Province 3 President: Pittsburgh Diocese May Not Opt Out

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A decision to leave the Province 3 regional ministry jurisdiction of The Episcopal Church cannot be made unilaterally, according to the Rt. Rev. Robert Ihloff, retired Bishop of Maryland and president of Province 3. Bishop Ihloff wrote all ordained clergy canonically resident in the Diocese of Pittsburgh on June 22.

“We need you,” he wrote. “We need your voices, insights, your convictions, and your Christian fellowship. If the officers or ministry coordinators of Province 3 can assist you, answer questions, or simply be in dialogue with you, we welcome that opportunity. Meanwhile we remain in contact with a number of leaders in the Diocese of Pittsburgh and remember you all daily in prayer.”

Last November delegates to Pittsburgh’s diocesan convention voted to withdraw from active life in Province 3 ministry. Article VII of the constitution states that “no diocese shall be included in a province without its own consent.” But the Rev. Barbara J. Seras, province coordinator, said the provincial leadership has received a definitive ruling from David Booth Beers, the Presiding Bishop’s chancellor, that General Convention must approve any changes in provincial membership.

In one of the few business items during the annual provincial synod in Martinsburg, W.Va., on May 22, delegates debated, without coming to any conclusions, how to respond to the withdrawal from the province by Pittsburgh’s leadership.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Polity & Canons

18 Comments
Posted June 27, 2007 at 4:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Steven in Falls Church wrote:

Article VII of the constitution states that “no diocese shall be included in a province without its own consent.” But the Rev. Barbara J. Seras, province coordinator, said the provincial leadership has received a definitive ruling from David Booth Beers, the Presiding Bishop’s chancellor, that General Convention must approve any changes in provincial membership.

You want a definitive ruling?  I got a drawer full of definitive rulings.  Just tell me what you want.

June 27, 5:06 pm | [comment link]
2. Scotsreb wrote:

Well, it’s good to hear from DBB, that in his opinion, that in spite of the articles of the province stating, in part: “Article VII of the constitution states that “no diocese shall be included in a province without its own consent” that “the provincial leadership has received a definitive ruling from David Booth Beers, the Presiding Bishop’s chancellor, that General Convention must approve any changes in provincial membership.”

Nice to know that DBB’s opinion, trumps articles of incorporation.

June 27, 5:08 pm | [comment link]
3. Connecticutian wrote:

A “definitive ruling” from the Chancellor, eh?  I guess that settles it, then!  Which canon gives him that authority, I’ve forgotten.

June 27, 5:08 pm | [comment link]
4. Chris Taylor wrote:

“Resistance is futile, you WILL be assimilated!”

June 27, 5:11 pm | [comment link]
5. Rob Eaton+ wrote:

Well, rulings from the chancellor can be overturned, or better, disregarded by the chair.  The chair of what?  Who will handle the standing of such a “ruling”?  The President of the House of Bishops?  the President of the House of Deputies?  The chair of the Executive Council?  When some entity chooses to depart from what Beers is saying is a canonical matter, only able to be dealt with by General Convention, shall we wait until General Convention to validate the “ruling”?  Will it be by resolution?  Or since Beers is “ruling” this is a General Convention matter as it deals with canonically defined relationships, would it not be better handled as a “presentment” against the entire diocese of Pittsburgh?  And wouldn’t it be more appropriately handled at the provincial level, so that at a regularly scheduled Province 3 gathering, a resolution is brought forward to discipline the diocese for voting to withdraw?  What if withdrawing from membership simply means not attending?  Will Mr. Beers rule on non-attendance?  NO - no time; he has other work to do, and paramete to define.
Well, now, that makes me wonder…... is this on his own initiative?  I doubt it.  Now we’re back to the chair, or some with axes to grind, and who have made a request of him.  And he complied.
What blindness.  This is not a matter of canonical usurpation; this is a matter of crisis of relationship.
And I kept my tongue about +Bob Ihloff’s “letter.”
RGEaton

June 27, 5:51 pm | [comment link]
6. Dee in Iowa wrote:

Is David Booth Beers running for POTUS?

June 27, 6:20 pm | [comment link]
7. Brian from T19 wrote:

Nice to know that DBB’s opinion, trumps articles of incorporation

The Constitution of TEC allows for an opt-in.  The quote that Scotsreb reads as “articles of incorporation” allows for membership by consent.  It does not allow for withdrawal once consent has been given.  It is the same principle argued by those stealing property-“We want out now even thought we knew what was going on.”

However, I see no real reason to keep them on the rolls.  Eventually +Duncan will push the boundaries too far and will be deposed.  The new Bishop can just rejoin.

June 27, 6:25 pm | [comment link]
8. Rob Eaton+ wrote:

Brian (7),
Title I.9 spells out the membership and work of the provinces; it includes some very “shall be” and “it will” language. But the first words of Canon I.9 are “Subject to the proviso of Article VII….”
So, turning to Art VII of the Constitution we find the mentioned proviso:  it says “....Provided, however, that no Diocese shall be included in a Province without its own consent.”
You are wrong in suggesting that the Article refers only to “opt-in.”  The phrase “without its own consent” is not defined in the Article as only being front end to membership.
Also, your statement, “It does not allow for withdrawal once consent has been given” is an improper observation.  It’s not that the Article or the Canon “does not allow for withdrawal” from the Provincial system.  The problem for those who are objecting to Pittsburgh or Fort Worth removing their consent from being included is that the Canon and the Article say NOTHING about complete withdrawal.  To say “does not allow” is reading from white space. 
Now, there is in the Canon a method for CHANGING provinces, which is defined as approval starting at the synodical level, and then being given approval through General Convention.  But that is a door that opens to consider withdrawal, not closes it down.
Thus, the only language from the Article or the Canon that can even infer the process of complete withdrawal is actually the Proviso, which leaves the matter to the Diocese itself. 
What do you want to bet there will be an amendment to the Canon proposed at the next General Convention to correct this “omission”?  In the meantime, Mr. Beers’ ruling is incorrect.

RGEaton

June 27, 7:34 pm | [comment link]
9. Brad Drell wrote:

Yes, Beers is incorrect.  How many fingers is he holding up?  Four, but he wants you to say “five.”  His ruling is incorrect, but we are a church of men, and not laws, if you take my meaning.

June 27, 7:55 pm | [comment link]
10. Tom Roberts wrote:

Somehow I don’t seen how ” withdraw from active life” equates to “withdraw” in the absolute sense. Beers is answering the wrong question.
On the other hand, Ihloff’s lack of attention to details per
“To our knowledge none of the present elected leadership of our diocese (standing committee, board of trustees, diocesan council, 2006 General Convention deputies) have been contacted by you or any of the other officials of Province 3. We are curious to know to which ‘leaders’ you are referring.”
makes the provincial complaints appear to be unmerited. It seems as if Pittsburgh is being shunned. It takes two to tango in this case.

June 27, 8:01 pm | [comment link]
11. Brian from T19 wrote:

Eaton+

Your construction is wrong.  Title VII is referring to a fixed moment in time.  It makes no sense to have an open provision without stating it.

June 27, 8:17 pm | [comment link]
12. Harvey wrote:

He said and then she said.

June 27, 8:28 pm | [comment link]
13. Rob Eaton+ wrote:

Brian (11),
Well, there you have it:  “It makes no sense.”
As well, I think Whitehead and L’Engle would have to disagree with the concept of a “fixed moment in time” for a living entity, don’t you?
: )
“Eaton+”

June 27, 8:41 pm | [comment link]
14. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “But the Rev. Barbara J. Seras, province coordinator, said the provincial leadership has received a definitive ruling from David Booth Beers, the Presiding Bishop’s chancellor, that General Convention must approve any changes in provincial membership.”

LOL.  I’m so shocked!  ; > )

My favorite quote is that by The Rev. Wilson: “The only need Province 3 has for us is a need to legitimize their notion that we are one, big, happy family on mission together.”

Oh yeh, baby—hit that one out of the ballpark.

; > )

June 27, 11:28 pm | [comment link]
15. William Witt wrote:

It does not allow for withdrawal once consent has been given.

Once again, I note that the motto on TEC’s signs need to be changed from “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You” to:

“The Ecclesiastical Roach Motel.  You can check in, but you can’t check out.”

June 28, 7:47 am | [comment link]
16. TonyinCNY wrote:

I see - you can opt in but you can’t opt out - the door swings only one way.  Thanks for the definitive ruling.  And when are rulings from the great DBB not definitive?

June 28, 10:46 am | [comment link]
17. David Wilson wrote:

Some out takes from the Eagles songbook

DBB - Hotel California - “you can check out anytime, but you can never leave” 

Dio/Pgh - Already Gone - “Well I know it wasn’t you who held me down, Heaven knows it wasn’t you who set me free
So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
And we never even know we have the key
But me, I’m already gone And I’m feelin’ strong
I will sing this vict’ry song ‘Cause I’m already gone”

June 28, 11:11 am | [comment link]
18. Cennydd wrote:

Let’s assume that Bishop Duncan is eventually deposed by the Presiding Bishop, and he takes his diocese with him to another recognized Anglican jurisdiction.  He will still be a bishop of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church!

June 28, 5:30 pm | [comment link]
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