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, October 25, 2010

News for Week Ending 10/25/2010

Traditionalist forces in CoE claim votes to block women bishop plan

According to Church Times, Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic traditionalists believe they have the votes to prevent the acceptance of the current plan to allow women bishops in the Church of England. That plan, which groups opposed to women bishops say makes insufficient concessions to their views, again comes before the church’s General Synod next month. Recent elections have changed the composition of the General Synod, which, unlike the General Convention in The Episcopal Church, has separate houses for clergy and laypeople, as well as for bishops. Women and the Church (WATCH) has disputed the Church Times analysis in a press release. Riazat Butt, writing for The Observer on October 24, 2010, gave this analysis of the women bishop issue in the Church of England.

Montreal diocese moves toward ‘shared episcopal ministry’

According to an October 19, 2010, story from Episcopal News Service, the Diocese of Montreal, in the Anglican Church of Canada, may experiment with a shared episcopal ministry, a concept suggested in the Windsor Report. Under such a plan, parishes not comfortable with the blessing of same-sex unions, could be overseen by a bishop other than the diocesan bishop, who would not, in the process, give up jurisdiction over such parishes. Bishop Barry Clarke plans to offer a proposal for shared episcopal ministry in January.

PB to Executive Council: church should be more nimble

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church October 24, 2010, that the church needs to be more nimble to respond to change. The remark was made in Salt Lake City, Utah, where the Executive Council is meeting October 23–25. Jefferts Schori said that structural change is needed in the church and raised questions such as whether the church needs a building in New York City. In a story from Episcopal News Service, the Presiding Bishop is quoted as saying, “I think we’re in some danger of committing suicide by governance by focusing internally rather than externally.” The Presiding Bishop’s remarks were apparently both unclear and upsetting to members of the Council, as can be read in subsequent ENS stories here and here.

Western La. endorses covenant

The Living Church reported October 19, 2010, that the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana, led by Communion Partner bishop, the Rt. Rev. D. Bruce MacPherson, formally endorsed the Anglican covenant draft at its October 15–16 convention. The resolution passed encourages the General Convention to adopt the covenant on behalf of The Episcopal Church. Such diocesan resolutions, of course, only express the sentiment of the diocese and have no direct effect on the adoption of the covenant.

California judges find case ‘confusing’

The question of property ownership in the now split Diocese of San Joaquin was before California’s 5th District Court of Appeal October 20, 2010. According to the Fresno Bee, the judges find the case “confusing.” In particular, there is a question as to whether the court can even get involved in such a case. The breakaway diocese, led by Bishop John-David Schofield, is appealing a lower-court ruling that determined that Episcopal Church bishop Jerry Lamb is the proper Bishop of San Joaquin. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Fort Worth litigation continues

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has reported on litigation on two fronts. In a story on its Web site, the diocese reports on filings in anticipation of a November 18, 2010, court date that could determine which diocese is the real Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. In another development, Fort Worth’s All Saints’ Episcopal Church has filed suit in U.S. District Court against Bishop Leo Iker claiming misuse of the parish identity. A letter to parishioners of the Episcopal parish can be found here. The October 18 complaint can be found here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

News for Week Ending 10/18/2010

Southern Cone sanctioned by Communion Office

Canon Kenneth Kearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, has written to Bishop of Chile Tito Zavala informing him that he is being removed from the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) after failing to respond to a letter from Kearon clarifying his role in border crossings. Chile is part of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. Similar sanctions had been imposed on members of The Episcopal Church for violation of the three moratoria urged by the Windsor Report. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) To date, only The Episcopal Church and the Southern Cone have been punished by having their members removed from Anglican bodies. The story was covered by both Anglican Communion News Service and Episcopal News Service October 14, 2010.

South Carolina moves toward schism

According to an October 15, 2010, Episcopal News Service story, the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, in a re-convened diocesan convention, passed six resolutions designed to “protect” the diocese from The Episcopal Church. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Reputedly, the resolutions are a reaction to the Title IV revisions of the Episcopal Church canons. (Title IV deals with clergy discipline.) Some are worried, however, that resolution presage a break with The Episcopal Church. See the ENS story for details.

No-drama convention approves bishop search

The annual convention of the Episcopal diocese of Pittsburgh held October 16 and 17, 2010, at Trinity Cathedral was notable for its lack of controversy. The usual elections were held, including those for deputies to the 2012 General Convention. Various changes to the constitution and canons were passed as proposed. The changes included provisions to reduce the number of districts from six to four, which has been deemed more appropriate for a diocese of reduced size. The number of parishes in the diocese was increased by one, however, with the acceptance of the newly formed All Saints parish in Bridgeville.

The most significant action of the convention was the approval of a resolution calling for a search process for a new bishop, who is to be elected April 12, 2012. The resolution was a version revised by the Standing Committee after objections to certain details were questioned. A minor amendment was adopted to clarify the intent of the resolution.

As this is being written, stories about the convention are still being added to the diocesan Web site. Access to all information about the convention can be had from here. Episcopal News Service also reported on the convention.

Monday, October 11, 2010

News for Week Ending 10/11/2010

Baltimore congregation may defect to Rome

According to The Living Church, the congregation of Mt. Calvary Church, an Anglo-Catholic parish in Baltimore, Maryland, may soon decide to leave The Episcopal Church and take advantage of the Vatican’s offer to join the Roman Catholic Church while maintaining certain Anglican traditions. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The vestry has voted unanimously to leave The Episcopal Church for Rome, and the congregation will vote October 24, 2010, on two resolutions, one to leave The Episcopal Church and one to petition the Roman Catholic Church to become an Anglican-use parish, according to an October 6 article in The Catholic Review. It is expected that the congregation will negotiate with the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland to purchase the parish property if the congregation votes to leave the diocese.

Plano church to leave AMiA for ACNA

According to a story on the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh Web site, Christ Church Plano (Texas) has announced its intention to leave the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) and to join the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) as part of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. The large, suburban Dallas congregation, lead by the Rev. Canon David Roseberry, left the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas in 2006. Shortly thereafter, it became part of the AMiA, which is sponsored by the Anglican Province of Rwanda. The Plano church, which supported the establishment of ACNA, began consideration of a move from AMiA after AMiA withdrew from being a full member of ACNA. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Omaha church challenging Dennis Canon

VirtueOnline reported September 29, 2010, that Anglo-Catholic St. Barnabas Parish in Omaha, Nebraska, is challenging the Dennis Canon in litigation brought by the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska. The vestry of St. Barnabas voted in 2007 to leave the diocese and take the parish property into the Traditional Anglican Communion, a body that is not part of the Anglican Communion and is seeking to become part of the Roman Catholic Church. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Parish leaders believe that the Dennis Canon, which declares that property is held in trust for The Episcopal Church, will not be upheld under Nebraska law.

Pittsburgh to hold annual convention October 15–16

The annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh will be held at Trinity Cathedral October 14 and 15, 2010. Information about the convention, including pre-convention materials, can be found here. On October 11, 2010, the diocese sent e-mail to deputies. It contained substitutes for the two resolutions to be voted on. The revised resolutions are not on the diocesan Web site as this is being written. The e-mail message, however, can be read here. A number of workshops are being offered on Saturday, October 16, which are open to all. Descriptions of the workshops can be found on the diocesan Web site here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

News for Week Ending 10/4/2010

Southern Africa moves toward covenant approval

According to Anglican Communion News Service, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa voted October 1, 2010, to adopt the draft Anglican covenant. Although this moves the province closer to formal approval of the agreement, another vote will have to be taken at the 2013 Provincial Synod to complete the approval process. The vote was not a close one, but reservations were expressed about the wisdom of the adoption. Nevertheless, the sentiment in the Provincial Synod seemed to be that the covenant could help bring the Anglican Communion together, not that it could be a tool of punishment for churches such as The Episcopal Church. Episcopal News Service (ENS) also covered this story here.

ENS also reported that the Provincial Synod was being urged to ordain more women priests and elect women priests to be bishops. Although the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has women priests, there are no women bishops in the church, and not all dioceses ordain women.

AAC president advises primates to shun PB

As we recently noted—see Pittsburgh Update story here—the next meeting of the Anglican Communion primates will be held in Dublin Ireland at the end of January. George Conger, writing for The Church of England Newspaper, reports that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has indicated that she will attend the meeting but that Global South primates, who will meet next month, will discuss whether to attend the same meeting as the Episcopal Church primate.

Bishop David Anderson, former Episcopalian and now bishop in the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) and American Anglican Council (AAC) president has offered advice to the primates in his weekly message to AAC e-mail subscribers. Anderson advises sympathetic conservative primates to meet in advance and to plan to exile Jefferts Schori from the meeting “by either voting her off the ‘island,’ or recessing to another room and not letting her in.” If the Archbishop of Canterbury does not go along with this plan, Anderson says, he, too, should be excluded from the meeting.

Bishop/Standing Committee struggle continues in Pennsylvania

Conflict continues in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania between newly returned Bishop Charles Bennison and the diocesan Standing Committee. (See most recent Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Standing Committee wrote a letter to Bishop Bennison September 29, 2010, accusing the bishop of acting in bad faith, pursuing his own ill-conceived agenda, and accusing prosecution witnesses in his trial of having committed perjury. Although the Standing Committee did not again ask Bennison to step down, the letter did include the following: “Bishop, the letter of the law has allowed you to return. Please consider the spirit of the law as you determine your way forward, for yourself and for the Diocese of Pennsylvania.” Episcopal New Service ran a story October 1 on the latest Standing Committee letter.

Lawrence attacks Episcopal Church

South Carolina’s bishop, Mark Lawrence, has published a broadside against The Episcopal Church in The Living Church. Titled “A Conservationist among Lumberjacks,” the essay comes shortly before the convention of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina reconvenes on October 15, 2010, to pass resolutions to “protect” the diocese from The Episcopal Church. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Lawrence charges the Presiding Bishop with usurping her authority, claims the Title IV revisions are unconstitutional, and complains about the way Pittsburgh’s former bishop Robert Duncan was deposed. Arguing that “[t]he axe swinging to rid TEC of its troublesome clerics isn’t working,” Lawrence calls on the church to address its “deeper theological problems.”

Episcopal election plan for diocese prompts vigorous discussion

In the three pre-convention hearings last week, the plan proposed by the Standing Committee for electing the next diocesan bishop for Pittsburgh proved to be the most controversial matter that will be considered at the next diocesan convention, which is scheduled to take place at Trinity Cathedral October 15–16, 2010. Resolution 2, “Call for Episcopal Election,” proposes April 12, 2012, as the date for a special convention to elect the next Bishop of Pittsburgh.

It was not the initiation of the search process nor the scheduling of the special convention that sparked discussion, but the nature of the nomination process. Resolution 2 calls for a Nomination Committee to propose candidates. While that committee is pursuing its business, candidates may be guaranteed a place on the ballot by petition of three lay and three clergy deputies, subject only to a background check required by The Episcopal Church. The final ballot is prevented, by the proposal, from distinguishing candidates by how they were nominated.

Whereas members of the Standing Committee argued that the scheme they proposed facilitated transparency, opponents argued that it obscured facts and allowed candidates to be placed on the ballot who have undergone less scrutiny than other candidates. The Standing Committee may revise Resolution 2, but it seems unlikely that the concerns of everyone can be addressed. The diocesan Web site describes the proposed process here. Convention and registration materials can be found here.