Letter is a “signal”

Updated Wednesday evening

Episcopal Life Online adds important information to this morning’s news of a clear rift amongst conservatives in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. The key paragraphs from the ELO report

[The Rev. Dr. James Simons, rector of St Michael’s of the Valley in Ligonier, Pennsylvania] said the group would like to be involved in any discussions that might take place within the diocese to establish what he called a “protocol” for how people and congregations would stay in the Episcopal Church. Simons added that the letter was also meant to signal the Presiding Bishop that there are people in the diocese who would like to be involved in and would support any talks she might have with those who want to remain in the church.

Simons, who has served in the diocese for 23 years, said the Pittsburgh diocese has not in the past been “monochromatically” conservative and that the members were able to express their faith in a number of ways. Until recently, he added, the diocese’s efforts to protest the wider church’s direction and to prompt reform did not involve an attempt to leave the Episcopal Church.

That stance changed, Simons said, during a meeting of the diocese’s leadership in May. Now the perceived need to leave the Episcopal Church is a “widely held belief by a majority of the leadership in the diocese.”

Read it all here.

Earlier coverage and the text of the letter signed by Simons and 11 other clergy is here. Besides conservatives interested in staying in TEC, there is also Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh.

Wednesday evening update

The conservative Christian Post has its take

But Bishop Duncan believes the dissenting clergy will be terribly disappointed in their line of action, said Peter Frank, a spokesman for Duncan.

“The place that the majority of the diocese is at is a different place than these priests are ending up,” Frank told The Christian Post. “That’s difficult where most of the Diocese of Pittsburgh say ‘let’s get on with ministry and not continue what has been a 30-year losing struggle to reform The Episcopal Church from within.'”

The clergy’s public statement this week about was not unexpected, said Frank. The 12 – out of 180 clergy in the diocese – were part of the minority who did not favor leaving The Episcopal Church during last November’s vote. Discussion with the dissenting group began last summer and the diocese has been aware of their stance, according to Frank.

It appears from this statement that Duncan is not in favor of reversing course.

What the Christian Post fails to mention is that of the 180 clergy others are in progressive parishes and were not part of this group of 12 conservatives. It has been estimated that together the opponents of the course Duncan is taking could represent as much as 45 percent of average Sunday attendance in the diocese.

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