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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Peace of Mind: Both Priceless and Price-less

My friend Bruce Robison of the TEC-Pgh Diocese informed me in a comment on my blog entry,“The 146th Convention of the Diocese of Pittsburgh" that the more liberal candidate Moni McIntyre defeated the more conservative candidate Jim Shoucair in the clergy order for the open slot on the Standing Committee by a one vote margin. This makes Bruce the only “conservative” cleric left on that TEC-Pgh body. Moni, Leslie Reimer and George Werner are the other priests. In 2009 three of the four Standing Committee clergy were conservative, now three of four are liberal. And Jim is probably among the most, if not the most respected of the conservative clergy in the TEC-Pgh diocese. And if he can't get elected, well . . . .! Bruce has said that electing Jim or Moni makes little difference, they were both very respected and supported. Maybe little difference for TEC-Pgh but perhaps a big difference for us.

It seems Jim Simons’ Grand Scheme for Pittsburgh to be a voice of orthodoxy in TEC has, in three short years, run out of gas. All I can say to the conservatives in TEC-Pgh: "How’s staying in working for you?" Other than ensuring a continuing national voice for Dr. Simons, I am not sure you gained much.

Bishop Price in his recent letter said: “the Episcopal Diocese will continue to invite all former Episcopalians to return to active participation in the Episcopal Church, and will continue to reassure all ACNA congregations who may be receptive to this message of reconciliation that if they did choose this path there would be no repercussions.” While I appreciate Bishop Price’s sentiment, I don’t agree that returning to the Episcopal Church represents a biblical understanding of reconciliation, as I understand it. Reconciliation is based on mutual respect and recognition. Offering us reconciliation while refusing to recognize our diocese and insisting on disaffiliation is disingenuous at the very least.

To put the shoe on the other foot, I could just as easily say to Jim Shoucair and the other conservatives in TEC-Pgh. "Let's be reconciled. You’re more than welcome to realign into the ACNA and the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh even now. We miss you and we still love you! And we won't charge you anything nor will there be any repercussions either". That, however, is where the similarity ends. We don't claim your parishes property and never have and never will.

Please know our diocese not only has put the Episcopal Church in the rearview mirror, for many they’ve thrown that rearview mirror away. It’s all behind us and we’re ever moving forward – we’ve never been better. So come on over you won’t regret it one bit. You just have to get over not having that Cadillac pension plan and perhaps not being able to keep your buildings. It’s costly in that sense but you can never put a price tag on the peace of mind that will come your way.


  1. Thanks, David.

    Just to be clear, I didn't say or mean to say that it doesn't and won't make any difference that Moni was elected rather than Jim--but only that in a diocese that is divided just about exactly evenly between more conservative and more progressive clergy and laity, those of us dwelling on this side of the stream will need either to learn to work together or to learn to live in constant conflict. It is for us something of an experiment. We'll have our differences--and, as is apparent, win some and lose some. This was going to be inevitable after the division, though of course none of us knew how the precise calculus would work back in 2007 and 2008. Whether it will work or not is not something we're going to know for a long while. The narrative in much of the church and in the wider society is one of fragmentation into smaller and smaller groups of unconditional positive self-regard, and then one of increasingly intense polarization between those groups. I think what we're trying to do is swim against that tide.

    I appreciate your continuing kind invitation. It's of course always hard to be walking apart from those we love. With the sense that I have been called both in my parish and in the diocese to live and minister on this side of the stream, I would decline. But of course that word is spoken entirely with respect, and affection.

    Bruce Robison

  2. Bruce, not a soul on this side of the stream would ever doubt your sincerity or your affection any more than we'd doubt the sincerity and affection of David's invitation.

    David is right that the TEC diocese would do well to understand that the ACNA is not looking back. We heard God's call and followed and overwhelmingly have no regrets. That is not to minimize the call of believing Christians who stayed as missionaries, knowing the heartbreak in store. And your friends on this side watch in support and (there's that word again) affection, not with animosity.

  3. So! If the Episcopal Church is not in your rear view mirror why are shining your high beams on their convention?

  4. 'while refusing to recognize our diocese and insisting on disaffiliation'---Bishop Price referred to ACNA as a diocese and Bob Duncan as a bishop several times during the course of the convention. And the chancellor continues to insist that disaffiliation has never been a blanket requirement, but dependent on (undisclosed) circumstances.

    He also said that a protocol had been agreed by the lawyers on both sides detailing how future negotiations will work. No details of what's in the protocol, but I was glad to hear about it. Even this much agreement is something to be thankful for.

  5. Thanks for the comment Philip. It sounds as if we might be making some progress --finally.

  6. Famous words from General Custer's captain after a long ride toward Little Big Horn: "General, we made good progress today."