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.

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A Service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh         

Monday, March 23, 2009

News for Week Ending 3/23/2009

ACNA plans move forward

According to The Living Church, the Anglican Church in North America expects to have between five and eight requests for recognition as dioceses by groups of churches when it holds its first provincial meeting in June. Formation of the ACNA was announced in December by the Common Cause Partnership. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The “Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh” led by Bishop Robert Duncan, has already submitted its application for diocesan status. Duncan is the archbishop-designate of the ACNA, which is intended to be an Anglican alternative to The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada. David Virtue reports on two dioceses-in-formation expected to become part of the ACNA, the Anglican Diocese in the Southeast, in Florida, and the Diocese of Cascadia, in Washington state. Episcopal News Service has a story on the Cascadia developments here.

Although the ACNA has received no official recognition by the Anglican Communion, the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has declared itself to be in full communion with the ACNA. This occurred at the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Nigerian Church. As reported by Pittsburgh Update last week, Duncan was present for the Nigerian gathering. The Common Cause Partnership issued a press release on the recognition by the Church of Nigeria. In it, Duncan is quoted as saying, “In this one action, leaders representing every diocese in the Church of Nigeria, which in turn count as members more than a quarter of the world’s Anglicans, have declared themselves to be full partners of the Anglican Church in North America.”

The Common Cause Partnership issued another press release March 20, 2009, announcing that a member of the vestry of Fox Chapel Episcopal Church, Brad B. Root, will serve as the first Chief Operating Officer of the ACNA. According the the press release, “Root has secured flexible headquarter facilities on ‘Gospel Alley’ at Ambridge, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh International Airport, as well as alongside the headquarters of many of the new Church’s mission organizations and the campus of Trinity Seminary.”

Fallbrook appeal rejected by California court

On March 11, 2009, the California Supreme Court rejected an appeal from members of St. John’s Church, Fallbrook, California, in the case New v. Kroeger. St. John’s, a parish in the Diocese of San Diego, announced its decision to leave The Episcopal Church over doctrinal issues in July 2006. The vestry changed the name of the church to St. John’s Anglican Church and amended its governing documents. The Diocese of San Diego held that such moves were beyond the power of the vestry. In the resulting lawsuit, the Fallbrook group prevailed in the trial court, but the decision was reversed on appeal last October. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) St. John’s Anglican appealed to the Supreme Court, which rejected the plea and let stand the decision of the Fourth District Court of Appeal. That court is expected to order the Superior Court to issue a judgment in favor of the diocese. Parish property will likely be returned to the control of a vestry loyal to the diocese, and St. John’s Anglican will be forced to worship elsewhere. This story was reported by Episcopal News Service and Religious Intelligence on March 17, 2009.

The blog The Three Legged Stool summarizes the Fallbrook dispute and suggests that the Supreme Court action is particularly good news for the Diocese of San Joaquin.

Reorganized San Joaquin diocese celebrates first ordinations

On February 28, 2009, the Rt. Rev. Jerry Lamb performed the first two ordinations in the reorganized Diocese of San Joaquin. The Rev. Stanley Graham Coppel, Jr., and the Rev. David Pena were ordained Episcopal priests in Stockton, California. The ordinations were reported on the diocesan Web site.

Different sort of property dispute in progress in Central N.Y.

Most disputes resulting from congregations leaving The Episcopal Church have involved real estate and church contents. A different sort of contest is playing out in the Diocese of Central New York, however. The church involved is Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton, New York. The congregation withdrew from the diocese in November 2007, and the New York Supreme Court ordered the former Episcopalians out of their building in December 2009. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The latest dispute to reach the courts involves the bequest to the church of a parishioner who died in 1986. Good Shepherd, which now meets in a Roman Catholic church, argues that it should control the trust fund resulting from the generosity of Robert Brannan. The Diocese of Central New York argues that the Good Shepherd parish no longer exists and that the money should go to the alternate beneficiary, Christ Episcopal Church, Binghamton. The story was reported here by a local TV station.