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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A Service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh         

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.