Bruce Robison Reflects on the Differences Between San Joaquin and Pittsburgh

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In Pittsburgh, in any case, the situation is markedly different. For many months “remaining Episcopal” diocesan officers, clergy, and lay leaders from across the spectrum of diocesan theological diversity and representing all the regions of the diocese, have been working together in the context of “Across the Aisle” conversations to establish plans for an orderly and canonical reorganization of the Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church, should the constitutional amendment concerning realignment be approved at the October 4 convention. These preparations have been taking place transparently, not secretly. Importantly, the leadership of the Episcopal Church has been apprised of these preparations and has indicated a commitment to support the local initiatives for canonical transition.

Despite rumors and anxieties that have moved through the diocese in the past few months, the Presiding Bishop and other leadership of the Episcopal Church have clearly indicated that they do not wish to improvise extra-canonical solutions when canonical solutions are possible, as they most certainly are here. This is an important point, as our clergy, vestries, and congregations seek to discern the best way forward. Ecclesiastical “martial law” is not going to be declared in Pittsburgh, armies of occupation will not descend upon us, and decisions about episcopal leadership and other matters of governance will be made by the clergy and laity of the remaining diocese ourselves, in an orderly, canonical process.

For us in Pittsburgh, as for our brothers and sisters in San Joaquin, remaining-Episcopal or realigning, the future is in many ways a mystery. We have problems to address on both sides of that dividing line, and among the members on both sides, that are going to be challenging. My sense is that in San Joaquin what began as sometimes unsettling and experimental improvisation is now gradually settling into a more orderly pattern of life and ministry, the California courts gradually sorting out the various legal concerns involved--and that as both we in Pittsburgh and the leadership of the Episcopal Church have learned from the experience of the San Joaquin transition, the prospects for a successful transition here have significantly improved.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh

10 Comments
Posted September 8, 2008 at 4:05 pm

To comment on this article: Go to Article View

The URL for this article is http://www.kendallharmon.net/t19/index.php/t19/article/15993/



1. Bishop Daniel Martins wrote:

Ecclesiastical “martial law” is not going to be declared in Pittsburgh, armies of occupation will not descend upon us, and decisions about episcopal leadership and other matters of governance will be made by the clergy and laity of the remaining diocese ourselves, in an orderly, canonical process.

I hope this is the case, and indeed trust that it is. It remains a tragic miscarriage of justice and due process that “martial law” and “occupation” happened in San Joaquin, despite the presence there as well of a “canonical solution.”

September 8, 5:01 pm | [comment link]
2. jamesw wrote:

Given that the courts in California have settled nothing yet, the following statement seems rather presumptuous:

My sense is that in San Joaquin what began as sometimes unsettling and experimental improvisation is now gradually settling into a more orderly pattern of life and ministry, the California courts gradually sorting out the various legal concerns involved—and that as both we in Pittsburgh and the leadership of the Episcopal Church have learned from the experience of the San Joaquin transition, the prospects for a successful transition here have significantly improved.

I don’t think that the leadership of TEC has learned anything from the San Joaquin situation.  The issue of whether a diocese may disaffliate from TEC is unsettled legally, and there is a very real possibility that the courts will look to the majority-realigners as the continuing diocese, with all rights to the diocesan and parish properties.  Such a decision would almost certainly put the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin out of commission immediately.

And we are supposed to believe that the chances for a “successful transition” from TEC’s perspective have “significantly improved”???

Don’t get me wrong - were I in Pittsburgh, I would be advocating to stay in TEC for now.  I am not convinced that - for that diocese - the time to leave is now.  I think it is premature.  But people should have all the facts before them and should be reviewing them in a sober manner.

September 8, 5:03 pm | [comment link]
3. Grandmother wrote:

With +Duncan under constant threat of deposition, and presumably could not even be on the grounds, all KJS has to do is appoint a “bishop”, much like San Joaquin, no need for “overseers” when one has Caesar..

September 8, 5:07 pm | [comment link]
4. robroy wrote:

JamesW, the window of opportunity to leave will close with GC09. I imagine a new super Dennis “Cannon” (boom) will be passed. Currently it reads that parish property is held in trust for the diocese AND the national church. Expect it to read parish and diocesan property is held in trust for the national church. Even laity will be “excommunicated” from the TEO for just discussing realigning.

It’s now or never,
Don’t hold me tight
Kiss me my darling,
I’m gone tonight
Tomorrow will be too late,
it’s now or never
Leaving won’t wait.

Non serviri, sed servire.

September 8, 7:24 pm | [comment link]
5. Cennydd wrote:

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe (and I have reason to say that this is in fact true) that Bishop Lamb was appointed by KJS, and not elected, to serve as an interim bishop….since he is retired….until another is elected to replace him, and that probably won’t happen until 2009 and after their General Convention, when the new “Diocese of San Joaquin” will be received into The Episcopal Church.  In the meantime, their lawsuits against us will continue, and if they lose….which I think could very well happen….they will be appealed.

September 8, 7:41 pm | [comment link]
6. jamesw wrote:

robroy:  There are ways around the property issue.  Right now, within TEC, there are multiple options to address the property issue, and I would strongly recommend that this be addressed by Pittsburgh.

September 8, 7:58 pm | [comment link]
7. Dan Crawford wrote:

I appreciate Fr. Robison’s pious hope and quiet confidence that “as both we in Pittsburgh and the leadership of the Episcopal Church have learned from the experience of the San Joaquin transition, the prospects for a successful transition here have significantly improved”. But it suggests to me that deals are being made between his group and the national church. Then again, maybe he has some evidence which he can produce which shows the national church is prepared to reconsider its search and destroy approach.  I hope he means by “successful transition” that settlements will be based on Christian charity and not involve lawsuits against those who do not share his view. The behavior of the national church gives little hope that “successful transition” means nothing more than unconditional surrender with as much gratuitous vindictiveness as possible.

September 8, 8:43 pm | [comment link]
8. BMR+ wrote:

For #7, my good friend and colleague Dan: Just FYI, no “deals being made,” near as I can tell, though obviously folks on all sides of the coming train wreck are appropriately prudent in making plans for the future, as best we can. 

I entirely agree with you that lawsuits concerning these matters are and would be an offense against “Christian charity.”  Avoiding lawsuits, though, will certainly require leadership on both sides of the divide to move substantially from their present positions, and more or less simultaneously.  There isn’t a lot of trust, sad to say, and “you go first” will probably not fly as an opening gambit. 

My own sense is that it is unlikely that the Episcopal Church will stand down from its claims so long as the separating groups are “aligned” with forces in the wider church that seek to exclude the Episcopal Church from the community of the Anglican Communion and to establish a “competing” or even “replacement” denominational Anglican body within the geographical boundaries of the TEC Province.  I don’t agree with TEC’s position on this, but that’s my take.  There is hurt, anger, reactivity, an inclination toward “gratuitous vindictiveness,” it seems to me, to some degree, on both sides of the divide these days—and we can and I know we do pray that our Lord will come to heal our brokenness.  At the same time, the issue of parish assets is one that the canons assign to the Trustees and Ecclesiastical Authority of the individual dioceses, and I have some real hope that we’ll be able to work together here in the coming months and years to minimize damages and support the good and faithful ministries of all our congregations.  Not certainty about this, but “real hope.”

BruceR

September 9, 8:05 am | [comment link]
9. Sarah1 wrote:

I agree with Dan Martins and James W: “I don’t think that the leadership of TEC has learned anything from the San Joaquin situation.”

If they had the “Ecclesiastical “martial law””, the “armies of occupation” and the “decisions about episcopal leadership and other matters of governance” made by KJS would all be reversed and repented of.

And of course . . . they have not been.

September 9, 9:15 am | [comment link]
10. Cennydd wrote:

One thing that none of us has mentioned here is the fact that TEC has, in effect, snubbed their noses at those who oppose what they’ve been doing, and they have, for all intents and purposes, set themselves up as their own Episcopal Communion…...being in business in at least 14 countries.  They see us as competition, and they don’t like it.  Doing business with them means that they will do their utmost to discredit us, and any settlement won’t be acceptable to them unless it benefits them more than it benefits us.

September 10, 12:25 am | [comment link]


© 2014 Kendall S. Harmon. All rights reserved.

For original material from Titusonenine (such as articles and commentary by Dr. Harmon) permission to copy and distribute free of charge is granted, provided this notice, the logo, and the web site address are visible on all copies. For permission for use in for-profit publications, please email KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com


<< Back to main page

<< Return to Mobile view (headlines)