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, April 21, 2008

News for Week Ending 4/21/2008

Archbishop Venables told he is violating Windsor Report

Anglican Church of Canada’s archbishop and primate Fred Hiltz has written to Archbishop Gregory Venables of the Southern Cone, requesting that he not attend a meeting of the Anglican Network in Vancouver and reminding Venables of statements in the Windsor Report and by the primates against border crossing. The story is reported here by the National Post. Archbishop Hiltz’s quoted the Archbishop of Canterbury as writing: “I am quite content to repeat that I do not endorse any cross-provincial transfers of allegiance, and that this office and that of the Anglican Communion recognize one ecclesial body in Canada as a constitutive member of the Communion, the Anglican Church of Canada.” The letter is available here. Venables has replied saying he intends to attend the meeting anyway.

Many views aired at Covenant Conference

A variety of views on the proposed Anglican Covenant were aired during the conference “An Anglican Covenant: Divisive or Reconciling” held April 10–12 at the Desmond Tutu Center in New York City. The conference was sponsored by The General Theological Seminary and other seminaries of The Episcopal Church and by the Anglican Church of Canada. An Episcopal News Service story summarizing the event, plus audio files and transcripts of presentations can be reached from here.

Priest-in-charge appointed to Groton parish

The evolving story of the “Connecticut Six” continued this week, as the suffragan bishop of the Diocese of Connecticut announced the appointment of the Rev. David Cannon as priest-in-charge of Bishop Seabury Church, Groton. The Bishop Seabury congregation voted in November 2007 to leave The Episcopal Church and to join the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA). They have remained in control of the parish property, which Bishop Andrew Smith insisted they vacate last January. The Rev. Ronald Gauss has continued to lead the breakaway congregation. The appointment of the Rev. David Cannon was reported April 14 by Episcopal News Service (ENS). An April 15 story in The Hartford Courant can be read here.

Central N.Y. congregation sued by diocese in property dispute

The Diocese of Central New York has filed suit in a state court seeking “a full accounting and delivery of real and personal property … to the diocese” from Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton, N.Y., according to a story from Episcopal News Service. The vestry, wardens, and rector of Good Shepherd, which, according to its Web site, is a member of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes, voted to leave The Episcopal Church and to apply to affiliate with the Anglican Church of Kenya. Good Shepherd leaders rejected an offer by Bishop Gladstone (Skip) Adams to remain in its building while it sought alternative accommodations.

Houston area parish splinters

The rector, staff, and an unknown number of parishioners of the 1000-member Church of the Good Shepherd in Tomball, Texas, northwest of Houston, have left The Episcopal Church, probably to affiliate with the Anglican Mission in the Americas. A final service presided over by the Rev. Stan Gerber, rector, was held Sunday, April 13. The Houston Chronicle reported April 18 that Gerber and an expected majority of Good Shepherd members will reorganize as St. Timothy’s Anglican Church and hold services in rented space at a junior high school. At least two vestry members will remain with the Episcopal parish. Services will be led by the Rev. Canon C. Andrew Doyle until a suitable interim rector is named.

Protests over depositions continue

The bishop and standing committee of the Diocese of Western Louisiana adopted a resolution rejecting the March depositions of Bishops William Cox and John-David Schofield. A similar protest was made earlier by leaders of the Diocese of South Carolina, charging a quorum was not present when the House of Bishops voted on the action. The Presiding Bishop’s chancellor, David Booth Beers, has rejected suggestions that the depositions were in any way improper.

No special House of Bishops meeting in May

The Rev. Canon Charles Robertson, canon to the Presiding Bishop, wrote to bishops April 16 to inform them that a poll of the bishops had resulted in a decision not to convene a special meeting of the House of Bishops in May. This makes it likely that bishops will not vote on the deposition of Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan before the September meeting of the House. Details are available here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

News for Week Ending 4/14/2008

Violence against gays decried

Changing Attitude, the British-based organization working for GBLT “affirmation” within the Anglican Communion, wrote a letter April 8 to “conservative Anglican church leaders” asking them to tone down anti-gay rhetoric. Gay leaders of Changing Attitude Nigeria have been assaulted, and the life of the director of the parent organization has been threatened. The next day, the Archbishop of Canterbury issued a statement calling the threats against gay leaders “disgraceful.”

Brazilian bishops protest Venables visit to Recife

In a statement made public April 9, bishops of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil expressed “strong repudiation” of a recent visit by Southern Cone Archbishop Gregory Venables to Recife. They said Bishop Venables “took part in and celebrated at official occasions outside his Province without the knowledge and consent of the Archbishop of the Province of Brazil and this House of Bishops.” Details are available here.

First woman Anglican bishop named in Australia

Archdeacon Kay Goldsworthy, will become Australia’s first woman bishop. On May 22, she will be consecrated an assistant bishop in the Anglican Diocese of Perth. The Anglican Church of Australia will become the fourth province in the Anglican Communion to appoint or elect a woman to serve in the episcopate, although 14 of 38 provinces have approved the consecration of women bishops. Stories from The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion can be found here and here.

More developments reported regarding disciplinary proceedings against bishops

The Living Church reported April 9 that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has sent e-mail to all bishops entitled to vote on the deposition of Bishop Robert Duncan. The story suggests that, although a House of Bishops meeting has been scheduled for September 17–19, a special meeting might be held to vote on deposition before the Lambeth Conference this summer.

The Presiding Bishop inhibited retired Bishop of Quincy Edward H. MacBurney on April 2. The bishop’s adopted son died two days later, and Bishop Jefferts Schori has now temporarily lifted the inhibition “to offer the bishop the opportunity to function liturgically in any services for his son if he desires to do so.” The Living Church reports the story here.

Amicable parting of parish in Rio Grande diocese

The Diocese of the Rio Grande announced this week that clergy and congregants of the mission Church of Ascension, Cloudcroft, New Mexico, have been received into the Anglican Province of Uganda. The mission vicar and president of the standing committee concelebrated a service of Holy Eucharist on Sunday, April 6. According to the diocese, the departing group will move to an “alternative location” during the coming week. The diocese also announced that Episcopal worship will continue at the mission location beginning April 13. “Conversations were respectful, cordial and acknowledged respective positions,” the diocesan announcement said. A newspaper report can be read here.

Duncan to preach at Iker celebration

Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan will preach Sunday, April 27, at a service of Evensong marking the 15th anniversary of the consecration of Bishop of Fort Worth Jack L. Iker. (Fort Worth, like Pittsburgh, has voted once on constitutional changes intended to facilitate the diocese’s leaving The Episcopal Church.) The event will be held at St. Vincent’s Cathedral in Bedford, Texas, in the Diocese of Fort Worth. Details can be found on the cathedral’s Web site.

Monday, April 7, 2008

News for Week Ending 4/7/2008

Virginia trial court rules for CANA on one issue

Eleven congregations that have broken away from the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia have won an initial round in court. A Fairfax County (Va.) trial judge ruled late Thursday that a Civil War-era Virginia law regarding “division” within a religious body applies to the present situation in which majorities in 11 parishes have voted to leave the Episcopal Church and affiliate with the newly created Anglican District of Virginia. (The Anglican District of Virginia is part of the Convocation of Anglican Nigerians in America, or CANA.) The court rejected arguments by the Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church that the “division” statute does not apply in this instance.

The court reserved judgment on the question of whether the Virginia statute is constitutional, setting oral arguments on those issues for May 28. A separate trial on church property issues is scheduled this fall. The court further said that legal proceedings on the validity of the voting process employed by the congregations will be scheduled at a later date.

The Lead has provided the best coverage of both the decision itself and the reaction to it here. Its coverage includes links to the court opinion itself, to the Virginia statute that is central to it, and to press coverage. Conservative journalist David Virtue has written his own story on the decision.

Litigation involving parish property of congregations that have left The Episcopal Church has generally favored the church, though state law and parish history can be important factors in determining the outcome of such litigation. The Virginia statute is apparently unique, and its ultimate effect on the Virginia cases cannot be predicted.

Bishop and congregation clash in B.C.

Just as congregations have voted to leave The Episcopal Church, congregations in Canada have voted to leave the Anglican Church of Canada for much the same reasons. This past weekend saw a flare-up in British Columbia involving a parish on Vancouver Island.

The congregation of St. Mary of the Incarnation, Metchosin, voted in February to align with the Anglican Network in Canada. On Friday, April 4, the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia changed the locks on the church, installed a security system in the building, and issued this press release. A court issued an injunction, however, requiring the diocese to allow the breakaway congregation to worship in the church on Sunday. The diocese relented, allowing services to be held, but Bishop of British Columbia James Cowan asserted Sunday that the facts of the case were misrepresented to the court and, apparently, the legal action will continue. News stories can be read here and here.

The Anglican Network in Canada is an arm of Anglican Essentials Canada. It is led by Bishop Donald Harvey, who came out of retirement to head the group now associated with the Southern Cone, as described in an Anglican Communion Network press release. The other arm of Anglican Essentials Canada is Anglican Essentials Federation, which seeks to change the Anglican Church of Canada from within.

Network bishops to meet April 24

Bishops of Anglican Communion Network-affiliated dioceses will meet April 24 in Chicago. Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan, moderator, has said that he called the meeting because “we need to talk frankly and openly about the future.” The meeting is reported on the Network’s Web site. The bishops will likely be discussing, among other matters, the relationships among the Network, the Common Cause Partnership, and such entities as the newly declared Diocese of San Joaquin of the Province of the Southern Cone.

Diocesan Council: Southern Cone ‘wisest forward course’

The Diocesan Council of the Diocese of Pittsburgh adopted a “sense of the council” resolution on April 1 asserting “that alignment with the Province of the Southern Cone is the wisest forward course for the Diocese should the second reading of the constitution changes adopted on November 2, 2007, be passed at second reading.” The vote was 20-1 with 3 abstentions. The motion, which is not binding, asks that a resolution providing for such realignment be drawn up and submitted to the Council for final consideration no later than June. It will then be scheduled for a vote at the diocese’s November 2008 convention. The action of the Council is reported on the diocesan Web site here.

Diocese drops church insurance

As of April 1, the diocese dropped insurance coverage offered by the Church Insurance Corporation and the Church Insurance Corporation of Vermont. These companies are part of Church Pension Group, a company specifically set up to serve Episcopal churches.

In a post on the diocesan Web site, the diocese explained that it was switching coverage to other providers based on cost, the desire for local representation, and because it “provides stability of coverage as the diocese considers realigning to another province of the Anglican Communion.” The change covers worker’s compensation; directors & officers insurance; and property, casualty, and liability policies.