October 17, 2008

Moving Forward with Grace

As I noted in my last post, I attended the program “Next Steps: Moving Forward with Grace” sponsored by the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Pittsburgh last night. I had planned to write a report about the event, but I discovered that Dr. Jeremy Bonner, an historian who recently finished a history of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, has already written a fair accounting of last night’s event on his blog, Catholic and Reformed. You can read Dr. Bonner’s post here. I can, however, add a few details.

There were, according to one count, about 140 people present, and the diocese seems to have been successful at attracting people from divided parishes. The meeting seemed to accomplish what it set out to do, namely, inform people who want to stay in The Episcopal Church about what is going on in their diocese and give them direction as to what they might need to do.

The event ran smoothly, though participants not from the cathedral seemed to have trouble using the cathedral microphones. (The church is acoustically difficult.) Light refreshments were provided, and no one objected to people’s taking coffee and cookies into the pews. There were several handouts: an agenda, the current list of remaining parishes, a list of contacts, and a printed version of the evolving “Frequently Asked Questions for Parishes” from the diocese’s Web site. The agenda, curiously, listed the program’s title as “Next Steps: Moving Forward in Grace,” not “with Grace,” as it was billed on the Web. There may be a theological issue here, but the inconsistency is more likely due to a failure to communicate.

A letter was read from the bishops of the other Pennsylvania dioceses (Bethlehem, Central Pennsylvania, Northwest Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania) offering their support to Pittsburgh. That letter can be read here.

I should note two minor corrections to Dr. Bonner’s account, which I have already commented upon on his blog. The event was not an Across the Aisle event, but an Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh event. Across the Aisle, which has always had a tenuous existence as a formal organization, will, I suspect, quickly fade away. Many of the most prominent players in Across the Aisle have assumed formal roles in the reorganizing diocese or are otherwise helping with the reorganization. Whether some remnant or echo of Across the Aisle will live on as a mechanism to facilitate communication within the diocese is unclear and, as far as I know, has not seriously been discussed.

Like Dr. Bonner, I was uncertain of the canon cited by the Rev. Jim Simons to justify the Presiding Bishop’s recognition of the present Standing Committee. Bonner wrote down “124”; I wrote down “I.2.4,” but I doubt that I was very much more certain than he was. I checked the canons today, however, and discovered that the proper reference is to Canon I.2.4(a).

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