The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and the Parishes are pleased to announce that they have amicably reached an agreement that resolves disputed questions over the ownership and use of the church property that have lingered since the congregations voted to leave the Episcopal Church in October 2008.
The congregations of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, collectively referred to as the “Parishes,” are St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Butler; St. Mary’s Church, Charleroi; Christ Church, Fox Chapel; Christ’s Church, Greensburg; St. Alban’s Anglican Church, Murrysville; Church of the Ascension, Oakland; St. Stephen’s Church, Sewickley; St. Peter’s Church, Uniontown; and Trinity Church, Washington.
The comprehensive Agreement was reached with the assistance of two distinguished mediators, namely, David L. McClenahan of the law firm K&L Gates LLP and Mark Nordenberg, chancellor emeritus of the University of Pittsburgh and former dean of its law school, following years of confidential negotiations and intense consideration by representatives of all parties.
The Agreement defines the respective rights, obligations and expectations of the parties relative to the historic real and personal property of each of the Parishes. As a result of the Agreement, the Parishes and the Episcopal Diocese can now move forward to focus on their respective missions, knowing what is expected from each other in their new relationship under the Agreement.
By resolving these issues of ownership and use of church property, the Agreement allows the Parishes and the Episcopal Diocese to continue in their ministry without supporting or engaging in lawsuits involving the other. Both the Episcopal Diocese and the Parishes followed lessons contained in the Gospels and all of Scripture in reaching this Agreement.
“Even though the issues resolved here originated through division and were often the cause of great pain, we know that as Christians we are called to be ambassadors for Christ and ministers of reconciliation, first among ourselves, and then with the larger world. The Episcopal Diocese and the Parishes have come to recognize that our mutual desire to live according to the Gospel and to share with others the Good News of Jesus Christ far outweighs any differences we have with each other, and this agreement frees us to carry out that mission as we believe God is calling us to do,” said Bishop Dorsey McConnell of the Episcopal Diocese.
Bishop James Hobby of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh issued the following statement in support of the parishes entering into this agreement: “I feel that the settlement is quite remarkable, given the litigious culture in which we live. Clearly, hard work and difficult conversations were part of the negotiations. But, biblical principles and a shared commitment to follow Christ provided a healthy context for pursuing the discussions with mutual respect and understanding. A commitment to our fundamental mission was greater than our differences. While differences remain between the parties, I pray that Jesus’ prayer for unity in Him and His truth will one day find expression throughout the Church.”
A summary of the Agreement is available here. It will become effective after the parties obtain the necessary court and administrative approvals.