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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

UPDATED: PA Supreme Court Declines to Hear ACNA Pittsburgh Appeal


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This exhausts all legal appeals in the Commonwealth of PA Court system. I doubt if the ACNA Diocese will move to the Federal appellate process. I do not know if that is even a legal option.

It now up to TEC-Pgh to either negotiate in good faith or to begin evicting the ACNA parishes from the TEC property the courts have awarded to them.

UPDATED: Bishop Duncan informs the ACNA Diocese

18th October, A.D. 2011 (1:57 PM)

Feast of St. Luke


Dearest Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

I write to you today to inform you that our appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has been rejected. We accept that the courts have not found in our favor and will, of course, comply with all court orders.

We remain committed to reaching a negotiated settlement with the Episcopal Church diocese. In light of this judgment by the courts, we will redouble that commitment to reaching a final resolution of all issues between the Episcopal Church diocese and the Anglican diocese through negotiation.

We intend to persevere in our mission, which is to be Anglican Christians transforming our world with Jesus Christ. We do this chiefly by planting congregations. As at every annual Convention since realignment, congregations are being added to our diocese both locally and across the country, for which we give thanks to God. We pray God’s continued favor on our mission, his grace towards those who remain within the Episcopal Church, and his help for our beloved Communion as we move into the challenges and opportunities of this new millennium. May the Gospel of our Lord Christ find a fresh hearing all across his Church and his world!

Faithfully your Bishop and Archbishop,

Description: Robert Pittsburgh Signature


  1. Hi David,

    I believe in the order enforcing the 2005 agreement Judge James specifically indicated that no congregation could be "evicted" from its traditional place of ministry without his consent, and that hasn't changed. I'm pretty sure, my opinion, that he wants to be sure good-faith negotiations as specified in the second paragraph of the Stipulation have taken place before any action of that sort is taken.

    Bruce Robison

  2. Good Afternoon

    Thank you Bruce for reminding us of those facts. However this sentence written by Andy Roman and/or Bp Price in their October 6, 2011 letter gives me pause: "The Diocese has no PRESENT intention to ask any ACNA congregation to leave the buildings they are occupying" Lawyers don't use words like 'present' for no good reason.

  3. Yes, of course. The legal issue now settled, no lawyer worth his salt would put something out there that would restrict his client's options down the road.

    But as an old fashioned, Northern European Introverted Male, I'm a big believer in kicking the can down the road, when that can be done with reasonable integrity. Time passes, dust settles, hurt feelings heal, old habits gradually morph into new habits, issues of the present become less entangled with issues of days gone by.

    I understand that there may be some cases where congregations have significant decisions to make (say, a pending capital campaign, need for expansion or restoration of buildings, etc.) where clarity about the long-term needs to be found sooner rather than later. And so you jump in the pool when you need to jump in the pool. But if that kind of urgency isn't in play, perhaps a bit of breathing space would be healthier for all.

    Bruce Robison

  4. Bruce

    In our case it is paying down $10K on a $1m mortgage on your building. Where is the incentive for TEC-Pgh to negotiate with St David's?

  5. In your case I would probably agree that the leverage the St. David's congregation would bring to the table will decline over time, as the mortgage is paid down.

    My guess is that any ministry that the Episcopal Diocese would want to undertake in those Bethel Park/Upper St. Clair/Northern Washington County neighborhoods would be a number of years away from being able to sustain itself--and not to say anything about paying off a mortgage like that.

    So it would probably be challenging for the diocese if the folks of St. David's were to "hand over the keys" (and the mortgage) to the diocese and walk away. A sudden, new $10K per month invoice would be quite disruptive.

    Ultimately there might be some equity in the property I suppose. But I would imagine that if the people of the Anglican congregation of St. David's could arrange to refinance the current mortgage on their own, without the Episcopal Diocese as guarantor, and make a reasonable offer to compensate the Episcopal Diocese meaningfully for its interest in the equity that the property has beyond that indebtedness, the Episcopalian negotiators might find that an attractive direction for conversation.

    I'm not a negotiator, but that's just my guess. Your particular situation would be different, I would think, from that of most of the Anglican congregations whose properties are titled in the name of the Episcopal Diocese.