The votes of the eight deputies from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh fell on both sides of a resolution that addressed the ordination of gays and lesbians and the larger Anglican Communion.
Three of the four lay deputies voted in favor of Resolution D025. The four clergy deputies were evenly split.
The resolution reaffirms the Episcopal Church’s participation “to the fullest extent possible” in the Anglican Communion, but also affirms that “God has called and may call” gay and lesbian to the ordained ministry. It concludes with “Christians of good conscience disagree” about these matters.
Discussion before and after the votes, in Anaheim and elsewhere, centered on whether this measure changed the last General Convention’s call for “restraint” in consecrating bishops who might cause offense to the larger Anglican Communion. That 2006 resolution, known as B033, was considered to be the Episcopal Church’s response to the Communion’s request for a moratorium on gay bishops.
“It didn’t repeal B033,” said the Rev. Dr. James Simons, who is President of the diocesan Standing Committee and chairs the Pittsburgh deputation. Dr. Simons noted the new resolution doesn’t mention the previous one, but “simply reflects where we are today as a church.”
Bishop Robert Johnson says a moratorium remains in place. "I don’t see that there would be any threat to the moratorium unless we get presented with another partnered lesbian or gay bishop. That would be the test,” the Bishop told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Lay deputy Mary Roehrich, also a member of the Standing Committee, says the likelihood of that happening is “remote.”
“The reality is that the resolution describes the situation on the ground in TEC and does not prescribe the actions of any diocese or bishop in the future,” said Roehrich, adding, “It is not a canon, or a cannon. The responsibility of what happens in the Diocese of Pittsburgh will remain in Pittsburgh.”
The final version of D025 was approved by the House of Deputies on Tuesday, with 72% of both clergy and lay in favor. The House of Bishops gave its approval by a 99-45 vote on Monday.
Balloting was conducted “by orders,” with each diocese having one vote each in the clerical and in the lay orders. Pittsburgh, therefore, is on record with a “yes” by lay deputies and “no” by the clergy. According to House of Deputy rules, an evenly divided vote is considered a “no” vote.
For the Rev. Dr. Bruce Robison, Rector of St. Andrew’s and a deputy, the split shows “that it really is a new day in the culture of our diocesan life.”
“For so many years the ‘Pittsburgh vote’ was a solid block,” Dr. Robison reports from Anaheim. “Now instead, I think our very collegial and friendly little band of Pittsburghers seem to feel very relaxed and free and respectful with our diversity of perspective.”
NOTE: An early version of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette referred to above incorrectly reported the split in the clergy order of the Pittsburgh deputation.