Doing things differently

Today and tomorrow, the Diocese of Pittsburgh gathers in convention for the first time since the majority of those present at the last session voted to leave the Episcopal Church and form their own denomination.

Lionel Deimel writes about how things have changed:

Today and tomorrow, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh holds its first regular annual convention since Bishop Duncan and his followers split from The Episcopal Church to form their own “diocese.” The Episcopal diocese remains diverse in its church politics, since many conservatives chose to work with more moderate and liberal members of the diocese and to remain Episcopalian. There has been a general desire on all sides to avoid the bitter divisions of the past, but it was unclear what new patterns would develop.

Most of the resolutions to be voted on tomorrow originated with the Committee on Canons, which has three clerical and three lay members. As it happens, the committee is pretty evenly split between liberals and conservatives. Remarkably, conflict within the committee was largely confined to procedural matters, reflecting personality differences and professional experience more than theological orientation. The 10 changes proposed for the constitution and canons of the diocese undo changes made during the Duncan era and restore a healthy balance of power between parishes and bishop, among other things.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports writes about local congregants in the both dioceses of Pittsburgh, Episcopal and ACNA, who wonder if they will be able to negotiate for the status of local congregations after diocesan properties and assets are returned to the Episcopal dioceses.

Some Anglican clergy worry that good faith parish property negotiations with local Episcopalians could be rejected by Episcopal leaders in New York.

But the Rev. James Simons, president of the standing committee that runs the Episcopal diocese, said that national leaders have taken a hands-off approach.

“We consult with the presiding bishop’s chancellor on matters of canon law, but we have not been given any direction by the presiding bishop or her office on how we need to proceed, ” he said.

No substantive conversations about parish property have yet taken place between church leaders in Pittsburgh and New York, he said. “Up to this point the presiding bishop’s office has allowed us to organize and operate with autonomy. I have no reason to believe that that won’t continue.”

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