Important information for congregations and individuals who wish to participate actively in the life of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh in the Episcopal Church of the United States. This list was last updated with important information on 10/17/08.
For further information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
|1.||My parish is opposed to "realignment." What do we have to do to stay in the Episcopal Church?|
|Do not ask permission of the leadership of the "realigned" Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh to remain in the Episcopal Church. It would be helpful for your Vestry to adopt a resolution affirming that your parish is remaining in the Episcopal Church if it has not already done so, to make it clear where you stand. Please notify us of your position, and send your Deputies to Convention to the Special Convention that will be called soon.|
|2.||What do we do about our Diocesan Assessment?|
|Please make your check for any previously withheld Diocesan assessment payments, and for current and future assessment payments, payable to "The Episcopal Diocese of Pgh. TEC" and mail it to the following address: Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, Attn: Alice Ramser, 989 Morgan Street, Brackenridge, PA 15014. Your assessment payments are very important to our efforts to reorganize the Diocese and continue our mission and ministries. We very much appreciate your support and cooperation. If you are currently making payments directly to Province III and to the national Church, please continue doing so through the end of the calendar year.|
|3.||My parish has not yet decided what to do about "realignment." What should we do?|
|You may take more time to consider the matter, prayerfully and carefully. We hope you will remain in the Episcopal Church, and not decide to leave. If you have not made a decision by the time we have the Special Convention of the Diocese, you may send observers. If you have decided by the Special Convention, please send your Deputies, following the instructions that will be provided as soon as possible. If you intend to remain in the Episcopal Church, please inform us.|
|4.||My parish has "decided to realign," but I want to remain in the Episcopal Church. What should I do?|
|God bless you. You have at least two options. Depending on how many of your fellow parishioners wish to remain in the Episcopal Church, you may form, at least temporarily, a new worshiping congregation that might need to make arrangements to gather in a parishioner’s home, or in a neighboring church or community facility such as a school. We would recognize this congregation as the legitimate parish. See below for more questions and answers related to this option. Or you may wish to worship for a while in a nearby parish that is remaining in the Episcopal Church. That will give you time to think through various options. Also be sure to look at FAQ’s 5, 6, 9 and 16..|
|5.||The Vestry of my parish has voted to "realign." However, we believe that the majority of our congregation does not want to realign. What should we do?|
|Simply stated, the traditional view in The Episcopal Church is that a parish cannot remove itself from the Church. In order to "realign," a parish would need to have the ability to properly amend its by-laws or articles of incorporation to remove the accession clause. This is the portion of the by-laws or articles of incorporation declaring the parish to be under "the faith, doctrine, discipline and worship of The Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America under the Constitution of said Church and of the Diocese of Pittsburgh." Many parish by-laws or articles of incorporation disqualify from membership or the right to vote anyone who disclaims or refuses to recognize the authority of The Episcopal Church. In addition, a parish may have long ago dedicated itself and its property to membership in The Episcopal Church. Apart from these considerations, the Vestry does not have authority to amend the parish by-laws or articles of incorporation, without first obtaining the consent of the Standing Committee or Diocesan Convention and second obtaining approval of the congregation in a parish meeting. Even if these steps were carefully followed, substantial questions would remain about the validity of any attempt to "realign." Please stay in your parish and help resolve the issue. You may wish to consider using the provisions of your parish by-laws for calling a special parish meeting.|
|6.||My parish has "decided to realign," but a significant percentage of our members want to remain in the Episcopal Church. What do we need to do?|
If you believe you have enough individuals to constitute a viable parish, we suggest the following steps:
►Identify those members of your parish who wish to remain.
►Identify the officers, Vestry members, and Deputies to Convention who wish to remain.
►Call a reorganizing parish meeting. Elect new officers, Vestry members, and Deputies to Convention as necessary. Follow the by-laws of your current parish to the extent possible. Follow the current Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh with respect to the number of Deputies and Alternates to be elected. Follow the instructions that will be provided as soon as possible for credentialing your Deputies and Alternates for the Special Convention.
►If necessary, find temporary worship space in a parishioner’s home, or in a neighboring church or community facility such as a school.
►We will be providing a list of clergy who will be available to supply on Sunday mornings or to lead services at times other than Sunday morning, such as a weeknight, Saturday evening or Sunday evening. If you are unable to find supply clergy to conduct services for you, remember that a lay person may lead Morning or Evening Prayer. We will provide guidance on how to be a lay reader for Morning or Evening Prayer.
Our coordinator for obtaining the services of a clergyperson is the Rev. Scott Quinn. He may be reached via telephone at 412-921-4103.
|7.||My parish is not "realigning," but our priest or deacon is "realigning." What do we do?|
|Until such time as you are able to call a new clergyperson, please follow the procedures suggested in the last paragraph of the previous response.|
|8.||I currently hold an elected or appointed Diocesan office, but I want to remain in The Episcopal Church. What should I do?|
|Diocesan Council is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, October 7, 2008, and the Board of Trustees of the Diocese is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, October 14, 2008. Other Diocesan bodies will also be meeting after Convention. As soon as the leadership of these Diocesan bodies announce or state that they are part of a realigned diocese that is affiliated with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, you should respectfully but affirmatively decline to participate further in the meeting or work of that body. If you attend the initial meeting of the body following Diocesan Convention and the presiding officer does not announce that it is a meeting of a diocese aligned with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, you should promptly seek clarification and once you are informed of that understanding, excuse yourself from participating in the rest of the meeting. If the meeting is open to the public and you wish to stay to observe as a member of the public, make sure to state that intention when you excuse yourself from participating in any official capacity.|
|9.||How do we credential our Deputies to the upcoming Special Convention?|
There are several possibilities, depending on your situation:
►If you already have Deputies and Alternates to Convention who are staying in your parish and the Episcopal Church, you will be able to send these names in when the Episcopal Diocese requests confirmation of the names and contact information for your deputies. If your parish has more than two Deputies, you will need to provide documentation that the number of your communicants in good standing continues to support your additional Deputies.
►If one or more of your Deputies or Alternates have “realigned,” you will need to elect replacements in the manner provided in your parish by-laws.
►If you are a minority in a parish that has "realigned," you will need to consult your parish by-laws and take the following steps, adhering as closely as possible to your parish by-laws:
—Establish a list of communicants in good standing.
—Call a special organizing meeting of the parish.
—Elect wardens, officers and vestry members as necessary.
—Elect Deputies and Alternates to Convention.
-The number of Deputies is to be determined as provided in the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh; each parish is entitled to a minimum of two Deputies, with additional Deputies based on the number of communicants in good standing.
—Send your list of Deputies and supporting documentation to the Secretary of Convention at least one week prior to the date of the Special Convention.
—If for whatever reason it is not possible for you to meet the deadline for submitting your Deputies to the Secretary of Convention, you may have your proposed Deputies come to the Special Convention with supporting documentation that shows that you have substantially complied with the procedures outlined above and a Credentials Committee will review and decide on whether or not your Deputies may be seated.
|10.||How many parishes and missions will be in the reorganized Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh?|
|We don’t know, and won’t for sometime. We currently believe there will be over 20 "non-realigning" parishes. So far, 19 parishes have allowed that their names be posted on this website as "non-realigning." We will have a better idea of the number of parishes when we gather for our Special Convention. The actions taken at the Convention on October 4 will not provide conclusive indications, since Deputies vote on their own behalf and may not reflect the position of their Vestry or congregation. We hope that over the next several months many currently undecided parishes will determine that they wish to remain in the reorganized Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. Any parish that initially chooses "realignment" will be welcomed back with joy and love at any time in the future.|
|11.||We currently rely on the Diocese for financial support. What will happen to us if we don’t "realign"?|
|We hope to maintain current Diocesan support levels for all "non-realigning" entities. Since we are likely to be a smaller Diocese, it is also likely that we will have a smaller budget.|
|12.||Our parish uses health insurance and/or property/liability insurance obtained through the Diocese. Will our coverage remain in effect?|
|Many Parishes in the Diocese purchase medical and dental insurance through the Diocese and receive a monthly statement for the premiums which is due in advance. The premiums for November coverage are due on October 20, 2008. Until further notice, all Parishes who participate in these insurance programs, even those Parishes who remain in The Episcopal Church, should continue to send their checks for these premiums made payable to The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh to the address on the invoice (535 Smithfield Street, Suite 900, Pittsburgh, PA 15222). This is being done as an agreed practical solution and does not mean that you identify yourself as a "realigned" Parish, or that those supporting "realignment" remain the "Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh." This does not apply to monthly Parish assessment payments. Parishes that remain in The Episcopal Church should send these monthly Diocesan assessment payments to The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh at its temporary administrative office located at 989 Morgan Street, Brackenridge, PA 15014.|
|13.||What about clergy pension plans and the 403(b) plans for clergy and lay staff?|
|These programs are administered by the Church Pension Fund. There is no direct involvement of the Diocese in either program. For those clergy and parishes that do not "realign," there will be no change. It is our understanding that clergy and parishes that do "realign" will not be able to continue their participation in Church Pension Fund programs, but will not lose the benefits earned prior to realignment. More information about these programs and issues may be found at www.cpg.org.|
|14.||When can we expect to have an Episcopal visitation?|
|The schedule issued by the Diocese in September does not apply to "non-realigning" parishes. If you are on the schedule in the near future, you may wish to notify staff at the Oliver Building that you will not be participating. We hope to be able to arrange for one or more Bishops to preside at confirmations, ordinations or other essential events that may be upcoming. Until such time as we have either an Interim Bishop (hired by the Standing Committee to perform sacramental functions) or a Provisional Bishop (elected to serve until such time as a search process and election of a new Diocesan Bishop can take place), parishes will not have routine Episcopal visitations.|
|15.||What will happen to the property and assets of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh?|
|It is our position and the position of the Episcopal Church that the property and assets of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh as they existed prior to "realignment" remain the property and assets of the reorganized Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. It is likely that some aspects of this issue will be subject to litigation.|
|16.||What will happen to the property and assets of parishes that "realign"?|
|For some period of time, it is unlikely that there will be any change in the day-to-day use of the property and assets of "realigning" parishes. The traditional view in the Episcopal Church is that parish property and assets are held in trust for the benefit of the Episcopal Diocese and The Episcopal Church. Therefore, under this view the property and assets of "realigning" parishes would remain with the reorganized Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. The group that claims to be part of the Province of the Southern Cone would presumably dispute this view. In some "realigning" parishes, those parishioners who remain in the Episcopal Church may choose to challenge the leadership of the "realigning" parish and attempt to regain control of the property and assets.|
|17.||Where can we find resources for programs such as a Sunday School program for our remaining members?|
|Contact us at email@example.com and we’ll be glad to help you.|
|18.||I have questions that aren’t covered here. What should I do?|
|Again, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be glad to help you.|
|19.||Our Parish has received a form entitled "Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh 2009 Parish Covenant for Diocesan, National and International Giving" which we have been asked to complete. What should we do?|
|Do not complete or return this form. This form was sent to you by the group that calls itself the "Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh" while claiming that they are part of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone and not part of The Episcopal Church. The reorganized Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States will soon be in contact with your Parish regarding this and many other subjects.|
|20.||Our Parish just received a letter from Robert Devlin, saying that he is the Chancellor of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, and saying that we have to comply with a court order enclosed if we want to "disaffiliate" with the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. Our Parish wishes to remain within The Episcopal Church. What should we do?|
|For now, do nothing in response to this letter from Mr. Devlin. Mr. Devlin is the attorney for the group that calls itself "The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh" while claiming that they are part of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone and not part of The Episcopal Church. The Court of Common Pleas, and not Mr. Devlin, will decide the meaning of the court’s order.|
|21.||Is it still possible for someone to pursue ordination as a priest or deacon in this Diocese?|
|Yes. We are reorganizing the Commission on Ministry, which is the Diocesan group responsible for coordinating the process of discernment and ordination. You may contact the Chair of the Commission on Ministry, the Rev. Lou Hays, at 412-531-7153, ext. 11, or via email at email@example.com.|
|22.||My parish participates in Episcopal Church Women (ECW). We are not realigning. Will there be a new ECW organization in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church?|
|Yes. We are currently reorganizing the ECW in the Diocese. Please have your ECW leadership contact Linda Getts at 412-798-4404 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Linda is in charge of reorganizing the Diocesan ECW.|