Today St. David’s was privileged to host the first ordination to the vocational diaconate in the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh using the new ACNA Ordinal. It was an awesome day. During the reception that followed I learned some very interesting information. It seems that the new TEC-Pgh church in Bridgeville, All Saints’, and their rector already are planning how they are going to afford our building once they take it from us. They are the closest TEC parish to us and currently rent a small community room for worship. They apparently will re-convert the St. David's youth room to a sanctuary as it was prior to 2001. They would lease out the new sanctuary and education space to another congregation in order to pay the considerable mortgage ($1 mil) the TEC-Pgh Diocese would inherit. This doesn’t say much for TEC-Pgh’s stated intention to negotiate in good faith.
I remember a conversation I had with the TEC-Pgh Canon to the Ordinary a year or so ago who said, “Don’t worry, we have plans for your buildings, once we get them back”. Again, not much to be said for negotiating in good faith.
I also remember reading Bishop Ken Price’s Convention address from October 2010. Click here. In it he said, “I am naming, effective January 1, the Rev. Dr. Jay Geisler as a Canon for Formation. As you know, Jay already has a relationship with Trinity and Pittsburgh seminaries, and so it is my hope he can utilize some of the students in those institutions to help us reclaim, rebuild, renew and recreate congregations, so we can reach more people for Jesus Christ”. It is clear that the Canon for Formation is being charged with “reclaiming congregations" -- and what congregations would they be, pray tell? I don’t think they are reclaiming Methodist Churches. It can only be Anglican congregations and I guess the bishop also doesn't believe we are reaching our people for Jesus Christ either. So much for negotiating in good faith.
This past February the TEC-Pgh Diocese issued a Pastoral Direction by Bishop Price and Guidelines for Property Settlements. Click here. The Episcopal Café blog in commenting on this wrote, Click here “The Diocese will determine how to best minister to any members of the [Anglican] congregation who wish to remain Episcopalian. The Diocese is committed to allocating financial and personnel resources to address those needs. Bishop Price has recently appointed the Rev. Canon Dr. Jay Geisler, Rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Brentwood, to also serve as Canon for Formation to oversee efforts to reach out to those [in Anglican churches] currently not being served by an Episcopal ministry”. They not only want our buildings, they want our people too. This is called negotiating in good faith.”
How then will they pastor these “reclaimed parishes”? The Canon for Formation to the rescue! From his bio on the TEC-Pgh Diocese website: Click here “Canon Geisler continues to mentor the next generation of Christian religious leaders and provides Pastoral Counseling to seminarians at the evangelical Trinity School for Ministry in the former steel town of Ambridge, Pennsylvania. In addition, he is supervising the renewal of and reopening of Episcopal parishes”. I've been told the Canon makes weekly forays to Trinity School for Ministry and under the guise of Pastoral Counseling has been recruiting unsponsored seminarians; promising them guaranteed ordination upon graduation and paid positions in Pittsburgh as well as financial aid while in seminary. I know of one Pittsburgh seminarian who has returned to TEC-Pgh for financial need reasons and two seminarians, one from Tennessee and one from Southwest Florida, who have entered or are poised to enter the TEC-Pgh discernment process. Somehow, this doesn’t seem to suggest a good faith negotiation strategy.
A fellow Pittsburgh ACNA rector and like me a Trinity alum, thinks I might be overstating the case a bit. He thinks TEC-Pgh progressives will never allow TSM grads to populate and have the influence in their diocese again as they did in the 1980s forward to realignment. We shall see.