January 7, 2012

A Response to the Jeremy Bonner Narrative of the Trinity Cathedral Decision

Jeremy Bonner, a former member of the Trinity Cathedral Chapter, has made clear his unhappiness over the decision by the Chapter to reaffirm its status as a cathedral exclusively for The Episcopal Church. (See my post “Trinity Cathedral Casts Its Lot with TEC.”) Bonner commented on my post here and has, apparently, expressed his views in writing to Chapter members. He wrote a number of comments on TitusOneNine.

A couple of days ago, Bonner wrote a critical post, “Barchester Redivivus: A Tale of A Cathedral, A Resolution and Human Frailty,” on his own blog, an essay that has been reproduced on VirtueOnline today. Bonner, a historian, has helpfully documented many of the events leading up to the December 15, 2011, decision of the Chapter to reaffirm the Cathedral’s charter. His analysis is, I believe, rather less reliable, a matter I intend to address below.

Bonner’s position is succinctly expressed in one of his comments on TitusOneNine: “As a former member of the Cathedral Chapter, it is my view that while the decision reached on Thursday was probably inevitable, the process by which it was reached fell far short of what it should have been.” I agree with the first proposition, but not the second.

The Cathedral’s Special Resolution of 2008 was well-meaning. It attempted to foster, if not reconciliation, at least some measure of coöperation between what became separate dioceses in separate churches. That said, it had two major defects. Bonner recognizes one of these, though he does not see it as the primary motivation behind the Special Resolution: “Many observers viewed it as an abrogation of responsibility and the reflection of an inability to make hard choices.” Bob Duncan claimed that parishes had two years to decide which diocese they would be in. The Episcopal Diocese established no such deadline—its position, after all, was that no parish (as opposed to congregation) had the right to leave—but it chose to give time for the dust to settle before attempting seriously to assert its claims on parish property. It was never clear why Trinity Cathedral had a special right to straddle the ecclesiastical fence or why, for that matter, it thought it had the right and duty to mediate between what were clearly irreconcilable factions.

More significantly, the Special Resolution was, from the beginning, in violation of the Cathedral’s 1928 charter. The Special Resolution itself acknowledges that the charter declares that Trinity is “for the public worship of Almighty God according to the faith, doctrine and discipline of The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America and of such other religious and charitable works as may properly be connected with such cathedral church.” Serving as cathedral for an entirely different denomination stretches “such other religious and charitable works as may properly be connected with such cathedral church” beyond reason. Moreover, the charter requires that members of the Chapter be members of The Episcopal Church, but the Special Resolution declared
Membership on Chapter shall also include a maximum of four lay and four clergy members—specifically, up to two lay and two clergy representing parishes within a Diocese of Pittsburgh within The Episcopal Church, and up to two lay and two clergy representing parishes within a realigned Diocese of Pittsburgh, to be selected according to the provisions established by their respective authorities.
Perhaps what is most remarkable about this and other provisions is that a parish is telling a diocese—two dioceses, actually—how it must act, turning the usual diocese–parish relationship upside down!

What was not asserted—what was not needed to be asserted—at the December 15 Chapter meeting was that the Chapter improperly included persons who were not members of The Episcopal Church and who were, therefore, not entitled to vote (and were never entitled to vote). It is to the credit of the Episcopal diocese that it implicitly accepted the terms of the Special Resolution and bided its time until it became obvious that the arrangements established by the Special Resolution were untenable.

Bonner noted that the Special Resolution included this provision:
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that—if circumstances necessitate the application of the principles and provisions of this Special Resolution—the By-Laws governing the parish and Chapter of Trinity Cathedral shall be amended to incorporate these principles and provisions, and that subsequent amendment of those By-Laws to alter substantively these principles and provisions shall require concurrence by a two-thirds majority of all lay members of Chapter elected by Trinity parish, as well as by a two-thirds majority of those parish members present at a special meeting of the parish congregation, duly convened according to the By-Laws.
The bylaws were never amended and probably could not have been, as doing so would have required approval by the Episcopal diocese.

Bonner complains in his essay that the resolution reaffirming the Cathedral charter was sprung on the Chapter and should not have been able to be carried by a simple majority. He quotes secretary Bette Salmon as objecting that the resolution was not on the agenda and member Wicks Stephens as complaining that its introduction was “underhanded.” (Complaints of secret strategizing from the people who brought us the Chapman letter always seems disingenuous, of course.) I do not personally know what passes for normal procedure on the Cathedral Chapter, but, of course, Special Resolution notwithstanding, the likes of Wicks Stephens did not technically even have a right to vote. Interestingly, although the vote has been reported as 11–7, Bonner notes that Bishop Price was present and voting, and his vote should have been counted, making the vote 12–7.

Bonner notes
No reason was given at the time for why the vote should not be two-thirds (in accordance with the Special Resolution) rather than a simple majority, although as reported above the TEC position is that Special Resolution carried no binding legal authority.
It is not clear, even if one grants authority to the Special Resolution, that a two-thirds vote was necessary. The first reference to a two-thirds vote in the Special Resolution is this one:
Unless otherwise specified, decisions before Chapter shall require concurrence by a majority of those Chapter members present, provided that a quorum exists as established by applicable By-Laws. Decisions to dispose of Cathedral property shall also require concurrence by a two-thirds majority of all lay members of Chapter elected by Trinity parish.
But no Cathedral property was being disposed of. The next reference is this one:
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the people and Chapter of Trinity Cathedral declare that—in the event that disagreements between these two Bishops substantially threaten the well-being and integrity of the Cathedral—they reserve the right to cease being a cathedral and to revert to being a parish consistent with the provisions of the original land indenture of September 24, 1787, except that such an action shall require concurrence by a two-thirds majority of all lay members of Chapter elected by Trinity parish, as well as by a two-thirds majority of those parish members present at each of two consecutive special meetings of the parish congregation, duly convened according to the By-Laws and separated by no fewer than 90 days and no more than 180 days.
 But the Cathedral was not reverting to the September 24, 1787, land indenture; it remained a cathedral. Finally, there is this provision, which was noted earlier:
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that—if circumstances necessitate the application of the principles and provisions of this Special Resolution—the By-Laws governing the parish and Chapter of Trinity Cathedral shall be amended to incorporate these principles and provisions, and that subsequent amendment of those By-Laws to alter substantively these principles and provisions shall require concurrence by a two-thirds majority of all lay members of Chapter elected by Trinity parish, as well as by a two-thirds majority of those parish members present at a special meeting of the parish congregation, duly convened according to the By-Laws.
 This provision is irrelevant, as the bylaws were never amended, so one cannot speak of “subsequent amendment[s].”

Some people may have reasoned that a two-thirds vote would have been necessary to dispose of the Special Resolution, but they had no basis for that expectation.

Bonner ends his essay with this hyperbolic statement: “The tragedy here is not that the Anglican Church in America lost a cathedral, but that the cathedral family lost its very raison d’être.”  Au contraire, the cathedral family is returning to its very raison d’être.

28 comments:

  1. LD writes, "He quotes secretary Bette Salmon as objecting that the resolution was not on the agenda and member Wicks Stephens as complaining that its introduction was “underhanded.” (Complaints of secret strategizing from the people who brought us the Chapman letter always seems disingenuous, of course.) I do not personally know what passes for normal procedure on the Cathedral Chapter, but, of course, Special Resolution notwithstanding, the likes of Wicks Stephens did not technically even have a right to vote."

    Lionel please get your facts right before making untrue assertions. Wicks (and wife Pam) Stephens are members of the Cathedral, financial contributors to it and Wicks was elected by the cathedral members to serve on a term on the Cathedral Chapter. He had every right to voice and vote.

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  2. Lionel:

    Several points...

    1. Many argue that the fact the bylaws were never amended is a technicality. The Chapter and Parish both voted almost unanimously for a Resolution that promised them the bylaws would be amended upon its passage. It can therefore be argued that the act of passing the Resolution did, in fact, amend the bylaws effectively, if not technically.

    2. The argument Jeremy is making with regard to the voting majorities is not a legal one, it is an ethical one. The cathedral's clergy and lay leadership unanimously passed a Resolution that was overwhelmingly supported by the parish, in which the parish was promised they would have the opportunity to participate in its withdrawal if that became necessary. You and many others argue that the Resolution itself can't be appealed to because it was never legal. OK, so be it. That has nothing to do with the ethical argument that is being made. A promise was made, and a promise has been broken. That is the issue. From your Epistle site, I see that you are closely monitoring your parish's capital campaign. Suppose every member of your parish was to donate sacrificially in good faith so that their contributions would be used for the betterment of your facilities and programs. And then, once fundraising was complete, your vestry--by a small margin--voted to use the collected funds to purchase a fleet of parish Cadillacs for use by themselves and the rector instead, and that the parish--who gave those funds--would have no choice but to accept it. Even if technically legal, Wouldn't you observe ethical issues here?

    3. Your statement that, "...the likes of Wicks Stephens did not technically even have a right to vote" is incorrect. Wicks is a member of Trinity Cathedral, and was elected to serve on the Chapter by the parish. He was NOT an ACNA diocesan appointee. The withdrawal of the Special Resolution removed the ACNA diocesan members from the Chapter, but it did not remove any of the parish-elected members from the Chapter, even if they do have ACNA tendencies.

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  3. I intended to establish facts. Interpret them as you will. I think one can conscientiously argue that the Special Resolution should have been done away with by other means. Personally, I believe that it was never proper.

    As for Wicks Stevens, I assert that he is unquestionably a parishioner in the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh and, therefore, ineligible to be on the Chapter. From the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh Web site:

    Board of Trustees

    District Representatives


    District 1: Thomas Hay (2011)
    District 2: Dickson Forbes (2011)
    District 3: Bruce Phillips (2011)
    District 4: Robert Unkovic (2010)
    District 6: Wicks Stephens (2012)
    District 8: Winifred Sherman (2012)
    District 10: David Ball (2012)”

    (emphasis added)

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  4. As you know Lionel, according to your own TEC Canons by definitions clergy are members of diocese and laity are members of parishes.

    No matter what you might try to assert about Wicks, he is still a member of the Trinity Cathedral parish. Why not ask your Provost or your Bishop about Wicks status?

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  5. Lionel,

    Thank you for posting on this difficult topic.

    I have followed the painful processes of late in TEC, the Anglican Communion, and the Continuing Anglican Movement with anxiety, frustration and sadness. I will be moving to Pittsburgh this summer, and so I notice these latest happenings you cover here with interest.

    I think that flexibility and creativity are reasonable and wise at the outset of estrangement. Sometimes accommodation can be made and compromise can be reached that support the maintenance and renwal of bonds. If such is not to be then special arrangements dissolve with the relationship. Such things, all aspects of these things including the basic dissolution, are unpleasant, messy and unseemly. Often one or each party feels and thinks itself wronged. This unfortunate state is likely and inherent in the dissolution process. It is regrettable, but loss is the undergirding reality here. Recrimination, rationalization, legalistic argument, wrangling and maneuvering, while practically obligatory, are all mere window dressing to the actual, basic interchange of loss.

    Here in Boston, the Cathedral Church of the Episcopal Diocese makes notable efforts to be "a House of Prayer for all People." For instance, a large gathering for Muslim prayers is hosted in the parish hall each Friday. However, it is clear who is hosting and who are guests. This clarity does not abrogate the charity of the hosting.

    Painful as it is, clarity at this point will foster further informed choice-making, and form a solid basis from which any real ecumenical collaboration or reconciliation can be made from here on.

    Trust is another matter. Again, loss is what we have now that this journey has been embarked upon. May responsibility be taken, may charity prevail and may healing by all begin.

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  6. With regard to personal affiliation with either TEC or ACNA, as irrational as this may seem to those outside of the cathedral who question its sincerity, one principle of the Special Resolution was that we sought not to withdraw in any way from either side. Just as Christ is fully man and fully God, the cathedral saw itself to be fully TEC and fully ACNA, not half of each. For many of us, that included personal affiliation. Yes, the bylaws require Chapter members to be Episcopalians. But for a time, many saw ourselves as fully Episcopalians and fully ACNA and therefore participaing in ACNA diocesan structures or events would not preclude one from Chapter membership regardless of the charter or bylaws. We were still fully Episcopalians as well.

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  7. I didn't think to mention this in my previous post, but what better illustration can there be than our own Jeremy Bonner, who I believe one year was a Trinity Cathedral delegate at both the TEC and ACNA diocesan conventions!

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  8. Perhaps there was a true spirit of charity within Trinity Cathedral. I cannot speak for those in the Anglican diocese, but I think Episcopalians felt that the Cathedral had become alien territory. Events there caused some unease, and, in many ways, Calvary became out cathedral of the heart, if not technically of the diocese.

    There was a time when people dissatisfied with their local parish or seeking a richer worship experience went to Trinity Cathedral. Now, they go to Calvary and do not consider the Cathedral a viable option.

    Trinity’s ties to the diocese were weakened when Bob Duncan moved the offices of the diocese to the Oliver Building. After the 2008 split, many Episcopalians felt the offices should have moved back to the Cathedral, but that was an impossibility as long as Trinity’s status was so ambiguous.

    It is going to take some effort to reintegrate Trinity into the Episcopal diocese, but Episcopalians are happy to again claim the Cathedral as their own, and I hope that that integration will happen as quickly and as graciously as possible.

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  9. Just as Christ is fully man and fully God, the cathedral saw itself to be fully TEC and fully ACNA, not half of each. For many of us, that included personal affiliation.

    Please.

    If you're looking for Biblical analogies, might I suggest "a house divided against itself cannot stand" or "I spit you out, because you are neither cold nor hot"?

    Fully X and Fully Anti-X (as if ACNA had any reason for existing except to be anti-TEC)? Fuhgeddaboutit!

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  10. I am delighted with the decision by the Chapter. As a deposed Bishop of the Episcopal Church Bob Duncan should have not been permitted to celebrate the Eucharist there. I worked at the Cathedral for nearly 30 years and was asked to resign along with the entire Cathedral staff by Duncan in 2003. Duncan has caused so much pain and destruction. It is time for some healing. With God's help perhaps Trinity can be restored to what it once was.

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  11. Lionel:

    You say, "I cannot speak for those in the Anglican diocese, but I think Episcopalians felt that the Cathedral had become alien territory". Speaking as one who was active at the cathedral throughout the Special Resolution era, it is fair to say that the same feeling probably existed on both sides. From my perspective, however, this mutual feeling was solely the result of shortsightedness and mistrust by the dioceses, and not the fault of Trinity Cathedral. Any cathedral has an increased level of complexity in its daily life because of its diocesan commitments. When we enacted the Special Resolution, we took it upon ourselves to double those commitments... no small sacrifice by the leadership and many volunteers. Two conventions, two ordinations, two renewal of vows services, many more annual episcopal visitations, even two different chancel furniture arrangements as preferred by each diocese! Ask the altar guild or the hospitality committee at Trinity how much more complexity and sheer effort this demanded of them! There was absolutely NO lack of welcoming on the Part of Trinity Cathedral. Trinity's rejection by each side solely on the grounds that we were equally welcoming to the other side reflects poorly on the dioceses, not on Trinity.

    Mary Lou, I don't know if you remember me but I was let go from the paid choir at the same time you were let go from the administation. I stayed, and continued in the volunteer choir, however. As I have posted elsewhere, the statement that Bishop Duncan caused "destruction" is incorrect and people who were not there throughout the transitional period are not qualified to make this judgment. Rather than "destroying" anything, Bishop Duncan's intervention in the cathedral's operations--including the requested resignations--was absolutely essential to the prevention of the cathedral's destroying of ITSELF. The staffing changes and drastic program cuts brought financial discipline to a cathedral that was living way beyond its means and which, if such discipline had not been imposed, would likely have spent down its endowment and would not even exist today. Ironically, Bishop Duncan's saving of the cathedral actually preserved it for those who have now cast him out of it.

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  12. Mr. Campbell,

    Residing in a diocese where the cathedral church IS closing (parishioners and programs are intact and continuing), financial stability is not to be scoffed. However to assert that "Bishop Duncan's (who was once resident in this diocese) saving of the cathedral actually preserved it for those who have now cast him out of it." stretches the blanket a bit thin.

    Without the faintest whiff of cynicism, one could suggest that mass dismissal is the fastest way to render past loyalties irrelevant, install more a staff more amendable to your direction, and disable institutional memory. Further avoidance of a cynical propensity could suggest, based on subsequent events, he was saving the cathedral for his own purposes (perhaps saving his seat, so to speak) if, indeed, he has saved it (which begs other questions and further commentary).

    I have no actual knowledge of the governance of Trinity or of the events you describe, but I can’t imagine a bishop TELLING the cathedral church what to do. A bishop’s authority usually relies more on persuasion and suggestion than direction and mandate along with direct appeals to reason and logic.

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  13. Point of Order:

    The events I describe took place far before realignment, and are not related to it. Briefly, by the early 2000's it became clear that the cathedral had fallen into an unhealthy state of entitlement in which 1. the cathedral was spending down its endowment to sustain programs it could not afford such as a fully paid choir, a lunch room, and a book store, all of which were losing thousands of dollars a month, and 2. leadership had failed to instill in the parish any sense that they should give sacrificially if they wanted to keep these programs. The last straw was in--I think--2002, when cash flow problems created by its disastrous financial ethics caused it to default on its diocesan asessment. Part of the problem was the dean who replaced Werner had a large salary and large spending habits, and the congregation desparately wanted him removed. As a result of all this, there was a voluntary agreement struck between the Cathedral Chapter and the bishop wherein:
    1. The dean would resign;
    2. The diocese would assist Trinity in returning to financial health; and
    3. The cathedral would be considered to be in "transitional status", in which case the BISHOP--for all intents and purposes--BECAME THE INTERIM DEAN.
    The means by which the cathedral returned to relative financial health was the discipline the bishop imposed as such:
    1. Endowment draw limited to 5% per year.
    2. Endowment draw is ONLY permitted to fund upkeep and improvements to the buildings and grounds.
    3. Pledge income is the only source of funding permitted to support programs and salaries.
    It was therefore completely up to the parish if they wanted to keep the expensive programs and larger staff going. They failed. As a result, staff and programs had to be greatly reduced to a skeleton crew.
    As you can see, when you say you can't imaging a bishop TELLING a cathedral what to do, you weren't aware of the specific circumstances of this case. The bishop was effectively the Dean, at the time.

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  14. I've been a former resident of Pittsburgh over twenty years now, so my perspective on the "recent unpleasantness' is from an outside view, but I can not imagine how a cathedral can serve two diocese of different denominations. A cathedral is designated as such by a bishop who places his/her seat there. One bishop - one cathedral....
    I rejoice that Trinity has finally taken steps that will allow healing and new growth rather than simmering along in a miserable stew of uncertainty.

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  15. From a distance, I am observing the re-sorting of a diocese that was badly led, but not uniformly so, and a cathedral that attempted to bridge two warring camps without the benefit of a uniformly competent bishop. It hoped to accommodate the two factions, but the factions were irreconcilable at the level at which the cathedral operates.

    The cathedral has withdrawn from its attempt to mediate. It's now time for some to repent and others to forgive, the latter being the more difficult. Scripture provides many examples for all here. Can we all get back on our principal mission, bringing God's Kingdom closer to home?

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  16. Apparently, yesterday’s congregational meeting at Trinity Cathedral explaining the action of the Chapter occurred without rancor. Perhaps someone who was present can comment here.

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  17. The “Special Resolution” appears to be “out of order” from the start. Regardless, would anyone be any happier if some omnipotent parliamentarian declared the vote to end the association void? Would the Chapter reconvene in its former bifurcated form and resume business? The only glue that could have kept things together would be the willingness of all parties to cooperate – something which has apparently ended.

    Geoff Hurd

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  18. Lionel,

    I've only just regained full access to my computer (my wife's doctoral dissertation went to committee only a few hours ago) so while I knew of the existence of your post I lacked the time to post a response to the response (so to speak).

    First, as noted at the beginning, this production - unlike other things that I've written - was first and foremost about and for the congregational family. It was placed on my blog so that it would be publicly available not because the author had a particular desire for notoriety (though when Deimel and Virtue both pick it up you know you're in trouble) .

    Second, just in case you were unaware, while I did not write the Chapman memo, I was the author of a letter to the ACNA Pittsburgh standing committee arguing that further participation in litigation - however legally justifiable - was not desirable. While I think history is certainly on the side of diocesan realignment - and have so testified - that doesn't mean that I think it's the best use either of time, talent or treasure. I would appreciate not being judged by the same criteria that you judge the leadership of the ACNA Diocese (of which I am certainly not a part).

    Thirdly - and perhaps most important - you rehearse the legal arguments surrounding Trinity the building (or the corporation). My concerns are not with the building - and only incidentally with the corporation - but with the issue of trust amongst a comparatively small body of believers who - whatever their differences - had managed over the past decade to serve Christ and each other with humility and grace. In a night this was all taken away.

    I imagine that you have experience both of hard decisions made well and hard decisions made badly. The Special Resolution employed legal language, but at the time, our understanding of it was couched far more in terms of a covenant. It is possible to dissolve a covenant, but it should not be done by means of a process that implicitly denies that the covenant ever existed. We had lived and worked together knowing that there was an element of sacrificial ministry for those who considered themselves strongly TEC or ACNA.

    The December 15 meeting was Trinity Cathedral as I am told it was in the past - suspicious, conspiratorial and political - the very things against which Canon Brall had openly spoken since she assumed the mantle of leadership.

    Sunday's meeting was certainly polite but there was no sense from the leadership that it comprehended the spiritual and emotional damage that it had done. Two of the most sobering testimonies came from people who are not ACNA fans but who could not stomach the procedural deficiencies. That was what I meant by a loss of raison d'etre. Just as some apparently hoped that the Special Resolution would increase membership, now others hope TEC affiliation will do the same. I remain skeptical.

    Now that the issue has been forced, I hope that the TEC Diocese realizes what comes next. Five of the six choir volunteers will be lost, the altar guild will be seriously depleted and Trinity's complement of assisting clergy will at least be halved, putting even more demands on the already overstretched Canon Provost. Furthermore, there are a number of substantial pledges (some of them ACNA members) who will now be sloughed off. I suspect that within a year there will either be a request for a diocesan subsidy or a return to the bad old days of drawing down the endowment to pay current expenses.

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  19. Not only will the bulk of the choir's volunteers be lost, but one of those volunteers who is leaving--a significant pledger--in addition to that pledge also personally supports two of the professional choral scholar positions. Their funding will have to come from elsewhere. (This is not to rejoice in the desimation of a very good choir of which I was a part, but rather to illustrate the severeity of this ugly action's unanticipated consequences). On Jeremy's blog, Michael posted that when he became aware Bishop Duncan was asking people to stay at Trinity when they would rather have left, he (Michael) knew there was a problem. I hope he and others can equally perceive that the significant loss of members and pledges Trinity is now enduring are clear signals of problems with they way this decision was made.
    In all the posts I have offered here and at Jeremy's and Titus 1:9, I can't believe I have neglected to use the analogy for the Special Resolution we used many times as we were composing it, because I think it is a great illustration: The Special Resolution was our way of communicating that we truly saw the cathedral as an innocent child of divorcing parents; we were aware that the two parents might fight OVER us, but we ourselves were not to be participating in the fight. Well, divorcing parents have coercive and duplicitous ways of turning the innocent child against the other parent, and it looks to me like that is what has happened here. Tragic.

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  20. I apologize, Jeremy, if I attributed any attitudes to you without justification.

    In any case, I believe that the sort of situation in which the Cathedral now finds itself was going to come about sooner or later, and the Cathedral was going to have to deal with it. At least we are not in court!

    As for the John Campbell metaphor, I have to admit that it has its charms. I might suggest that the children have experienced joint custody for the past three years, and everyone has concluded that the arrangement is not working. It’s time for more traditional custody provisions involving a single parent.

    Episcopalians are well aware that Trinity Cathedral is going to need help. We recognize it is the cathedral for all Episcopalians in the diocese. Some people are already stepping forward to support Trinity. Last night, I attended a meeting of the Diocesan Life Committee, which is planning programs to help the Cathedral.

    Trinity Cathedral was not thriving, and things will be worse in the short run. I sincerely believe that they will be better in the years ahead, however.

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  21. I do feel the overwhelming need to comment here.

    As a point of introduction, I'm one of those who voted to reaffirm the charter and end the special resolution. I am also a relatively new arrival to Pittsburgh and was not a part of any local parish at the time of the split. I am one of the newest members of the cathedral and, undoubtedly, the newest member to be active in the role in serving the cathedral as an usher, a reader and as a chapter member.

    John, on your first post here:
    1) A law passed nearly unanimously by the Senate and House of Representatives can still be deemed Unconstitutional.

    2) As a chapter, if we believe that the promise is hurting the cathedral, we're obligated to remove it. In the year I've been a member, the slow trickle of members walking out the door was evident and the number of new members was negligible. I joined the cathedral in spite of the special resolution, not because of it. I agree that is was a noble idea, but there's no way to continue to remain together when one group exists solely because they believe the other group is so wrong they need to split off from them.

    3)I do believe the bylaws require one to be an Episcopalian to be a chapter member. I know that at the first Episcopal church I joined, I was a member even though, at the time, I was still Roman Catholic. I could not, however, become a vestry member. Wicks could, if he chose to, remain a member of the Cathedral, but he would not be allowed to serve in chapter.


    As far as members leaving, I know is was expected, but certainly not hoped for and the decision was not done in any way to make anyone leave. I think, however, what was not anticipated was the emails listing members who were "on the fence" and strategies on how to best convince them to leave the cathedral. I respect anyone's decision to leave, but efforts to convince others to leave are just meant to punish the cathedral and make a hard situation even harder.

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  22. Michael,

    Just so you know, one of the reasons that Wicks continued to be involved after 2008 was because the Canon Provost made it clear that she wanted him (even to the extent of reappointing him to Chapter when he was voted off by what appeared to be an orchestrated effort - she was very upset by that episode).

    As far as e-mails going the rounds listing those on the fence are concerned, I'm certainly not aware of any and I'm pretty close to those who are currently deciding whether or not to leave. What is being offered to those who express unhappiness is a sympathetic ear and an opportunity to fellowship with the like-minded if they so wish.

    You cannot have been unmoved by some of the testimonies given on Sunday and surely you would rather that the alienated find some church home than drop out altogether. What people need now is pastoral care and given the evident unwillingness of those in authority to concede more than "we might have done things a bit better," you're unlikely to find the disillusioned turning to the current leadership for solace.

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  23. Michael:

    With regard to your concern over e-mail, I belive there are five e-mails/facebook messages I have sent related to this episode, (other than my resignation from the cathedral):
    1. The first Sunday after the decision, I got a message from a former liberal member of Trinity who had left long ago, and that Sunday he had attended worship at Trinity for the first time in years as a result of the decision. I encouraged him to stay!
    2. I e-mailed the choir indicating my resignation, and why I felt I had to resign. This was not to encourage anyone else to leave. But I felt the choir had to know why I was leaving so they would not assume it had anything to do with them.
    3. I received an e-mail from a choir member who indicated she was also leaving. I replied with a message admonishing her not to leave just because I was, saying that following me out the door was not a good reason to leave. She responded with an assurance that she was leaving because of the Chapter's action, not because I left.
    4. I posted on a choir member's Facebook page that I missed the choir, and that it was the choir that had me most conflicted about leaving.
    5. One prominent parish member, distrought about the Chapter's action, called me to discuss it. He tried very, very hard to convince me to show up at the meeting last Sunday and speak against what was done. I felt I could not do this, however, as it was a parish meeting and I am no longer a member of the parish. The only e-mail I sent to him after our conversation was a link to Jeremy's blog article.

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  24. Jeremy and John,

    I didn't intend to imply either of you were specifically involved in any email chains, but I know of someone who was listed on one such email who was inadvertently cc'ed on one so I know they exist. Even if neither of you are involved, you can certainly accept the fact that some people would be happy to see the cathedral fail now that it's Episcopal only. When the Special Resolution was drafted, it was before anyone knew what was going to happen and I can guarantee you that if it was known at the time that both dioceses would reject the cathedral it would have never been created. The cathedral was supposed to be a place for reconciliation but did the opposite. It's like the old joke about the couple who can't decide whether to go to New York City or Los Angeles for vacation so they compromise and go to Kansas City. The cathedral could only fully serve a diocese that fully embraced it and that was never going to happen as long as both names were over the door.

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  25. Michael,

    I think that it's remarkable how little planning went into saying goodbye to those of us who feel obliged to leave.

    It's as if John, Elena, Wicks and Pam, Laurie and Mary, and others who haven't yet officially declared their intentions had made no contribution to Trinity in the past nine years. The only formal expression of appreciation last Sunday was to me - and that, I suspect, because I made an announcement just before the start of the service.

    If things had been done a little differently we could have enjoyed a final opportunity for worship and fellowship together and said our goodbyes openly. That's what families who separate should do.

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  26. I still can't help but to believe that formal goodbyes--or any goodbyes at all--may not have been necessary. Toward the end of my tenure on Chapter, I began to ponder the following solution with regard to the uneasiness of some to live with the principles of the Special Resolution:
    Over the years it has become clear to me, (crystal clear of the the last couple of months), that TEC as an institution doen't actually care bout people, it only cares about property. It is therefore my conclusion that the hand-wringing from the TEC side about the Special Resolution was not due to the fact that there were ACNA parishoners, Chapter members, and bishops using the facility. Rather, it was because of the potential that one day the cathedral could make a choice to commit entirely to the ACNA. It was this uncertainty, (due entirely to their own mistrust because this would never have happened), that I think had the TEC side bent out of shape. Now, consider that the TEC cannons say that TEC ownd the property, while the ACNA cannons say that ACNA does not own the property. I think there could have been a way for all parties to meet, and simply acknowledge that status quo... Affirm that the principles of the Special Resolution would continue, with the exception that the property would always be a TEC property. I think such an assurance may well have satisfied TEC to the extent that in return, the remainder of the Resolution's principles could have been allowed to endure, even to the extent of TEC blessing updates to the bylaws to resolve the conflicts.
    A significant problem in my view was that the Chapeter's conversation was cut short, and neither this solution nor any other alternatives were allowed any time for discussion. We were told that the process of composing the white paper was just list-making, it was not the discussion itself. That discussion was to occur after the white paper was complete. By the end of November, the white paper was complete. But the first action of the December meeting was to kill the Special Resolution without the discussion ever occurring.

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  27. The idea of declaring that the Cathedral property belongs to The Episcopal Church while maintaining the Cathedral for both dioceses is certainly an interesting one. There is still the charter, however, and the composition of the Chapter to be dealt with. Moreover, even this arrangement would likely not have drawn many parishioners from either side as new members.

    As for the grace (or lack of it) attendant returning the Cathedral to the Episcopal diocese, I must leave that discussion to those directly involved. I have my doubts, however, that those who believed they were losing their cathedral where going to be cheerfully accepting of the development no matter how things were handled.

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  28. Definitely not cheerfully accepting Lionel, but still. If you knew that even after reaching a loan modification agreement the bank was going to foreclose on your house sometime in the future, wouldn't you still be mad if they did it one week before Christmas with no advance warning because the loan official said so? The timing of the decision stank and made the TEC part of the Cathedral seem spiteful. TEC needs all the help and good publicity it can get, but it keeps finding ways to shoot itself in the foot with public declarations and bad timing like this.

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