March 7, 2011

Summary of Last Meeting of Parish Leaders

From Canon Mary Hays
March 7, 2011

Dear friends,

Here is a brief update, as promised. On Saturday, March 5, about 200 of our parish leaders met to discuss the best way forward in light of current events.

. The Archbishop described how conversations with the Standing Committee had clarified values that would mark our oversight of all negotiations with the TEC Diocese. Negotiations must allow all of our parishes to survive and thrive; must allow the Diocese to continue its service to congregations; and must not cause harm to the Province as it seeks to care for congregations in other dioceses.

· Standing Committee president Geoff Chapman explained the content of Bishop Price’s letter and pastoral direction of March 1.

· Standing Committee member Jonathan Millard invited those present to sign “An Open Letter to the Clergy and People of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh and to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church.” We hope that this letter will be shared widely, as a blueprint for godly negotiations in the weeks ahead.

· Canon Mary Hays explained how congregations will be better equipped to negotiate if they have worked on their “BATNA” – their best alternative to a negotiated agreement. She and Chancellor Bob Devlin also provided a list of questions to help parishes clarify their mission and prepare for negotiating with the TEC diocese.

Parish leadership was also given the opportunity to gather in smaller “interest groups” to discuss what steps they were taking to clarify their mission and to respond to the demands of the TEC diocese. I left the meeting exhilarated and gratified. For years, we have been seeking a negotiated settlement with the TEC diocese. Now it seems as if such negotiations will become a reality. I was impressed by the good questions and hard work by our parish leaders.

In the past several weeks, I have met with a number of vestries – mostly those of parishes named in the Court Order. I have been so gratified to see a renewed commitment to mission in these parishes. Ironically, as congregations have considered the possibility of losing their property, they have become more focused on what really matters – reaching our neighbors with the love and power of Jesus Christ. Vestries have been asking hard questions about the best environment in which to carry out their particular piece of Christ’s mission. I have been struck by the prayerfulness, creativity and even excitement among vestries as they begin to take these tasks seriously.

Please continue to pray for the clergy, wardens, vestries and chancellors of our Pittsburgh-area diocesan parishes.

A special thanks to the clergy and lay leaders of our District 9 (“beyond the ‘burgh) and District 7 (Chicago, etc) parishes who have sent us warm greetings, promising their continued prayers. It is prayer that will get all of us through this – and enable us to give glory to God in the midst of our many challenges!

Much love and gratitude to you all,


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