09 October 2008

Diocese of Pittsburgh reorganized

The Episcopal Church USA has recognized new leadership for a reorganized Pittsburgh Episcopal Diocese. This comes after a vote Saturday by some clergy and laity to secede from the national church and align with the more conservative Southern Cone of the Anglican Communion.

The clergy voted 121 to 33 and lay leaders voted 119 to 69 to split from the U.S. Church. Robert Duncan served as Bishop of the Pittsburgh Episcopal Diocese for 11 years before he was deposed last month by the Council of Bishops of the Episcopal Church USA. He now becomes the Episcopal Commissary from the Southern Cone to Pittsburgh. Bishop Duncan led the secession movement following the ordination of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire.

Following the vote to secede, at least 20 parishes voted to remain with the U.S. Church. Today the national leadership recognized a Standing Committee to serve as the ecclesiastical authority of the reorganized Pittsburgh Diocese in the absence of a bishop. The Reverend Doctor James Simons, rector of St Michael's of the Valley, chairs that committee. Reverend Doctor Simons told DUQ News that the first task is pastoral...reaching out to those parishes and members who are in pain because of the split.

Simons says that they will hold a reorganization convention December 13 at which an interim bishop will be chosen to serve for a year or two until a selection committee is formed and conducts the process for electing a new bishop. Reverend Simons says he believes that sometime in the future there will be reconciliation in the Pittsburgh Diocese.