Friday, February 4, 2011
Archbishop Duncan Writes to Pittsburgh
A Pastoral Letter to the Clergy and People of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh
Moses said to the people: ”Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today…The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still.” [Exodus 14:13-14]
Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It has been a very distressing week for us. One of our congregations, St. Philip’s, Moon Township, left our fellowship as part of a property settlement with the Episcopal Church Diocese. Then, within hours, the appellate court upheld the decision of the Court of Common Pleas that awarded diocesan property to the Episcopal Church Diocese, including the properties of 24 congregations whose deeds are titled to the Trustees.
Our God is the Red Sea God. Our God is the Empty Tomb God. He will not abandon us. He has not abandoned us. As so many times before, He just delights in showing His power. Our journey as a Diocese since 2006 has had many impossible moments. Yet every pruning has, in fact, made us stronger and more fruitful. That is the record. The psalm appointed for this Sunday begins:
The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom then shall I fear?
the Lord is the strength of my life, of whom then shall I be afraid? [Ps 27:1]Trust Him now as you trusted Him before. The Lord who has called you is faithful, and He will do it. [I Thess 5:24]
We are an amazing Diocese. As to property, we are the 24 congregations with Trustee properties. We are 15 congregations with properties titled to the Vestries. We are 11 congregations who lease their meeting places. We are 22 congregations outside of Western Pennsylvania. But as to mission, we are 72 congregations united as “Anglican Christians transforming our world with Jesus Christ.” God has not withdrawn His favor from us.
The Standing Committee met on Wednesday night, February 2nd. Three important decisions were made. First, we will petition the appellate court for a re-hearing, which means the lower court’s ruling will not yet be final. Second, the Standing Committee and Diocesan leadership (Bishop’s Office, Trustees and Council) will do everything we can to keep all our congregations working together. Third, the Standing Committee will work tirelessly for a negotiated end to the strife between the Anglican and Episcopal Church Dioceses.
Let us all stand together. Let no one stand alone. Fast and pray. More than ever this is the season for clean hands and a pure heart. [Ps 24:4] The Lord’s promises remain. He is God at the Red Sea, at the Empty Tomb, and right here and now. Trust Him. He will not fail.
Faithfully your Bishop and Archbishop,
P.S. Go Steelers!