PROGRESSIVE EPISCOPALIANS OF PITTSBURGH

 
 
Contact:
Joan R. Gundersen, President
Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh
Telephone: +1 (412) 799-0440
E-mail: jrgunder@hotmail.com
 
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Pittsburgh Action Called Divisive
 
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — July 2, 2006 — Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh (PEP) has characterized the resolutions passed by the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh on June 28 and the standing committees of five other dioceses as a divisive media event. The resolutions request “alternative Primatial oversight” (APO) from the Anglican Communion. The Pittsburgh statement also claims to be withdrawing the diocese from Province III, one of nine groupings of dioceses provided for by the canon law of The Episcopal Church. The requests for APO, first from the Diocese of Fort Worth, which issued its statement before the close of The Episcopal Church’s triennial General Convention (June 13–21), and then, nearly simultaneously this past week, from Pittsburgh, South Carolina, San Joaquin, Central Florida, and Springfield, suggest that the requests are part of a coordinated strategy planned long before the church’s meeting in Columbus.
 
Statements made before the General Convention of The Episcopal Church by Network Moderator, the Rt. Rev. Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, and other traditionalists set such a rigid standard that they ensured that The Episcopal Church would fail to satisfy the traditionalists. Whereas the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Panel of Reference, an “advisory and consultative body,” can be asked by the Archbishop to “enquire into, consider and report” on situations involving “dioceses in dispute with their provincial authorities,” the dioceses requesting APO and other Network dioceses are in dispute with virtually the whole of The Episcopal Church, not simply with its primate. Although the Pittsburgh Standing Committee used a recent reflection by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams as support for its action, other Archbishops in the worldwide Anglican Communion have read the statement quite differently, with those of New Zealand even characterizing responses like Bishop Duncan’s as “a misrepresentation of his [Williams’] address.”

 
“This request is divisive, yet without substance,” said PEP President Joan R. Gundersen, “since our primate, the Presiding Bishop, has virtually no power and exercises no “oversight” over dioceses and their bishops. It is an attempt to create a media event, without regard to the genuine harm this does to parishes in the diocese, to The Episcopal Church, and to the Anglican Communion.” It represents a premature judgment of our Presiding Bishop-elect, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, of Nevada. The move by the Standing Committee has brought distress to Episcopalians committed to The Episcopal Church, as parishioners fear the organizational estrangement being sought by their bishop. It stirs up division and anxiety in the many parishes that are divided in their response to the recent church controversies and to the course of action being pursued by Bishop Duncan.
 
The alleged withdrawal of the diocese from Province III is even more disingenuous. Not only does the diocese already have little involvement in provincial affairs, but the Bishop of Pittsburgh well knows that the creation of provinces and the assignment of dioceses to provinces can only be done by canon of the General Convention. It would not be unprecedented for a diocese to ignore its province, but neither the Standing Committee nor the Convention of the diocese can remove the diocese from Province III; only General Convention can do that, and not before 2009. Creating a tenth province, as suggested by the resolution, likewise, can only be accomplished by General Convention. “A province of Network dioceses would be a pastoral disaster,” Gundersen suggested. “At least 13 parishes in this diocese have declined to be part of the Network and declared a commitment to The Episcopal Church. Despite assurances from the Standing Committee, these parishes, and similar parishes in other dioceses, either will be abandoned or forced into a being part of the Network against their will.”
 
The system of provinces that is now part of the organization of The Episcopal Church is less than a century old. One reason such a feature was discussed for many decades without being implemented was the concern that creating provinces might encourage the development of churches within the church. “The Network has often talked about creating an ‘orthodox’ church within the church,” explained Gundersen, “but the nineteenth-century arguments against dividing the church still apply today. The requests for oversight and withdrawal to a separatist province fly in the face of traditional Anglican willingness to worship together while allowing a broad spectrum of interpretations of Scripture and belief. It is a radical betrayal of the central traditions on which the Anglican Communion is built.”
 
 
Contact:
Joan R. Gundersen, President
Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh
Telephone: +1 (412) 799-0440
E-mail: jrgunder@hotmail.com
 


On the Web:
This document:

     http://progressiveepiscopalians.org/html/2006-07-02divisive.htm 
PEP:
     http://progressiveepiscopalians.org
Action of diocesan Standing Committee:
     http://www.pgh.anglican.org/news/local/pittsburghaltoversight 
Panel of Reference:
     http://www.anglicancommunion.org/commission/reference/mandate.cfm
Archbishop Williams’ reflection:
     http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/articles/41/50/acns4161.cfm
Statement from New Zealand:
     http://www.anglicanchurch.co.nz/Latest-News/Ultimatum-What-ultimatum.asp
The Episcopal Church:
     http://episcopalchurch.org
Constitution and canons of General Convention (i.e., of The Episcopal Church):
     http://www.churchpublishing.org/general_convention/index.cfm?fuseaction=candc
Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes:
      http://www.acn-us.org
 
 
Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh is an organization of clergy and laypeople committed to the unity and diversity of The Episcopal Church, and of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. It is a member of the Via Media USA alliance.
 

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