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, August 25, 2008

News for Week Ending 8/25/2008

Anglican Province of America remains outside Partnership

The Anglican Province of America (APA), one of the “continuining” Anglican churches, and one of the original members of the Common Cause Partnership (CCP), has decided to step back to observer status, at least for now, rather than accept the governance plan proposed for the group. The small, Anglo-Catholic church is discomforted by the fact that women’s ordination remains an unresolved matter within the CCP.

The APA recently posted on its Web site its Presiding Bishop’s address to the APA Synod, which concluded last month. (The APA, which is only 10 years old, has a complex history that is described in the Presiding Bishop’s address. Wikipedia offers additional background information it here.) The Most Rev. Walter H. Grundorf devoted a major portion of his talk to the APA’s relationship to the CCP.

Grundorf explained, “Those of the APA and others who left in the 70’s over the ordination of women and Prayer Book are theologically and culturally different from those who are now leaving.” While acknowledging that the APA and CCP have many goals in common, Grundorf asserted that “there can be no inter-communion with other members of CCP who accept the practice [women’s ordination]. APA will remain outside the CCP—it is connected through the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas, though it has no vote—in the hopes that the CCP eventually will reject women’s ordination.

Episcopal Church suffers another setback in Virginia court

Virginia Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows dealt another blow to The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia in their battle to restore the property of parishes that have left the diocese to join the Convocation of Anglicans in North America. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The judge ruled on issues related to the October trial scheduled to resolve property issues regarding the parishes.

Specifically, Bellows declared that he will not allow the church and diocese to make a contracts argument attacking the constitutionality of the state statute on which the breakaway congregations have based their property claims. Nor will he allow an argument that the congregations waived their right to invoke the statute. The court documents can be read on the Diocese of Virginia Web site here. According to a statement issued by the diocese on August 20: “While we are disappointed in today’s ruling, we are committed to exploring every option available to restore constitutional and legal protections for all churches in Virginia. Meanwhile, we look ahead to the October trial and the issues to be considered in the fall.”

San Joaquin bishop asks clergy to recognize his authority

According to an August 22, 2008, press release from the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, Bishop Jerry Lamb has written to active clergy who have been canonically resident in the diocese but who have not recognized his authority as bishop. Recipients of his letter have been instructed to acknowledge Lamb’s authority by September 5 or face disciplinary action. The San Joaquin convention, led by then bishop John-David Schofield, voted to leave The Episcopal Church last December and to join the Anglican province of the Southern Cone. Bishop Lamb was elected as a provisional bishop in a special convention of the reorganized Episcopal diocese in March.

Leaked Duncan e-mail regarding “concerns” acknowledged

On August 20, 2008, the Anglican Communion Network (ACN) posted an e-mail message from ACN and Common Cause Partnership moderator Bishop Robert W. Duncan to Bishop of West Texas Gary Lillibridge. The message had been sent to Lillibridge on August 11 and, according to the story on the ACN Web site, was then forwarded to the other members of the Windsor Continuation Group with Duncan’s permission. The message was posted on Fort Worth-based Katie Sherrod’s blog on August 18, which apparently convinced ACN to acknowledge and post the message on its own Web site.

Duncan wrote to Lillibridge about his concerns for the recommendations of the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG). (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The WCG had proposed moratoria on blessing of same-sex unions, consecration of bishops living in openly gay relationships, and cross-border interventions. Duncan’s primary concern in the e-mail message is with the third moratorium. Duncan wrote:
The second [difficulty] is the notion that, even if the moratoria are held to be equally necessary, there would be some way to “freeze” the situation as it now stands for those of us in the process of separating from The Episcopal Church. The three dioceses of Pittsburgh, Quincy and Fort Worth have taken first constitutional votes on separation with second votes just weeks away. We all anticipate coming under Southern Cone this fall, thus to join San Joaquin. This process cannot be stopped — constitutions require an automatic second vote, and to recommend against passage without guarantees from the other side would be suicidal.
The ACN story quotes Duncan as saying, “I am happy to publicly acknowledge this letter and my description of the concerns we in the Common Cause Partnership have about the proposals of the Windsor Continuation Group.”

Trinity Chapter proposes shared cathedral

The Cathedral Chapter of Trinity Cathedral provisionally approved a “Special Resolution” July 24, 2008, that was the subject of a press release on August 22. (The body of the press release is posted here on the Diocese of Pittsburgh Web site. [Update, 12/19/2011: The press release is no longer available at the site shown. It is available from the Internet Archive here, however.) The resolution announces that, in the event that the October 4 diocesan convention approves realignment, the Cathedral Chapter intends that Trinity Cathedral be shared by members of The Episcopal Church and members of the realigned diocese. The resolution proposes an arrangement under which the cathedral would function under the authority of the bishops of both jurisdictions.