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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Penn State, Blogging and Me

I am a Penn State alum (BA History 1973), and my wife Gale and Son Greg are also Penn Staters. Only daughter Hannah went off the reservation -- and she has a better job than all of us! She is a Senior Fashion Designer at Ralph Lauren And I love the Penn State Nittany Lions. Until recently my ring tone on my cell phone was the Penn State Fight Song-- Roar, Lions, Roar! I am saddened disgusted, angry and flabbergasted at the recent events that have come to light at my alma mater. I am almost ashamed to say I attended PSU.

That being said, it has forced me to do some soul searching. I have to question how I spend my time for Christ. Does my blogging edify Him and build His Kingdom? Would my time be better spent building up my parish and raising up new leaders and evangelists? The answer to me is a no-brainer. I will be mothballing the blog at least for the foreseeable future. Thanks to all who have posted.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Peace of Mind: Both Priceless and Price-less

My friend Bruce Robison of the TEC-Pgh Diocese informed me in a comment on my blog entry,“The 146th Convention of the Diocese of Pittsburgh" that the more liberal candidate Moni McIntyre defeated the more conservative candidate Jim Shoucair in the clergy order for the open slot on the Standing Committee by a one vote margin. This makes Bruce the only “conservative” cleric left on that TEC-Pgh body. Moni, Leslie Reimer and George Werner are the other priests. In 2009 three of the four Standing Committee clergy were conservative, now three of four are liberal. And Jim is probably among the most, if not the most respected of the conservative clergy in the TEC-Pgh diocese. And if he can't get elected, well . . . .! Bruce has said that electing Jim or Moni makes little difference, they were both very respected and supported. Maybe little difference for TEC-Pgh but perhaps a big difference for us.

It seems Jim Simons’ Grand Scheme for Pittsburgh to be a voice of orthodoxy in TEC has, in three short years, run out of gas. All I can say to the conservatives in TEC-Pgh: "How’s staying in working for you?" Other than ensuring a continuing national voice for Dr. Simons, I am not sure you gained much.

Bishop Price in his recent letter said: “the Episcopal Diocese will continue to invite all former Episcopalians to return to active participation in the Episcopal Church, and will continue to reassure all ACNA congregations who may be receptive to this message of reconciliation that if they did choose this path there would be no repercussions.” While I appreciate Bishop Price’s sentiment, I don’t agree that returning to the Episcopal Church represents a biblical understanding of reconciliation, as I understand it. Reconciliation is based on mutual respect and recognition. Offering us reconciliation while refusing to recognize our diocese and insisting on disaffiliation is disingenuous at the very least.

To put the shoe on the other foot, I could just as easily say to Jim Shoucair and the other conservatives in TEC-Pgh. "Let's be reconciled. You’re more than welcome to realign into the ACNA and the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh even now. We miss you and we still love you! And we won't charge you anything nor will there be any repercussions either". That, however, is where the similarity ends. We don't claim your parishes property and never have and never will.

Please know our diocese not only has put the Episcopal Church in the rearview mirror, for many they’ve thrown that rearview mirror away. It’s all behind us and we’re ever moving forward – we’ve never been better. So come on over you won’t regret it one bit. You just have to get over not having that Cadillac pension plan and perhaps not being able to keep your buildings. It’s costly in that sense but you can never put a price tag on the peace of mind that will come your way.

UPDATED: Darien Church Seeks Judgment in Dispute with Episcopal Connecticut Diocese

Christopher Leighton the rector of St Paul's Darien has been my friend for over thirty years and is the former rector of the parish I pastor, St David's. He served in the Diocese of Pittsburgh for over fifteen years.

Darien Church Seeks Judgment in Dispute with Episcopal Connecticut Diocese

November 5, 2011

St. Paul's Church, Darien, is seeking the advice of the Connecticut Superior Court at Stamford, in a declaratory judgment action regarding the legitimacy of a trust that the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut claims it has regarding the Parish's Darien church grounds and assets.

In a recent letter to St. Paul's, the Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, the Bishop of Connecticut, stated that St. Paul's property is being held in trust by the Diocese and the national Church, a reference to a church law known as the Dennis Canon. That canon law was not adopted until 1979 by the General Convention of the American Episcopal Church.

The filing in the Superior Court specifically seeks to know the details of the purported theocratic trust, in particular the identity of its beneficiaries, and whether it may be enforced since it is a violation of the doctrine of separation of church and state. The legal issue to be determined is whether a civil court should regard a religious document as taking precedence over a parish's legal deed when a theological dispute arises. The issue brings into play the neutrality of the legal system in church matters, as well as the rights of parishioners as citizens, to determine their own course without government interference. The Parish contends that a theocratic trust cannot be enforced because to do so would violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article Seventh of the Connecticut Constitution.

St. Paul's, for its part, takes the position that it remains an "Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion" as it has for 53 years. The Parish's legal request comes in the context of a worldwide dispute, in which most Anglicans and many Episcopalians in Communion with them, including St. Paul's Parish, have affirmed themselves to be in sharp and basic disagreement with the American Episcopal Church regarding issues of faith and morals. The divisions in the Communion are over the role of Christ in achieving salvation and recent actions which would compel acceptance of minority views on human sexuality and the use of churches for performing same sex marriages.

St. Paul's Church holds a distinctive place in the history of the American church as a harbinger of spiritual renewal in an era of mounting secularism. Detailing this role, was a 1980 book by Bob Slosser, titled Miracle in Darien. The Parish now seeks to stay focused on its historic mission. It still desires to work in good faith with Bishop Douglas and any visitor designated by the Archbishop of Canterbury to help effect an amicable resolution of the legal issues.

The Rev. Christopher P. Leighton is the rector of St. Paul's. Fr. Christopher, a charismatic joined St. Paul’s in October, 1998, as the church’s fourth Rector. He is a native of Boston, Massachusetts.

UPDATE: The Anglican Curmudgeon comments on historic context and legal issues here

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The 146th Convention of the Diocese of Pittsburgh

The 146th Convention of the Diocese of Pittsburgh is being held today by two diocese, the TEC-Pgh diocese and the ACNA Diocese. No matter to me as I am sure they are much different gatherings but both well intended.

Our ACNA diocese welcomed 21 new parishes, congregations and congregations in formation to be part of our goodly fellowship. We now stand at 82 congregations. the largest we've ever been, even before the minority of parishes that left us in 2008.

It was awesome to have folks from far and wide --nothing like diversity within unity! This morning Gale and I ate breakfast at the Comfort Inn in East Greensburg where we stayed with the white female pastor of an African American parish in Cleveland OH, the Rev Connie Harris. I have known Connie since the early 1990s when we attended a PEWSAction Renewal Conference in Virginia Beach. They just left their building in downtown Cleveland and are starting over in another former Methodist Church nearby. The new church is located on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, which Connie said was a sign to her people that God was directing their move. She told me the Senior Warden recalled the words of Martin Luther King Jr when they left: "Free at last, free at last, Thank God Almighty we're free at last!"

We began our gathering last night with an awesome service of Holy Communion led by Bishop Duncan in the basilica at St Vincent's College. Even this Anglican Protestant was impressed with the facility and the blended worship. It was truly the convergence of the three streams of Anglicanism --charismatic, catholic and evangelical. The convention banquet followed. We were shoehorned into the main room of the Fred C. Rogers Center for a rather good banquet meal. (similar gatherings usually feature the rubber chicken circuit type offerings). To me it's rather humorous that two of the newest facilities at St. Vincent's are named for deceased Protestants: Presbyterian minister and TV personality Mr. Rogers and Winnie Palmer the wife of PGA golfer Arnold Palmer. Both Arnie and Fred must have given heavily to the school.

As part of the awards and acknowledgements after dinner, all the new congregations were presented with Terrible Towels --always a hoot. Bishop Louis Brant of the RC Diocese of Greensburg welcomed us and brought greetings from his people . The evening concluded with the Rt Rev Neil Lebahr, wife Marcia and former Senior Warden Harry Parsons as the keynoters, addressing us on the convention theme, "After the Exodus". Neal is the newly installed bishop of the new ACNA Diocese of the Gulf in north Florida. Marcia is a native Pittsburgher, having grown up in Sewickley. All in all a great night.

My bud Deacon Tara Jernigan has a good report on the convention here

As does friend Dr. Jeremy Bonner here

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

An Old Chestnut: Butt Prints In The Sand

One night I had a wondrous dream,
One set of footprints there was seen,
The footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore.

But then some strange prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, "What have we here?"
Those prints are large and round and neat,
"But Lord, they are too big for feet."

"My child," He said in somber tones,
"For miles I carried you along.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait."

"You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk of faith, you would not know,
So I got tired, I got fed up,
And there I dropped you on your butt."

"Because in life, there comes a time,
When one must fight, and one must climb,
When one must rise and take a stand,
Or leave their butt prints in the sand."

author unknown

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Pee Bee Needs to Come Clean

From the liberal leaning blog the Episcopal Cafe comes the following blog entry:

"A lead is not a story, more on the Bede Perry Case"

A story has been making the rounds in the last few days that purports to demonstrate that Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori knew that the Bede Parry, a former Roman Catholic monk, had sexually abused minors and was likely to do so again when she received him as a priest into the Episcopal Church while she was serving as the Bishop of Nevada.

Read it all

Saturday, October 29, 2011

All Saints Music Festival at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Highland Park (Pittsburgh) PA

I am the organist of St. Andrew's Highland Park. I write to solicit a mention on your blog/newspaper/webpage of our seventh annual All Saints Music Festival at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Highland Park.

The events:

Tuesday, 1 November:, 8:00pm A service of Lessons and Carols for All Saints, sung by St. Andrew's Parish Choir, with guest conductor Thomas Octave

Thursday, 3 November, 8:00pm Choral Evensong for All Saints, sung by St. Andrew's Choristers (Matthew Derby, Director), followed by a brief concert of German Song by the Bloomfield Liedertafel (Edward G. Helgerman, Director)

Friday, 4 November, 8:00pm Bach by Candlelight. The Goldberg Variations, and Unaccompanied Suite for Cello. Nathan Carterette, piano, Rowena Gutana, cello

Sunday, 6 November Festival Orchestral Eucharist for All Saints. Schubert: Mass in G Major, sung in the context of the liturgy. St. Andrew's Parish Choir, and the Pittsburgh Festival Orchestra. Guest Conductor Thomas Octave

It's a lonely world out there, and this is really great stuff. Any help you could give would be most sincerely appreciated.

All best,

Peter Luley
Organist-Choirmaster, St Andrew's

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

From IRD: Episcopal Church Drops Below Two Million Members

"Despite all its liberal cheer leading about inclusiveness, the once influential Episcopal Church is a dwindling, nearly all white, increa-singly gray-headed denomination with a grim future, absent divine intervention." -- Jeff Walton, Spokesman for IRD's Anglican Action Program

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- Once a flagship denomination of American mainline Protestantism, the U.S.-based Episcopal Church has for the first time in decades reported membership below two million.

Self-reported statistics provided by the denomination this month show that the church has dropped from 2,006,343 members in 2009 to 1,951,907 in 2010, the most recent reporting year. The loss of 54,436 members increases the annual rate of decline from 2 percent to 3 percent, outpacing the most recently reported declines in most other mainline churches. The church's 10-year change in active members has dropped 16 percent.

A branch of the otherwise fast-growing 80 million member worldwide Anglican Communion, the third largest family of Christian churches globally, the Episcopal Church had also seen a steady decrease in the number of parishes, losing or closing over 100 in 2010, as well as a drop in attendance from 682,963 in 2009 to 657,831 in 2010, a 4 percent drop. Fifty-four percent of all U.S. Episcopal Churches suffered attendance loss over the prior year. Over the last decade, attendance was down 23 percent. The denomination, which once claimed over 3.5 million members as recently as the mid-1960s, has lost over 40 percent of membership even while the U.S. population grew by over 50 percent. A statistical summary provided by the Episcopal Church can be viewed here. Jeff Walton, spokesman for IRD’s Anglican Action Program, commented:

    "The drop below 2 million members is noteworthy, but the precipitous drop in attendance is even more dramatic, boding poorly for the Episcopal Church’s future. Almost one-quarter of Episcopalians who were in the pews in 2000 have vanished.

    "Departures to other churches have fueled Episcopal decline, as have decreasing baptisms and its graying population.

    "These statistics contrast sharply with more theologically conservative Anglican churches in the global south, many of which are witnessing skyrocketing numbers.

    "Despite all its liberal cheer leading about inclusiveness, the Episcopal Church is a dwindling, nearly all white, increasingly gray-headed denomination with a grim future, absent divine intervention."

Property litigation involving Episcopal Diocese is over

From the Pittsburgh Post Gazette

October 26, 2011

By Ann Rodgers

Eight years of property litigation involving the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has ended, but most parishes that broke from the Episcopal Church still face negotiations over their buildings.

After the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last week denied an appeal from the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, which had argued that it owned the property, the Anglican decided diocese it will not appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, spokesman David Trautman said.

"This whole string of litigation is ended, is done," he said.

The lawsuit was filed in 2003 by Calvary Episcopal Church, Shadyside, whose leaders believed that Bishop Robert Duncan and many others might leave the denomination and try to take property. According to the Episcopal canons, all property -- including parish buildings -- is held in trust for the denomination.

The split occurred in 2008, when the majority at the diocesan convention voted to leave the Episcopal Church. Those who wished to remain Episcopalians immediately chose new leaders and continued that diocese. The Anglican diocese argued that it was the legitimate heir to the Episcopal Church property.

"We accept that the courts have not found in our favor and will, of course, comply with all court orders," Anglican Archbishop Duncan wrote last week.

Read the entire article here.

TEC-Pgh blogger Lionel Deimel's screed is here

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mollie and the Spin Doctors

The Rev George Conger, writer for "The Church of England Newspaper", "The Living Church" magazine and blogger posted the following piece on the Get Religion blog. Mollie Hemingway's original WSJ piece was is posted on this blog October 10,2011

No, the title of this post does not refer to a now forgotten second tier ’80s band. Mollie and the Spin Doctors will not join Souxsie and the Banshees, Hootie and the Blowfish, Adam and the Ants, and Echo and the Bunnymen in the remainder aisle at Wal-Mart. I chose this title to tell a cautionary tale about religious journalism concerning one of my colleagues at GetReligion, Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, and the Communications Office at the Episcopal Church.

The moral of the story if you want to skip to the end of the piece can be found in Numbers 32:23. “But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.”

Now I am not equating journalism or journalists with the godhead (though the New York Times does tend towards an omniscient, holier than though attitude towards creation). What I am drawing from this passage from Scripture is the lesson not to exaggerate, lie or spin an unpalatable truth. For in the end you will be found out.

Our parable begins with an article written by Ms Hemingway for the Wall Street Journal entitled “Twenty-First Century Excommunication”. She reports:

Read it all

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thank You St. Joseph for Selling Our House

Growing up a Protestant in the Philadelphia suburbs deprived me of any understanding or experience with the Roman Catholic practice of the Invocation of the Saints. My wife Gale, however, grew up in a large Irish Catholic family in Pittsburgh along with having twelve years of Catholic education. I learned from Gale that St Jude was the patron of lost causes and St Anthony the patron of lost things. St Blaise was the Saint to pray to when suffering from a sore throat and each year on December 9 all the school children prayed to St Lucy for something that has to do with their eyes. And when selling your house always bury a statue of St Joseph upside down in the front yard facing the house.

Our house in Kittanning had been on the market for over two years and hadn't sold. We were trying to sell the house in the softest housing market in decades in a very depressed job market in Armstrong County. Not a very promising prospect. But it has been said "desperate times call for desperate measures" . So I bought a statue of St Joseph from Autom, a religious supply house that sells such things (see picture of the actual statue from the Autom catalogue).

In mid August I was doing some maintenance on the house and I took the claw end of my trusty hammer and dug a hole in the garden bed in the front of the house. I put my new statue of old St Joe in the hole facing him toward the house but alas and alack the hole was a tad too shallow. Oops! So I grabbed the aforementioned hammer and pounded him in and covered him up!

Then some of my Catholic or former Catholic friends chimed in. I told my friend Melanie about the saga. Two mistakes -- She said I probably gave him a massive headache and he won't sell the house out of spite -- Besides he is supposed to be facing AWAY from the house so to draw people in. Then my friend Kathi told me, he needs to be buried in the BACK yard not the front! Yikes! Then my friend Rege said you have to do bury the statue during a FULL MOON not during the day. Obviously I had failed miserably.

Well, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, guess what! The house sold in mid September and whether or not St Joseph had anything to do with it I do not know. But I wasn't taking any chances -- I was covering all my bases. As I was writing this Gale reminded me this is all bunk -- all superstition. Then she went to bed early with a headache and sore throat. So I gave her a kiss good night and said a short silent prayer to St Blaise.

Commentary on Price Letter

Mr. David Ball fisks Bishop Price's recent letter to the TEC-Pgh diocese.

October 6, 2011

Rector Wardens and Vestry

Dear Friends in Christ,

We write this letter to provide you and all members of your parish with current information on the property litigation and related negotiations involving the Diocese. It is meant to update the Bishop's letter of May 11, 2011 another copy of which is closed for your convenience.

As you will recall earlier this year, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania issued their opinion affirming in all aspects the rulings of Judge Joseph James of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas that under the terms of the 2005 settlement of the Calvary suit that our Episcopal Diocese was proper entity to hold and administer, the endowments and other permanent funds of the diocese. These rulings also applied to the buildings being used by over 20 congregations of former Episcopalians who look to the Most Rev Robert W. Duncan to be their bishop as part of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh and as Archbishop as part of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

The Most Rev. Robert W. Duncan IS the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh and Archbishop of the ACNA. So long as the Episcopal Church keeps its head in the sand and refuses to even acknowledge the existence of these entities, no progress will be made. Like it or not, they exist, they have legal status and they have many people who are members. In the case of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, it has many more members than the TEC diocese of Pittsburgh.

Read it all

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

EPGM disbands after 21 years of service to the Episcopal mission community

This is a re-post from The Rev Dr Robert Munday's "To All the World" blog. Robert until recently served as Dean of Nashotah House and has been active in Anglican mission leadership. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of SAMS

From Episcopal News Service:

Episcopal Partnership for Global Mission (EPGM) has announced that it will officially disband as a mission networking organization serving the Episcopal Church, according to an Oct. 15 news release.The decision to disband was made at EPGM's annual meeting, held at the Everyone Everywhere 2011 conference in Estes Park, Colorado, and approved by consensus of the attending membership organizations, the release said.

EPGM began in 1990 as the Episcopal Council for Global Mission (ECGM). It was renamed in 1999 when its structural organizing plan was approved by Executive Council. General Convention adopted the plan in 2000.

Financial issues due to loss of funding from the 2009 General Convention and loss of membership contributed to the decision to disband, according to the release.

The Episcopal Partnership for Global Mission was once a fine organization--an umbrella group where all of the agencies and mission organizations that served the Episcopal Church could come together and work on goals and strategies and engage in cooperative efforts. As with so many other signs of TEC's implosion, it saddens me to see it die.

However, as Paul Harvey was famous for saying, we need to know "the rest of the story." The sentence mentioning the loss of membership is the key.

Following the election of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, the Diocese of New Hampshire applied for membership in EPGM. Viewed charitably, one could perhaps hope that the application meant there was a group in the Diocese genuinely concerned for world missions. A more skeptical view is that the Diocese was seeking to force recognition and acceptance from one of the few remaining Episcopal organizations where theological conservatives were in the majority. The application, and the debate over issues of sexuality that were racking TEC as a whole, only served to bring to a head longstanding disagreements over theology and the meaning of mission and evangelism.

In any event, New Hampshire's application to join EPGM put the conservative mission organizations in a difficult position. Many of the overseas Anglican provinces where missionaries from the conservative mission organizations served were determined to break fellowship with the Diocese of New Hampshire and even the whole of the Episcopal Church as a consequence of the consecration of a gay bishop. Some of these same Anglican provinces started refusing money from TEC, and they began questioning missionaries and mission organizations that worked in their countries about their participation in TEC and their position on TEC's actions.

Consequently, conservative mission agencies that had been a part of EPGM were faced with a choice of either losing their ability to send missionaries to various countries or else withdrawing from EPGM. The withdrawals did not happen quickly or without much prayer and discussion. New Hampshire's application to join EPGM was put on hold while these conversations occurred. But, in the end, EPGM willingness to admit the Diocese of New Hampshire caused the conservative mission agencies to leave. Titus Presler encapsulates this episode very well in his history of EPGM, published on the EPGM website (while it is still online). (See especially the section entitled, "EPGM Fractured by Sexuality Turmoil," pages 6-7.) As Presler notes, the agencies that left EPGM were the ones responsible for sending nearly all of the actual, long term missionaries from the Episcopal Church. These organizations have since formed a new umbrella network, the Anglican Global Mission Partners.

Interestingly, while the split in EPGM began over an application for membership from the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, the list of current members on the EPGM website shows no listing for the Diocese of New Hampshire nor any organization from that diocese.

[Update 10/18/11]: For those who may be interested in what has happened to the organizations that left since the split, the Anglican Global Mission Partners continue to meet twice annually, usually hosting a missions conference at the church or seminary where they meet. Their meeting, two weeks ago, at St. James Anglican Church, in Newport Beach, CA, was in conjunction with the SALT Missions Conference. Their Spring 2012 meeting will be at Nashotah House Theological Seminary, and they are planning aRe:Mix Youth Missions Conference at the same time.

The agencies that are a part of Anglican Global Mission Partners (AGMP) have continued to grow. For instance, SAMS (formerly the South American Missionary Society) has changed its name to theSociety of Anglican Missionaries and Senders. The number of missionaries being sent from SAMS has nearly doubled in the past decade, and they are now a worldwide organization, with missionaries on every continent.

The Anglican Global Mission Partners (AGMP) itself has grown through the number of new organizations that have joined since the split from EPGM. A personal observation: One would think that the contrast in the histories of the two entities since the split—even the contrast in sheer vitality between the two organizations—might be enough to convince TEC that they made a wrong turn somewhere.

Posted by Robert S. Munday at 11:58 PM on Oct 17, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

UPDATED: PA Supreme Court Declines to Hear ACNA Pittsburgh Appeal


Click here

This exhausts all legal appeals in the Commonwealth of PA Court system. I doubt if the ACNA Diocese will move to the Federal appellate process. I do not know if that is even a legal option.

It now up to TEC-Pgh to either negotiate in good faith or to begin evicting the ACNA parishes from the TEC property the courts have awarded to them.

UPDATED: Bishop Duncan informs the ACNA Diocese

18th October, A.D. 2011 (1:57 PM)

Feast of St. Luke


Dearest Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

I write to you today to inform you that our appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has been rejected. We accept that the courts have not found in our favor and will, of course, comply with all court orders.

We remain committed to reaching a negotiated settlement with the Episcopal Church diocese. In light of this judgment by the courts, we will redouble that commitment to reaching a final resolution of all issues between the Episcopal Church diocese and the Anglican diocese through negotiation.

We intend to persevere in our mission, which is to be Anglican Christians transforming our world with Jesus Christ. We do this chiefly by planting congregations. As at every annual Convention since realignment, congregations are being added to our diocese both locally and across the country, for which we give thanks to God. We pray God’s continued favor on our mission, his grace towards those who remain within the Episcopal Church, and his help for our beloved Communion as we move into the challenges and opportunities of this new millennium. May the Gospel of our Lord Christ find a fresh hearing all across his Church and his world!

Faithfully your Bishop and Archbishop,

Description: Robert Pittsburgh Signature

The 2010 TEC-Pgh Pre- Convention Journal

The TEC-Pgh Diocese has posted their Pre-Convention Journal on their diocesan website. A quick perusal unearthed a trove of interesting facts.

Such as:

  • St Philip's Church Moon Township is still being assessed a diocesan assessment (pages B-7, G-4 and G-5) even though they negotiated a settlement to break all ties with TEC-Pgh.
  • The Clergy list (A-19) shows letters dimissory were accepted for priest with four marriages. Two partnered homosexuals are listed as priests licensed to practice ministry within the TEC-Pgh Diocese, though not canonically resident.
  • The Commission on Ministry Report (pages E-8 and E-9) shows that a person with four marriages has been approved for Candidacy and a partnered homosexual has been approved for Postulancy. I identified at least four or five "conservatives" as members of the COM. Did they vote to approve these two persons?
  • Average Sunday Attendance has declined among some parishes precipitously. On the other hand St. Andrew's Highland Park and Christ Church North Hills appear to be doing quite well, even really flourishing in the case of Christ Church . A comparison of the 2003 report from the 2004 Post-Convention Journal and this 2010 Journal (page G-1) show the following increases and decreases.
Brackenridge 2003=101 2010=15
Brentwood 2003=131 2010=79
Indiana 2003= 74 2010=46
Highland Park 2003=110 2010=120
Kittanning 2003=67 2010=33
Ligonier 2003=188 2010=124
McKeesport 2003=155 2010=86
North Hills 2003=202 2010=285
Oakmont 2003=183 2010=119

So it goes in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh

Monday, October 17, 2011

Andy Roman and Bp Ken Price Explain to Their Diocese Why TEC-Pgh Has Ceased Negotiations With All ACNA Parishes

Attached is a letter Bishop Price sent to his parishes giving his spin on the failed negotiations. He never mentions the draconian disaffiliation clause TEC required that ACNA parishes must agree to prior to any negotiations commencing. Aren't the leaders in the ACNA Diocese so unreasonable!

October 6, 2011

Rector Wardens and Vestry

Dear Friends in Christ,

We write this letter to provide you and all members of your parish with current information on the property litigation and related negotiations involving the Diocese. It is meant to update the Bishop's letter of May 11, 2011 another copy of which is closed for your convenience

Read it all

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bishop and Clergy of the Diocese Meet to Discuss "Serious Charges" Made Against Bishop Lawrence

Posted 10/12/2011 at 12:17 PM on the website

Bishop and Clergy of the Diocese Meet to Discuss "Serious Charges" Made Against Bishop Lawrence

Diocese of South Carolina LogoIn an atmosphere of prayerful solemnity, the Bishop and Clergy of the Diocese of South Carolina gathered at Saint James Church, James Island, S.C. for more than two hours on Tuesday, October 12. In focus were the “serious charges” that have been made against Bishop Mark Lawrence and the diocese under the new Title IV canons.

Bishop Lawrence began by restating the diocesan vision of “Making Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age” and then traced the history of the current controversy in The Episcopal Church and the many obstacles they presented to pursuing our diocesan vision. He ended with the two recent diocesan conventions in which the diocese refused to be coerced into the Episcopal Church’s embrace of the new title IV canons which violate both due process and the Episcopal Church’s own constitution. Of further concern with the current allegations is that evidently this process doesn’t allow the accused to know who his accusers are.

Lawyer Alan Runyan then made a presentation based on his best understanding of what canonical process seemed to be being used by those in national leadership. It would appear they are proceeding under the abandonment canon with its fast track. Based on what has happened in other dioceses, a deposition of the bishop would be followed by attacks on diocese and the parishes. The picture painted was an ugly one of expensive litigation, confrontation and acrimony in which all involved significantly lost.

It was stressed that individual clergy, vestry, and parishes needed to be informed about the allegations, the purported process, and the implications at every conceivable level: financial, personal, legal and spiritual. All the clergy were encouraged to share their concerns with the bishop or the ordained members of the diocesan Standing Committee.

Two themes underlay the whole discussion. First, the Episcopal Church is in a constitutional crisis in which its own polity is being radically altered in violation of its history and founding documents, yet with no structural provision for a means of resolution when just such foundational disagreements occur. That such a deep dispute has arisen with one of the Episcopal Church’s founding dioceses only adds to the unfortunate environment into which all have been plunged. The Reverend Jeffrey Miller, past President of the Standing Committee stated during the gathering, “The question is not whether we can stay; it is whether they will let us stay and follow what we believe.”

Second, the deeper fracture is about a departure of the Episcopal Church’s leadership from Christian doctrine. Bishop C. Fitzsimmons Allison (XII Bishop of South Carolina) rose to express his concern with these theological innovations and to voice support for Lawrence. While these include a changed understanding of sexual ethics and Christian marriage, it goes much further to the matter of Scriptural interpretation and authority and the uniqueness and universality of Jesus Christ. These recent actions mark yet another hindrance to the Diocese of South Carolina’s duty to be faithful to the truth of exactly that gospel and its proclamation to the world.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Two challenges for Conservative Clergy Leaders in TEC-Pgh

Hopes for Negotiations and A Call to Prayer

An Open Letter to the Clergy and People of The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh and to The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church USA

As we prepare to enter into good-faith negotiations, we ask the people of our two dioceses, and all Christian people in our communities, to pray that these negotiations will lead to fair and godly outcomes that will enable the mission of our churches to thrive.

We hope and pray that in the coming days the leaders and people in both our dioceses will find a way to seek blessing on one another. Specifically, we offer the following overarching principles in the hope that they might characterize the spirit of our efforts to resolve our differences:

1) Mutual Recognition:
- that the members of each diocese may be able to recognize the other as seeking to be faithful to their Christian call as they perceive it, and to their conscience.

2) Mutual Forgiveness:
- that the members of each diocese will work to forgive perceived wrongs and failures of charity.

3) Mutual Blessing and Release:
- that anticipated settlements would not seek to damage the health and future of one another’s ministries.

It is our prayerful goal that our negotiations:

1) Assure that all the parishes and each diocese can survive and thrive;

2) Enable us all to move past litigation and focus on our respective missions;

3) Demonstrate our commitment to be at God’s best as we work to resolve our differences, mindful of the public and private impact of our disagreements.

Signed by clergy & lay leaders of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh gathered for a meeting at St. Martin’s, Monroeville on Saturday, March 5, 2011.


I have been at the beach in Florida enjoying some respite (this is our "summer" vacation) and doing some thinking. The above letter was commended to the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh by the President of the ACNA Diocese of Pittsburgh for their consideration and to jointly sign on to. His appeal was rejected.

In January 0f 2008 13 "conservative" priests of the Episcopal Diocese stood up to the majority and prevailing views of the Bishop and leadership of the diocese and publicly opposed "realignment" while maintaining their commitment to orthodoxy. Three of those clergy subsequently became Standing Committee Presidents of the TEC-Pgh diocese. Two others are currently on the TEC diocesan staff as Canons. One of those leaders proudly boasts on the masthead of his blog: "an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Pittsburgh who's committed to orthodoxy and who has remained in the Episcopal Church". I guess he and the others remain in the Episcopal Church by keeping his head down in the duck and cover mode while repeating the mantra "if you want to get along, go along" and neither publicly defending orthodoxy nor publicly challenging heterodoxy.

These priests had the intestinal fortitude to stand up to their bishop and the majority prevailing view in 2008 --why not now? Why didn't they sign the Open Letter in March and why not do it now?

In addition some of TEC-Pgh priests have claimed Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina to be their personal friend. Why no public support for him. As far as I have read, only the rector of St Andrew's Highland Park has called into question this latest foray against +Mark.

Why no outcry from the so called conservative bishops and leaders remaining in TEC against this current outrage? Why no public statements from Bps Bill Love, John Howe, Jim Stanton, Dan Martins, or Ed Little?

It all makes you want to go hmmmm?

Like I said, "if you want to get along, go along"

Twenty-First Century Excommunication

When the Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton, N.Y., left the Episcopal Church over disagreements about what the Bible says about sexuality, the congregation offered to pay for the building in which it worshiped. In return the Episcopal Church sued to seize the building, then sold it for a fraction of the price to someone who turned it into a mosque.

The congregation is one of hundreds that split or altogether left the Episcopal Church—a member of the Anglican Communion found mostly in the United States—after a decades-long dispute over adherence to scripture erupted with the consecration of a partnered gay bishop in 2003. But negotiating who gets church buildings hasn't been easy. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said she'd rather have these properties become Baptist churches or even saloons than continue as sanctuaries for fellow Anglicans.

The Episcopalian congregations that want to break away are part of a larger movement of Anglicans world-wide who are concerned by the liberalism of the official New York-based Episcopal Church on sexuality and certain basic tenets such as Jesus' resurrection. Of the 38 provinces in the global Anglican Communion, 22 have declared themselves in "broken" or "impaired" fellowship with the more liberal American church.

In 2009, breakaway Episcopalians in the U.S. and Canada formed the Anglican Church in North America, which now reports 100,000 members in nearly 1,000 congregations. This group has been formally recognized by some Anglican primates outside of the United States.

Bishop Jefferts Schori says this new Anglican group is encroaching on her church's jurisdiction, and she has authorized dozens of lawsuits "to protect the assets of the Episcopal Church for the mission of the Episcopal Church." The Episcopal Church has dedicated $22 million to legal actions against departing clergy, congregations and dioceses, according to Allan Haley, a canon lawyer who has represented a diocese in one such case.

Now the Episcopal Church has upped the ante: It has declared that if congregations break away and buy their sanctuaries, they must disaffiliate from any group that professes to be Anglican.

Rather than agree to this demand to disaffiliate from Anglicanism, Pittsburgh's All Saints Episcopal Anglican Church last month walked away from the building it had inhabited since 1928. The congregation called the Episcopal Church's demand "mean-spirited" and an attempt to deny "the freedom of religious affiliation."

Read it all

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Complaint leading to possible charges leveled against Bishop Mark Lawrence of TEC Dio of SC


Bishop Mark Lawrence may be charged with "abandonment of the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church"

See here for Diocese of South Carolina release

And here for AP story

Nothing up on Pittsburgh bloggers Dr Simons or Lionel Deimel's blogs but Episcopal Cafe has story and comments here

And here

Interestingly, I am a seminary classmate of Paul Fuener who is President of the South Carolina C Standing Committee and also of former SC Standing Committee President Hayden McCormick and also of former Fort Worth Standing Committee President Ryan Reed. In fact Hayden, Ryan and I were all Standing Committee Presidents in 2008 when Fort Worth and Pittsburgh voted to realign and when Mark Lawrence was first denied consents as Bishop of South Carolina. Hayden presided as head of the Ecclesiastical Authority when Mark was elected a second time and finally consented to as diocesan bishop. Quite an amazing seminary class I might proudly assert!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Some Sun-on-the-Beach

Attention: Posting will be nil or little for the next two weeks as I will have no regular access to the internet --only at Starbucks or the public library.

Thanks to friends, Gale and I will on vacation at their beach house in Indian Rocks Beach Florida taking some much needed vacation. We took only a few days here and there over the summer so this is our "summer vacation". We fly out on Southwest (my new favorite airline) and arrive in Tampa at 10 AM. -- we will be gazing at the Gulf of Mexico from the screened in porch before noon!

I will drive Gale to the Tampa airport at noon on October 6 to fly to New York where she will meet our daughter Hannah. She and Hannah will fly overnight to Paris. They will vacation in Paris until October 10 and then fly to Florence and stay until October 15. Hannah will be working in Florence and Gale will be sightseeing. Hannah is a senior fashion designer for Ralph Lauren and she conducts business in Florence for Ralph this time every year. With Ralph everything is five-star, so they will be pampered. This trip is Hannah's birthday gift to Gale. Both Gale and I had a milestone birthdays this year -- and it wasn't our 50th!

Son Greg and fellow school teacher and friend Amanda will be landing in Tampa on Thursday October 6 mid-afternoon and staying with me at the beach house until Sunday early evening for an extended weekend getaway. And from Sunday night through Thursday October 13 it will be just me and the surf, the sun, the suds and the sand.

Also on the home front, last week we signed a contract to sell our house in Kittanning -- finally after almost two years of it being on the market. The home inspection was last night so we are praying that no major defects were found. The inspectors are paid to be nit-picky so we expect some stuff but we hope nothing hugely expensive that could be a deal breaker. When the closing comes on November 4th it will close that chapter of our life as we moved on in ministry in June 2008 to the greener pastures of St. David's in Peters Township. Amen

Monday, September 26, 2011

St James' Episcopal Church, Prospect Park PA (near Philly)

From the "Delaware County Daily Times": Bill Hesse, the recently departed rector, was our seminarian in 2004 in Kittanning and is in the same DMin cohort with me at Trinity School for Ministry. This comes as a complete surprise to me.
h/t to Three Rivers Episcopal for this.

At the bustling corner of 11th and Lincoln avenues in Prospect Park, adjacent to Hair by Heather and McCausland Lock & Key, St. James Episcopal Church stands, an oasis of serenity. Alongside the 102-year-old gray, stone structure, a statue of St. Francis of Assisi keeps watch over the fading flowers of summer that surround an obelisk topped with a Celtic cross. Meanwhile, an angel plays her harp amid the hostas and a statue of Christ holds court in a garden that faces Lincoln Avenue, a stretch of Route 420 and major Delaware County thoroughfare. The only clue that all is not as it should be is the message on the St. James marquee: “Faith Makes All Things Possible. Pray for Our Church.”

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