Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Episcopal Church): Wikis


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This article is about the diocese in the Episcopal Church. For the diocese of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, see Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Southern Cone).
Diocese of Pittsburgh
Arms of Diocese of Pittsburgh
Province III
Bishop Rt. Rev. Kenneth L. Price (Provisional), succeeding Rt. Rev. Robert H Johnson (Assisting)[1]
Cathedral Trinity Cathedral
Parishes 66* (26 currently affiliating with the diocese)[2]
Membership 20,263 (2004)*[citation needed]
Website www.episcopalpgh.org
*Counts from before the schism
Location of the Diocese of Pittsburgh

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is a diocese in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Geographically, it encompasses several counties in Western Pennsylvania, and its cathedral is located in downtown Pittsburgh. The Rt. Rev. Robert Hodges Johnson served the diocese as Assisting Bishop and was succeeded in October, 2009, by the Rt. Rev. Kenneth L. Price as provisional Bishop.[3]

Founded in 1865, the diocese experienced schism after its diocesan convention voted to withdraw from the Episcopal Church and join the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone in 2008. These actions, not provided for in the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, were believed by the Episcopal Church to be ultra vires and null. Those members remaining in the Episcopal Church reorganized the diocese, resulting in the body which is the subject of this article. Both this body and the rival Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Province of the Southern Cone claim to be the true and legal successor of the pre-schism diocese. On October 5, 2009, a Pennsylvania court ruled that the Diocese in communion with the Episcopal Church is the legal successor,[4] and on October 29, the rival diocese announced it had changed its name to the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.[5]

Before the 2008 split, the diocese included 66 individual parishes, and in 2004 had a total membership of 20,263.[citation needed] Because the schism is currently in progress, it is difficult to give accurate and undisputed numbers for the two bodies. 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. The relationship of these bodies to the rival dioceses remains unclear. The diocese is also home to Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh, one of the founding members of the Via Media USA coalition.




Early 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 to survey large claims of the best farm land. On Christmas Day in 1750, Gist read Prayers and delivered a homily to Indians and traders near what is now the town of Coshocton.[6]

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[6] 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 services led by ordained clergy were conducted by the Rev. Francis Reno. In 1794 he officiated alternately at Pittsburgh and Chartiers.[7] Other 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; and Joseph Doddridge, a Methodist ordained in 1792, residing in Independence, Washington County. John Taylor, raised in Ireland and originally a Presbyterian, was ordained to the Episcopal ministry in 1794. He moved to Washington County in 1797 to teach school, and was soon invited to lead a small congregation in Pittsburgh.[7]

In 1865, the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania was divided, and the western part became known as the Diocese of Pittsburgh.[8] John Barrett Kerfoot was the first bishop of the diocese, which then included 24 counties and 28 parishes.[6]


Calvary Episcopal Church

The Diocese of Pittsburgh was a theologically conservative diocese within the Episcopal Church. Bishop Robert Duncan in particular had 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.

In 2003, Calvary Episcopal Church in Shadyside sued the diocese and Bishops Duncan and Scriven specifically over actions taken by a special convention the diocese held after the Episcopal Church's 2003 General Convention.[9] At the special convention, the diocese had passed a resolution that asserted that all property of individual parishes belonged to the parishes themselves, rather than to the diocese. In the suit, Calvary claimed that the diocese could not take such an action, as it violated the Dennis Canon which states that parish property is held in trust for the diocese and the national church. 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 it created a process by which the diocese agreed to make decisions about property and assets should a congregation wish to leave the diocese.[10]

On November 2, 2007, the Diocese of Pittsburgh voted to change its constitution to remove accession to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. The vote was 118 to 58 in the lay order and 109 to 24 in the clergy order.[11] As a result of this action, a September 18, 2008, session of the House of Bishops deposed Bishop Duncan from ordained ministry on charges of abandoning the communion of the church.[12]

To take affect, however, constitutional changes require votes at two successive annual conventions, and at its annual convention on October 4, 2008, 119 of 191 lay deputies and 121 of 160 clergy deputies voted on the second reading of constitutional changes intended to facilitate withdrawal from the Episcopal Church.[13] In additional votes, canonical changes were approved that were intended to move the diocese into the Province of the Southern Cone.[11] This is similar to what happened in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin in 2007.


Only one member of the diocese's Standing Committee, the ecclesiastical authority in the absence of a bishop, remained in the Episcopal Church. That member, the Rev. James Simons, appointed two additional members to the Standing Committee and informed Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the situation. On October 9, 2008, the Presiding Bishop acknowledged the reorganized Standing Committee as the legitimate ecclesiastical authority of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.[14]

Suffragan Bishop David Jones, of the Diocese of Virginia, began serving as a consulting bishop on October 23, to assist the diocese in its rebuilding efforts. A special meeting of the diocesan convention was held on December 13. Twenty-seven congregations actively participated in the convention. The convention voted unanimously to reject the recent canonical changes and affirm the diocese's communion in the Episcopal Church. The Rt. Rev. Robert Hodges Johnson, the retired Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina, accepted the call to serve as Assisting Bishop and to lead the diocese, for the near term.[3]

List of bishops


  1. ^ Anglican Communion Provincial Directory
  2. ^ Diocesan Parish Directory
  3. ^ a b "Bishop Named for Pittsburgh Episcopalians". Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.
  4. ^ Calvary Episcopal Church, et al. v. The Right Reverend Robert William Duncan, Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, et al. October 5, 2009.
  5. ^ "Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh Responds to Court Ruling". Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh Press Office, October 29, 2009.
  6. ^ a b c Benton, A.A. (1884). The Church Cyclopaedia: A Dictionary of Church Doctrine, History and Ritual. 
  7. ^ a b Dahlinger, Charles (January 1918). "Reverend John Taylor and his Commonplace Book". The Western Pennsylvania Historical Society 1: 3. 
  8. ^ "History of the Diocese".Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican).
  9. ^ "Episcopal Property Lawsuit Filed Here". Post-Gazette.
  10. ^ "Settlement of Lawsuit Against Pittsburgh Bishop Affirms Episcopal Church Polity". Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh.
  11. ^ a b Schjonberg, Mary Frances (2008-10-04). "Pittsburgh votes to leave Episcopal Church, align with Southern Cone". Episcopal News Service. http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79901_101322_ENG_HTM.htm. Retrieved October 11 2008. 
  12. ^ Schjonberg, Mary Frances (2007-11-02). "Pittsburgh convention approves first reading of constitutional changes". Episcopal Life. http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79901_91563_ENG_HTM.htm. Retrieved October 12 2008. 
  13. ^ Hamill, Sean D. (2008-10-04). "Pittsburgh Episcopal Diocese Votes for Split". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/05/us/05church.html. Retrieved October 11 2008. 
  14. ^ Schjonberg, Mary Frances (2008-10-10). "Pittsburgh Standing Committee fills vacancies, seeks Presiding Bishop's assistance". Episcopal News Service. http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79901_101492_ENG_HTM.htm. Retrieved October 12 2008. 

External links


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