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Monday, May 23, 2011

Compare and Contrast: Somerset Presbyterians and TEC Diocese

Yesterday afternoon I attended the Anglican 4th Day(A4D)closing worship service in Greensburg. The contingent from Somerset Anglican Fellowship (SAF)shared with me about their new building which they are purchasing from the local Presbyterian Church. The Presbys couldn’t have been more generous – they left behind pianos, sound and projection equipment, office furnishings, kitchen equipment and all kinds of other things. What a blessing!

In their settlement with the TEC Diocese, the TEC litigation team insisted SAF “return” a chalice and paten and candlesticks which had been given to them prior to realignment by the Diocese. Upon their return a leader of TEC said this requirement was merely symbolic --- but necessary. What a contrast to the magnanimity of the Presbyterians.

The TEC Pee Bee, Katherine Jeffords Schori, in a recent visit to Pittsburgh spoke about legacy, and moral and fiduciary responsibility. She said, “The buildings and the bank accounts are the legacy of generations before us. I don't have the right to give those away for other purposes. My fiduciary responsibility, my moral responsibility, is to see that those gifts are used for the ministry to which God calls us in the Episcopal Church”.

For Somerset Anglican Fellowship the legacy they have been left is the ransom of a returned $400. chalice and paten and the moral responsibility of leaving a church that embraces theological innovation and the sexual revolution of the 1970s.


  1. I do think the return sent a sad message, if unintended. Of course, some would look for any opportunity to spin what there is to be spun. Nonetheless, a nicer resolution might have been, per my imagination, for the SAF folks to have said, "since these items were given by the archives of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh to a congregation of that diocese, and since we are no longer a congregation of that diocese, we are glad to return them with thanks." And then wouldn't it have been great if the archivist of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh were to have said, "we would be glad now, having received these back into our care, to offer a new loan of these items for use by SAF as a sign of collegial friendship and ecumenical fellowship in Christ." The first step of "return" important to acknowledge the continuing stewardship of the archives, the second step of a further loan of these items meaningful to represent and affirm our continuity together.

    In my dreams, I guess.

    I'm glad in any event that Mark and Lenny have expressed a mutuality of friendship. There are great people in both Somerset congregations, led by two fine and faithful priests. May they both know many blessings in their ministry in the years ahead.

  2. Sadly, nothing so far, has given me any hope for a non-punitive final parting of ways. I wish it weren't so.
    Last week the Queen visited Ireland and showed graciousness in the moment, appropriate remorse for the past and hope of a better future for both the UK and ROI. Perhaps we should learn some lessons from that occasion.

  3. Fr. Bruce - the non-association with ACNA clause puts the lie to any hope of "affirm(ing) our continuity together."
    Sorry, I just can't see any part of the agreement between TEC and the SAF as anything but mean-spirited.

  4. Did I miss something? I didn't see a non-assocoation clause. And name-calling, directly or indirectly puts no one in a good light.

  5. For the record, SAF was not required to disassociate from the ACNA and the Anglican Diocese in order to settle as was required of St. Philip's. SAF and St. Philip's were both required to affirm the validity of the Dennis Canon as operative over their respective parishes.

  6. 'Mark and Lenny have expressed a mutuality of friendship'---and more than that, are involved in a joint VBS this summer.