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, September 9, 2013

News for Week Ending 9/9/2013

Four UTO board members resign in dispute with church

Four members of the board of the United Thank Offering (UTO) have resigned in protest over draft bylaw revisions proposed by Episcopal Church leadership. Among the resigned leaders is board president, Barbi Tinder. In a statement released September 3, 2013, the former board members allege that the UTO board is being reduced to an advisory group. Apparently, some members of the UTO board believe that the church is trying to execute a power (and perhaps money) grab. The other side is talking about the need for legal niceties and transparency. Since September 3, we have seen various statements and documents, but it is not clear that the relevant parties are talking to one another, and it is difficult for outsiders to draw conclusions confidently.

No doubt, more statements will be forthcoming. Meanwhile, interested readers may wish to consult the following:
  • On September 4, The Lead re-posted the letter from the resigned leaders, as well as a statement from the church’s Office of Public Affairs and from the President of the House of Deputies.
  • Writing on September 5, Mark Harris tried to make sense of things on his blog but felt that he could not disclose the proposed bylaws that are in dispute.
  • The next day, the Presiding Bishop offered a statement and released documents related to the dispute. Episcopal News Service covered the response from the Presiding Bishop here.
  • Also on September 6, Ann Fontaine offered some background and actually posted the controversial bylaws draft.
  • On September 7, Mark Harris asked “Does a Document Dump address the UTO Four’s Protest?
  • The same day, Tobias Haller suggested that UTO might best be an independently incorporated non-profit. (The analogy would be the transformation of the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief, which became Episcopal Relief and Development.)
  •  The president of the National ECW board issued a statement, apparently also on September 7.
This story will surely generate more news in the days to come.

Texas Supreme Court overturns another decision favoring an Episcopal diocese

We noted last week that the Texas Supreme Court vacated a summary judgment in favor of an Episcopal diocese in a property case, but we failed to report that, on the same day (August 30, 2013), the court vacated a summary judgment in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas against the breakaway congregation of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in San Angelo, Texas. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) As in the Fort Worth case, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the trial court for further argument. Also, as in the Fort Worth case, a dissenting opinion was filed. A statement from Bishop Scott Mayer and links to the court opinions can be found here.