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Pittsburgh parish welcomes African bishop
26 September 1998

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA: The Rt. Rev. Robert W. Duncan has written a pastoral letter permitting a group that has no formal affilication with the Diocese of Pittsburgh, but who were previously members of a parish in that diocese, to affiliate with the Diocese of Kitara in Uganda. According to the Rev. Thomas Rightmyer of North Carolina, this letter includes the following text:

Local Boundaries and Foreign Bishops: One of Lambeth's actions was a weakened reiteration of the principle that any bishop should ask permission before functioning in another bishop's diocese. You will recall that last fall I wrote to you about my willingness to provide alternate episcopal ministry where that seemed godly. With both of these things in mind I have approved the plan to allow Christ Church, Grove Farm, Sewickley - not a parish of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh - to come under the pastoral care of the Right Reverend Wilson Turumanya, and to be in relationship with the Diocese of Bunyaro-Kitara in the Province of Uganda. My aim is simple. I believe that it is God's plan that that congregation eventually come into union with the Diocese of Pittsburgh. That particular relationship is not possible now. Christ Church, Grove Farm, nevertheless desires to be an Anglican parish. They need a bishop. They shall have one. The leadership of St Stephen's Church in Sewickley has been consulted in this and is supportive of my permission.

The Rev. Bruce Robison, rector of St Andrew's (a nearby parish that is not involved in this situation) offered this commentary:

Christ Church, Grove Farm is an independent congregation worshipping in the Anglican tradition. It has no formal or legal connection or affiliation with the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

The founding members of Christ Church, Grove Farm were folks departing from St Stephen's Church, Sewickley.

The priest in charge of Christ Church, Grove Farm, is the Rev. John Guest, a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh presently listed as a priest in good standing enganged in a "non-parochial" ministry. (That is, he is regarded in the same category as a resident priest employed as a professor in a university or as a chaplain or social worker in a public hospital.)

Although Bishop Duncan has given permission to Bishop Turumanya to visit Christ Church, Christ Church is at least at this point not associated formally with that diocese. This is not the same kind of situation as the one in Little Rock; the parish there that is "of the Church of Rwanda." Bishop Turumanya will provide "pastoral care."

It has however been suggested that some formal "annexation" of Christ Church, Grove Farm by the Ugandan diocese is not out of question in the future.

Bishop Duncan's theological stance would pretty much pass muster with the folks of Christ Church. However, his thus-far clearly-stated intention to remain within the Episcopal Church may be problematic for those of that congregation who are strict separatists.

In many of the conservative sides of the American church at present there are folks trying to figure out if there is a way to remain Anglicans in communion with Canterbury while going more-or-less "out of communion" with the Episcopal Church. Thus the "American Anglican Council," "PECUSA, Inc.," etc. The Christ Church scenario is just a little piece of that bigger picture.

 

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