Groups committed to preserving Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh

UPDATED 7:30 p.m.

Click here to go directly to the update with several new developments, and please remember, commenters, to sign your full name so we can approve your comments.

Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh (PEP) and Across the Aisle, two groups formed in opposition to the departure of the diocese from the Episcopal Church, have posted their reactions to today’s events. Jim Simons, a member of the standing committee of Pittsburgh, has written that he is determining who else among the standing committee is staying with the Episcopal Church:

Once that has been established I will appoint several other members to serve on the Standing Committee, Episcopal Church leadership will recognize that body as the ecclesiastical authority of the Diocese and we will call for a special convention to be held sometime before the end of the year. At that Convention we will elect individuals to vacated offices and do such reorganization as is necessary.

The initial steps may take several weeks and we will do everything we can to communicate with you in a timely fashion.

Personally I am excited by the days that are before us. Twenty-five per cent of the parishes in the diocese have already contacted us about their desire to remain in The Episcopal Church, and we know that over the next months more will follow. I see a Diocese of Pittsburgh which will be diverse, vibrant, and most of all getting back to the work of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This is from the Across the Aisle website, here.

Several members of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh shared comments in a press release this afternoon:

“The schism we have seen today has been long in coming,” said Lionel Deimel, PEP board member and PEP’s first president. “It is an unhappy outcome and one we would like to have avoided. Although we see challenging times ahead, we also see an opportunity to build an Episcopal diocese that is less contentious and more focused on the gospel imperative to minister to a troubled world.”

“PEP has always worked to bring traditional Anglican diversity to our diocese,” explained Joan Gundersen, PEP’s president and one of six people on the steering committee of Across the Aisle, a broad coalition of Episcopalians who have sought unity and reconciliation in Pittsburgh. “We hope the individuals who have left The Episcopal Church today find the spiritual home they are seeking. The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh will always be ready to welcome them should they want to return to The Episcopal Church. Our task now is to make our diocese a model of how people of different views can work together for Christ.”

One challenge that is still ahead is access to property belonging to the church. PEP expects that the current efforts by Calvary Episcopal Church will result in a favorable decision regarding diocesan property. “We hope that the involvement of the courts in resolving distribution of parish property can be minimized,” said Kenneth Stiles, a local attorney and a PEP vice president. “Clearly, the continuing diocese and everyone in it, those who have chosen to ‘realign,’ and The Episcopal Church itself are all interested parties that must resolve parish property issues. As much as possible, we hope to preserve the possibility of a future reconciliation between the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and at least some of the departing congregations.”

That release is available here.

Also, in case you missed the update, we included Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s comments in our earlier post, visit that post here; click the 2 p.m. update for Jefferts Schori’s comments. We’ve also corrected the vote count.

Other updates that have come through since then are that the “special convention” called for to restore Bp. Duncan to the diocese is slated for the very same dates that the diocesan convention was originally scheduled for, and those dates were being held apparently in anticipation of a second convention being needed.

UPDATE: 7:30 p.m.

First, a couple of blog entries to note. The Rev. Bruce Robison has written his impressions here in a pastoral note to his congregation, which includes moving witness to some of the lovelier things he experienced at the convention, as well as this note:

On leaving St. Martin’s this afternoon canonically resident Pittsburgh clergy were asked to take certificates licensing them as deacons or priests of the Diocese of Pittsburgh in the Southern Cone Province, and I declined to receive the one with my name on it. As I have indicated to you, I will remain a priest of the Episcopal Church, U.S.A.

Again: much sadness, and a sense of profound loss. I personally have expressed my deep respect and love for many dear friends and colleagues who have chosen today to walk in a different direction–and my hope and prayer that in many ways the spirit of friendship and shared ministry that we have known in the past may be able to continue. But of course there will be changes, and it will be necessary to move forward to the new challenges that await us without being overly-encumbered by what lies in our past. We’ll have to figure that out as we go on.

I am glad to note that those clergy, laity, and congregations of Pittsburgh intending, like us, to remain in the Episcopal Church, have prepared carefully over the past months for this possibility, and I am confident in the strength and vision of our ordained and lay leadership.

Additionally, Lionel Deimel Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh founder points us to a brochure distributed at the end of the convention: “Realignment Realities: What You Need to Know.” He has excerpts, commentary and a scanned version of the brochure at his blog, here.

Lastly, for now, Episcopal Life Online has posted the more complete version of its coverage of today’s events here.

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