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, January 30, 2012

News for Week Ending 1/30/2012

AMiA/Rwanda rift continues to make news

The rift between the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) and the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda continues to make news. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) On January 20, 2012, George Conger reported that the break between the AMiA and the Rwandan church was complete, Bishop Chuck Murphy having rejected the agreement hammered out on January 4. On January 26, however, VirtueOnline ran a story saying that AMiA Bishop John Rodgers had accused Conger of making false statements about Murphy and the Church of Rwanda. Two days later, The Tennessean ran a story on the uncertainty posed by the AMiA/Rwanda situation. In that story, Amglican Church in North America’s Archbishop Robert Duncan is quoted as saying that the AMiA clergy that have broken away from Rwandan oversight are now “former Anglicans.”

Moyer rebuffed by Catholic Church

Fr. David L. Moyer, former rector of Good Shepherd, Rosemont, in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, has been blocked by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput from becoming a Roman Catholic priest in the recently announced Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Moyer was deposed by Bishop of Pennsylvania Charles Bennison and immediately welcomed briefly into the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh by then Bishop Robert Duncan 10 years ago. VirtueOnline ran a story on Moyer and his strange ecclesiastical odyssey January 29, 2012. (For additional background, see Pittsburgh Update story here.)

Monday, January 23, 2012

News for Week Ending 1/23/2012

English archbishops suggest ‘engagement’ with ACNA

Episcopal News Service reported January 20, 2012, that the Archbishop of Canterbury and Archbishop of York have written a document for the upcoming General Synod of the Church of England advocating “an open-ended engagement” of that church with the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). As we reported here, the February 2010 General Synod passed this resolution, which began as a resolution declaring that the Church of England actually desired to be in full communion with ACNA:
That this Synod, aware of the distress caused by recent divisions within the Anglican churches of the United States of America and Canada:
a) recognize and affirm the desire of those who have formed the Anglican Church in North America to remain within the Anglican family
b) acknowledge that this aspiration, in respect both of relations with the Church of England and membership of the Anglican Communion, raises issues which the relevant authorities of each need to explore further; and
c) invite the Archbishops to report further to the Synod in 2011.
In the report from Rowan Williams and John Sentamu, the English archbishops “encourage an open-ended engagement with ACNA on the part of the Church of England and the Communion,” while asserting that the “Church of England remains fully committed to the Anglican Communion and to being in communion both with the Anglican Church of Canada and the Episcopal Church.” Archbishop Robert Duncan is quoted in an ACNA story as follows:
We are encouraged by the desire of the Church of England to continue to embrace the Anglican Church in North America and remain in solidarity with us as we proclaim the Gospel message and truth as revealed in Scripture in the way it has always been understood in Anglican formularies.
The Rev. Canon Phil Ashey, of the American Anglican Council, offers a more nuanced reaction here.

Despite consultations, AMiA/Rwanda tie unclear

We reported here last month that the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) had broken its ties to the Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda. Despite various meetings, it is not clear what the near term relationship of the AMiA to Rwanda or to the Anglican Church in North America is likely to be. The American Anglican Council has published a communiqué resulting from a January 4, 2012, meeting of representatives of the AMiA and the Rwandan church that took place in Kenya. Essentially, the sides agreed to keep talking. Also, AMiA priest Philip Eberhart wrote on VirtueOnline about his experience attending meetings in Houston and Raleigh. His report is interesting, but Eberhard doesn’t know where the relationship is going, either.

More information released on episcopal candidates

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has released additional information on the four candidates who have been nominated to become the next Bishop of Pittsburgh. Links to information such as age, education, etc., of the candidates can be found in the revised post announcing the candidates.

Monday, January 16, 2012

News for Week Ending 1/16/2012

English Bishops call for candid Covenant debate

The Lead reported January 16, 2012, that retired Church of England bishops John Saxbee and Peter Selby have published a letter in Church Times pleading for “candid, even-handed, and open” discussion of the proposed Anglican Covenant. (The Covenant is being debated by diocesan synods and will be brought to the General Synod if approved by a majority of Church of England dioceses.) The bishops, episcopal patrons of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition, lament “that many bishops who are against the Anglican Covenant don’t want to say for fear of seeming disloyal, that diocesan synods are ‘debating’ the issue without hearing both sides of the argument equally presented, and that there is so much boredom and weariness about the whole issue.”

Archbishop of Cape Town: Covenant ‘necessary’

According to Anglican Communion News Service, Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba has written to the Archbishop of Canterbury in response to the English primate’s Advent letter (see Pittsburgh Update story here). In that letter, Makgoba observes, “It seems to me that the Covenant is entirely necessary, in recalling us to ourselves. Only in this way can we continue to grow in bearing this rich fruit that comes from living the life which is both God’s gift and God’s calling.” The ACNS story includes both the letter and an analysis.

Virginia trial court rules for diocese in property cases

The same judge who who ruled against the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia in the property case involving congregations that left The Episcopal Church while attempting to retain church property has, in a retrial, ruled for the diocese. In December 2008, Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Randy I. Bellows handed down an opinion, based on a Virginia Civil War era statute, that awarded real and personal property to the breakaway churches that are now part of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) On appeal, the Virginia Supreme Court remanded the case to the trial court, ruling that the state church division statute was misapplied. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) With the idiosyncratic state statute off the table, the case pitting the remaining seven churches against an Episcopal diocese looked like a church property case in any other state. Bellows’ opinion acknowledged that the canon law of The Episcopal Church does not allow a congregation to leave with its property and that the churches, prior to their recent departure, operated within the established rules of the church. Bellows determined that the church should relinquish real and personal property to the Episcopal diocese but can keep property obtained with funds collected after they declared themselves to be outside The Episcopal Church.

Episcopal news service reported this story. The ENS report includes links to commentary on the latest development in the Virginia story.

Four candidates named for Pittsburgh bishop

On January 15, 2012, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh announced the names of four candidates vying for election as the next Episcopal Bishop of Pittsburgh. The candidates are:
  1. The Rev. Canon Michael N. Ambler, Jr., Rector of Grace Episcopal Church, Bath, Maine
  2. The Rev. Dorsey W. M. McConnell, Rector of Church of the Redeemer, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
  3. The Rev. R. Stanley Runnels, Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Kansas City, Missouri
  4. The Rev. Ruth Woodliff-Stanley, Rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Denver, Colorado 
Additional candidates to be considered at the April 12 election may be nominated by petition. Petitions must be submitted by February 5.

The diocesan announcement can be found here. A description of the process that led to the January 15 announcement is on the diocesan Web site here.

Monday, January 9, 2012

News for Week Ending 1/9/2012

Orombi to Retire

Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, primate of the Church of Uganda, has announced his retirement. A new primate will be elected in June and enthroned in December. Orombi would have reached the mandatory retirement age in January 2014. Orombi was a prominent supporter of deposed bishop Robert Duncan and had made a number of visits to Pittsburgh. New Vision covered the story here.

Texas Supreme Court to hear Fort Worth case

According to the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, the Texas Supreme Court has agreed to consider the direct appeal of the breakaway Fort Worth diocese to last year’s partial summary judgment in favor of the Episcopal diocese in the Fort Worth property case. The press release from the breakaway diocese can be read here.

Two properties returned to Episcopal diocese

The properties of St. Martin’s, Monroeville, and Good Samaritan, Liberty Boro, were returned to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh at the beginning of January. The congregations, members of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, found other venues for worship. The transfer was announced by the Anglican diocese; the Episcopal diocese has not yet commented on the transfer, which returned properties whose deeds are held by the Episcopal diocese’s Board of Trustees.

Monday, January 2, 2012

News for Week Ending 1/2/2012

Vatican establishes U.S. ordinariate

The Vatican announced the establishment of an American ordinariate January 1, 2012, for Episcopal priests and congregations who want to become Roman Catholics while retaining elements of their Anglican heritage. The provision for such ordinariates was first announced in 2009. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The new ordianariate will be headquartered in Houston, Texas—its new Web site is here—and will be led by Jeffrey Steenson, the former Episcopal Bishop of Rio Grande who left The Episcopal Church to become Roman Catholic. Because he is married, Steenson cannot become a Roman Catholic bishop under Vatican rules. Details of the story can be found here.

Episcopal Church debuts new Web site

The Episcopal Church unveiled a redesigned Web site December 28, 2011. In a story from Episcopal News Service, the site is described as a “welcoming, eye-appealing, easy-to-navigate, experiential site.” The site is available at the same address as formerly, namely http://episcopalchurch.org. Comments on the new site can be made at http://episcopalchurch.org/contact.