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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Monday, April 13, 2009

News for Week Ending 4/13/2009

New Anglican covenant draft issued

As expected, the Covenant Design Group made public this past week—see press release here—its latest (third) draft for a proposed Anglican covenant. (See last week’s Pittsburgh Update post here.) The so-called Ridley Cambridge Covenant Draft was completed at the Group’s meeting in Cambridge, England, March 30–April 3. Episcopal News Service, in its story on the new text, reports that the two Episcopal Church members of the Covenant Design Group view the new draft as an improvement over the previous one (that is, the St. Andrew’s draft), responding as it does to comments from Anglican provinces and from bishops who attended the 2008 Lambeth Conference. In addition to the covenant text itself, the Covenant Design Group has issued its own commentary on the new draft. The Ridley Cambridge draft, the Group’s commentary, and earlier drafts and related documents can be found here.

The Ridley Cambridge draft will be considered by the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in May. The ACC may send the draft to the Anglican Communion provinces for their approval, though this is not certain.

Reaction to the new draft has been mixed and is, at this time, fragmentary. Thinking Anglicans has been updating its list of remarks on the new draft here.

Court orders breakaway churches to pay Niagara diocese

According to an Anglican Journal article dated 4/6/2009 and later revised, three congregations that left the Anglican Church of Canada to join the Anglican Network in Canada have paid the Diocese of Niagara $20,000 for legal costs incurred in the property dispute among the parties. Judge Jane Milanetti had ruled in May 2008 that church buildings had to be shared by departing and remaining parishioners until ownership had been determined. At the time, she had already determined that property of two of the three parishes belonged to the diocese. (See Pittsburgh Update post here.) The diocese may collect additional money to cover legal costs as the result of a future hearing.

Episcopalians appeal to Virginia Supreme Court

After losing a string of property-related court decisions that hinged on a unique nineteenth-century Virginia law about church “divisions,” the Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church have appealed to Virginia’s highest court to reverse the earlier decisions of a Fairfax County judge. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The appeals, filed April 7, 2009, relate to the property of a number of Virginia congregations that have attempted to leave The Episcopal Church, taking property with them. The congregations are now part of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA). The appeals to the Virginia Supreme Court argue that the state statute was misapplied and is, in any case, incompatible with the constitutions both of Virginia and the United States of America. Episcopal News Service reported the story April 8, 2009. The court filings, as well as supporting briefs from other dioceses and other denominations, can be found here on the Diocese of Virginia Web site. The Diocese’s press release on the appeal is available here.

Fallbrook Episcopalians return home

Parishioners of St. John’s Episcopal Church celebrated Easter Sunday in their Fallbrook, California, church April 12, 2009. It was the first time an Episcopal service had been held in the church since 2006, when then-rector Don Kroeger led members of the congregation to remove themselves from The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of San Diego and to affiliate with the Ugandan Anglican church. The decision of the California Supreme Court not to hear an appeal by the Kroeger group to its upholding of an appeals court decision in favor of the Diocese of San Diego—see Pittsburgh Update story here— led to the return of the Episcopalians and the removal of the Ugandan congregation to the facilities of Living Waters Christian Fellowship. The Ugandan congregation, which had called itself St. John’s Anglican Church, has taken on the new name Christ Church, Fallbrook. It began meeting in its temporary home on Palm Sunday, as described in a press release here.

The Rt. Rev. James Mathes, Bishop of San Diego, preached to an overflow crowd. He welcomed the Episcopal congregation home and called for reconciliation. Christ Church, Fallbrook, held its Easter celebration several hours later, presided over by the Rev. Don Kroeger. North Country Times reported the story. An earlier story from Episcopal News Service can be read here.