October 29, 2009

Trinity Offers Support to Diocese

To: The People of Trinity Church, Beaver
From: The Reverend Scott T Homer
Date: October 29, 2009

Dear Friends,

A couple of weeks ago I wrote you about the judge’s decision against the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. I am writing you again to inform you that our parish was asked to help mount an appeal of that ruling. We were asked and we have agreed to lend funds to the diocese. I want you to know a little about that decision.

If you have attended any of the meetings where we have spoken about the litigation you have heard me say that our lives are not about the property. They are about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our common goal is to worship God in the beauty of holiness, not to worship in any particular structure. My position has not changed. Our purpose remains the same. We are called to remain focused on reaching out to the least, the last and the lost. That is the mission of the churches but if the churches of the diocese were to lose their assets it would severely damage the mission and ministry that those parishes are doing here in Western PA. On Tuesday night, the Standing Committee of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh voted to appeal the lower court decision against them. Our Bishop concurs.

As the Standing Committee was considering their options it became obvious to them that the judge’s decision must be appealed in order to protect the integrity of the diocesan structure and the rights of our parishes to decide their own future. But although it was obvious that the case ought to be appealed there were no liquid assets available to pay for such an appeal. Unless funds could be found the diocese would have to suffer the inevitable consequences of an unfair ruling—loss of property and the right to self-govern. I became aware of their need about ten days ago and I told the diocese I would ask our parish leadership if they would be willing to lend them money in order to enable them to mount a legal defense. Vestry had already decided that in extraordinary times like ours we ought to be using our invested funds and not holding onto them as a hedge against some distant anxiety.

On Monday night, at a special meeting, the vestry voted unanimously in favor of lending the money to the diocese. (The amount is substantial. Any member of the parish can ask and we will make the amount known. I just don’t want to publish it here). We have advanced the money to them with a letter signed by vestry. Both this letter and that one will be posted in the parish this Sunday. Virtually every vestry member expressed regrets, not that they were giving the money, but that there were no viable options, no alternative paths that made any sense. We all expressed hopes that this thing could be over soon so that we might concentrate fully on the mission and ministry of the parish. You need to know just what a difficult decision it was. I am very proud of the integrity and faithfulness demonstrated by each one of them. I pray that you will support and encourage them through your vocal affirmations and through your private prayers.

As I write, we await the formal announcement of the intent to appeal. We have no idea what the future holds but I am at peace. We rest in the assurance of God’s grace and good favor towards us. A wise senior member of the parish offered this advice the other day. He said, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3.5-6) We serve an awesome God and it is in His power that we trust.

In Christ,

Scott +

Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh Will Appeal Ruling

October 29, 2009


Today, we are pleased to introduce ourselves as The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. Previously known as The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, our diocese is comprised of fifty-five congregations; 51 local congregations with a very long record of service to Pittsburgh area communities (in eleven southwestern Pennsylvania counties), and 4 congregations beyond the immediate region. We were the majority (67%) on the vote to withdraw from the Episcopal Church and are the majority now: 55 Anglican Church congregations as compared to 27 Episcopal Church congregations.

Our purpose in asking you here today is to announce our intention to appeal the recent ruling of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. The court ruled that a minority of our former parishes, which now claim to be a diocese affiliated with the Episcopal Church, shall hold and administer all diocesan assets. The appeal will be filed once the court issues a final order directing the transfer of all diocesan property to this minority group.

Our decision to appeal is for the purpose of protecting the mission of our fifty-one local congregations. Left uncontested, the award of all diocesan assets to the minority party, a group that comprises only a third of the parishes that were a part of our diocese when we withdrew from the Episcopal Church, would establish a precedent that we believe the minority would use to take steps to seize all the assets of all our local parishes. Indeed, the minority's website proclaims as much. This litigious action, which is supported by the aggressive leadership of the Episcopal Church, is unfair, unreasonable, and unconscionable.

A further reason for the appeal is to address the question of the legal right of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh to separate from its former denominational affiliation (The Episcopal Church of the United States). This essential question has never yet had its day in court throughout the legal action in which the Episcopal Church minority is the plaintiff and is suing for all the assets. Many of these assets were donated in good faith by generations of families in our fifty-one congregations. There must be an equitable agreement and distribution. There is a Christian way to resolve this dispute.

The Anglican Church in North America and the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh are actively engaged in effective, caring ministry and the planting of new congregations, both regionally and nationally. Our local congregations stretch from Slippery Rock to Somerset to Waynesburg. We are urban, suburban, town, valley and mountain congregations. Shepherd's Heart in Uptown, Seeds of Hope in Bloomfield, and Church of the Savior in Ambridge are among our most celebrated ministries to the urban poor and to urban youth. Half of all mission agencies in North America are headquartered among us and are led by our people. Unhesitatingly, the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh is committed to protecting and expanding the extraordinary ministries of these dynamic congregations and agencies.

The appeal announced today will be funded from several significant contributions, the first of which is in hand. An Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh Defense Fund (The Staying Faithful Fund) has been established and is receiving donations. None of the ordinary gifts of our people or assessments of our congregations will be used to support the appeal.

We are building for the future, not dependent on the past or controlled by the culture. We proclaim the Christian Faith as once for all delivered to the saints. We rejoice in the generosity of our people and stand firmly on the solid Rock who is Our Lord Jesus. We share what we have, whether much or little. We are Anglican Christians transforming our world with Jesus Christ. We are the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Opinion: The Diocese Must Appeal

We await formal announcement from the Anglican Diocese of their response to the judge's decision. As you may recall, the judge found in favor of TEC (Calvary)and awarded all diocesan assets to them. You also know where I stand on our appropriate values. I believe that property and money matters are secondary to mission and ministry and that our attentions must not be diverted from the task of Gospel minsitry, even when the issue is our church building. Nevertheless, I am writing to make an argument for appealing the lower court ruling.

There are at least three major reasons why an appeal is essential:

1. Gospel ministry is done primarily at the parish level. Local resources fuel all sorts of humanitarian efforts. Local resources pay for the missions that are reaching out to the lost and the lonely. Local resources pay for worship. If the court ruling stands it will substantially compromise the mission and ministry of Jesus Christ in our region.

2. The court ruling ignores the fact that the diocese of Pittsburgh acted in complete accord with their own constitution and canons, followed all proper precedent, and had the right to decide, as a diocese to realign. If the ruling stands it would strip us all of our standing within a legitimate diocese of the Anglican Communion.

3. If we are stripped of our status as a legitimate diocese we are also barred from defending ourselves corporately and will be forced to defend ourselves, as best we can, individually. This would represent a tremendous hardship on all but the largest and best financed parishes. It is much easier and much more fiscally responsible to fight as a diocese.

Please pray for the Anglican Communion, for the Diocese and for our parish. Pray that God's will be done and that He gives us the grace to follow him at all times. I continue to pray for each of you and I am seeing my prayers bearing fruit. I admire your courage and your faithfulness.

In Christ,

Fr. Scott Homer

October 26, 2009

South Carolina Distances Itself from Episcopal Bodies

From; The Living Church Online
Posted on: October 24, 2009

The voting margins were huge on Saturday as a special convention of the Diocese of South Carolina approved four resolutions supported by the diocesan bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mark Joseph Lawrence.

A fifth resolution addressed diocesan convictions on sexuality, without explicit implications for the diocese’s relations with the Episcopal Church.

As Bishop Lawrence urged approval of the resolutions, he acknowledged criticisms that they have attracted: “The resolutions that are before us, while seeming tepid to some, have to others the feel of haste, even imprudence.”

Those disagreements are clear even within the diocese. Only about six miles from the convention’s meeting site, Christ Church in Mt. Pleasant, is St. Andrew’s Church, which already has begun a 40 Days of Discernment program to decide whether it will separate from the Episcopal Church and, by extension, from the diocese.

In mid-September, the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina said the diocese “teeters on the edge of schism” from the Episcopal Church.

In summary, the five resolutions said:

1. “In the Diocese of South Carolina, we understand the substance of the “doctrine, discipline and worship” of the Episcopal Church to mean that which is expressed in the Thirty-Nine Articles, the Creeds, the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral and the theology of the historic prayer books.”

Approved by 86 percent of voting clergy, parishes and missions.

2. “That this diocese authorize the bishop and standing committee to begin withdrawing from all bodies of the Episcopal Church that have assented to actions contrary to Holy Scripture, the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this church has received them, the resolutions of the Lambeth Conference which have expressed the mind of the Communion, The Book of Common Prayer and our Constitution and Canons, until such bodies show a willingness to repent of such actions … and that the Diocese of South Carolina declares that the most recent example of this behavior, in the passage of Resolutions DO25 and CO56, to be null and void, having no effect in this Diocese, and in violation of our diocesan canon (XXXVI sec.1).”

Approved on a vote by orders.
Clergy: 87 yes, 17 no, 1 abstaining.
Parishes: 39 yes, 8 no.
Missions: 14, yes, 3 no, 2 divided, 1 abstaining.

3. “That this diocese … will work in partnership with such Dioceses as are willing to form missional relationships providing gatherings for bishops, clergy and laity for the express purpose of evangelism, encouragement, education and mission … and that the parishes of this diocese are encouraged to enter into their own missional relationships with orthodox congregations isolated across North America and to pursue effective initiatives which are lay-led and supported.”

Approved, 85.1 percent.

4. “That the Diocese of South Carolina endorses the [Ridley Cambridge Draft] of the proposed Anglican Covenant, as it presently stands, in all four sections, as an expression of our full commitment to mutual submission and accountability in communion, grounded in a common faith.”

Approved, 87.5 percent.

5. “That this diocese will not condone prejudice or deny the dignity of any person, including but not limited to, those who believe themselves to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. Nevertheless, we will speak the truth in love as Holy Scripture commends for the amendment of life required of disciples of Christ. It is love of neighbor and the abiding concern for their spiritual well being that compels such honesty and will never allow us to remain silent.”

Tabled until the diocese’s regular convention in March 2010.

In a sweeping address of nearly 4,000 words, Bishop Lawrence gave an extended defense of the resolutions, which were prepared by the diocese’s standing committee in response to his address to clergy in August.

Both in that address and this one, he compared false doctrine to kudzu, a fast-growing and destructive vine found in the Deep South.

“This false teaching that I have called the gospel of indiscriminate inclusivity has challenged the doctrine of the Trinity, the Uniqueness and Universality of Christ, the authority of Scripture, our understanding of baptism, and now, that last refuge of order, our Constitution & Canons,” he said. “Like an invasive vine, like kudzu in an old growth forest, it has decked the Episcopal Church with decorative destruction. It has invaded and now is systematically dismantling the fundamental teachings of our Church and our Christian heritage.”

He defended the proposal, in the second resolution, that the diocese withdraw its deputation to the triennial General Convention.

“The General Convention is not the answer to the problems of the Episcopal Church,” he said. “The General Convention has become the problem. It has replaced a balanced piety in this Church with the politics of one-dimensional activism. Every three years when the Episcopal Church train pulls into the station of General Convention more traditional, catholic and evangelical Episcopalians get off the train and do not return. Do you know that in 1968 this Church had 3,600,000 members? In 2008 we had just barely over 2,000,000. It is even less than that now.”

Further, he defended the resolutions as helping the diocese affect not only the Episcopal Church but also the broader Anglican Communion.

“The landscape around us in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion is changing almost daily,” he said. “This week alone has brought remarkable and gracious news from the Vatican, but it will give us little relief but that of hope that one day all who hold the faith of the apostles shall be one. Meanwhile these four principles need to guide us; otherwise we will be tossed about by every windy gust of news or tidal wave crashing on the shore.”

Douglas LeBlanc

October 20, 2009

Anglican Church in N America responds to Vatican Offer

We rejoice that the Holy See has opened this doorway, which represents another step in the growing cooperation and relationship between our Churches. This significant decision represents a recognition of the integrity of the Anglican tradition within the broader Christian church.

While we believe that this provision will not be utilized by the great majority of the Anglican Church in North America’s bishops, priests, dioceses and congregations, we will surely bless those who are drawn to participate in this momentous offer.

We concurrently thank God for the partnership that orthodox Anglicans have long enjoyed with the Roman Catholic Church, and are profoundly grateful for the many acts of kindness shown on local, diocesan and national levels, as they have stood with us in our time of trial.

While our historic differences over church governance, dogmas regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary and the nature of Holy Orders continue to be points of prayerful dialogue, we look forward to an ever deepening partnership with the Catholic Church throughout the world. We pledge our earnest prayers for all those touched by this initiative, as we look forward to the publication of the Apostolic Constitution detailing today’s announcement.

The Most Rev. Robert Wm. Duncan
Archbishop and Primate, Anglican Church in North America
Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican)

Vatican welcome to Anglicans boldest move since Reformation

The Vatican on Tuesday opened the way for Anglican communities to switch allegiance en masse. Hundreds of thousands of Anglicans angry over the church's liberal stance on women and gays may convert.

By Nick Squires | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
from the October 20, 2009 edition

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Vatican City - The Vatican launched an historic initiative Tuesday to make it easier for disgruntled Anglicans worldwide to join the Roman Catholic Church. The church said the move was not a swipe at the Anglicans but it could nevertheless result in hundreds of thousands of churchgoers unhappy with openly gay and female clerics defecting to Rome.

Pope Benedict XVI gave his approval to a new framework to bring back into the fold Anglicans who oppose their church's liberal stance on gay marriage and the ordination of women priests and gay bishops while allowing them to retain some of their separate religious traditions.

The move comes nearly 500 years after Henry VIII's desire for a divorce led him to break with Rome and proclaim himself as the head of the newly formed Church of England in 1534. The framework is the Vatican's most sweeping gesture toward any schismatic church since the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century and the Thirty Years' War that followed it in the 17th century. That war ended with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, which acknowledged the right of monarchs rather than the Vatican to determine their national faiths, prompting Pope Innocent X to declare the document "null, void, invalid, iniquitous, unjust, damnable, reprobate, inane, empty of meaning and effect for all time."

Over the centuries, relations between the various Christian faiths have improved and both Anglican and Catholic leaders were at pains on Tuesday to say that warming relations between the two churches will not be affected by the new plan. But both churches have been struggling to retain adherents in recent years, particularly in the developed world, with poorer countries their only growth spots.

Individual Anglicans have long been free to convert to Catholicism, as former British prime minister Tony Blair did after leaving office in 2007. But the so-called Apostolic Constitution will enable entire Anglican communities to transfer their allegiance en masse.

The pope was responding to "numerous requests to the Holy See from groups of Anglican clergy and faithful in various parts of the world who want to enter into full and visible communion" with the Catholic Church, Cardinal William Joseph Levada told a news conference. He is the American head of the Vatican's doctrinal body.

Vatican officials declined to say how many of the world's 77 million Anglicans might take the opportunity to convert to Catholicism.

Anglican conservatives

The Traditional Anglican Communion, a vocal group of 400,000 conservatives who split from the Anglican Communion in 1991, are expected to move towards Rome.

"We have had requests from large groups, in the hundreds," said Cardinal Levada. "If I had to say a number of bishops, I would say it's in the twenties or thirties."

His American colleague, Archbishop Joseph Di Noia, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, said after the press conference that he believed the number of bishops ready to convert was closer to 50.

They would come from the United States, Australia, and the island nations of the Pacific, he said.

Cardinal Levada was asked whether the Vatican's new policy weakened the Anglican Church's standing.

"I would not dare to make a comment on that. After the long years of the British Empire, and the work of Anglican missionaries, the Anglican Communion is a diverse and very varied worldwide communion."

Under the new constitution, married Anglican priests will be allowed to enter the Catholic Church but will not be ordained as bishops.

Will African Anglicans move?

The initiative was in response to years of lobbying by Anglicans who had become disenchanted with Anglican liberalism, a dissatisfaction which reached a crisis point in 2004 when the Episcopal Church in the United States ordained the first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.

That move and other liberal shifts, such as a Canadian diocese's willingness to bless same-sex unions, have been fiercely opposed by more conservative Anglicans, particularly in Africa.

The new framework was announced simultaneously in Rome and in London, where the head of the Church of England, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, said he did not see the Vatican move as "an act of aggression." (Read a Monitor profile of the archbishop here.)

Neither was it a vote of no confidence in the Anglican Church, he said, but a sign of maturity and understanding between the two faiths.

But Vatican commentators described it as a blow to the Anglican Communion. "For people who harbor the vision of Anglican unity, this will be a great disappointment," said Vatican analyst Francis X Rocca, of the Religion News Service.

"But it may also help to let off steam within the Anglican Church. If disaffected traditionalists leave, then they will lower the tensions over issues like gay marriage and women clergy."

Vatican expert John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter wrote in a blog post that while the opening by the Vatican had long been rumored, some Catholics feared "potentially negative repercussions in relations with the Anglican Communion – whose leadership might see it as 'poaching.'"

October 15, 2009

Thanks for the pictures Dwayne!


If you are wondering, "where's Dwayne?" He is behind the lens. Thanks for the great photos Dwayne!
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More trips planned--stay tuned

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Canoe Retreat Photo


It was cold, and a fire was the first order of business when we got to camp.
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Another Retreat Photo


I can't help feeling better connected to God when surrounded by the beauty of his creation.
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Men's Retreat Photo


Men of the parish paddled about 25 miles down the Allegheny River from Kinzua Dam to Tidioute. They stayed overnight at Buckaloons Campground and participated in Book/Bible study. It was great seeing bald eagles soaring over the river and great to see eight men sharing their lives with one another.
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October 7, 2009

Judge finds in favor of TEC--What does this mean for us at Trinity?

from Fr Scott Homer

The judge in the case Calvary Church vs. The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has found in favor of Calvary Church. This is a substantial loss to our diocese. Some 15 million dollars in assets will be lost unless the case is successfully appealed. The case did not address the issue of who owns parishes and parish assets and so, our immediate future is not imperiled by this court decision.

I have imported two documents for your review. One is a report on the Judge’s ruling from The Living Church foundation. The other is Bp Bob Duncan’s response to the ruling—a letter you will heard read in church this Sunday. The two will give you a reasonable understanding of what has happened which something that will not happen if you rely on newspaper reports.

Just a word from me: As you know, the men of the parish have been scheduled to go on retreat this weekend for about six months. While the news about this court case is important, it does not present a matter of such magnitude that it ought to interrupt our ministry. The trip is going forward. What does this judgement mean to us? Well, it is simply too early to tell. We will know more in a few days.

The wardens and I met today and made substantial progress. This evening I will be with diocesan leadedrship and I will be meeting with your vestry tomorrow evening. Following that meeting I will advise you all of what we have learned and how we are thinking we need to proceed. In the meantime, please pray for wisdom and guidance for me and your leadership and please avoid rushing to judgment or wrong conclusions. It is a time for steady, calm and reasoned action.

Finally, if you should have any questions or any anxieties that you would like to share I am always available to take your call. My numbers are in the parish directory. God bless you all. I am very blessed to be placed in this faithful congregation.

In Christ, Scott+

Archbishop Duncan Responds to Ruling

7th October, A.D. 2009
A pastoral letter to be read in all the churches on Sunday, October 11th,
A.D. 2009 and in Saturday services preceding.

Beloved in the Lord,
We lost. In human terms we lost. Bishop and Standing Committee, together with Board
of Trustees, thought we understood the document that was signed on our behalf in 2005
that ended the first phase of the Calvary lawsuit. But yesterday, the judge found against us on the basis of that document.

The team that has provided extraordinary legal counsel to us, and to others in similar cases across the country, has issued the following statement: “We believe the opinion and order is contrary to applicable law, disregards the agreed assumption of valid withdrawal by the Diocese from TEC, violates the assurances given us that the issue of the ‘true diocese’ was not part of this proceeding and denies us due process of law.” Accordingly we reserve all of our rights to appeal.

We will take a time for further counsel and prayer, seeking God’s guidance on whether to file an appeal. After that, we will, of course, fully comply with the court’s order to facilitate an orderly transfer of DIOCESAN assets to the Episcopal Church Diocese. We have mostly lived without benefit of these assets since January. We have demonstrated that we can live without them. It will be sad not to have the resources left by previous generations to draw on, but God will be faithful. Two hundred and fifty years ago the first Anglicans at Fort Pitt had nothing. One hundred and forty five years ago the Anglicans who first organized our diocese had nothing. God was faithful to them. He will be faithful to us.

The court’s decision has nothing to do with PARISH property, including the funds held
in trust for you. The stipulation of 2005 spelled out a mediated process for parishes
wishing to leave the “diocese.” Your bishop, your standing committee, your diocesan
council and your board of trustees will all work with your parish leadership toward this end. We invite the leadership of the Episcopal Church Diocese into working with us for the good of all congregations, both Episcopal Church and Anglican Church

The gospel for this Sunday is Mark 10:17-31, the rich young man. In the passage Jesus
promises that those who are willing to leave everything to follow him “will receive back a hundredfold.” Jesus is speaking to us and to our situation. Now is the moment we are called to trust Him at His word. I am willing. Your leadership is willing. Are you?

Our future is so bright in the Anglican Church in North America: Converted individuals, in multiplying congregations, fueled by the Holy Spirit. Do not despair. “He who has called you is faithful, and He will do it.” (I Thessalonians 5:24)

On Friday night November 6th I invite as many of you as can to join together, physically or by internet or in spirit, in St. Stephen’s Church in Sewickley (beginning at 6 p.m.) to thank God for his goodness to us, to offer up the immense transition of this last year, and to celebrate the prospect of our life in our new Anglican Province. The best is still ahead. Our God reigns.

Faithfully in Christ,
Bishop of Pittsburgh
Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America

Judge Favors TEC Diocese in Pittsburgh Property Case

Posted on The Living Church Online: October 7, 2009

A county judge has ordered the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican) to surrender diocesan property and assets to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church in the United States.

Calvary Church, Pittsburgh, filed the lawsuit against the Rt. Rev. Robert W. Duncan, then the Episcopal Church’s Bishop of Pittsburgh, and the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh in October 2003.

Pittsburgh’s diocesan convention voted in 2008 to leave the Episcopal Church and join the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone, based in Argentina. The Episcopal Church has reconstituted the diocese, which consists of approximately 40 percent of its previous membership.

Judge Joseph M. James of the Court of Common Pleas in Allegheny County ruled on Oct. 6 that a court-approved agreement from 2005 requires that property remain with a diocese of the Episcopal Church.

“Regardless of what name defendants now call themselves, they are not the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America,” the judge wrote.

“The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America did not cease to exist when the defendants chose to withdraw,” the judge added. “The defendants could not extinguish an entity that was created and recognized by the intervenors.”

The judge’s order does not include buildings among congregations that followed Bishop Duncan out of the Episcopal Church.

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