Judge rules in Pittsburgh case

With the October vote regarding the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s decision to attempt to leave the Episcopal Church or to stay approaching, the Diocese has agreed to a request to allow a third party to inventory the diocesan assets in anticipation of legal action that might follow the vote. There is an existing legal challenge to the Diocese’s actions already that has been brought by congregations in the Dioceses led by Calvary Church Shadyside and it is expected that should the Diocese vote to leave, their vote and subsequent actions would also be challenged.

An article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports:

The diocese will pursue “a fair and equitable distribution of property” if the realignment resolutions pass, said its spokesman, the Rev. Peter Frank.

The diocese also agreed yesterday to permit parishes that oppose secession to divert diocesan support payments to escrow accounts that would remain in the Episcopal Church.

The agreement assumes that new leaders affiliated with the church will be elected for Pittsburgh if Bishop Duncan secedes.

The Diocese has released a statement by Bishop Duncan about the decision today:

“The relief Calvary sought — a court-appointed monitor who would effectively run the financial affairs of the Diocese — was not what was done yesterday. To the contrary, we proposed the appointment of an independent third-party (called a “Special Master”), who will have no role regarding the operation of the Diocese. Rather, the Special Master will review all Diocesan financial records and make recommendations to the Court regarding which property is covered by which provisions in the 2005 Stipulation (i.e., what is Diocesan property and what is parish property). The appointment of a Special Master has no impact on whether TEC or its representatives can make any claim to any property. These issues will be addressed at a later date. We have clearly stated our position that the minority who oppose Realignment are not entitled to seize the assets of the Diocese. If necessary, we will vigorously pursue this position in litigation.

The group “Across the Aisle”, a broad coalition of clergy and parishes intending to oppose a decision to attempt to leave the Episcopal Church by the Diocese, has released a statement today as well detailing their plans in the coming weeks.

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