In fact, St. James, Penn Hills, becomes the third congregation in Bob Duncan’s Pittsburgh diocese to settle with the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and the first to vacate its building voluntarily. Since the Board of Trustees of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh holds title to the building, the congregation was not in a good negotiating position.
A story in today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette offers a more balanced view of what is happening in Penn Hills. (The Web site of the Episcopal Diocese has not yet run a story on this topic.) The Ann Rodgers story begins
Members of an Anglican parish in Penn Hills have quietly handed over their building to the rival Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, saying they couldn't accept the ground rules for property negotiation and believed it was better to rent space in a different church nearby.The story quotes St. James’ priest, the Rev. Doug Sherman, as explaining that the claims of the Dennis Canon and the insistence that “the value of all property and assets of the parish must be considered” meant that the congregation simply could not afford to stay in the building. In any case, the Episcopal diocese did not ask the congregation to leave.
The departing congregation will begin worshiping in its new quarters this Sunday. The Frankstown Road building will also see worship Sunday, as the Rev. Vicente Santiago will lead an Episcopal service for whoever shows up. The hope is that an Episcopal Church congregation can be re-established in Penn Hills.
On April 22, 2008, the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, under Bob Duncan, published “Frequently Asked Questions about Realignment.” One of the questions dealt with was what the immediate effects would be on parishes. This was answered as followed:
There would be few immediate consequences for parishes. No property would immediately change hands. Expected lawsuits would largely target the Diocese.All this was true. For the congregation of St. James, Penn Hills, however, such reassurances may seem less comforting now than they did three years ago.