In the Lent 2011 issue of Trinity, the newsletter of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, includes a story titled “Seven Parishes Join Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.” It describes the addition of new parishes to the diocese, mostly in Illinois, but one as far away as Minnesota.
Pittsburgh newspaper readers no doubt have the impression that, since the split of the diocese in October 2008, the Anglican diocese is thriving, but the Episcopal diocese is not. Certainly, that is the impression one might take away from reading the reported numbers of members or parishes in each diocese. But the Anglican diocese has grown largely by the absorption of parishes outside the traditional boundaries of the Southwestern Pennsylvania diocese.
Bob Duncan and his Anglican Church in North America can, as far as I am concerned, organize itself in any way it wants to, so long as it is not stealing property from The Episcopal Church. It is ironic, however, that a church whose rhetoric emphasizes its commitment to “traditional Anglicanism” is willing to develop non-contiguous dioceses. Tradition in the definition of dioceses is not really the issue, however, so much as are the pragmatics of being a real diocese. The Anglican Church of the Trinity, one of the new “Pittsburgh” parishes, is more than 850 miles by car from the office of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. Can the clergy and laypeople of such a congregation participate meaningfully in the life and governance of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh? I doubt it.