Saturday, September 20, 2008

Post Deposition News Conference

From the blog "Episcopal Cafe."

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schroi and three other bishops held a brief and lightly-subscribed telephone press conference this afternoon which produced two significant pieces of news:

First: “The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh will not go away,” said Jefferts Schori, even if the diocesan convention votes to secede from the Episcopal Church and join the Anglican Province of the Southern cone.

She said one member of the diocesan standing committee, (the Rev. Jim Simons—although she did not name him) will remain in the Episcopal Church. She said she anticipates that Simons will “reconstitute the Standing Committee” and that it would become the new ecclesiastical authority in the diocese.

How the Bishops voted in Salt Lake

Here's the link to the minutes of the House of Bishop's meeting this week along with the roll-call vote results from the deposition.

Today's (Saturday) Stories on the Deposition and reorganization of the Diocese

From the Post Gazette -

Amid reaction to the removal of Episcopal Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh from ministry, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church praised plans by some local Episcopalians to remain with the Episcopal Church even if the majority of the diocese votes to secede and join an Anglican province in South America.

"Our understanding is that the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh will not go away, even if the convention takes a canonically inappropriate vote to secede," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said in a teleconference yesterday.

The Tribune Review (Note the Standing Committee has eight members four lay and four ordained)

London Telegraph

London Times

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bishop Duncan is Deposed

The Bishop of Pittsburgh was deposed by the House of Bishops today in vote that wasn't even close (I'm hearing 88 to 35 with four abstentions).

Diocesan press release is here (like the empty chair?)

and the Standing Committee statement is here -

(Note: This piece was posted Thursday night and somehow made it to the top of the posts)

Deposition Round-up

From this morning's Post Gazette -

The Episcopal House of Bishops has voted to remove Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh from all ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church.

The action came as the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh prepares for an Oct. 4 vote to secede from the 2.4 million-member Episcopal Church -- the U.S. branch of the 77 million-member Anglican Communion -- and realign with the more conservative Anglican Province of the Southern Cone in South America.

The vote, which took place yesterday afternoon in a closed meeting in Salt Lake City, was 88-35 with four abstentions.

Episcopal News Service

And the Tribune/Review -

and Reuters -

and the Associtaed Press-

and The Living Church-


Christian Today UK

Christianity Today

Religious Intelligence

Homosexuality should not be an issue to tear the Anglican Communion apart, says the Archbishop of Wales

Dr Morgan said: “[One] of the glories of Anglicanism has been about being held together by our beliefs as contained in historic creeds and formulas but not by agreement to particular statements about that faith in each generation. That is the difference between belonging to a Communion rather than a confession.”

Further criticising the conservatives, he said: “Moreover, GAFCON members do not believe in engaging in dialogue with people with whom they disagree on human sexuality because it means being open to the possibility that the position of one’s opponent might be true when the plain sense reading of Scripture shows in their view that it is not.”

Calling for the freedom for Churches to make their own interpretations of the Bible’s teaching on this issue, he said: “Why is it that, as far as Anglicanism is concerned, we do not interpret the Scriptures literally when it comes to issues such as usury or marriage and divorce to name but two, but insist on a literal interpretation of texts that allegedly deal with homosexuality?

Vestry Resolution From St. Andrews Highland Park


The Vestry of St. Andrew’s Church, Highland Park, has reflected prayerfully on the situation that may emerge in our diocese and wider church, should deputies to our October, 2008, Diocesan Convention approve constitutional and canonical actions to attempt a “realignment” of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh with a Province of the Anglican Communion other than The Episcopal Church, U.S.A.

We were pleased to have our Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Robert W. Duncan, and our Canon Missioner, the Rev. Canon Mary Maggard Hays, join with us in friendship at a Vestry meeting this past April to share the perspectives of our diocesan leadership team, and we were privileged at the beginning of June to host a larger forum and panel discussion, including our Assistant Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Henry Scriven, and others, where a variety of views on the question of “realignment” were thoughtfully shared in an atmosphere of affection and mutual respect. We have hosted and participated in numerous parish adult education gatherings and conversations addressing the many issues and concerns that cluster around the “realignment” proposal.

St. Andrew’s is a broad parish family, and members of our congregation hold a wide range of theological views and expressions of our Christian faith. We are neither a “conservative” parish nor a “progressive” parish, but we live together as a community with views across the whole spectrum of opinion and belief. We believe we are called as a parish family to love one another, to worship our Lord Jesus Christ together, and to serve the world in his name--even as we may disagree about some important matters.

Formal Actions:
1. With profound regret and great sadness over the many disruptions and dislocations that may lie ahead for our diocese, the Rector, Wardens, and Vestry of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Highland Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in accordance with our Parish Charter (1837) and our Bylaws (2000, sections 2.2, 5.2, and 15.1), affirm that St. Andrew’s Church is now and will continue to be a parish of The Episcopal Church, U.S.A., ordered in conformity with and under the authority of the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, as defined by the General Convention of The Episcopal Church.

2. The Rector, Wardens, and Vestry of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Highland Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, express our hope and prayer that our diocesan convention will refrain from taking actions attempting to change the constitutional identity of our diocese within The Episcopal Church.

3. The Rector, Wardens, and Vestry of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Highland Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, now direct the Rector and Officers of St. Andrew’s Church to assure, following any actions of our Diocesan Convention on October 4, 2008, that in all matters of canonical, legal, and fiduciary concern St. Andrew’s will continue to act in conformity with our identity and duties as set forth in the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Position of bishop for those who cannot accept women priests scrapped

From Wales:

Archbishop of Wales Dr Barry Morgan made the announcement to the Governing Body of the Church in Wales at the University of Wales, Lampeter.

He said: “We reaffirm as Diocesan Bishops our commitment to securing a continuing place in the life of the Church in Wales for those who cannot in conscience accept the ordination of women to the priesthood. However, we no longer consider that the continuation of additional episcopal provision for one part of the church on grounds of belief or doctrine on one particular issue is either necessary or consistent with Anglican ecclesiology.”

Good Stuff in TEC: Texas

More on Hurricane Ike relief

The Episcopal Diocese of Texas has a ministry attached to the Medical Branch of the University of Texas and a social service unit that helps the needy, both in Galveston. But until the main bridge to this barrier island community is reopened the on-location impact will be limited.

“We can’t get in those areas,” said Carol Barnwell, the communications director for the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.

Don Cimato, a spokesperson for Domestic Disaster Response of the Episcopal Relief & Development said his organization will provide water, food and sundries to help sustain the day to day living where there is access and then help with long-term assistance when need arises.

South Carolina Seeks to Bolster Black Parishes

A report form The Living Church about a conservative Diocese not distracted by realignment questions but focused on evangelism and Gospel ministry.

During the past 10 years, the Diocese of South Carolina has experienced one of the highest rates of growth in baptized members and attendance in The Episcopal Church, but to the consternation of Bishop Mark Lawrence the diocese’s African American congregations and clergy have not shown abundant growth.

The realization of this disparity came to light during a meeting on Sept. 6 involving Bishop Lawrence, members of the clergy and lay leadership of the diocese’s African American congregations, as well as other African American clergy. This was Bishop Lawrence’s first opportunity to meet and greet many of these individuals since he was consecrated bishop last January. In all, about 85 persons attended and have agreed to work together to strengthen the diocese’s African American congregations.

More Good Stuff: Iowa

IOWA: Mission team to deliver clean-water units to Swaziland

The Iowans will carry with them several handheld battery-powered "chlorinating" devices that can convert two tablespoons of salt and two cups of water into enough chlorine to disinfect a day's worth of drinking water for 100 persons. Pilgrims from the Diocese of Iowa first introduced four of the "Klor Gen 3000" units, invented by John Hays of Washington, Iowa, to Swaziland during a mission trip in 2006.

Now the Diocese of Iowa can deliver dozens more, thanks to funds raised by Waters of Hope. Of the total money raised, $14,700 has been earmarked for Swaziland, according to the Rev. Mitchell Smith, 27, rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, Waterloo, Iowa, who conceived Waters of Hope and served as director of the 2008 bike ride.

Good Stuff in TEC: Texas

Episcopal Church Youth Collect Aid For Hurricane Ike Victims

Even before cleanup from Hurricane Ike could begin in earnest, a group of young people from The Church of the Holy Apostles in Cinco Ranch decided to use their unscheduled vacation from school to help out those in need.

The church’s youth group, made up of young people ranging in age from 12-17, partnered with Katy Christian Ministries to collect non-perishable food, water and other necessities for hurricane victims who lost virtually everything.

You can read all of the good stuff posts by clicking on the link to the right under "past posts".

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

House of Bishops to decide if Pittsburgh bishop abandoned communion

Episcopal News Service take on the possible vote this Thursday in the House of Bishops

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said she will ask the House of Bishops to decide on September 18 whether Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh has abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church. If the bishops, who are meeting September 16-19 in Salt Lake City, agree with the findings of a review panel that he has abandoned communion, their next move would be to depose Duncan. "I shall present to the House the matter of certification to me by the Title IV Review Committee that Bishop Robert W. Duncan has abandoned the Communion of this Church within the meaning of Canon IV.9," Jefferts Schori wrote in a September 12 letter to the bishops.

Good Stuff in TEC: New Jersey/Kentucky/Oregon

A brief article in The Toms Rivers Times

Christ Episcopal Church Introduces ALPHA

TOMS RIVER - ALPHA is a practical introduction to the basics of Christianity, centered around a meal, music, video presentation and small group discussion.

The 10-week program will begin on September 29 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church, 415 Washington Street.

Please call the church at 732-349-5506 to register, or for more information, visit their Web site,

Also Louisville Kentucky

St. Paul's Episcopal Church. 4700 Lowe Road, beginning Sept. 17. Ten-week Alpha Course with supper at 6:30 p.m., music and discussion of questions of life and the Christian faith.


Hillsboro Oregon

Holy communion will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Sunday. Father Chris Cole will leave for a position in Texas after this service. A going-away picnic will be held at the Zimmerly's after church.

Alpha Course has been rescheduled for Monday, Sept. 15, and will meet weekly, for 10 weeks, to explore spirituality. The William Temple House West Food Pantry is open Tuesdays, 4-7 p.m., at the church.

Jeff Murph: The Lesser of Evils: False Teaching or Schism?

The following is an original piece by The Rev. Jeff Murph, Rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church Oakmont PA. (Diocese of Pittsburgh)

The Lesser of Evils: False Teaching or Schism?

Peter Lee of Virginia elicited howls of protest and outrage a few years ago when he observed that heresy was better than schism. In fact, though I have known and loved and respected Peter for decades, I was pretty sympathetic to his critics, mostly because I believed that he was being rather self-justifying (to defend his decision to give consent to the consecration of Gene Robinson—which the ensuing years have clearly revealed to be a schismatic action) as well as my concern that he was awfully quick to accept that the “lesser evil” of false teaching was necessary (since the lives of the ordained are supposed to be an example to the faithful then living in a sexual relationship outside of marriage constitutes an implicit false teaching).

Though I still think Bishop Lee was being disingenuous, in the light of impending realignment in our own diocese, I have begun to reflect on his claim from a different perspective. For years, I have prayed and counseled and spoken and voted against the drift of the Episcopal Church toward simply reflecting the cultural norms of our society. That certainly is not because I hate those who disagree with me (in fact, often I believe they are motivated by a sincere commitment to a particular biblical interpretation). It is just that, as hard as it sometimes can be, I still have personally seen the power of God’s Word written, interpreted by the apostolic tradition which has been passed down to us as a precious legacy, to renew and transform individual lives and even institutions. A commitment to a desire for holiness, whetted by an obedience in accord with that of the saints and by the help of the Holy Spirit, has led to the change even of nations over the course of Christian history. To depart from this inheritance, on the basis of culturally influenced values, seems a dangerous and precipitous decision to make. As the Anglican primates have said, the onus to justify such changes clearly lies upon the innovators. So, as a consequence, I view the lobbying agenda of certain interest groups in TEC with intense dismay and as being, at the very least, insensitive and unfaithful.

Many, at least in our diocese, sharing this dismay, have concluded that the jig is up, the battle lost, the retreat sounded. No longer is an “interior” strategy viable, my friends say. And based on this argument, they enthusiastically support realignment, which is a fancy way of describing the decision to split from the American Church and connect with the Argentine Church. Many have even argued that it is not really a split because they are just unplugging from the Anglican Communion in one room and plugging back into it in another. I have not been able to buy it. The vast majority of Americans, among whom we do the ministry of Jesus Christ, can only see this move as a church split. There has been no endorsement for this action from the Anglican Instruments of Unity (that we used to say were agents of accountability for us). And clearly it will represent a break, for the clergy, in our ordination vows to conform to the discipline of TEC. My critics, of course, retort that the leadership of the Episcopal Church has broken so many promises and vows themselves as if they were pie crusts. Yet, does that justify similar behavior?

Reflecting on all this, I began to re-examine Bishop Lee’s supposedly cynical self-justification. Looking through church history, clearly there have been unfaithful leaders in the church from the very beginning (just read Paul’s letters). Sometimes, in fact, these unfaithful leaders were in great majority and power (read about the life of Athanasius). Yet as history has proved, despite these terrible times of error, the Holy Spirit has always been faithful to bring the Church of Jesus Christ back into truth and unity, a tremendously hopeful witness that Jesus is indeed Head and Sovereign over his Church. Yet, on the other hand, when human leaders have divided the church because of disputes, then those divisions seem to calcify and remain (as if the spiritual baggage the leavers take with them acts as an obstacle from ever coming back together). So I have begun to see that perhaps Bishop Lee’s message should have been that schism simply compounds the evil of false teaching. It is using another wrong to combat a wrong. As messy and as infuriating and as terrifying as living in the Episcopal Church is for an apostolic and biblical Christian, breaking away is not the answer that the catholic witness of the saints throughout the ages have given—especially for those who still can worship in faithful parishes.

Why Anglican England is better than secular France

From the London Telegraph a reflection on the differences between the "faiths" of France and England

The French Republic, belligerently secular since the Revolution, and whose separation of church and state is encoded in a 1905 law, may start according a special role to the Catholic Church; that at least is one interpretation of comments by President Nicolas Sarkozy that a new, "positive secularity" should recognise the central place of religion in the country. "It would be crazy to deprive ourselves of religion" he said - "[it would be] a failing against culture and against thought".

Good Stuff in TEC: Texas

The Bishop of Texas, Don Wimberly responds to Hurricane Ike on You Tube.

The Episcopal News Service story is here

Monday, September 15, 2008

Zambrano throws no-hitter as Cubs beat Astros 5-0

Well, further proof that God exists- the Cubs are in first place and get their first no hitter in 36 years. (Number 257 in the history of pro baseball since George Bradley did it in 1876) Played in Milwaukee because of Ike. But it gets better Ted Lilly almost repeated the feat today. For you soccer fans out there, a no hitter is when the opposing team doesn't get a hit.

Pitching for the first time since Sept. 2, Zambrano stopped a Houston team that had not played since Thursday. The storm forced baseball to move two games from Texas to Miller Park and the Astros flew hours before they took the field.

Zambrano, known for his emotional displays on the mound, kept himself in control until striking out Darin Erstad to finish off the gem. It was baseball's first neutral-site no-hitter in modern history, the Elias Sports Bureau said.,0,5291319.story

Everyone from Cubs manager Lou Piniella to fellow starter Ryan Dempster needled Ted Lilly about having to follow up Carlos Zambrano's no-hitter. Lilly sure came close to one of his own. Lilly pitched no-hit ball until Mark Loretta's seventh-inning single, and the Chicago Cubs beat the Astros 6-1 Monday to sweep a two-game series moved from Houston by Hurricane Ike.,0,4263577.story

Former New Westminster clergy and lay leaders sue diocese

And the hits just keep on coming. What happened to the mantra of conservatives who want to leave that civil suits are un-biblical?

Seventeen former clergy and former lay leaders of three parishes on Sept. 9 filed a lawsuit against the diocese of New Westminster and its bishop, Michael Ingham, over the diocese’s decision to evict breakaway priests who continue to use diocesan properties and to dismiss trustees believed to be supportive of them.

The plaintiffs have asked the B.C. Supreme Court to declare that the dismissal of the trustees is “of no force and effect,” and that the parish corporations “or, in the alternative, the trustees” and not the diocese hold the property of the parishes in trust. It also asked the court to declare that the bishop “has no jurisdiction or authority to dismiss or appoint trustees to parish corporations.” It also asked the court to issue a “permanent injunction concerning the use of the property of the parishes.”

Good Stuff in TEC: Ohio

An Episcopal church for the homeless in the Akron area.

Rambo walks to church on Sundays. He arrived in a grassy abandoned lot across from a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant a little before 1 p.m. and sat on a curb, where fellow churchgoers passed around cigarettes and talked about fights from the past week.

They greeted Rambo with hugs and shouts of his nickname, the only name he provides....

Then they took turns offering prayers before the Eucharist: one for children, one for the homeless, one for an ill friend, one for another preacher, one for family, one for soldiers, one for Rambo.

"When you put bread in those gnarled, dirty hands that have been through so much, and the expressions on their faces, that's grace," Reat said.
Then everyone joined hands to say the Lord's Prayer. Hats came off, and hands linked.

Rambo clasped a cluster of three palms between his rough hands. The thin man with a gray, wiry beard, who lives in the bushes near I-70, doesn't look much like his movie-menace namesake.
"I pray for me not to kill nobody today and not to have any arguments and not see any black eyes. No more war today."

United Jews put divided Christians to shame

From the London Daily Telegraph-

Diversity is indeed a reality within the British Anglican community, but true pluralism is not yet. We really should believe that British Anglicanism both needs and deserves better. We have exclusive and judgmental fundamentalists too.

More broadly, diversity and pluralism in the Anglican Church is under threat from schismatics, intolerance and dogma. How piquant that Judaism, from which the Christian faith emerged and which has been the subject of persecution by it down the ages, should set an example of tolerance for us all. These British Jews shame us.

Good Stuff in TEC: Virginia

Volunteers package food to combat world hunger.

Nearly 150 people gathered inside the Grace Episcopal Church parish hall in Berryville Saturday to stop world hunger.

Ann Finch of Clarke County pours rice into a funnel to fill a bag held by Eli Rodriguez, 12, of Frederick County, during Saturday’s Operation Sharehouse food-packaging event at Grace Episcopal Church in Berryville.
(Photo by Jeff Taylor)

The volunteers, who hailed from local churches, Rotary clubs, and civic organizations, formed an assembly line and packaged bags of rice and soy protein, which will be shipped to some of the world’s poorest countries.

The Good Stuff link to the right will show you all of the Good Stuff posts.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Memo to the House of Bishops from The Presiding Bishop regarding the Bishop of Pittsburgh

I want to be clear that I think that if the the Bishop is deposed this week that it would not be in the best interest of the diocese. But my reading of the following is this: The canons require the Presiding Bishop to bring the matter to the House of Bishops. What the House does at that point is up to them. They may vote on the deposition or they can table it to a time certain. The Bishop of Pittsburgh has issued a statement which reads in part.

In a letter to the House of Bishops yesterday, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori made it clear that there will be a vote this coming Thursday on whether to depose me from the ministry of the Episcopal Church.

However, that's not what the letter from The Presiding Bishop says here's the quote -

At that time, the House may, by majority vote of those present, grant or withhold its consent or decline to vote until a later time. In that regard, some have suggested that a vote not be taken until a later meeting of the House after the forthcoming Convention of the Diocese in early October, when Bishop Duncan's intentions and actions can perhaps be viewed more clearly.

The entire letter from the Presiding Bishop follows-

September 12, 2008

Memorandum to the House of Bishops
Subject: Bishop of Pittsburgh

Sisters and Brothers:

As has been widely reported, at the forthcoming business meeting of the House in Salt Lake City on September 18, I shall present to the House the matter of the certification to me by the Title IV Review Committee that Bishop Robert W. Duncan has abandoned the Communion of this Church within the meaning of Canon IV.9. In this memorandum, I layout the background of this matter and what I see as the procedural and substantive issues that are raised by it.

1. The Title IV Review Committee Certification

As the House has been informed previously, in November 2007 I directed a submission by my Office to the Title IV Review Committee that enclosed materials suggesting that Bishop Duncan had abandoned the Communion of this Church within the meaning of Canon IV.9. That submission recited that Bishop Duncan had supported first readings of amendments to the Constitution of the Diocese of Pittsburgh at the last Diocesan Convention that, among other things, would delete the unqualified accession by the Diocese to the Constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church. The submission also recited Bishop Duncan's leadership of a program under which delegates to the next Diocesan Convention in October 2008 would determine whether or not to adopt a second reading of the proposed amendments to the Diocesan Constitution deleting the "accession" clause, and pass a resolution purporting to make the Diocese a member of another Province within the Anglican Communion. Further details of Bishop Duncan's program were outlined in a second submission to the Review Committee by certain lay and clerical members of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

The thrust of the foregoing submission by my Office was not that Bishop Duncan had already left the Episcopal Church, but rather that he had in his episcopal leadership role taken the position that the Diocese had the option of either remaining subject to the Constitution and canons of this Church or leaving this Church for membership in another Province of the Communion; and that in that role he was encouraging the Diocese to choose to leave. The submission suggested, therefore, that Bishop Duncan, by pressing his position that the Diocese had such a choice and should exercise it by disaffiliating from the Episcopal Church, had abandoned the Communion of this Church by "an open renunciation of the ... Discipline ... of this Church" within the meaning of Canon IV.9(1)(i).

The Review Committee evidently agreed with that analysis and on December 17, 2007 certified to me as Presiding Bishop that Bishop Duncan had abandoned the Communion of this Church. Shortly thereafter, I asked the three senior bishops having jurisdiction in this Church, pursuant to Canon IV.9(1), to consent to Bishop Duncan's inhibition pending presentation of the matter to the House of Bishops, but not all these bishops gave their consent.

2. Bishop Duncan's Response

As the House has also been previously informed, on January 15, 2008, I informed Bishop Duncan of the Review Committee's certification and pointed out the provisions of Canon IV.9 that permitted him to respond to this certification in advance of a meeting of the House of Bishops at which consent to his deposition from the ordained ministry of this Church would be sought. On March 14, 2008, Bishop Duncan responded in a letter in which he stated that he considered himself fully subject to the Doctrine, Discipline and Worship of this Church, and described certain actions that he believed supported that view. I concluded then, and I remain of the view now, that that response was not a sufficient "declaration ... that the facts alleged in the certificate are false," and that therefore Bishop Duncan remains "liable to Deposition" under Canon IV.9(2). Moreover, since his letter of March 14, 2008, Bishop Duncan has made clear, both in responses to questions put to him in litigation within his diocese and in his recent letter to the House, that he does indeed support the proposed amendments to the Diocesan Constitution referred to above and a purported "realignment" of the Diocese of Pittsburgh with the Province of the Southern Cone.

3. Presentation to the House of Bishops

As stated above, I intend to bring this matter before the House at its forthcoming meeting in Salt Lake City. Prior to the business meeting on September 18, I shall ask my Council of Advice to hold an informal evening meeting to "investigate the matter" pursuant to Canon IV.9(1) at which members of the House can offer views and participate in a discussion concerning Bishop Duncan's conduct. While Bishop Duncan has unfortunately announced that he will not attend this meeting of the House, his supporters may at this hearing offer factual and opinion material as to why he has not abandoned the Communion of this Church.

As stated above, the House will be asked whether or not it will consent to Bishop Duncan's deposition at the business meeting on September 18, when there will be opportunity for further discussion. At that time, the House may, by majority vote of those present, grant or withhold its consent or decline to vote until a later time. In that regard, some have suggested that a vote not be taken until a later meeting of the House after the forthcoming Convention of the Diocese in early October, when Bishop Duncan's intentions and actions can perhaps be viewed more clearly.

At this meeting there may be raised the question whether, under Canon IV.9, the House may proceed to grant or withhold its consent to Bishop Duncan's deposition on the ground that the three senior bishops have not consented to his inhibition. It is the position of my Chancellor, after reviewing the apparent intent of the canon and consulting several other chancellors and former chancellors, as well as the opinion of the Parliamentarian of the House, that the General Convention in enacting this canon did not intend to give the three senior bishops a "veto" over the House's right to determine whether or not a bishop who has been certified by the Review Committee as having abandoned the Communion of this Church should be deposed. Rather, that decision was intended to be made by the House. The consent of the three senior bishops, they opine, was intended to be sought only on the matter of whether or not the bishop in question should be inhibited pending the proceeding before the House, and that any ambiguity in the language of the canon should be resolved in favor of the ability of the House itself to vote on this matter. In their view, and in the language of the canon, it is my "duty ... to present the matter to the House of Bishops" regardless of whether the bishop in question has been inhibited.

I concur with this advice, and that will be the ruling of the Chair. Any member of the House may appeal the ruling of the Chair, which may be overruled by a two-thirds vote pursuant to House Rule XV, p.192.

4. The Required Vote to Consent

There may also be raised at this meeting the question of whether consent to the deposition of a bishop who has been certified to have abandoned the Communion of this Church must be by a majority of bishops present at the meeting at which the matter is presented or, on the other hand, by a majority of all the voting members of the House whether or not in attendance. Canon IV.9(2) states that the vote to consent must, first, take place at a "regular or special meeting of the House" and, second, be "by a majority of the whole number of Bishops entitled to vote." My Chancellor and the Parliamentarian of the House have both advised me that the canon means that the vote must be by a majority of all the bishops who are at the meeting at which the vote must be taken and who are entitled to vote. Their view is based on their conclusion that the language of the canon may be ambiguous, but that it should be interpreted to give practical effect to the stated direction by the General Convention that the vote must be taken at a meeting ofthe House. This direction differs from other provisions in the Constitution and the canons where votes by a majority of all the members of the House are required but that voting may be by ballot~, Art. 11.6 (consent to resignation of bishops); Canon IV.3(21)(c) (consent to doctrinal presentment of bishops). The Chancellor has informed me that this canon was amended in the 1870s and again in 1904 to make clear that the vote had to be taken at a meeting of the House, presumably so that all who would vote on such an important matter could hear the factual presentations and arguments on both sides of the question. He also has pointed out that by 1904 the number of members of the House who were not entitled to vote was growing, as suffragan bishops, whose election and ordination were being permitted for the first time in our history, were nevertheless not given the right to vote in the House until the 1940s.

Finally, the Chancellor has noted with respect to the requirement that the vote be taken at a meeting of the House that most meetings of the House are not attended by a majority of all the voting members of the House. Thus, in the last several Triennia, while a majority of all voting members of the House were present at the meetings held in conjunction with a meeting of the General Convention, such a majority was not present at most of the interim and special meetings.

And, at those interim and special meetings where a majority was present, the majority was only by a bare handful, so that under an opposing reading of the canon, a vote to consent to the deposition of a bishop would have had to have been virtually unanimous. My Chancellor advised me that the votes to consent to the depositions of Bishop Davies, the resigned Bishop of Fort Worth, in 1993, and Bishop Larrea, the Bishop of Ecuador Central, in 2004, were cast at interim meetings of the House at which no account was taken of the absent members and, indeed, less than a majority of all the voting members of the House appear to have been present.

In these circumstances, I concur with my Chancellor and the Parliamentarian that any ambiguity in the canon should be resolved in favor of making this important provision work effectively and that the discipline of the Church should not be stymied because a majority or nearly a majority of voting bishops are no longer in active episcopal positions in the Church and their attendance at meetings is hampered by age, health, economics, or interest in other legitimate pursuits.

That will be the ruling of the Chair, subject to appeal as discussed above.

I urge your prayerful reflection on these matters as you prepare for our meeting in Salt Lake City, and I remain

Your servant in Christ,

Katharine Jefferts Schori

Report on the Across the Aisle Public meeting

The Post-Gazette reports on the Across the Aisle meeting on Saturday and developments in the possibility of the Bishop's deposition this week.

The Rev. Simons spoke yesterday at St. Paul Episcopal Church in Mt. Lebanon before a standing-room only gathering of 325 Episcopalians who want to remain in the Episcopal Church. The meeting of Across the Aisle dealt with how the diocese will be reorganized within the Episcopal Church if the majority of clergy and members realign with the Southern Cone.

The meeting of Across the Aisle, which drew about twice the attendance that organizers had expected, was largely without rancor. It was an effort to reach beyond the liberal minority in the diocese to the moderate-to-conservative majority.

The Rev. Jeffrey Murph, rector of St. Thomas, Oakmont, spoke from that perspective, saying that although he was aware of deep imperfections in the Episcopal Church, that sin prevents all churches from being perfect. He also noted that the many Episcopal parishes that have left so far have realigned with myriad Anglican provinces and organizations scattered across four continents.

"Is it possible that the Holy Spirit could be fragmenting the Episcopal Church into all these shards?" he asked.