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, November 24, 2008

News for Week Ending 11/24/2008

Diocese of Eau Claire considers future

The Episcopal Diocese of Eau Claire, which is currently without a bishop, is considering possible future directions for the diocese. Eau Claire, one of the smaller dioceses of The Episcopal Church, sees fewer than 1,000 worshipers in its churches on an average Sunday and is in financial difficulty. Among the options being weighed are juncture (merging) with neighboring Fond du Lac and dissolution, which would return those parts of the diocese from which it was created in 1927 to their original dioceses of Fond du Lac and Milwaukee. Both the dioceses of Fond du Lac and Eau Claire have passed resolutions requesting permission from the 2009 General Convention for juncture—consent from the General Convention is required for all changes to the territorial status of a diocese—but the question of whether juncture is the best option has not been decided. Episcopal News Service has a story on how Eau Claire is dealing with its problems here.

Meeting of UK Evangelicals faces GAFCON controversy

Church Times reported November 21, 2008, on the recent meeting of the National Evangelical Anglican Consultation (NEAC5) that erupted in controversy over a proposal to endorse the “Jerusalem Declaration” promulgated last summer by the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON). (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The proposal was introduced without its having been put on the agenda by the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) leadership. A motion to move to the next order of business allowed the majority at the meeting to bypass the rsolution. A stipulation that there be no amendments made the measure even more controversial. According to Church Times, “The meeting has reinforced con­cerns about who speaks for Evan­gelicals.”

Iker inhibited; status of other ‘realigning’ bishops unchanged

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the three senior bishops of the church inhibited Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth on November 21, 2008, following certification by the Title IV Review Committee that Bishop Schofield had abandoned the communion of The Episcopal Church. The action comes after the Diocese of Fort Worth voted to leave The Episcopal Church and join the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. (Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians, representing Episcopalians in the Diocese of Fort Worth staying in The Episcopal Church, commented on the inhibition here.)

Bishop Schofield of San Joaquin was inhibited and later deposed following a similar vote at the 2007 San Joaquin convention. Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh was deposed by a vote of the House of Bishops in September 2008 for his actions in encouraging parishes and dioceses to leave The Episcopal Church.

The church has taken no action against Bishop Keith Ackerman, who resigned shortly before the a majority of Quincy deputies voted for ‘realignment’ at the diocesan synod held November 8. Likewise, no action has been announced against assisting bishops in Pittsburgh and Fort Worth, both of whom supported votes to leave The Episcopal Church. Pittsburgh’s Henry Scriven had already announced that he would be leaving the diocese in January to take a position with the South American Missionary Society in England. Bishop Wantland, of Fort Worth, on the other hand, declared himself innocent of abandonment and asked the Presiding Bishop to make him an honorary member of the House of Bishops. (See commentary here. Wantland’s entire letter has not been made public.)

Deadline approaches for diocesan nominations

Nominations for the many diocesan positions to be filled at the December 13 special convention of the Diocese of Pittsburgh are due December 1, 2008. Details can be found on the diocesan Web site here and here.

Clergy day announced

Consulting bishop David Jones will lead a “Clergy Day in Advent for collegial fellowship, mutual support, and spiritual reflection.” The event, announced November 17, 2008, will be held December 2 at Calvary Episcopal Church. All clergy with connections to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh are invited to attend. The Episcopal Clergy Association and the Rev. Scott Quin, who is in charge of pastoral care for the diocese, are co-sponsoring the event.

Monday, November 17, 2008

News for Week Ending 11/17/2008

December meeting to plan new Anglican Province

Based on a video from Anglican TV, The Living Church has reported that a meeting of the Common Cause Partnership leaders will take place in the Chicago area December 2–3, 2008, to adopt a constitution and canons for a new North American “Anglican Province.” The video shows Bishops Robert Duncan, moderator of the CCP, and Bill Murdoch announcing the meeting and a public worship service on December 3. The CCP plans to lobby friendly Anglican primates to recognize the new entity. The CCP will, according to Duncan, “claim our place” as part of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, a hitherto amorphous organization announced at the Global Anglican Future Conference GAFCON). The CCP will also endorse GAFCON’s “Jerusalem Declaration” (see GAFCON “Final Statement” here and Pittsburgh Update’s coverage here).

The CCP actions represent a serious challenge to the Anglican Communion and the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Living Church put it this way: “The unilateral creation of a new province just two months before the start of a scheduled primates’ meeting leaves Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams with seemingly little room to maneuver.”

On November 17, the CCP posted a press release on its Web site about the December events.

Fort Worth votes to join Southern Cone

At its annual convention on November 15, 2008, the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, following the general pattern set by the dioceses of San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, and Quincy, voted to leave The Episcopal Church to become part of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. All three dioceses of The Episcopal Church that have refused to ordain women have now now voted to “realign.” Details of the Fort Worth move can be found in a long story from Episcopal News Service. (A briefer New York Times story is available here.) In a post-convention news conference, the Bishop of Fort Worth, Jack Iker, suggested that other dioceses could follow. He mentioned conservative dioceses South Carolina, Albany, Dallas, Central Florida, and Springfield, although no active plans to leave The Episcopal Church have been announced in any of those dioceses.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori lamented “the departures of a number of persons from the Diocese of Fort Worth” and vowed to work with remaining Episcopalians. As in Pittsburgh and San Joaquin, a Via Media USA group, Fort Worth Via Media, has long supported The Episcopal Church in a hostile diocese. A broader coalition, Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians—the analogue of Pittsburgh’s Across the Aisle (see Pittsburgh Update here)—will be working to reorganize the Diocese of Fort Worth within The Episcopal Church.

Monday, November 10, 2008

News for Week Ending 11/10/2008

Sydney action strains GAFCON unity

Sydney’s Archbishop Peter Jensen was a major spokesperson at GAFCON this past summer, but the recent action of the Sydney diocese to allow deacons, and even laypeople, to preside at the Eucharist—see Pittsburgh Update story here—is causing tension in the worldwide Anglican Catholic-Evangelical alliance. Peter Toon, writing on the site of The Prayer Book Society of the USA on November 3 advised: “After appropriate warning, the Council of Primates of GAFCON should expel the Bishops and Diocese of Sydney immediately.” Otherwise, he wrote, “GAFCON will become, and will be seen by thousands, as merely and only an international, Evangelical Anglican Group—with no serious claims to a serious catholic ecclesiology and historic Ministry, and no real opportunity or intention to set a godly example to the whole Anglican Communion of Churches.”

Primates to meet in Egypt

The Living Church reports that the upcoming meeting of the Anglican Primates (not to be confused with the meeting of the Primates’ Council invented by GAFCON) will take place in Egypt January 31–February 6, 2009. The primates are expected to discuss the proposed Anglican covenant and the moratoria proposed at the Lambeth Conference. Episcopal New Service has reported the starting date of the meeting as February 1, presumably, the date on which official meetings begin. ENS notes that the meeting of the Executive Council has been pushed up a day in order to accommodate the meeting in Alexandria, which the Presiding Bishop will be attending. The ENS story also include background information on the Primates Meeting and a list of the current Anglican primates.

Quincy votes to join Southern Cone

The synod of the Diocese of Quincy voted November 7, 2008, to leave The Episcopal Church and join the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. Episcopal News Service issued two stories on the convention, an initial story and an expanded one. As was the case in San Joaquin and Pittsburgh, the votes to leave The Episcopal Church and join the Southern Cone were lopsided. Like Pittsburgh, the diocese entered the convention without a bishop, as the Bishop of Quincy had recently resigned. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Unlike both San Joaquin and Pittsburgh, however, Quincy had little in the way of organized opposition to “realignment.” ENS quotes Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as saying, “The Episcopal Diocese of Quincy remains, albeit with fewer members, and we are working to assist in the reorganization of diocesan affairs.” The diocese has 24 congregations and about 1,800 parishioners.

Pittsburgh diocese sends deputy info; invites candidates

Pittsburgh’s Episcopal Church diocese has mailed registration materials to potential deputies to its December 13 special convention. According to the diocese’s Web site, “The Special Convention has been called to fill a number of diocesan leadership positions vacated by those who left the Episcopal Church following the 143rd Annual Convention in October.” The diocese is inviting participation from those in congregations that have not made a final decision to stay in The Episcopal Church. The diocese has also put out a call for candidates to run for open diocesan positions. Details are available here.

‘Realigned’ Pittsburghers elect Robert Duncan bishop

At its convention November 7, 2008, those who have left the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh to join the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, elected deposed former Bishop of Pittsburgh Robert Duncan to lead their group. The story was reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette here and by Episcopal News Service here. Duncan was the only candidate considered by the convention. According to the press release from those who claim now to represent a diocese of the Southern Cone, “Bishop Robert Duncan is once again the diocesan bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.” The consent process to the election required by the canons of the Southern Cone, however, have not yet been carried out.

The business meeting of November 7 was followed by a day of talks and workshops. According to the Post-Gazette, Duncan told those assembled at Trinity Cathedral, “Sometimes we have to stop and heal wounds, but that is not our corporate task now. Every one of our people is called to ministry.” Duncan, who, unlike other bishops who have led or are about to lead Episcopal dioceses to vote to leave The Episcopal Church, supports the ordination of women, told the gathering that their “vocation” will entail taking in “refugee” women who have trouble receiving calls in the conservative Anglican movement.

Monday, November 3, 2008

News for Week Ending 11/3/2008

Realigned ‘Diocese of Recife’ appeals for money for legal defense

In 2005, the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone’s Presiding Bishop Gregory Venables extended “recognition and protection” to the diocese of Recife, whose bishop, Robinson Cavalcanti, and a number of priests had been removed by the Anglican Church of Brazil (IEAB). (See press release here.) The now “realigned” Diocese of Recife is appealing for funds to fight the attempt by the Anglican Church of Brazilian to recover diocesan property and establish its own claim to the diocese through the courts. The appeal, dated October 30, 2008, can be read here. (The long statement from the Standing Committee gets to the point only in the last paragraph.) We have seen no independent stories in English about these developments.

Covenant Design Group publishes Lambeth Commentary

Much of the discussion of Anglican bishops at the 2008 Lambeth Conference took place in private and was subject to little reporting. The Covenant Design Group has now published a 33-page document summarizing what bishops had to say about the proposed Anglican covenant. Titled “A Lambeth Commentary on the Saint Andrew’s Draft for an Anglican Covenant,” and available here, the document consists primarily of a “Frequently Asked Questions” section, followed by commentary on specific provisions, giving both qualitative and quantitative analysis of the reaction of the bishops who attended Lambeth. (A more statistical analysis is available here.) Whereas much of the proposed covenant causes little concern among bishops, certain aspects of the proposed covenant do raise serious concerns. More details (and additional links) are available in the Episcopal News Story here.

Canadian bishops move cautiously on same-sex blessings

Despite increasing calls to permit the blessing of same-sex unions (see Pittsburgh Update story here), the Canadian House of Bishops, which concluded its meeting on October 31, 2008, has given its support to the moratoria, including one on the blessing of same-sex unions, requested at the last Lambeth Conference. As reported in the Episcopal News Service story here, however, certain diocese will continue to move in the direction of authorizing or expanding the blessing of same-sex unions. A more definitive decision may be forthcoming at the 2010 General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada. The Canadian bishops seem to have been more of one mind on the subject of border crossings. “No one is happy with these cross-border interventions,” Archbishop Fred Hiltz is quoted as saying.

According to The Gazette, same-sex blessing could take place in Montreal next year.

Sydney approves lay presidency

Church Times reported in an October 24, 2008, story that the Sydney, Australia, Diocesan Synod has passed a resolution allowing deacons or lay persons to preside at Holy Communion. The resolution will allow women deacons to celebrate. (Sydney does not ordain women to the priesthood.) According to The Living Church, a lay person would have to be licensed to preside, and Sydney’s Archbishop Peter Jensen has not shown a willingness to grant such a license. Allowing a lay presidency, of course, would be a significant break with Anglican tradition and could cause another row within the already divided Anglican Communion. In any case, the practical significance of the Sydney resolution is unclear. A helpful commentary can be read here.

Connecticut convention pleads for permission to perform same-sex marriages

The annual convention of the Diocese of Connecticut voted decisively October 25, 2008, to approve a resolution that “implores the Bishop to allow priests in this Diocese to exercise pastoral wisdom and care and follow the lead of their consciences in whether or not to participate in marriage ceremonies of same sex couples.” The move came two weeks after the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples, as of October 28, must be given the same right to marry as mixed-sex couples. Details, including links to the resolution and to the Supreme Court decision can be found in the Episcopal News Service story here.

Bishop of Quincy retires

Bishop Keith Ackerman announced his retirement October 29, 2008, effective November 1. Ackerman has led the Diocese of Quincy, one of the smallest diocese of The Episcopal Church, since 1994. Under him, the diocese has declined to ordain women and has been prepared to vote at its upcoming synod November 7–8 to “realign.” Ackerman has experienced health problems and did not preside at the 2007 synod. He will address this year’s diocesan meeting but will not take part in the deliberations. Episcopal News Service reported on the Ackerman retirement here.

Presiding Bishop visits Pittsburgh

The Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presided at an All Saints’ Sunday service at Calvary Episcopal Church November 2, 2008. A crowd of about 750 people attended the service, which included the baptism of six infants. Jefferts Schori answered questions from Pittsburgh Episcopalians at a session held in the church after the 11 AM Eucharist. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on the visit here. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review published a story here. Episcopal News Service has also provided a story on the Presiding Bishop’s visit and related matters, which includes a link to the text of her Calvary sermon.

Diocese announces convention site

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has announced that its December 13 special convention will be held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Mt. Lebanon. Details can be read on the diocesan Web site here.

Consulting bishop to make first episcopal visit

The Diocese of Pittsburgh announced on October 23, 2008, that the bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, the Rt. Rev. David Colin Jones will act as a consultant to the diocese until more permanent arrangements are made for episcopal services. The main tasks of Bishop Jones, who will retain his position with the Diocese of Virginia, will be to provide “practical advice on the details of diocesan administration, clergy deployment, and support for congregations remaining in the Episcopal Church in the United States.”

Bishop Jones’ first public appearance in his new role was announced November 3, 2008. He will participate in both the 9 AM and 11 AM services and will be the guest at the adult forum at St. Andrew’s, Highland Park on November 9. Members of the diocese are invited to meet Bishop Jones at St. Andrew’s later that afternoon. He will speak about his role at a 90-minute program that will begin at 2 PM.