12 letter to Episcopal bishops, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori explained that, at the business meeting of the House of Bishops on September 17 in Salt Lake City, Utah, she “shall present to the House the matter of the certification to me by the Title IV Review Committee that Bishop Robert W. Duncan has abandoned the Communion of this Church within the meaning of Canon IV.9.” (Jefferts Schori’s letter can be read here.) The Presiding Bishop both explained the background of the charges against the Bishop Duncan and attempted to deflect criticism that might be leveled at the bishops for proceeding with a vote to depose. Although canons require that she present to the bishops the Title IV report, her letter noted that the bishops had the option of deferring the matter to a later meeting after the Pittsburgh convention votes on realignment or proceeding at the current meeting.

George Conger, Episcopal priest and frequent church critic, raised objections to the coming proceedings in a September 14 essay here. Bishop Duncan responded to the Presiding bishop's letter with a pastoral letter to the diocese that can be read here. That letter included as an enclosure, a letter written by the bishop to other bishops of the church on August 24. In that letter (available here), Duncan made it clear that he will not attend the Salt Lake City meeting. He urged bishops to take a roll call vote.

The Task Force on Property Disputes of the House of Bishops has also written to bishops about the Duncan matter. Its memorandum can be read here.

On September 15, Episcopal News Service issued a story on the deposition vote that can be read here.

Monday, September 8, 2008

News for Week Ending 9/8/2008

“Realignment” strikes Anglican Province of America

Controversy surrounding participation in the Common Cause Partnership (CCP) headed by Bishop Robert Duncan has led to the announcement by the Rt. Rev Robert Boyce, Bishop Ordinary of the Anglican Province of America (APA) Diocese of the West that he is taking his diocese out of the APA and requesting that it be joined to the Reformed Episcopal Church. Boyce, sent out a letter on September 4 informing the 26 parishes in his diocese of the change. The next day, the Presiding Bishop of the APA, the Most Rev. Walter H. Grundorf, announced Boyce’s resignation and replacement by the Very Rev. Donald King until the APA can determine the actual wishes of each parish and hold an extraordinary synod to reorganize the diocese. His announcement is on the home page of the APA Web site. David Virtue has reported in detail on the details of the“realignment” of the Diocese of the West here. If all 26 parishes in 8 western states were to leave the APA, it would represent a defection of one-quarter of the total APA parishes.

Boyce has been very involved in the CCP and was disappointed when Grundorf announced that the APA was withdrawing from direct participation in the CCP because it includes too many advocates of women’s ordination. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Across the Aisle to sponsor unity event

Across the Aisle, the informal group of clergy and laypeople of varied theological stripes who are committed to staying in The Episcopal Church, is presenting a program called “A Hopeful Future for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh: An Alternative Solution” on September 13. The two-hour event opposing diocesan realignment begins at 1 PM at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Mt. Lebanon. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on the announcement from Across the Aisle here. More information is available on the St. Paul’s Web site here. A poster about the event can be downloaded here.

On September 6, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported on both the Across the Aisle event and a similar event supporting realignment at St. Stephen’s, Sewickley, on September 6, sponsored by the Coalition for Realignment.

Monday, September 1, 2008

News for Week Ending 9/1/2008

Archbishop of Canterbury writes bishops on Lambeth

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams wrote to Anglican bishops last week offering his personal views on the recently concluded Lambeth Conference. The letter, is consistent with earlier statements. Williams expressed satisfaction with the outcome of Lambeth, which, he pointed out, was not intended to resolve all the conflicts in the Anglican Communion ommunion. Church Times reported on the letter and reprinted it here.

Primates’ Council meets, issues communiqué

The Primates’ Council established at the June Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) met for the first time in London between August 20 and August 22. (See Pittsburgh Update story on the conclusion of GAFCON here.) A communiqué from the meeting was released only last week, however. The statement appeared over the names of the Anglican primates of Nigeria, Southern Cone, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. The statement expressed a certain appreciation of the work of the Lambeth Conference while expressing great pessimism that the moratoria, covenant, and Pastoral Forum promoted by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will do much to satisfy the constituency of the writers.

The communiqué mentions a letter sent to Nigerian primate Peter Akinola just before the Council meeting by bishops serving in the U.S. and Canada under primates outside North America. That letter strongly rejects the course being pursued by Williams.

Stories on the Primates’ Council statement have been published by, among others, The Living Church, the Guardian, and the Telegraph.

New Westminster seeks to regain control of parishes

The Diocese of New Westminster of the Anglican Church of Canada announced on August 26, 2008, that it is invoking a canon to return control of two parishes, St. Matthew’s, Abbotsford, and St. Matthias and St. Luke, Vancouver, to the diocese. Four clergy at these parishes have voluntarily left the ordained ministry of the Canadian church and claim to be serving in their parishes under a bishop of the Southern Cone. According to a diocesan press release, all officials at the two parishes have been dismissed, new wardens have been appointed, and new priests will be appointed “in due course.” More information is available on the diocesan Web site here. A Canadian news story on the latest development in New Westminster can be found here.

The New Westminster synod voted in 2002 to ask Bishop Michael Ingham to allow the blessing of same-sex unions. The bishop issued a right of blessing in 2003. More details are available here.

San Joaquin ordains deacon, gains access to funds, and moves forward

Episcopal New Service reported on various events in the reorganized Diocese of San Joaquin in a story published August 29. On August 24, the diocese saw its first ordination of a deacon since the December 2007 vote promoted by then bishop John-David Schofield to leave The Episcopal Church. On August 25, a California Superior Court judge approved a stipulation ensuring that Bishop Lamb must agree to any expenditures made from diocesan funds claimed by Bishop Schofield and allowed access to certain disputed funds to continue the operation of the Evergreen Conference Center of Oakhurst. (See Pittsburgh Update story on the San Joaquin litigation here.)

San Joaquin’s upcoming October diocesan convention, has been dubbed “Episcofest 2008.” The four-day event has a single two-hour business session scheduled and is described as “Celebrating Community, Family, Fellowship.” Episcofest 2008 includes workshops, cookouts, and worship.