News for Week Ending 3/30/2009
GC 2009 Blue Book AvailableThe so-called Blue Book, the collection of reports and information prepared for deputies to the 76th General Convention, is now available on-line on the Web site of The Episcopal Church. The General Convention, the governing body of the church that meets once every three years, will be held this year in Anaheim, California, from July 8 to July 17.
Diocese of Colorado and Episcopal Church prevail in property disputeA Colorado judge ruled March 24 that the former Episcopalians occupying Grace and St. Stephen’s Church must vacate the property and return it to the diocese and to the parishioners who remained in The Episcopal Church rather than join the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA). The Colorado Springs church is said to be worth $17 million. The decision came after a five-week trial and can be read here.
The defection of Grace and St. Stephen’s Church from the Diocese of Colorado has received much attention both because of the size and prominence of the church and because its rector, the Rev. Don Armstrong, an outspoken critic of The Episcopal Church who encouraged his congregation to leave The Episcopal Church in 2007, was deposed by the diocese for mishandling of parish funds. Armstrong may eventually face criminal changes as well. Episcopal News Service ran a major story about developments in Colorado on March 24, 2009. The trial judge ordered the dissident congregation to return the church property to the diocese and to the members of Grace and St. Stephen’s who stayed in The Episcopal Church. According to The Denver Post, the CANA congregation will move into a new facility on April 3, 2009.
An editorial noteThis has been something of a slow news week, which makes this a good time to comment on our choice of stories for Pittsburgh Update. Every week, the editors of Pittsburgh Update have to decide which stories to cover and which stories to ignore. These choices are often quite difficult; we sometimes cover seemingly minor stories while ignoring others that are clearly important. Readers should keep in mind that we are not trying to keep Episcopalians updated on all the important news of The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. Instead, we are trying to serve Pittsburgh Episcopalians with news likely to be relevant to current and future circumstances in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. The connection is sometimes speculative, and, if it’s too speculative, we may pass on a story.
This week, for example, the Bishop of Rochester in the Church of England, the Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, announced that he would step down to devote himself to the Christian church in areas of the world where Christians are a minority. (The bishop, who is from Pakistan, was the first non-white diocesan bishop in the Church of England.) Because Nazir-Ali has been a strong supporter of the GAFCON movement, some have speculated that his departure suggests that liberals are gaining the upper hand in the struggles within the Anglican Communion. It seems as likely, however, that Nazir-Ali will simply play a different role, still supporting the GAFCON movement. Or not. Maybe this is a story of great significance to the future of the Pittsburgh diocese. We were not convinced, however, and we decided to skip it.
Of the stories we did cover this week, the Blue Book story might seem like a close call, but the Colorado story, one about a property dispute, is clearly of interest to Pittsburghers, who are already in a property dispute that threatens to get ever more complicated and acrimonious. The General Convention is clearly important to all Episcopalians, but we covered it this week because the Anglican world will again be looking at how our church is responding to the Windsor Report and its rather long aftermath. Moreover, revision of Title IV, the canons on clergy discipline, are again up for revision by the General Convention. Title IV has been important to Pittsburgh—the deposition of Bishop Duncan was governed by Title IV canons—and how the diocese deals with clergy who have left the diocese (or who have left and may come back) will be greatly influenced by the disciplinary canons of Title IV.
Pittsburgh Update will maintain its somewhat narrow focus on Pittsburgh. If you want to know more about The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, however, you will have to get news from other sources as well. There are plenty such sources on the Web, and, if you are interested, we urge you to read them regularly.