The following is the text of a Joint Statement issued October 9, 2012, by the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church in the United States and Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship:
The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship are pleased to announce an agreement to promote and sustain Shepherd's Heart's ministry to the homeless, military veterans, and others in similar need, and to enable the Episcopal Diocese to have a lasting investment and involvement in that ministry.
Key features of the agreement pave the way for Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship to take full title to all property at its present location at Pride Street and Forbes Avenue in Pittsburgh’s Uptown neighborhood, including the portion of that property currently held by the Episcopal Diocese, and allow Shepherd’s Heart to seek a more favorable financing of its debt on this property. While the Episcopal Diocese will no longer guarantee payment of those loans once the refinancing occurs, the Episcopal Diocese will leave the value of the current equity in the property in place as an investment in the ministry of Shepherd’s Heart, for as long as its outreach to the homeless continues.
The agreement builds on a long-standing support of the Shepherd’s Heart ministry by many parishes of the Episcopal Diocese, who, along with individual parishioners, regularly donate, prepare and serve meals to the Shepherd’s Heart congregation. This has continued in spite of differences over whether Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship validly withdrew from the Episcopal Church in October 2008 and is now part of the Anglican Church in North America. The agreement sets this issue aside in favor of mutually serving the homeless, the poor, and the addicted. Both parties recognize the new relationship between the Episcopal Diocese and Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship is not of an ecclesiastical nature, such as would normally exist between a diocese and a parish, but one of cooperation and collaboration in a specialized ministry. Because of this unique use of the Shepherd’s Heart property, the parties have agreed that this agreement should not be interpreted as a model for resolving other property disputes.
"More than 140 community partners, including 100 churches of all denominations, work alongside us in this ministry to homeless veterans and other homeless men and women of our region. We were founded in 1993 and are grateful for this agreement and for the service of all of our partners," said the Rev. Michael Wurschmidt, Rector of Shepherd’s Heart and a priest of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.
“Our Lord commands all of us to love and serve the poor, so we are grateful to the Shepherd’s Heart clergy and lay leaders who built up this ministry, and we are happy to become a permanent part of their mission,” said Bishop Kenneth L. Price, Jr., of the Episcopal Diocese.
This agreement is subject to the approval of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County and the requirements of the Pennsylvania Nonprofit Corporation Code. The Episcopal Diocese and Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship will jointly seek all necessary clearances from the civil authorities.
In working together to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the poor, the Episcopal Diocese and Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship humbly seek to be the “repairers of the breach” as described by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “If you give yourself to the hungry, and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness, and your gloom will become like midday. And the Lord will continually guide you.” (Isaiah 58:10-11)