A house dividing?

Updated. Again This is convention season in the Episcopal Church, and most will be conducting the routine business of mission, but in Pittsburgh they will be weighing the question of whether the Diocese will even remain in the Episcopal Church or attempt to strike out on their own.

Kecia Bal of the JohnstownTribune-Democrat writes:

Episcopalians nationwide are watching as leaders and delegates of the Episcopal Church’s Pittsburgh Diocese converge on Johnstown today to consider separating from their national affiliation.

“It is like my parents are getting divorced,” said Cindy Leap, parishioner at St. Mark’s Episcopalian Church in Johnstown. “I have to pick whether to go with my mommy or daddy.”

The Convention will vote on the first reading of constitutional changes that would attempt to separate the Diocese from the Episcopal Church, becoming its own free-standing entity, allow the Diocese to pick the Primate of their choice from around the Anglican Communion, and welcome into membership congregations that are not within the geographical boundaries of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Such declarations have been considered null and void and this week, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, wrote a letter to the Rt. Rev. Bob Duncan, Bishop of Pittsburgh, stating that she is “aware of other of [his] statements and actions in recent months that demonstrate an intention to lead [his] diocese into a position that would purportedly permit it to depart from The Episcopal Church.” She goes on to say

If your course does not change, I shall regrettably be compelled to see that appropriate canonical steps are promptly taken to consider whether you have abandoned the Communion of this Church — by actions and substantive statements, however they may be phrased — and whether you have committed canonical offences that warrant disciplinary action.

It grieves me that any bishop of this Church would seek to lead any of its members out of it. I would remind you of my open offer of an Episcopal Visitor if you wish to receive pastoral care from another bishop.

People in the diocese who are in favor of the split see this as a matter of conscience.

The first reading of Resolution 1, which would change the constitution to prepare the diocese to leave the Episcopal Church and choose their own primate is reported to have passed.

Luminous Darkness has posted the results:

The Diocese of Pittsburgh voted just now to leave the Episcopal Church, not in so many words, but that is the spirit of Resolution 1 at the Diocesan Convention. The Resolution says several things, but the most important points are that the Diocese of Pittsburgh is free to choose its own Provincial alignment by canon and that it may contain parishes outside its historical geographic boundaries. The majority was not staggering, but in the lay order was approximately 66% in favor and 33% against and in the clerical order, 82% in favor and 18% against.

That blog also quotes Bishop Duncan’s words to moderates and his view of what will happen next.

If Resolution One passes, our work in the year ahead would likely include determination of the Province with which the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh might re-align, development of acceptable options available to minority congregations, and negotiation, both nationally and with plaintiffs locally, about a mediated alternative to continuing or escalating litigation.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh has posted Bishop Bob Duncan’s written response to The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori:

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.

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