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, February 21, 2011

News for Week Ending 2/21/2011

Anglicans Online announces opposition to Covenant

In its weekly essay for this week, Anglicans Online (AO), one of the oldest Anglican sites on the World Wide Web, announced its opposition to the Anglican Covenant. AO has a reputation of being non-political, but its Covenant essay argues that the Covenant will forever change the Anglican Communion and make it less nimble to act in the modern world. The AO essay can be found here.

Communion issues documents promoting Covenant

The Anglican Communion Office has issued a Study Guide and a set of Questions and Answers related to the Anglican Communion Covenant. Episcopal News Service wrote about these new documents here, suggesting that they can be useful in diocesan discussions about the Covenant. In reality, however, these documents are examples of advocacy for the adoption of the Covenant. The introductory page of the Study Guide, for example, declares
This study guide is intended to help Anglicans engage with the text of The Anglican Communion Covenant: to understand it, to deepen their faith as Anglican Christians, and to become more committed to life together in the Anglican family.
The documents are the product of the Inter-Anglican Standing Committee on Unity Faith and Order (IASCUFO).

Women priests coming to Cyprus and the Gulf diocese

Episcopal News Service reported February 18, 2011, that the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf has received permission to ordain women as priests. The diocese is part of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East. The first such ordination may take place as early as June. The decision does not affect the other dioceses of the province.

Ottawa diocese reaches agreement with two churches

Anglican Journal reported February 21, 2011, that the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa of the Anglican Church of Canada has reached an agreement with two Ottawa churches that had voted to join the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC), part of the Anglican Church in North America. St. George’s church will be disestablished and its property sold to its ANiC congregation, which will rename it. ANiC clergy will leave St. Alban the Martyr Church by July 1. A statement from the diocese about the agreement can be found here.

Episcopal Church Executive Council meets in Fort Worth

The Executive Council of The Episcopal Church met in Fort Worth February 16–18, 2011. This was an emotional meeting for the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, which, like Pittsburgh is dealing with the split that occurred in 2008. Fort Worth Episcopalians hosted a number of events for the Council and told their story of rebuilding. (See Episcopal News Service Story here and an inspiring video produced by the diocese here.) A summary of Executive Council resolutions can be read here and a letter to the church describing the work of the Council is here.

‘No one will be turned out of their church home’

Wallis Ohl, provisional bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth wrote a pastoral letter to his diocese on January 22, 2011, after a court ruling in favor of the diocese. (See Pittsburgh Update story here. The latest Pittsburgh Update story on the Fort Worth litigation is here.) In his letter, Ohl urged his flock to offer those who left for the Southern Cone a “prodigious welcome” and promised that “no one would be turned out of their church home.”

Virginia settles with Oatlands church

The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia announced February 20, 2011, that it had reached a settlement with Church of Our Saviour in Oatlands, Virginia. The church is one of nine that attempted to leave The Episcopal Church while retaining the parish property. According to the agreement, which terminates all litigation between the church and the diocese, Our Saviour will lease the property from the diocese for up to five years and will use some of its funds to make necessary repairs to the building. It must disaffiliate from all breakaway “Anglican” groups for as long as it occupies the building. Episcopal visits must be approved by the Bishop of Virginia. The Washington Post quoted the rector of the church as observing that $400,000 had been incurred in legal costs, even though the real estate is only worth $314,000. As we reported here, the diocese and the breakaway churches return to court on April 25.

Duncan reacts to Somerset agreement

Archbishop Robert Duncan, bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh responded to the agreement between the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and Somerset Anglican Fellowship—see Pittsburgh Update story here—by sending a pastoral letter to his diocese. In it, he expressed dismay that the agreement was concluded without the knowledge of the Anglican diocese. His letter concludes
In light of these very serious developments, I feel compelled to issue a godly directive to all of the clergy of the diocese not to engage in, conduct, or conclude negotiations without first discussing such actions with me, or with Canon Mary, and with our chancellor.
It is not known whether the Episcopal diocese is currently negotiating with other congregations that left the diocese in 2008. The Duncan letter can be read in a post on The Lead.

Bishop Price sends offer to non-participating churches

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh announced February 18, 2011, that Bishop Kenneth Price, the diocese’s provisional bishop, has written to churches that have not been participating in the diocese, i.e., churches in the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, inviting reconciliation or an amicable resolution of differences. He indicated that agreements with individual churches—different circumstances will require individual agreements—must acknowledge Episcopal Church canons regarding property. Accompanying the bishop’s letter was a six-page pastoral direction. Bishop Price noted that, according to diocesan canons, churches that have not participated in the life of the diocese and paid their diocesan assessment could be declared transitional parishes as of March 13, 2011, after which title to parish property becomes vested in the Board of Trustees. According to a February 19 story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh has welcomed an offer from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh for the Anglican parishes to negotiate for their property.” A spokesman for the Anglican diocese was quoted as saying that his diocese would like to see a single agreement covering all the breakaway churches. Of course, the Episcopal diocese has not offered that and has not suggested that it would negotiate with the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.