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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Another Clergy Funeral in Pittsburgh: Bp Walter Righter - originally posted by The Lead @

Note: Walter Righter, soon after ordination as a priest in the early 1950s, served as rector of All Saints' Church in Aliquippa PA in the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

All Saints', now closed, was the parish where my wife Gale and I came to Christ in 1981.


Word has been received that the Rt. Rev. Walter Righter, retired bishop of Iowa, died this morning. Bishop Righter was tried for heresy in 1996 for ordaining a partnered gay man.

FromAnglicans Online:

In the fall of 1990, Barry Stopfel was ordained a deacon in the Diocese of Newark. Stopfel is gay and, at the time of his ordination, was living "in a sexual partnership" with another man. The assistant bishop of Newark, the Rt. Revd Walter Righter, was facing a church court over his decision to ordain the gay man. On May 15, 1996, an Episcopal Church court dismissed charges against Righter. The Court held that neither the doctrine nor the discipline of the Church currently prohibit the ordination of a non-celibate homosexual person living in a committed relationship.

Thirty six bishops signed a statement in support of Righter's actions:
"We the undersigned recognize the witness of the Rt. Rev. Walter C. Righter to the Christ who lived, died and rose for the salvation of all. Walter Righter's trial is a trial of the Gospel, a trial of justice, a trial of fairness, and a trial of the church. We stand with Bishop Righter. We feel charged as Bishop Righter is charged. We feel on trial as Bishop Righter is on trial. Should he be found guilty, we are guilty. Should Bishop Righter be sentenced, we will accept his sentence as our own."

The Rt. Rev. Walter Cameron Righter
October 23, 1923 - September 11, 2011
The funeral will be Thursday at 11:00 a.m. at Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh, PA.


  1. I didn't know Bishop Righter very well, though our paths did cross a couple of times in the years since his return to Pittsburgh. Certainly our opinions "crossed" a few times in some of the HoB/D discussion threads. It was interesting to read in the Post-Gazette obituary about his early experience as a soldier during the war, and in the Battle of the Bulge. I had been thinking last night at the service for Jamie Forrest+ how that great cohort of "Greatest Generation" clergy are slipping away from us now.

    The obituary was also interesting I thought for the quotations of others. I especially appreciated the generosity of Bishop Frey's comments.

  2. I had one extended conversation with Bp Righter although I was in his company a number of times. It was quite a pleasant exchange. Bill Frey's response was as expected --right down the middle. I don't fault the 10 bishops for bringing heresy changes against him. It wasn't personal, although some try to make it such. It was the issue, not the man. But TECs revisionist agenda wasn't going to be thwarted so in one sense it just ramped up the conflict and hastened the split which was inevitable.

    I imagine the service at Calvary will have a bit more decorum than last night's raucus affair. Shows us the real breadth of Anglicanism!

  3. Can't we just let the man have his funeral without bringing up TEC or sex?

  4. Peter

    Nice try. It's my blog and I get to choose what topics get written about and how I want to respond to comments.

  5. fair enough. Please forgive the intrusion. I'll leave.

  6. Peter you can stay --just don't whine!

  7. David- I promise never to intrude again, and will not visit this blog. My parting comment is that I wish that some of my fellow TEC liberals could get more serious about God, and realize that loving your neighbor only springs from a true love of Jesus. I hope that TEC and ACNA can both flourish somehow without fights. (from what I have read, I abhor the disassociation clause, if that is what is on the table- as a business modal it makes sense but as a church, it seems vengeful and totally wrong) . And my prayer for ACNA is that you could move away from the fixation about homosexuality. I doubt your gay brother, sister, or bishop (yikes) will be biologically moved by your sincere (and no doubt costly) stance on this single issue. Of course I know that there is more.....but it is not just the secular media that focuses on this issue. It turns up with primary focus on all of the...... (I'm signing off)

  8. Peter: I do hope you speak up to your diocesan leadership (in addition to Bruce)about your belief about the disaffiliation requirement.

    I am not a hater but I think we will just have to disagree the place of homosexuality in the church.

  9. That was quite a long time ago already yet the heresy remained. What I just wanted to suggest if for us all to leave the spirit of Righter in peace. Start to quit all the apprehensions and doubts. Let us set Righter's spirit free.