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, October 27, 2008

News for Week Ending 10/27/2008

Pressure for same-sex blessings increases in Canadian church

Anglican Journal reported that Bishop of Ottawa John Chapman will ask the bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada for permission to bless same-sex unions when the bishops meet October 27–31. Chapman has made it clear that a definitive church decision on the matter cannot be made at this time. “In order to further the discernment process, we must ‘experience’ the issue as church before clarity of heart and mind might be attained,” he said. The Ottawa synod voted to ask the bishop to allow same-sex blessings. Similar resolutions have passed in the dioceses of Montreal, Niagara, Huron, and the assembly of the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (APCI).

Executive Council renews support for Pittsburgh, other diocese

Meeting in Helena, Montana, The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council pledged financial and pastoral support for dioceses, such as Pittsburgh, whose leaders have voted to leave The Episcopal Church. The Council also passed a resolution to seek reconciliation with the Common Cause Partnership “without precondition on our part.” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said, “It is profoundly unchristian and unhopeful to say that differences can be irreconcilable.” The Presiding Bishop also advised against trying to deal with an Anglican covenant draft at the July General Convention if, as is expected, a new draft is issued in the spring. Episcopal News Service reported on the Executive Council Meeting here and here.

Bishop Bennison prevails in Moyer suit

The Rev. David Moyer, who was deposed for abandonment of the communion of The Episcopal Church in 2002 by Bishop of Pennsylvania Charles Bennison, has lost his fraud case against his former bishop. Moyer, who was deposed for not allowing the bishop to visit his parish, Good Shepherd, Rosemont, claimed that he had been improperly deposed. A jury quickly found otherwise. The story was reported by Episcopal News Service here.

The Moyer affair has a special interest for Pittsburgh Episcopalians, as Bishop Duncan accepted Moyer as a priest in good standing in the Diocese of Pittsburgh soon after his deposition. After several months, Moyer, still in his Rosemont church, became a priest in a diocese of Central Africa. (See ENS stories here, here, and here.)

Rochester diocese wins property case

New York’s highest court ruled October 23, 2008, that the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester owns the property of All Saints Anglican Church, Irondequoit. After an extended dispute with the diocese, All Saints’ Episcopal Church was dissolved by the diocesan convention in 2005. The rector of the parish claimed the property and asserted that he served under Archbishop Henry Orombi, of Uganda. The unanimous court opinion upheld the validity of The Episcopal Church’s Dennis Canon, even though it was adopted after the formation of All Saints’. The story was reported by Episcopal News Service here.

California appeals court sides with San Diego diocese in property case

As reported by Episcopal News Service on October 22, 2008, a California appeals court has reversed the finding of the trial court in the case of a dispute between the Diocese of San Diego and St. John’s Church, Fallbrook. The vestry of St. John’s, unhappy with decisions of The Episcopal Church, voted to change its bylaws and articles of incorporation, and to leave the Diocese of San Diego for a diocese in Uganda. Bishop Jim Mathes of San Diego immediately helped the remaining Episcopalians reorganize. The trial court judge ruled that the Ugandan group had legitmately changed the articles of incorporation, but the Diocese of San Diego, supported by The Episcopal Church, appealed, claiming that members had forfeited their position on the vestry by attempting to amend the parish articles of incorporation and by-laws. The appeals court argued that the Dennis Canon should be considered when applying neutral principles of law. The decision has the effect of awarding parish property to those staying in The Episcopal Church.

It is not clear whether the decision will be appealed to the California Supreme Court, which is already deliberating over the case of four parishes that have claimed to have left the Diocese of Los Angeles.

The ENS story includes a link to the opinion of the Fourth District Court of Appeals.

Virginia bishop to advise Pittsburgh diocese

The Diocese of Pittsburgh announced October 23, 2008, that the Rt. Rev. David Colin Jones, the bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, will consult with the diocese until the diocese makes actual provision for episcopal services. Bishop Jones, who will retain his residence and position in Virginia, will visit Pittsburgh as necessary to provide “practical advice on the details of diocesan administration, clergy deployment, and support for congregations remaining in the Episcopal Church.”

Calvary awarded escrow funds

On October 3, 2008, Calvary Church petitioned Judge Joseph James to be allowed to disburse the funds in the escrow account into which it has been paying its diocesan assessment. Calvary argued that its counsel has been working largely without compensation and deserved to paid from the escrowed funds. The defendants (Bishop Duncan, et al.) opposed this move. After another filing by Calvary, Judge James ordered October 23 that Calvary could terminate the escrow account and disburse the funds as it sees fit.

Other documents related to the Calvary lawsuit can be found here.

Presiding Bishop to participate in ‘informal discussion’

As noted last week, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will preach and celebrate at the 11 AM Eucharist at Calvary Church on Sunday, November 2. It has since been announced that Jefferts Schori will, after a brief reception, return to the church for “informal discussion” at approximately 1:15 PM. The discussion session will allow Pittsburgh Episcopalians to celebrate All Saints’ Day in their own parishes and still see the Presiding Bishop. The session is announced in Calvary’s newsletter here.