Members of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh’s Standing Committee, Board of Trustees and Diocesan Council discussed the future path of the diocese at Antiochian Village May 20-21. Speaking at the beginning of the retreat, Bishop Robert Duncan told diocesan leaders that “we’re here together”¦to discuss our way forward in light of our failure to obtain Alternative Primatial Oversight.”
Diocesan organizational consultant Cynthia Waisner helped the leadership identify a number of different choices in the light of the rejection of the 2006 appeals and, more recently, the House of Bishops’ rejection of the pastoral plan put forward by the Primates of the Anglican Communion. The diocese could simply keep doing what it has been doing, remaining on the periphery of The Episcopal Church, but not attempting to reach a concluding moment in the conflict. It could submit to the will of the Episcopal Church in its majority, reversing the diocesan convention’s actions over the last four years. It could attempt to separate as a diocese from The Episcopal Church, an option a number of Anglican Communion Network dioceses are considering. It could attempt to create space for conserving parishes to negotiate an exit from the diocese.
Regardless of what option is ultimately adopted, the diocesan leadership was clear about several things. There is no path forward for the diocese that will not involve significant costs and pain. Staying with the Episcopal Church in the light of its rejection of mainstream Christianity will force members of the leadership, individuals and congregations to consider cutting their ties to the diocese. Separating from the structures of the Episcopal Church will force others to reevaluate their relationship with the diocese. Regardless of the choice, parishes and the diocese are likely to face financial challenges.
“We are facing something that we never thought we would face. We thought we would prevail. We thought that what we believed and what the majority of the Communion believed would be provided for,” said Bishop Duncan.