Bishop Kenneth Price made his first visitation as Provisional Bishop of the diocese on November 22 at Calvary Episcopal Church, a parish to which both he and his home diocese have long-standing ties.
The occasion was the Confirmation and Reception of adult members of Calvary’s congregation.
But the visit also provided an opportunity for the bishop to recognize and thank Calvary for its “bold stand” to legally protect diocesan assets.
“I think it is right for me to kick off my ministry here at Calvary Church,” Bishop Price said at an adult forum audience that packed the Calvary Refectory and spilled into the hallway. With the crowd numbering more than 120 people, the Bishop said it was his largest adult forum ever in his 15 years as a bishop.
“If it were not for Calvary Church, I don’t think the diocese would be in a position of strength that it is,” he told them.
Calvary laid the groundwork in securing a 2005 court-approved agreement with then-Bishop Robert Duncan and other former diocesan leaders that stipulated assets of the diocese must remain for the use of an entity that is part of the Episcopal Church.
In October of this year, the judge in the case issued an opinion enforcing the Stipulation.
“You all stepped forward in a time when there was a high cost attached to that and your Rector paid a high cost, too.” Echoing similar thoughts one-hour later in his sermon, the bishop added, “You stepped up when it was singularly unpopular, you paid a heavy price. For that, all of us in the Diocese of Pittsburgh are immensely grateful.”
Bishop Price also said at the adult forum that he would make a return visit to Calvary – along with repeat visits to some other parishes — when his official schedule of visitations begins after the first of the year.
His 2010 visitation calendar begins January 3 with a morning at St. Stephen’s, McKeesport, (click here to view a PDF of the complete schedule), but he made an exception to celebrate the Feast of Christ the King this year at Calvary.
In his sermon, Bishop Price reminded those being confirmed and received into the church that they, along with the congregation of 300, were about to renew promises to proclaim the faith they have received.
“These promises are our declaration of loyalty to our King, they are statements of truth… first and foremost, we are promising to love God.”
To listen to Bishop Price’s sermon, click the play button below.
Bishop Price said that his associations with Calvary began when, as a priest in Wheeling, his parishioners would come to nearby Pittsburgh hospitals for care. He later officiated at a wedding service at Calvary after becoming the bishop suffragan in Southern Ohio.
Calvary’s rector, the Rev. Dr. Harold Lewis, noted that one of his own early predecessors, Boyd Vincent, left Calvary to be consecrated a bishop in Southern Ohio in 1889. The former rector was so popular a bishop, said Dr. Lewis, the House of Bishops refused to accept his retirement years later. Bishop Vincent continued as Bishop of Southern Ohio until 1939.
Dr. Lewis invoked a Latin adage, which translates “no bishop, no church,” before telling his congregation that it was good to be a church with a sign of unity in a new bishop. “We would like to welcome him warmly to our midst,” Dr. Lewis said to applause.
Members of Calvary’s congregation stepped forwarded later to again agree.
“Thank you for taking care of us,” one person said to the bishop as they met in the receiving line following the service. And another, “we are so, so happy you are here.”