August 26, 2011

Diocesan Profile Posted

Profile coverThe Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh posted its Diocesan Profile as part of the search for the eighth Bishop of Pittsburgh late yesterday. The profile and other materials related to the bishop search can be found on the diocesan Web site here.

The profile is a 29-page color PDF file with lots of pictures. I have never before read a diocesan profile, and I have only had a chance to scan this one, so I really cannot say how our document stacks up against other such documents. It’s pretty, and it’s fun searching for friends in the many photographs.

I was a bit annoyed when I tried to view the file on my computer with Adobe Acrobat 8. I received a warning message, since the PDF generated is designed for Acrobat (or Reader) 9 or later. Presumably, some features are unavailable to me on this computer, but I don’t know what they might be. The document looks pretty much the same on my other computer, on which Adobe Reader 10 is installed.

A quick read suggests that the profile freely admits certain problems of the diocese while at the same time portraying certain issues through rose-colored glasses. It is difficult to discern the fault lines of the diocese. How conservative or liberal is the diocese? One cannot tell from the profile, though some candidates might have reservations about the presence of Trinity School for Ministry in the diocese or the assertion that the diocese should be “Biblically focused.” Likewise, I question our desire for “[r]econciliation with each other and with those who have left.” (Peaceful coexistence might be a more realistic goal.)

The presentation of the recent history of the diocese has several errors and significant omissions. I fear that these lapses may reflect a conservative bias, blindness, or guilt. What is described as “the recent division” is dated in the profile from 2003, but it was the so-called Resolution One in 2002 that first alarmed the moderate and liberal elements of the diocese and suggested that Bob Duncan was up to no good. That concern led to the establishment of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh (PEP) early in 2003, without which there likely would not have been discussions with the president of Province III in Maryland and the establishment of Across the Aisle.

Likewise, the discussion of “property consequences” makes no mention of the Calvary lawsuit, without which our diocese would be in the same legal limbo and dire financial straits as the other dioceses that have experienced schism in recent years. It is significant that 815 discouraged filing of the lawsuit by Calvary Church, but that suit probably save the church and the diocese millions of dollars.

Why do PEP and the Calvary lawsuit get no mention in the profile, even though they were responsible, in a very real sense, for saving the diocese? Enquiring minds want to know.

It is 1:35 AM as I am writing this, and my reactions should be considered very preliminary. I may have more to say about the profile after I have had more time to reflect on it. In the end, I don’t know whether the profile is all that important, but I do think that potential candidates should have a more complete view of how Pittsburgh got to it present situation.

In any case, anyone wishing to nominate someone to become Bishop of Pittsburgh can use the form of page 27 of the profile. Alternatively, he or she can suggest a nominee on the diocesan Web site here.

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