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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"


  1. Why no public support for Mark Lawrence by conservatives in the Episcopal Church? Nothing to make you go 'hmmm' there. If they wouldn't support Bob Duncan's desire to leave the Episcopal Church, why would they support Mark Lawrence's desire to stay in it without participating in it? How is that an improvement over leaving? From what I've read (which I admit is only headlines), Lawrence's idea of staying in the church is hiding from the opposition. The place for him to witness to biblical truth is in the House of Bishops. When did he last do that? If I were to read about that rather than diocesan resolutions 'protecting' SC from those to whom they're supposed to be witnessing, I'd cheer him on. Perhaps the rest who stayed in PECUSA would too.

  2. David,

    Per your comment about "why no public statements," +Dan Martins has commented, here:

    Hope you and Gale had a nice time at the shore . . . .


  3. Bruce

    I return to the `Burgh Thursday evening. Thanks for the tip on +Dan Martins.

    Care to comment on the Open Letter and why TEC-Pgh rejected signing on to it?

  4. I went to post this thought two days ago and for whatever reason it didn't go through. And so I thought long and hard about whether I should say this and how. But...

    I don't get it, not what Philip is saying. It doesn't make sense. Once upon a time (not to long ago and definitely not a land far away) a handful of conservatives, believers in Pittsburgh went against the tide. Call it courage of their convictions and a love for their institutional church or fear and betrayal, it doesn't matter. They stood up to popular opinion and suggested a different way. That was that they would stay in TEC and build a firewall against the national church's incursions. Those were their words, stay and build a firewall.

    And I would expect those same people to recognize the effort in South Carolina to be just what they have proposed. Mark Lawrence seems determined to stay and build a firewall, he seems that he always has been. Why are the Pittsburgh Twelve not reaching out to stand with him and support him? Or have they and I've missed it. Philip's reply, unless these Pittsburghers have changed their own position on staying and building firewalls, makes no sense.

  5. I can't speak for the others, but 'stay and build a firewall' were never my words, nor what I ever thought was a good idea. I never voted for any diocesan resolution that tried to set up a firewall. I thought that policy could only end in disaster, and it did (from my point of view--I miss you all more and more as the election of a new bishop gets closer). My position has always been 'stay and witness and let them kick me out if it comes to that'. It may not make sense, but it's what I've always been committed to. I'm still trying to get kicked out by preaching the Bible and nothing but the Bible, but it seems less likely than ever, for some reason.

  6. Philip

    I don't think TEC will ever kick anybody out that doesn't challenge their revisionist theology. They will simply expect you to tolerate increasing revisionism. I just read that GC2012 will propose trial use of same-sex blessings. What's next?

    As you know from church history the REC were not thrown out: they left in 1870 on their own because of the increasing influence of ritualism in TEC. They felt they couldn't tolerate anymore of it.

    So the question for conservatives left in TEC -- how much more do you want to tolerate?