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, February 7, 2011

News for week ending 2/7/2011

Presiding Bishop appointed to White House panel

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was appointed to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships February 4, 2011. The appointment is for one year. Other appointees include Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Mark Hanson and Reverend Elder Nancy L. Wilson, Moderator for the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches and a student at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Advisory Council normally comprises 25 members. Additional appointments are expected.

The White House announcement may be read here, and the Web pages of the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships can be found here. Episcopal News Service ran a brief story on the appointment, and The Lead provides additional information, including the fact that the appointments are somewhat overdue, as members of the 2009–2010 panel were announced two years ago. Additional information about Wilson can be found here.

East Carolina convention nixes Covenant

In its 128th diocesan convention, held February 4–5, 2011, the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina passed a resolution advising the church’s Executive Council to reject the Anglican Covenant as it has been presented to the churches of the Anglican Communion. Specifically, the resolution asks Executive Council to continue the conversation within the Anglican Communion regarding communion among our churches without accepting the document currently up for adoption. The resolution also expresses the desire that any future draft “represent more truly, and with greater clarity and full recognition of voices of laity and clergy, our Anglican tradition and Christian faith.” The East Carolina measure cites the elevation of the “Instruments of Unity” to the status of governing bodies of the Communion and the lack of check and balances in the mechanisms set out in the Covenant draft as reasons for rejecting the “final text” of the Anglican Covenant.

Fort Worth hearing set for February 8

As we noted here last week, the group that left the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth for the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone filed an objection to the summary judgment of the District Court of Tarrant County, Texas, assigning diocesan property to the Episcopal Church diocese. The Episcopal diocese reports that a hearing is to be held on the objection February 8, 2011. The Episcopal diocese has filed this 110-page response.

Good Shepherd, Rosemont, drops malpractice suit

David Moyer and the Vestry of Good Shepherd in Rosemont, Pa., have dropped a malpractice lawsuit against the lawyer and law firm that have represented the church in its dispute with the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) John H. Lewis, Jr., and his law firm Montgomery, McCracken have not received an apology and have suggested that the church may be the target of a suit for bringing the action against them without merit. The dispute between the diocese and Good Shepherd is unresolved, even though Moyer has been deposed. David Virtue ran stories on the Good Shepherd disputes here and here.

Pittsburgh diocese cuts deal with dissident congregataion

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported February 1, 2011, that St. Philip’s Church in Moon Township, a church that has been aligned with the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh since the October 4, 2008, split of the diocese, was to vote on an agreement between the church and the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh to settle all disputes between St. Philip’s and the diocese. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review ran a story February 2 indicating that the church had agreed to the pact with the diocese. The diocese issued a clarification of the terms of the agreement here.

The agreement ended months of confidential negotiations between the diocese and St. Philip’s. Because the Board of Trustees of the diocese held title to the St. Philip’s real estate, the agreement may not be a model for churches holding title to their own property. The financial arrangements are described in the diocesan statement, but exact monetary figures have not been disclosed. The most controversial provision of the agreement is that the church must remove itself from the Anglican diocese and remain independent for a minimum of five years. Archbishop Robert Duncan discussed this and other legal matters—see story below—in a pastoral letter to his diocese. The Anglican diocese has approved the withdrawal of St. Philip’s, which will become an independent church. The Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County and the Orphan’s Court will also have to approve the agreement.

Court rejects Anglican diocese appeal

On February 2, 2011, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania rejected all arguments made by Archbishop Robert Duncan and his allies in their appeal of the decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County to grant custody of diocesan property to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh announced the decision on its Web site, and Episcopal News Service ran a story as well. The decision can be read here. On February 4, the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh issued a press release in which Archbishop Robert Duncan called the Commonwealth Court ruling “deeply disappointing.” According to the press release, the appellants will ask for a re-hearing of arguments before Commonwealth Court.