A Letter to the Church from Clergy of the Diocese of Pittsburgh

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We are ordained leaders in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and we write to our fellow Anglicans across this Church in this season of great importance concerning our future. We are glad followers of Jesus Christ, working for the mission of his Gospel, and have for decades labored for the reform and renewal of the Episcopal Church under Holy Scripture and through the Holy Spirit. We are deeply thankful for this call upon our lives; we love the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and we love this Church.
We write in a season where it is evident that differences of faith and practice have torn our Church and our Communion, perhaps beyond mending. We have all experienced this rending in painful and personal ways.
The presenting issue is the question of human sexuality, but underlying issues go deeper, to the very heart of our faith, including our understanding of the Triune God, the devastating impact of the fall upon human nature, the unique work of Jesus as the only Savior of the world, our understanding of God’s Gospel mission to the world, the interdependence of our Communion, and – above it all – the final authority and full trustworthiness of Holy Scripture guiding us through these matters. Though our faith is in concert with the majority of our Communion and the historical roots of our Church, we now find ourselves fundamentally divided from the majority of the leadership in the Episcopal Church over these issues of first importance.

We have noticed a widespread and growing trend in The Episcopal Church: in many places congregations and dioceses are no longer free to recruit, develop or choose leaders who share their faith and values; mandatory diocesan assessments are used to fund causes that many believe are in opposition to their own principles; and, if the trend continues, acceptance of behavior Scripture reveals to be immoral and destructive will be soon required. Litigation and presentments are being widely used against congregations and their leaders who in conscience resist or who seek the freedom to realign with other parts of our Communion. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that opposition to classical, creedal, biblical theology and to our ministries is being orchestrated from the highest levels of the Episcopal Church. We wonder if we really are welcome here.
Mindful of Jesus’ guidance we have worked to bring our concerns to the leadership of the Anglican Communion. We have been heartened by the broad attention and support we have received. We hoped that the Lambeth Conference, the Windsor Report, and the Tanzania Communiqué would provide a workable way forward for our ministries and the Anglican Communion itself.
We were stunned by the rapid, summary dismissal of the Tanzania Communiqué by our House of Bishops and Executive Council early this year. We understood this to signal a decided rejection of Communion authority, of our most deeply held values, and of our future ministries. We believe there shall be no viable long term future for our ministries in this church unless we make unacceptable compromises on matters of first importance. Many of us sense we are being compelled to realign. All of us believe we must act to protect the churches and people we serve. We now fear for the future of the Anglican Communion itself.
We do not want to act in haste or in a spirit of judgment. We are concerned that the history of the Church is littered with the wreckage of strife and division, and we do not wish to add to the ruins. We are mindful that our own hands are not clean in the development of this history, and are particularly brokenhearted over the pride that has too often accompanied our witness. We beg God and others across our Church for the forgiveness we need and for the opportunity for a different future than the one we fear is rapidly coming upon us. More than anything we wish to see God’s Gospel healing upon our Church.

We have an urgent request for our leaders as they take counsel in the months to come.
In all humility, with all prayer, and with great respect for the importance of your leadership in God’s Church, we beg you, implore you, to reconsider and comply with the unanimous requests of the Anglican Primates in the Tanzania Communiqué.
We believe this plan to offer the greatest and perhaps last opportunity for a much needed halt in the rending of our Church and for the ‘grace space’ that might offer us a different, ordered, and hopeful way forward.
We shall be much in prayer in the coming weeks, seeking the leading and help of Him whose grace upholds us all.
Signed
The Rev. John P. Bailey, Vicar, St. Andrew’s Church, New Kensington
The Rev. Ronald J. Baillie, Vicar, Church of the Good Samaritan, Liberty Boro
The Rev. Dr. James Bauer, Priest, Indiana
The Rev. Douglas R. Blakelock, Rector, St. Mark’s Church, Johnstown
The Rev. Dr. Dennett Buettner, Priest in Charge, Church of the Savior, Ambridge
The Rev. Stanley Burdock, Rector, Christ Church, Brownsville
The Rev. Donald W. Bushyager, Assistant Rector, St. David’s Church, Peters Twp
The Rev. Geoffrey W. Chapman, Rector, St Stephen’s Church, Sewickley
The Rev. James Chester, Deacon, Shepherd's Heart Fellowship, Pittsburgh
The Rev. Dr. Ruth E. Correll, Assistant & Chaplain, St. Francis Church and Day School, Potomac, MD
The Rev. Dr. Daniel F. Crawford, Rector, St. Thomas-in-the-Fields Church, Gibsonia
The Rev. John T. Cruikshank, Rector, All Saints Church, Brighton Heights, Pittsburgh
The Rev. Dallam G. Ferneyhough, Priest-in-Charge, St. Luke's Church, Georgetown
The Rev. John E. Fierro, Rector, St. Paul's Church, Monongahela
The Rev. James Forrest, Associate Rector, St. David’s Church, Peters Twp
The Rev. Matthew Frey, Rector, Church of the Advent, Brookline
The Rev. Dr. Jack Gabig, Director of the Children &Youth Initiative, Anglican Communion Network, Pittsburgh
The Rev. Canon Mary M Hays, Canon Missioner, Diocese of Pittsburgh
The Rev. John Heidengren, Rector, Prince of Peace Church, Aliquippa
The Rev. Marc Jacobson, Priest, Manila, Philippines
The Rev. Sam Jampetro, Church Planter, Coraopolis
The Rev. Paul Johnson, Assistant, Trinity Cathedral, Pittsburgh
The Rev. Carrie Klukas, Deacon in Residence, Trinity Cathedral, Pittsburgh
The Rev. Christopher M. Klukas, Rector, St. Martin's Church, Monroeville
The Rev. Dr. Grant LeMarquand, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies & Mission, Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge
The Rev. Canon John A. Macdonald, Director of the Stanway Institute for World Mission & Evangelism and Assistant Professor of Mission & Evangelism, Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge
The Rev. Canon Dr. J. Douglas McGlynn, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Parish Ministry, Nashotah House Theological Seminary, Nashotah WI
The Rev. Christine McIlvain, Deacon, Christ Church, North Hills
The Rev. Peggy Means, Assistant Rector, Christ Church Greensburg and Associate Priest, Seeds of Hope Church, Bloomfield
The Rev. Jonathan N. Millard, Rector, Church of the Ascension, Pittsburgh
The Rev. Gary D. Miller, Rector, Church of the Holy Innocents, Leechburg
The Rev. James C. Morehead, Assistant Rector, Shepherd's Heart Fellowship, Pittsburgh
The Very Rev. Dr. Peter C. Moore, Dean Emeritus, Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge
The Rev. James C. Morehead, Assistant Rector, Shepherd's Heart Fellowship, Pittsburgh
The Rev. Jeffrey Murph, Rector, St. Thomas Church, Oakmont
The Rev. Andrew Ray, Assistant Rector, Fox Chapel Church
The Rev. David B. Rucker, Rector, All Saints Church, Rosedale
The Rev. Rebecca C. Spanos, Deacon, Shepherd's Heart Fellowship, Pittsburgh
The Rev. Elaine Storm, Assistant Rector, St. Philip’s Church Moon Twp
The Rev. Dr. Justyn Terry, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology, Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge
The Rev. David D. Wilson, Rector, St. Paul’s Church, Kittanning
The Rev. Karen Woods, Deacon, Seeds of Hope Missionary Fellowship, Pittsburgh
The Rev. Michael D. Wurschmidt, Rector, Shepherd's Heart Fellowship, Pittsburgh
The Rev. Dr. Mark Zimmerman, Rector, St. Francis-in-the-Field Church, Somerset



Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican PrimatesPrimates Mtg Dar es Salaam, Feb 2007Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ConflictsTEC ParishesSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* TheologyTheology: Scripture

26 Comments
Posted September 11, 2007 at 5:43 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Milton wrote:

“We wonder if we really are welcome here.”

How very tactful!  More blunt and factual would be “It is clear we are no longer welcome here.”

September 11, 7:27 pm | [comment link]
2. Bob from Boone wrote:

Reads like a rationale for bolting and taking church property with them. +Duncan will be their Moses.

September 11, 7:38 pm | [comment link]
3. Ad Orientem wrote:

A Declaration of the Causes Impelling and Justifying Secession.  All in all I think it was a good and well written letter.

September 11, 7:45 pm | [comment link]
4. Brian of Maryland wrote:

Bob,

Yes Bob, I can see why they’d want to take with them the property they bought and maintained.

Maryland Brian

September 11, 7:52 pm | [comment link]
5. Br. Michael wrote:

And, Bob, consider that they might want to get as far away from you as possible.

September 11, 8:34 pm | [comment link]
6. Vintner wrote:

Well, Brother M., yours was a stunning theological retort.  Not.

And MD Brian, they may have bought it, they have have purchased it, but when it is operated under the Episcopal franchise, it is no longer theirs to keep.

September 11, 9:09 pm | [comment link]
7. William#2 wrote:

Bob from Boone and Smuggs, why is your first reaction and posting to this about property?  Is that, at last all you care about in this situation?  Do you care nothing for the desperate sadness of your brothers and sisters as they contemplate breaking fellowship with you?

September 11, 9:43 pm | [comment link]
8. Brian from T19 wrote:

Do you care nothing for the desperate sadness of your brothers and sisters as they contemplate breaking fellowship with you?

I’m not reading sadness or desperation in this letter.  It reads, to me, like an attempt at humility from a group that firmly believes they are the Founding Fathers of a new Anglican Province.  The unfortunate thing in all of this is that they have had this delusion fed by their leadership.  In the DeS Communique, +Duncan’s ideas were dismissed by the Primates.  Perhaps this will change after 9/30, perhaps not.  But I wouldn’t be placing my eggs in that particular basket.

September 11, 10:15 pm | [comment link]
9. William#2 wrote:

Brian from T19, if you can’t see the sadness in this on the part of the orthodox who remain in your church, then I feel sorry for you.  But since your pastoral approach is to refer to these folk as “delusional,” my sorrow is probably misdirected as well. 
I am curious though.  Would the “attempt at humility” been more successful if Pittsburgh had used the word “beg” a few more times than they did?

September 11, 10:26 pm | [comment link]
10. Brian from T19 wrote:

William

I suppose that it is the events that have “ramped up” to this letter that color my perception.  I do believe that there are 2 very different types of people involved in these international “power plays” - those who are sincere in their hopes (++Orombi, ++Kolini) and those who are playing at niceties simply to gain an advantage (++Akinola, +Minns, +Duncan, Canon Anderson).  This certainly doesn’t take away from the fact that there are those sincere believers in both camps.  Unfortunately, those in the latter camp have put more faith in their leaders than is deserved.

As for the “beg”‘s in the letter - this is always disingenuous in an open letter format.  It reeks of the Pharisees rending their clothes.

September 11, 10:48 pm | [comment link]
11. BabyBlue wrote:

Quincy has also issued a statement as well.

bb

September 11, 10:49 pm | [comment link]
12. BabyBlue wrote:

#10 - I don’t think those observations will make it through the wash.  In fact, in the Anglican District of Virginia we have both CANA and ICON parishes (Uganda) and our bishops include Martyn Minns (CANA), John Guernsey (Uganda), and Dave Bena (TEC, Ret./CANA).  Archbishop Akinola visited the District a few weeks ago, and Archbishop Orombi is arriving shortly.  In Virginia there is only one Camp, different tents, one Camp. wink

bb

September 11, 10:55 pm | [comment link]
13. wamark wrote:

The notion that TEC is a hierarchical church and can therefore keep property that others have labored to build, paid for and maintained is farce and a fiction.  TEC is not hierarchical.  It may have bishops but its decision making is done by majority vote in convention with lay people,  priests and, yes, bishops.  Hierarchy is the Roman Catholic Church or the Orthodox churches where bishops do in fact make decisions, guided by the scriptures, traditions and the Holy Spirit, with out a popular vote of the people.  How the TEC gets away with this fraud and fiction is beyond me.  Moreover, in the long standing ecumenical discussions between Roman Catholics, Lutherans and Episcopalians it has been understood that Bishops, to be apostolic, must be more than just apostolically ordained but must be faithful witness to apostolic teaching.  For me, having worked in the ecumenical area for the ELCA, this tripartite understanding of apostolic succession seriously calls into question Anglican orders that were, of course, already questionable.  Moreover, it calls in to question and seriously undermines TEC’s claim to hierarchical ownership of anything other than its current heresies.  I am astounded that lawyers for the orthodox don’t challenge this whole nonsense that TEC is hierarchical.

September 11, 10:56 pm | [comment link]
14. LayJim wrote:

From the Gospel according to Mark (NIV) -

Mark 10:17-22
17   As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
18   “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.
19   You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”
20   “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
21   Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22   At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
(NIV)

Regardless of which side of the issue you are on, this should give pause.  As should this from Matthew -


Matt 5:39-48
39   But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40   And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.
41   If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
42   Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
43   “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
44   But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
45   that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
46   If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
47   And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?
48   Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
(NIV)

YBIC,
Lay Jim

September 11, 10:59 pm | [comment link]
15. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

Faith as certainty is a fascist’s attitude. - Jason Boyett
BrianfromT19, is that a faith statement on your part?  Does faith about property count also?  Your faith in the TEC franchise as so appropriately labelled?

Just curious.

I thought it might refer only to other people’s faith, you know.  Not yours.  How about Spong’s?  His faith seems as certain as yours though he may not be as concerned with property and franchising.

September 11, 11:08 pm | [comment link]
16. Sarah1 wrote:

RE: “In the DeS Communique, +Duncan’s ideas were dismissed by the Primates.”

No, no, no . . . you messed up the wording, Brian! 

It’s “In the House of Bishops, the DeS Communique’s ideas were dismissed by ECUSA.”

; > )

September 11, 11:36 pm | [comment link]
17. teddy mak wrote:

It’s always the real estate isn’t it. Brian. Smuggo. Tom the Seer of Santa Fe. Thousands more revisionists. It’s always always the real estate.

The fascist thing. Nice touch Brian. You steal our churches, threaten old priest’s pensions, file bogus presentments against holy bishops, trump up criminal charges on our priests, alter Holy Writ to match the political delusions of the time. Any one ever explain to you what genuine fascist behaviour is?  Just re read this paragraph.

September 12, 2:49 am | [comment link]
18. Brian from T19 wrote:

BrianfromT19, is that a faith statement on your part?

Yes.

Does faith about property count also?  Your faith in the TEC franchise as so appropriately labelled?

Just curious.

I’m relatively disinterested in the property issue.  The conservatives are going to try to steal the peoperty from TE C either way.  I think TEC will never give up.  That’s more a statement than a belief in the rightness of the action.

I thought it might refer only to other people’s faith, you know.  Not yours.

No.  It is a universal maxim.

How about Spong’s?  His faith seems as certain as yours though he may not be as concerned with property and franchising.

+Spong has no faith in God but he does have an absolutist view to his unoriginal ideology.  I believe his problem is that he has a cult of sycophants built up around him telling him that he is always right.  I have no idea what he thinks of property issues.

September 12, 2:49 am | [comment link]
19. Vintner wrote:

I am astounded that lawyers for the orthodox don’t challenge this whole nonsense that TEC is hierarchical.

They have.  So far, they’ve lost for the “orthodox” far more than they’ve won.  As for this utter nonsense that it’s all about the property, if the “orthodox” have indeed decided to go, then they have decided to split.  They have asked for the divorce.  They have decided that no reconciliation is possible.  And if that is indeed the case, then the property stays with TEC, end of (most) stories.

September 12, 7:58 am | [comment link]
20. Albany* wrote:

It use to be one didn’t have to choose between the extremists on both sides. That’s the true death of Anglicanism. And it happened because the Via Media transitioned from a theological reality to a political one.  And so has this Church. We must pray and wait patiently on the Lord.

September 12, 8:44 am | [comment link]
21. MJD_NV wrote:

Hmmm…frankly, what I find most interesting in this statement is who is missing, including a number who were more than willing to sign the previously noted statement of faith.

In fact, without looking it up, I’d hazzard a guess that fewer than 1/2 the canonical clergy of Dio Pgh are there, certianly none of the more Catholic bunch. 

Looks like most are still waiting for 09/30.

September 12, 9:16 am | [comment link]
22. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

BrianfromT19,

BrianfromT19,
“Faith as certainty is a fascist’s attitude. - Jason Boyett”
“is that a faith statement on your part?  Yes.”
Are you certain?

September 12, 9:33 am | [comment link]
23. Dave B wrote:

So Brian Jesus the Christ was a Fascist?  Jesus required us to have a fascist’s attitude?  The Centurion’s servant was healed because the Centurion was a fascist?

September 12, 9:43 am | [comment link]
24. The_Elves wrote:

Discussions of fascism and/or Brian’s signature line are off-topic.

—elfgirl

September 12, 9:44 am | [comment link]
25. Brian from T19 wrote:

Elfgirl,

Since you are always nice to me, I’ll change the line to (hopefully) stem controversy.

Thanks Brian, that would be helpful in the current climate.  Appreciate it.

September 12, 10:41 am | [comment link]
26. Albany* wrote:

My Friends in Christ,

Isn’t this the dilemma we face as we stare into the abyss?

The cure is worse than the disease, and the disease is worse than the cure.

It makes no logical sense, but I think all but the fanatics know it is true.

We have lost the true Via Media, which is a state of theological heart, not the spiliting of political difference down the middle.

We will look back a see we sold our birthright for a bowl of sex porridge or fundie porridge—either one will break our hearts and our backs.

September 12, 10:59 am | [comment link]
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