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 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.