June 1, 2013

Calvary Church Releases Parish Profile

Calvary Episcopal Church, one of the largest and wealthiest parishes in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, is looking for a new rector, following the retirement of the Rev. Dr. Harold T. Lewis. Calvary has just released its parish profile, which requests names of potential rector candidates by June 30.

Cover of Calvary Church parish profile
Calvary has a long and storied history. It is known to many people, however, for the litigation it initiated against the now deposed Bishop Robert Duncan, an action that was ultimately responsible for the repatriation of a good deal of real and personal property to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh following the schism of 2008 engineered by Duncan and his supporters. The profile acknowledges somewhat obliquely what the former rector often referred to as “the recent unpleasantness,” and it does so without comment as to Calvary’s role in surviving that unpleasantness in better shape than other dioceses that have experienced schism recently.

Harold Lewis will be a hard act to follow, but Pittsburgh’s progressive Episcopalians are hoping that Calvary will find a charismatic, liberal priest who will become a dynamic leader within the parish, the diocese, and the wider church. The parish profile declares, among other things, that “Our next rector will be a collaborative, inspirational leader and an effective administrator of a large, vibrant, progressive, urban parish.” That would represent a happy outcome.

As one might expect of a parish such as Calvary, the parish profile is both informative and attractive. Generally, it appears to be factual. (There is little incentive for a profile to be other than factual.) I do have one reservation, however. On page 4, in a section titled “Our History,” we find this paragraph:
Calvary’s growth was not limited to the bounds of its parish. Calvary was the mother church of a number of missions, which became flourishing parishes in their own right. They include such churches as St. Stephen’s in Wilkinsburg, St. Michael’s of-the-Valley in Ligonier, Fox Chapel Episcopal Church in Fox Chapel, Church of the Ascension in Oakland, and St. Paul’s in Mount Lebanon, among others.
I’m not particularly knowledgeable about Calvary’s history, much less that of younger, smaller parishes in the diocese. I am a parishioner of St. Paul’s, Mt. Lebanon, however, and my parish celebrated both its 150th and 175th anniversary during my tenure there. The history of our parish, as it has been passed down to us, does not include any help from Calvary, particular since we date our parish from 1836, nearly two decades before Calvary claims it was founded. I find it difficult to imagine how Calvary could be considered the “mother church” of St. Paul’s. But perhaps the Calvary folks know something that the people and clergy of St. Paul’s do not, though I doubt it.

Anyway, Calvary has created a Web site where one can recommend a candidate for its new rector. The site includes a link to the parish profile, which you can also view here.

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