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, December 29, 2008

News for Week Ending 12/29/2008

Archbishop, Presiding Bishop offer Christmas messages

The Anglican world made very little news this past week, presumably because Anglicans the world over were busy preparing for and attending Christmas services. Christmas messages are available on-line from both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, however.

Archbishop Rowan Williams preached at Canterbury Cathedral on Christmas Day. You can read his sermon here.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori offered a brief Christmas message, available in English and Spanish, here.

Fort Worth schedules special convention

The Steering Committee North Texas Episcopalians has announced on its Web site that a reorganizing convention for the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth will be held on February 7, 2009, with the Presiding Bishop in attendance. Details are available here.

St. Andrew’s offers New Year’s Eve program

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Highland Park will be offering various festivities on December 31 and into the morning of January 1, 2009. Events begin at 11:00 PM and include music, a Eucharist, refreshments, including Champagne, and a visit to the church’s bell tower. Additional details are available here.

Monday, December 22, 2008

News for Week Ending 12/22/2008

Virginia judge delivers final setback to Diocese of Virginia; church to appeal

To no one’s surprise, Virginia judge Randy I. Bellows handed down decisions on December 19, 2008, mostly favoring breakaway congregations in the long-running property dispute in the Diocese of Virginia. The nine congregations involved—two other congregations without any real property settled their dispute with the diocese earlier—are now part of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA).

The Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, missionary bishop in the Church of Nigeria (Anglican) and former rector of Truro Church, one of the breakaway churches that is party to the litigation, called the decision “a great victory for religious freedom.” (See statement from CANA here.) Bishop Peter Lee, in a statement by the Diocese of Virginia, said “We continue to believe the [state] Division Statute [that Judge Bellows has relied upon in his various decisions] is a violation of the United States and Virginia constitutions because it intrudes into the freedom of the Episcopal Church and other hierarchical churches to organize and govern themselves.” The diocese has indicated that it will take its constitutional concerns to the Virginia Supreme Court. The initial response from The Episcopal came from the Presiding Bishop’s canon, the Rev. Dr. Canon Charles K. Robertson. In a statement, he said, “As we have stated previously, we shall now seek review of this case by the Supreme Court of Virginia and are optimistic that that court will reverse the trial court’s interpretation and application of the Virginia statute and reaffirm Virginia’s historic commitment to religious freedom.”

More information is available in the Episcopal News Service story here. The most recent Pittsburgh Update story on the Virginia litigation can be found here. Documents relating to the litigation are available from the Diocese of Virginia here.

Windsor Continuation Group meets

The Windsor Continuation Group (WCG) met December 15–19 at the Mustang Island Conference Center, near Corpus Christi. The Rt. Rev. Gary Lillibridge, Bishop of West Texas, a member of the Group appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to deal with issues raised by the 2004 Windsor Report, hosted the meeting. The WCG is expected to report on its deliberations to Archbishop Rowan Williams; it issued no statement on its work. The meeting is reported on the Religious Intelligence Web site here.

Pittsburgh diocese posts more information on convention; schedules leadership meeting

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has posted additional information about its December 12–13 special convention. In addition to its own account of convention events, the diocesan Web site hosts a complete list of those people elected by the convention. (Other accounts of the convention are available from Episcopal News Service and The Living Church.)

In another story, the diocese has announced a leadership meeting to take place at Calvary Church on January 10, 2009. Attendees will include members of the Standing Committee, Board of Trustees, and Diocesan Council. The Rt. Rev. Robert Johnson, named at the convention as assisting bishop, and the Rev. Rick Cluett, tasked by the Presiding Bishop to assist reorganizing diocese, will also participate.

Monday, December 15, 2008

News for Week Ending 12/15/2008

Network begins shutdown in favor of ACNA

The Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (Anglican Communion Network), meeting at its Annual Council on December 9, 2008, in Overland Park, Kansas, decided to transfer Network assets and operations to the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), whose organization was announced less than a week earlier. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The enabling resolution, posted on the Network’s Web site, indicates that resources used for moderator Robert Duncan’s office are to be given to the “Diocese of Pittsburgh” (i.e., those former members of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh claiming to be part of the Southern Cone) to create a primate’s office. Resources supporting the Common Cause Partnership are to be handed over to the ACNA provincial office when it is created next year. The resolution leaves the fate of “that part of the membership of the Anglican Communion Network remaining in The Episcopal Church” subject to future conversations.

At least one of those “parts” has decided to leave the Network. On the same day the Network resolution was passed, December 9, the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Rio Grande voted unanimously to disaffiliate from the Network and to reaffirm its commitment to The Episcopal Church. The story was reported by Episcopal News Service here.

Washington bishop writes to reassure diocese

Bishop of Washington (D.C.) John Chane wrote to his diocese December 9, 2008, on the subject of the newly declared Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Chane declared the acceptance of the ACNA as part of the Anglican Communion “highly unlikely” and chided the media, especially The New York Times, for giving so much play to the ACNA story. He also suggested that the Archbishop of Canterbury has inadvertently fostered confusion by meeting with Bishop Robert Duncan and his allies. Chane’s letter can be read in its entirety here.

Archbishop of Canterbury expected neither to encourage nor discourage ACNA

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams met with five primates of the GAFCON Primates' Council on December 5 in the wake of the announce about the Anglican Church of North America. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Quoting unnamed sources, priest and reporter George Conger wrote in the Church of England Newspaper last week that the “Archbishop of Canterbury will not block the creation of a third Anglican province in North America,” nor will he “give it his endorsement.” According to Conger, who reproduced his Church of England Newspaper story on his blog, the archbishop believes he has the legal right to do neither. The Living Church has a story on Williams’ position that identifies the primates who met with him on December 5 as the source of the information reported in the Church of England Newspaper.

Diocese of Quincy begins reorganization

A group of Episcopalians met at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Peoria, Ill., on December 13, 2008, to begin planning for the future of their diocese after the diocesan synod voted November 7 to leave The Episcopal Church for the Southern Cone. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The group voted to organize as the Committee to Reorganize The Diocese of Quincy. An Executive Committee was chosen to lead the group. A special synod will likely be held in February 2009 to elect a Standing Committee, though whether Quincy will ultimately remain an independent diocese of The Episcopal Church is unclear. The meeting is reported on the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy Web site.

Diocese reorganizes; ordains new priest

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh held its special convention to reorganize the diocese on December 12–13, 2008. The convention, held at St. Paul’s, Mt. Lebanon, approved four resolutions to affirm actions taken to facilitate the early conduct of a special convention, to consolidate the eight diocesan districts into six, and to affirm that the accession clause and diocesan boundaries remained as they were 2003. before any attempts were made to improperly amend this article. The convention elected more than 50 people to positions abandoned by those who have left The Episcopal Church for the Southern Cone.

In a State of the Diocese Report, the Rev. Jim Simons, Standing Committee president, spoke of “a culture of fear and control” that was fostered in the diocese. “It was a culture of throwing stones,” he said, “and I stand before you now to say, 'Today that culture ends.’” His report ended with the announcement that the Rt. Rev. Robert H. Johnson, retired bishop of Western North Carolina, will become a half-time assisting bishop in the diocese until the end of July. (A press release from the diocese is available here.)

The convention ended with a Eucharist at which St. Paul’s curate, Kris Opat, was ordained to the priesthood. A gala reception followed.

Additional details of the convention can be found on the Web sites of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Monday, December 8, 2008

News for Week Ending 12/8/2008

Common Cause Partnership declares new ‘Anglican province’

As expected, deposed Episcopal bishop Robert Duncan declared the advent of a new “Anglican province” in Wheaton, Illinois, on December 3, 2008. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The new entity has been named the Anglican Church in North America, and it now seeks recognition from the Anglican Communion. Coverage of the birth of what has been called a new denomination by many journalists has been extensive. (See, for examples, stories from The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Be sure to listen to the audio interview with religion reporter Laurie Goodstein offered in a sidebar to the Times story.)

Anglican TV covered events in Wheaton live. Its video coverage can be seen here.

Commentary on the Wheaton announcement has been extensive. Beliefnet has collected comments from a variety of sources here. Among those quoted is Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times. Official recognition of the new entity will be difficult to achieve, especially as it is theologically, rather than geographically based, a matter taken up in an Episcopal News Service story. Although Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has made no comment on the announcement, his office did offer commentary on the proper protocol for gaining recognition of a new province. As usual, Thinking Anglicans has done a good job of collecting stories and opinion. See Thinking Anglican posts here, here, and here.

A number of GAFCON primates met with Rowan Williams on Friday, December 5. No statement about the meeting was forthcoming from Lambeth Palace, but the primates did issue this statement, which welcomed, but did not recognize, the new “province.” London Times religion correspondent Ruth Gledhill reported that “nothing happened.” Stay tuned.

Presiding Bishop accepts Iker ‘renunciation’

On December 5, 2008, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori announced that she had accepted former Bishop of Fort Worth Jack Iker’s renunciation of his orders in The Episcopal Church. Iker was recently inhibited after being certified as having abandoned the communion of the church for his support of diocesan “realignment.” (See Pittsburgh Update stories here and here.) Jefferts Schori interpreted Iker’s statement in response to his inhibition as a renunciation of his vows, but Iker’s communications director denied that Iker had made a renunciation. Iker later issued a statement over his own name here. Episcopal News Service reported the Iker story here.

Quincy story continues to unfold

The Diocese of Quincy, which voted November 7, 2008, to “realign” with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone—see Pittsburgh Update story here—continues to generate surprising news. The Living Church reported December 3, 2008, that former Bishop of Quincy Keith Ackerman became an assisting bishop in the adjacent Diocese of Springfield as of December 1. The move is especially surprising after Ackerman’s retirement and his statements that he would continue to be available “to perform episcopal acts and provide spiritual counsel to members of the [Quincy] diocese,” according to Episcopal News Service.

Meanwhile, Episcopalians in the Diocese of Quincy, who were not organized prior to the November 7 vote, are trying to find one another using, among other means, a new Web site. They have scheduled a meeting on December 13 to form a steering committee that can begin the process of reorganizing the diocese. Episcopal News Services reported on these efforts here. ENS also reported that St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Peoria, the largest church in the diocese, has chosen to stay in The Episcopal Church. Members of the cathedral voted 181 to 35 on December 4 to remain Episcopalians.

Los Angeles moves toward greater gay inclusion

The Los Angeles Times reported December 8, 2008, on the convention of the Diocese of Los Angeles, which was held in Riverside, Calif., the previous Friday and Saturday. At the convention, Bishop Jon Bruno announced that, as a matter of policy, he would allow the blessing of same-sex unions, a common practice in the diocese, but one that now has the full support of the diocesan bishop and an associated rite. According to a story on the diocesan Web site, Bruno “announced creation of ‘Sacramental Blessing for a Life-long Covenant,’ an order for blessing and honoring holy relationships. He said the rite conforms to General Convention 2003’s Resolution D051, which placed such blessings within the context of the local pastoral relationship.”

Coverage by The Press-Enterprise of Riverside emphasized the convention’s approval of a resolution encouraging the General Convention to remove the restrictions of B033, which was passed that the 2006 General Convention. B033 called on those who must approve the consecration of bishops to “exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion.” (The list of resolutions to be presented at the Los Angeles convention can be read here.)

Integrity USA issued a press release expressing its approval of Bruno’s announcement and of the passage of the resolution requesting the repeal of B033. According to Integrity, seven other dioceses have passed similar resolutions.

Special diocesan convention meets December 13

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh meets in special convention at St. Paul’s, Mt. Lebanon, Saturday, December 13, 2008. The main business of the convention will be to elect people to positions vacated by members of the diocese who left The Episcopal Church to join the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. Four resolutions related to reorganizing the diocese will also be on the agenda. Evening Prayer and a reception will be held at St. Paul’s Friday night. The convention concludes Saturday afternoon with a Eucharist and ordination, followed by a final reception. Visitors are welcome. Details are available on the diocesan Web site.

Monday, December 1, 2008

News for Week Ending 12/1/2008

Common Cause Partnership to declare itself ready to be ‘province’

As reported by Pittsburgh Update here, Members of the Common Cause Partnership will meet this week to organize a new Anglican province. The highly irregular action has resulted in a good deal of commentary on the World Wide Web. Church Times published “Province plan to be unveiled” November 28, 2008.

Good news-bad news from Episcopal cathedrals

The news we report here is almost always directly related to Pittsburgh or to developments in The Episcopal Church or Anglican Communion that have potential to affect Pittsburgh Episcopalians. Sometimes, however, it seems worth reporting news that should cheer or dismay Episcopalians generally. Two recent stories involving Episcopal Cathedrals fall into this category.

The New York Times reported November 30, 2008, on the rededication of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. The church had suffered a devastating fire seven years ago, and worshipers were celebrating its cleaning and restoration. The cavernous cathedral of the Diocese of New York still, after 116 years, remains unfinished, however. Dignitaries present for the celebration included Bishop of New York Mark Sisk, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, Senator Hillary Clinton, and members of the New York City Fire Department.

On a less happy note, Episcopal News Service reported November 21, 2008, that Washington National Cathedral is reducing its budget by $8 million and cutting 30 from its staff in response to global financial conditions.

Iker dismisses inhibition

As was reported here last week, Bishop Jack Iker, of Fort Worth, was recently inhibited for his actions allegedly taking the Diocese of Fort Worth out of The Episcopal Church. Iker has responded by asserting not only that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has no authority over him, but also that she never has. The statement was part of a press release issued November 24, 2008, that including a supporting declaration from the Standing Committee. The Living Church reported November 24 that two submissions had been made to the Title IV Review Committee attempting to facilitate the approval of Iker’s inhibition at the September House of Bishop’s meeting at which the deposition of Bishop Robert Duncan was authorized.