Saturday, November 03, 2007

Pittsburgh Chooses Anglican Limbo

From Episcopal Life:

The annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh November 2 gave the first of two approvals needed to enact a constitutional change to remove language in the diocesan constitution stating that the diocese accedes to the Episcopal Church's Constitution and Canons as the church's constitution requires.
Deputies voted 118 to 58 with one abstention to approve Resolution One. Clergy voted 109 to 24 in favor.

An effort, labeled Resolution Two, to instead return the diocese to full "accession" to The Episcopal Church was defeated by voice vote.

"This vote does not change the diocese's current affiliation with The Episcopal Church. In fact, nothing at all changes until such a time as the next annual convention approves a second reading of the proposed amendment," Pittsburgh Bishop Robert Duncan said in a news release...
He is correct; this changes nothing. But, it does place the Diocese of Pittsburgh in a rather strange transitional state in which they are still part of the Episcopal Church, but not fully. And since their connection to the Anglican Communion is through the Episcopal Church, they are also caught in an inbetween place in regards to their status within the Communion. They have chosen what might best be decribed as "Anglican Limbo," at least until next year.

Here is what Pittsburgh did that "changes nothing," yet sets up their planned jump out of TEC: There is this new Section 2 of Article I to be inserted in the Constitution:

The Diocese of Pittsburgh shall have membership in such Province of the Anglican Communion as is by diocesan Canon specified.
Then, at the end, a new Canon is proposed:

Canon _____ (number to be determined)
“Provincial Membership within the Anglican Communion.”

The Diocese of Pittsburgh shall be a member of that Province of the Anglican Communion known as The (Protestant) Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
Note that with the removal of the accession clause, there is now no reference to the Episcopal Church in the Constitution. The only reference to TEC is now within the Canons.

To join another Province, according to the new Section 2, Article I of the Constitution, would no longer require a constitutional change (and two Conventions), but a simple canonical change (which, according to the current Canons, does not require the approval of two Conventions). At the same time, as long as the new proposed Canon that identifies the Province as TEC is in place, it is probably assumed that they will be protected from charges of abandoning the Church.

Which means at next year's Convention, they can vote on the constitutional changes for the second time, and then also vote to remove TEC from the new canon and insert the name of the Province of their choice. They will make the jump in one day; protected from ecclesiastical discipline the day before, and be able to claim TEC has no jurisdiction over them the day after.

That's the plan, anyway. However, it is worth noting that roughly one-third of the lay delegation and one-fifth of the clergy voted against this maneuver. This is a large enough group of faithful Episcopalians to reform the day after next year's Convention. They now have a year to make their plans as well.

There's another change Pittsburgh made to their constitution today that has not gotten much notice, but I find quite noteworthy; the change to the existing Section 2 of Article I, which now becomes Section 3 of Article I. Before today's amendment, this section was as follows:

Section 2. The Diocese of Pittsburgh embraces all those counties of the State of Pennsylvania known as Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland.
Today's amendment changes it to this:

The Diocese of Pittsburgh embraces all those counties of the State of Pennsylvania known as Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, Washington and Westmoreland. Additionally, for reasons found satisfactory to any Convention of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, parishes outside of the boundaries of the aforementioned counties may be considered for admission into union with the Diocese of Pittsburgh, provided that they meet all other requirements set forth in the Constitution and Canons of the Diocese of Pittsburgh for canonical admission.
Pittsburgh intends to be a non-geographical Diocese. In other words, they will be able to compete with CANA, AMiA, etc. to pick up parishes all over the country. I would think that this particular amendment should be the primary concern of our leaders in regards to what is being hatched in Pittsburgh.

Episcopal Life also offers us Bp. Duncan's response to the Presiding Bishop's recent letter:

The day before the start of the Pittsburgh convention Duncan declined Jefferts Schori's requests. His three-sentence letter dated November 1 said in full: "Here I stand. I can do no other. I will neither compromise the Faith once delivered to the saints, nor will I abandon the sheep who elected me to protect them."
Well, that at least answers the question as to with which body Bp. Duncan hopes to realign. Obviously he has become a Lutheran. No doubt he will shun the ELCA, as they are contaminated with Episcopal cooties through the full communion agreement. Missouri Synod would seem to be a good fit for him. And then, in a couple of years, he can break with them over some invented controversy and form the Pennsylvania Synod.

The leader of the P. S. Quite fitting. I suspect in future years that is what all this sturm und drang coming out of Pittsburgh will amount to; a postscript in the history of the Episcopal Church.

Mark's got some thoughts on all of this as well. Go take a look.


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