November 10, 2009

The Lists

As has been reported, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh recently “released” 135 priests and deacons who had left the diocese for the “Anglican” diocese led by Archbishop Robert Duncan. Letters reporting the status changes were sent October 30, 2009. In letters dated October 5, 2009, the diocese’s Standing Committee had offered an opportunity for deacons or priests to be “‘released from the obligations of the Ministerial office [as a Priest or Deacon in the Episcopal Church] and deprived of the right to exercise the gifts and spiritual authority as a Minister of God’s Word and Sacraments conferred at Ordination [in the Episcopal Church],’” and the October 30 mailing completed the process at the diocesan level that was set in motion on October 5.

Oddly, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has not published the lists of “released” clergy and, in fact, declined to provide them when asked. This is odd because the lists are hardly secret. In fact, a list of removed deacons, a list of removed priests, and a cover letter from provisional bishop Kenneth L. Price, Jr., was, according to the lists themselves, sent to
  • The Presiding Bishop
  • The Recorder of Ordinations
  • The Secretary of the House of Bishops
  • The Secretary of the House of Deputies
  • The Church Pension Fund
  • The Church Deployment Office
  • The Bishops of the Episcopal Church (or the Ecclesiastical Authority of each Diocese of the Episcopal Church in which there is no Diocesan Bishop)
  • The Secretary of the Convention of the Diocese of Pittsburgh
  • The Clergy of the Diocese of Pittsburgh
  • The Vestries of the Diocese of Pittsburgh
  • The Chancellor of the Diocese of Pittsburgh
Presumably, the material was also sent to the 135 people on the two lists. In other words, literally hundreds of copies of the material were distributed. Moreover, it appears that the former Pittsburgh clergy already have been removed from the clergy database accessible from the Church Publishing Incorporated Web site.

Primarily because I think Pittsburgh Episcopalians deserve to know who is and is not a member of their church’s clergy, I am making available a copy of the material distributed on October 30. Knowledgeable Pittsburgh laypeople will find the list mostly unsurprising, though some names may be unexpected and the absence of others may be equally unexpected.

Bishop Price’s letter is generous and unremarkable. It does contain one piece of information I had been wanting to know: “When asked in a letter in October to notify us of their desire to remain in this diocese, none of those on these enclosed notices did so.” I suspected that this was so. Bishop Price’s letter then continues with this interesting revelation: “After the October letter went out, our Standing Committee received a letter sent on behalf of these clergy stating that if we did not hear from these clergy individually, it would be appropriate for us to adjust our records accordingly.”

You can read Bishop Price’s letter and the list here.

My commentaries on the handling of clergy who left the diocese can be read here and here.


  1. I would note that Don Gross+ and David Mackenzie+ both departed this life as priests in good standing of the Episcopal Church. Their inclusion on this list was in error.

  2. Bruce,

    I did do a double take when I saw Don’s name, as I thought that I had remembered that he had died. I guess this explains his non-response to Bishop Price’s letter of October 5.

  3. Bruce:

    Whew!!! Thank goodness they were "in good standing of the Episcopal Church". To depart in any other condition would have been just tragic.


    I doubt if David or Don would have responded to Bishop Price's Renunciation letter had they received it. If 135 others didn't, why would two such stalwart and faithful priests do otherwise. Don's non-response explains nothing.

  4. David,

    If my phrase seemed to imply any lack of respect for Don+, whom I knew pretty well and have always considered a friend, or David+, whom I met only once, I would quickly apologize. I consider all my brothers and sisters on that list to be, as they have been, entirely "in good standing," and I guess the lawyers can play ping pong about the Province of their residence. Don+ and David+ are of course now "in good standing" in a higher Province indeed.


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