Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh

Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh

Diocese
name = Diocese of Pittsburgh
bishop = vacant
cathedral = Trinity Cathedral
parishes = 66
members = 20,263 (2004) [cite web | title =Facts about the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh | publisher =Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh | date =2006-07-06 | url =http://www.pgh.anglican.org/weare/diofacts | accessdate =2007-11-22]
website = http://www.pgh.anglican.org/

The Diocese of Pittsburgh, founded in 1865, is a diocese in the Episcopal Church of the United States of America. Geographically, it encompasses several counties in Western Pennsylvania and its cathedral is located in downtown Pittsburgh. It includes 66 individual parishes and in 2004 had a total membership of 20,263. The see is currently vacant; the immediate previous bishop (Robert Duncan) was deposed by action of the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church on September 18, 2008. The Rt. Rev. Henry Scriven serves as Assistant Bishop. The motto of the Diocese of Pittsburgh reads "One Church of Miraculous Expectation and Missionary Grace.

In addition to its parishes, the diocese is home to numerous other Episcopal/Anglican organizations including the Community of Celebration, the Church Army, Rock the World Youth Mission Alliance, and the South American Missionary Society. Perhaps the most prominent of these is Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, a leading conservative evangelical seminary.

Diocesan history

The Diocese of Pittsburgh covers the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania and includes the current counties of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, Washington, and Westmoreland. In the mid-1700s this rich transmontane area drew the first Indian traders, exploring surveyors, military men and later settlers, many of whom were at least nominal Anglicans primarily from Maryland, eastern Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

The earliest penetration of the southwest corner of the state, then sparsely populated with Indians, was made by Episcopalians who set up posts in the 1740s along the Allegheny, Youghiogheny and Ohio rivers. Maryland surveyor Christopher Gist crossed the mountains in the early 1750s to survey large claims of the best farm land. Young George Washington, already a Virginia vestryman, was guided by Gist when he came west to warn the French to withdraw from this region claimed by the British. The French's refusal to leave led to invasion and capture of the tiny stockade built by Virginians at the future site of Pittsburgh in 1754. Washington read the burial office from the 1662 Prayer Book in 1755 when British churchman General Edward Braddock, fatally wounded while attempting to drive the French from Fort Duquesne at the Forks, was carried back over Chestnut Ridge and buried in the middle of the wagon tracks of US 40 in Fayette County. The successful 1758 campaign of British churchman General John Forbes marked the end of French control of the region.

When the first new migrating settlers arrived in the 1760s, there were no settled Episcopal clergy. Laity read Morning Prayer, mainly in farm cabins but sometimes at Fort Burd or Fort Pitt, or in public houses as those were established. Before the American Revolution there were no organized Episcopal churches left anywhere in this corner of the state. Some of the more dedicated laity maintained Prayer Book worship in their homes until after the first Convention of 1789, but they kept no records, elected no vestries, and built no houses for worship. From then until the 1820s, the leadership of the scattered congregations established was mainly in the hands of the few early ministers who sought ordination as Episcopalians and rode wide itinerant circuits.

The first known Episcopal clergy resident in this western third of what was then Diocese of Pennsylvania included: Robert Ayres, a Methodist ordained in 1789, residing at Brownsville, Fayette County; Francis Reno, trained for the ministry by Presbyterians and ordained in 1791, residing at Woodville, Allegheny County; Joseph Doddridge, a Methodist ordained in 1792, residing in Independence, Washington County; and John Taylor, a Presbyterian ordained in 1794, who resided in Hanover Township, Washington County, before moving to Pittsburgh in order to teach school.

John Barrett Kerfoot was the first bishop of the diocese.

Current controversy

The Diocese of Pittsburgh has become a front line in the current struggles within the Episcopal Church. Bishop Duncan in particular had taken up a prominent role in the conservative position within the national church. In 2003, he and a group of other conservative bishops walked out of General Convention after the House of Bishops approved Gene Robinson's election as Bishop of New Hampshire. In January 2004 Duncan was elected the first moderator of the Anglican Communion Network.

Opposition to Bishop Duncan has been well-organized and at least moderately successful. In 2003, Calvary Episcopal Church in Shadyside [http://www.post-gazette.com/localnews/20031025episcopal1025p5.asp sued the diocese] (and Bishops Duncan and Scriven specifically) over actions taken by a special convention the diocese held after the 2003 General Convention of the Episcopal Church (TEC). At the special convention the diocese had passed a resolution which asserted that all property of individual parishes belonged to the parishes themselves rather than the diocese. In the suit, Calvary claimed that the diocese could not take such an action, as it violated the Dennis Canon. Eventually the suit was settled out of court. The final settlement did not affirm Calvary Church's central contention that diocesan property was held in trust for the national church, but create a process by which the diocese agreed to make decisions about property and assets should a congregation wish to leave the diocese. The full text of the settlement as well as each group's interpretation of its significance is available on the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh's [http://www.pgh.anglican.org/news/local/lawsuitperspective/view?searchterm=Lawsuit%20settlement website] or on the PEP [http://www.progressiveepiscopalians.org/html/PR101505.html website] .

The Diocese of Pittsburgh is also home to Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh, one of the founding members of the Via Media USA coalition.

On November 2, 2007, the Diocese of Pittsburgh voted 227 to 82 to leave the TEC. The vote was approved again at the diocesan convention of October 4, 2008. At the same time, the Diocese voted to come under the oversight of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. The situation is thus parallel to that of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin.

A September 18, 2008 session of TEC House of Bishops deposed Bishop Duncan from ordained ministry on charges of abandoning the communion of TEC. [cite web |url=http://www.episcopalchurch.org/ens/79901_100894_ENG_HTM.htm |title=House of Bishops votes to depose Pittsburgh bishop for 'abandoning Communion' |accessmonthday=September 18 |accessyear=2008 |author=McCaughan, Pat |date=2008-09-18 |work=Episcopal Life]

At its annual convention on October 4, 2008, 119 of 191 lay deputies and 121 of 160 voted on the second reading of constitutional changes intended to facilitate removing the diocese from TEC. [cite web |url=http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/05/us/05church.html |title=Pittsburgh Episcopal Diocese Votes for Split |accessmonthday=October 11 |accessyear=2008 |author=Hamill, Sean D. |date=2008-10-04 |work=The New York Times]

References

External links

* [http://www.episcopalpgh.org// Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (ECUSA) home page]
* [http://www.progressiveepiscopalians.org Progressive Episcopalans of Pittsburgh home page]


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