Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Pittsburgh: disagreement in the ranks

Updated Thursday

Episcopal Café has the story, Rift amongst conservative Episcopalians is showing.

In the first public sign of disagreement among theologically conservative clergy in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh over the leadership of Bishop Robert W. Duncan Jr., 12 such rectors and priests told him this week they disapprove of his effort to remove the diocese from the Episcopal Church and will, instead, remain with the denomination.
The 12, including the president of the diocese’s clergy association and its longest-tenured rector, mailed a signed, one-paragraph letter yesterday to the diocese’s 66 churches saying that while they supported the “reformation of the Episcopal Church … we have determined to remain within, and not realign out of” it….


We are rectors and clergy in good standing of the Diocese of Pittsburgh who believe the best way forward for renewal and reformation of the Episcopal Church is support for the Windsor Report and its recommendations. While we understand the need of many of our brothers and sisters to leave the Episcopal Church, we have determined to remain within, and not re-align out of, the Episcopal Church. We intend to “keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:6).

Dated this 29th day of January, 2008:

• The Rev. Nancy Chalfant-Walker, priest in charge of St. Stephen’s, Wilkinsburg
• The Rev. Jay Geisler, rector of St. Stephen’s, McKeesport
• The Rev. Daniel Hall, priest associate, assigned to First Lutheran Church
• The Rev. Norman Koehler, priest, chaplain at Presbyterian Senior Care, Oakmont
• The Rev. Jeffrey Murph, rector of St. Thomas’, Oakmont
• The Rev. Scott Quinn, rector of Church of the Nativity, Crafton
• The Rev. Bruce Robison, rector of St. Andrews’, Highland Park
• The Rev. James Shoucair, rector of Christ Church, North Hills
• The Rev. James Simons, St. Michael’s of the Valley, Ligonier
• The Rev. Stephen Smalley, rector of St. Barnabas’, Brackenridge
• The Rev. Philip Wainwright, rector of St. Peter’s, Brentwood
• The Rev. Don Youse, priest in charge, Emmanuel, North Side

Thursday updates

Here are some links I did not have time to include here yesterday:

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Steve Levin Letter shows rift among Episcopal conservatives

Episcopal News Service PITTSBURGH: Group of priests tells Duncan they will not leave Episcopal Church

And a later article at Episcopal Café notes that:

…of the 180 clergy others are in progressive parishes and were not part of this group of 12 conservatives. It has been estimated that together the opponents of the course Duncan is [taking] could represent as much as 45 percent of average Sunday attendance in the diocese.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 30 January 2008 at 2:44pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: ECUSA

I assume the two listed as "priest-in-charge" are assigned to mission parishes. If Duncan and Pittsburgh take the San Joaquin route, will they find themselves out of a job, as the PTB in the "realigned" diocese summarily dismiss them and--if the parishioners support their p-i-c--simply cut off funding and close the mission church?

Will TEC step in and prevent this, quickly setting up a non-realigned standing committee? TEC has the example of San Joaquin to show what can happen to committed Episcopalians--both clergy and laity--in these situations. Will it allow the same to happen in western PA?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 30 January 2008 at 3:59pm GMT

Doesn't surprise me - goes along with the `open evangelical' mentality, I guess?

Although... the scripture chosen (why? WHY?) does make it sound as though they're running around waiting for the sky to fall on their heads a bit!

Posted by: Tim on Wednesday, 30 January 2008 at 4:36pm GMT

Among weavers there is a term for an important aspect of the weaving trade. It is called "selvage". Wickipedia (enough for our purpose) defines it:
"In a woven fabric, the selvage (or selvedge) is the uncut edge of the fabric which is on the right- and left-hand edges as it comes out of the loom. As such it is 'finished' and will not fray because the weft threads double back on themselves."

It becomes daily more and more clear in San Joaquin, in Botswanna, in GAFCON, at Lambeth, and now in Pittsburgh that the "weavers" of a reformed Anglican Communion seem to have forgotten about that all-important "selvage". They forgot to double back their weft threads!

And so we see the beginning of a fraying of the movement: six Standing Committee members in San Joaquin bounced; Botswanna reasserting its companion relationship with North Carolina; the bishop of Jerusalem asks GAFCON not to come; a good 70% of Anglican bishops accept invite to Lambeth; and now 12 of +Duncan's clique politely tell him "no"; etc.; etc.; etc.

God works in mysterious ways, and this beginning of the fraying of Common Cause and company seems to be a sign of the Divine Hand at work. May that divine intervention continue until the departures are more an embarrassment than a triumph, and those who have grace-fully changed their minds are embraced, given the kiss of peace, and welcomed back home!

Interesting that the number of nay-sayers to +Duncan now equal the number of the original Apostles. It seems God may have a "thing" about an even dozen - and see how many those Apostles finally brought with them!!!!!

Posted by: John-Julian, OJN on Wednesday, 30 January 2008 at 5:27pm GMT

I notice this represents at least 10 out of about 70 churches in Pittsburgh diocese. If you add to these 10 churches the progressive/liberal churches in the diocese, does anyone know how many that makes who are 'staying' rather than 'going'?

Posted by: Simon Butler on Wednesday, 30 January 2008 at 5:51pm GMT

So good to see how these so-called "Christians" love one another. This of course comes as no surprise. JNW

Posted by: John N Wall on Wednesday, 30 January 2008 at 11:11pm GMT

"I assume the two listed as 'priest-in-charge' are assigned to mission parishes." - Pat O'Neill

That is not necessarily so. A 'priest-in-charge' may have been appointed by the vestry of a parish in consultation with the bishop after the rector resigned or retired. It could be a former assistant priest of the parish who, in most jurisdictions, would not be eligible to become the next rector unless s/he had served elsewhere for several years. In most cases, the priest-in-charge serves as interim until a new rector can be called.

Posted by: John Henry on Thursday, 31 January 2008 at 4:11am GMT

Calvary Pittsburgh and its rector are not listed. One can assume that, since it is still in legal proceedings against +Duncan for enforcement of their settlement, that this church makes at least 13?

Posted by: Emily H on Thursday, 31 January 2008 at 1:29pm GMT

I think you will find no overlap at all between these 12 and the parishes supportive of PEP which latter includes Calvary.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 31 January 2008 at 2:16pm GMT

As a Pittsburgher, Well, I live and I'm active in the diocese let me see if I can help.
The priest in charge of one parish is St. Stephen's. That parish has already written a letter to the diocese saying no to network membership. They were one of the first 13 to do so. Nano+ was formerly interim at St. Paul's which also has said no to the network. The parish on the northside is in the gayberhood (as it's known). Emmanuel has jazz vespers on Sunday's and is known as the bake oven church (it's sides bow out like a bake oven). It's has and average attendance of 50 or so. I'm peronsally glad to see them on this list since this is one of the knowtable religious buildings in western pennsylvania (it was featured in Holy Places in Pittsburgh).

If you add these 6 to the 13 already you get a better idea. Christ Church and St. Peter's as well as St. Andrews were already on record of opting out the network and are part of the original 13 (Calvary, St. Thomas, St. Paul's St. Stephen's Wilkinsburg, etc..).

That means 18 parishes total. There are some parishes that don't agree with their rector and other's that are fractured. Like those people in Virginia they faithful remnant may be out worshiping in a house.



Posted by: BobinSwPA on Thursday, 31 January 2008 at 2:37pm GMT

"In most cases, the priest-in-charge serves as interim until a new rector can be called."

Off topic, but fyi: In my diocese, priest-in-charge is often used at a parish that can't afford a full time position. In any case, the functional difference is that a priest-in-charge is on a time-limited contract, while a rector has (theoretically) some job protection, usually involving mediation by the bishop before he or she can be dismissed.

Posted by: Mark on Thursday, 31 January 2008 at 3:49pm GMT


Yes it was helpful.

Also, be aware that "There are some parishes that don't agree with their rector and other's that are fractured. Like those people in Virginia they faithful remnant may be out worshiping in a house."

That is not unique to Pittsburgh, nor this period in history. After all, that is how Christianity started out in the first place.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. Clough on Thursday, 31 January 2008 at 7:08pm GMT

Also, I forgot to add that although I guess the diocese is listing 70 some parishes several are anglican churches. They are plants that are do not have Episcopal in their name (the one in Slippery Rock is such a group). Also, most don't have actual property but worship in a gym, or a rented space.

Just for fun St. Francis in the Field's rector and part of the congregation left St. Francis and allowed the faithful remnant to remain in control of the property. They now exist as the Somerset Anglican Fellowship, which is and Anglican plant in the diocese of Pittsburgh under Duncan. In other words those people left their church formed a new church, kept the same bishop but are not members of TEC. Strange things happening.

Posted by: Bob in SwPa on Thursday, 31 January 2008 at 9:34pm GMT

Bob in SwPa --

Strange indeed!

Is Bob Pittsburgh in Communion with himself?

BTW -- I know one of these signatories -- formerly a great fan of the bishop, he now seems to have reservations about his intended course.

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Friday, 1 February 2008 at 12:09am GMT
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