It's hard to believe that it's been one year since I was nominated to be your provisional bishop. It has been a grace-filled time for me, and I believe, for this diocese. So as a new program year begins, I share with you these thoughts about how the Diocese of Pittsburgh is growing in strength and grace every day and instances of God's love abound. A more complete report will be reproduced in the Convention reports, but here is an abbreviated summary of my assessment of our diocese at this time.
We are about to become a diocese of 29 parishes. We have opened one new congregation, All Saints in Bridgeville, and it will hopefully be recognized at the diocesan convention in October. All of our parishes, except one, are still worshipping in their original buildings, and while not all have full-time clergy, the Eucharist remains central, thanks to retired and part-time priests. We have about 80 clergy (more than half are retired or extra-parochial) and around 9,000 baptized members.
Pittsburgh is, in many ways, a diocese practicing common ministry at every level. Only our administrative assistant and office manager is full time. I share my time with Southern Ohio, our canon to the ordinary and canon for transformation also are parish priests, and our diocesan administrator/treasurer, bookkeeper, communications director and webmaster are all part-timers with other jobs. Many of our large corps of dedicated laity are new to their positions and give freely of their time and talent. Our chancellor and the chair of our trustees, both of whom are practicing attorneys, give an extraordinary amount of time, much of it gratis.
We have had an extraordinary amount of diocesan-wide events, and the larger church has been most generous in providing us with resources, people and leaders. Because of the large number of these events, we recently held an all-diocesan calendaring day and more than 30 groups or committees attended. We produced a master calendar clear through 2011. That year we will be hosting the national Episcopal Urban Caucus and sharing the hosting of a national Ecumenical Worship program.
Among the areas of diocesan life being rebuilt is the ordination process. Although we currently have no one in seminary, next year we will be sending our deacon students to the school now being held jointly between Southern Ohio and Ohio.
Recent court rulings have all been in favor of the diocese, and thus we began this summer dispersing funds to our parishes from the joint investment account that was frozen soon after the diocese split in 2008. That freeze placed a great hardship on many congregations, and thankfully, these funds are again supporting ministry in those churches. Diocesan funds also are slowly becoming more available, although a final court appeal by the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh will not be considered until late fall or winter.
Trinity Cathedral continues to be shared by both the Episcopal and Anglican dioceses, which sometimes makes for some interesting moments. Archbishop Duncan and I coordinate calendars for large events such as convention, renewal of vows and visitations, so as not to conflict. Some of the Cathedral parishioners attend all diocesan services, regardless of whether they are Episcopal or Anglican.
As was always my custom in Southern Ohio, I went to camp this summer – this time to Calvary Camp — to commission the counselors and found a whopping 75 of them. Each of the camp's seven sessions were full – some with waiting lists. Mariann and I went there several times and became infected with its vitality and spirit, just as other families who, in some cases, have been attending for five generations.
This summer, Mariann and I hosted in our home a series of six dinner parties for all the clergy and spouses. All but 12 were able to attend one of these gatherings. This fellowship and sharing is so important to our life that we plan to continue such get-togethers.
But beyond the litany of facts about this diocese, there is a powerful story of God's unfolding love as manifested through countless acts of ministry, love and grace performed by willing servants who have stepped up to answer God's call at this time. Such shared ministry breathes spirit and vitality in exciting ways. That energy and excitement of working together for common purpose is our life blood in Pittsburgh. In many ways, it recaptures the vitality of the early church. Life in those early, vibrant, apostolic communities leaps out at us from the pages of Scripture, and I sense that same excitement for the Lord sweeping across the church as I know and serve it today.
God bless you all.
+Kenneth L. Price, Jr.
Bishop of Pittsburgh