A letter to the clergy and people of the Diocese of Pittsburgh

Posted Apr 30, 2012

[Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh] The Rev. Dorsey W. M. McConnell, who was elected April 21 as eighth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, recently sent formal greetings to the members of the diocese.

The full text of his letter follows.


Dorsey McConnell

April 27, 2012

Dear Friends in Christ;

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for choosing me to become your next bishop.  You had before you an exceptional slate of nominees, any one of whom would have served you well.  I was honored to be included along with Michael, Scott, Stan and Ruth, and am humbled that your vote fell to me.

I am still a little overwhelmed, a little shaken, but full of joy and hope as Betsy and I consider the shape of our new life among you.  There are tears as we begin to let go of the Church of the Redeemer and the people we have loved here for eight years.  But there is also a growing excitement as we begin to imagine the future.

To begin with, I want to commend you for the open spirit of co-operation and affection that you manifested, not only (as I hear) in the election itself, but in the entire process of discernment.  I am sure there must have been difficult moments, given the differences among you; but I think all of the nominees were impressed, as we went through the process, by your transparency and care, by the way you actively held on to one another across your differences, and by the way you walked with us and our families.  The care you showed us was so consistent with the way so many of you, both clergy and especially the laity, have nurtured and guided the diocese these last few years.   I am thankful for this, just as I am grateful for the leadership and hospitality of Bishop Ken and Mariann Price.  I promise I will do my best to exercise the same love and regard for you all, as you have already shown for one another and for us.  From the outset, I will seek to serve you as a bishop for all of you, and strive to care for each of you.

The vision of reconciliation that you have articulated throughout this search is a vision of hope, not only for the Church, but for the world.  We have many challenges ahead of us, as we come to know and trust each other, and then move on together to address the growth and viability of our congregations, the existing tensions and sensitive issues facing our life as a wider church, and the property and legal disputes involving those who have left us.  However, I believe that God is holding the Diocese of Pittsburgh before the world as sign of what the love of Christ can do, in making one Body, one Society, out of many and diverse members.  At a time in our own national life, when fear and suspicion are traded as the normal currency of politics and culture, this vision of God’s Reign, the reconciliation and renewal of human lives and communities through the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, offers true and abundant life.  I hope we will keep the deep need of this world always in the foreground, in everything we pray and speak and plan and do.

Finally, a personal note:  I have heard many times in the course of the last few months that Pittsburgh is a place people may sometimes leave, but that they always come back.  It must be true, even if it takes a couple hundred years.  I’ve just learned that a direct ancestor of mine, William Dean, born in 1811, was a local river boat captain, and that his son, William Blake Dean, grew up and went to school in “Pittsburg” until he left (for love) in 1855.  I guess that explains the eerie sense I’ve had (more than once over the last few months), that I could be coming home.

Please know you have Betsy’s and my heartfelt prayers that the joy of the Resurrection may continue to fill your lives in this Eastertide.  We look forward to coming home.

Faithfully in Christ,
The Rev. Dorsey W. M. McConnell