Episcopal bishop Duncan stressing ministry

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Now that his diocese is no longer torn by internal strife, Bishop Robert Duncan of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh (Anglican) called on parishes to engage in bold, new missions.

"Sometimes we have to stop and heal wounds, but that is not our corporate task now," he told several hundred people yesterday at the Anglican convention in Trinity Cathedral, Downtown. "Every one of our people is called to ministry."

On Oct. 4 the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh voted to secede from the Episcopal Church, which it believed no longer upheld classic Christianity. The majority of 74 parishes joined an Anglican province based in Argentina, amid hope that the global Anglican Communion -- of which the Episcopal Church is the U.S. province -- will create a second North American province for theological conservatives.

About 20 churches have remained Episcopal and are recognized as a diocese by the Episcopal Church. Despite pending litigation over other property, the two dioceses share the historic cathedral.

"This is a sincere effort to continue in a Christian way the role that the cathedral has always had," said Ed Murry, senior warden of the cathedral. The cathedral pays an assessment to both the Anglican diocese and the Episcopal diocese.

He hopes it will offer a spiritual home to those who feel disenfranchised by the split, and don't want to choose sides.

"We want to be a welcoming place where people can get out of the fray," Mr. Murry said.

Most of yesterday was spent in workshops to help parishes discern their mission to their community and the world. Bishop Duncan preached on Jesus telling the disciples, who had fished all night and caught nothing, to go back out to deep water where they caught so many fish that more boats were needed to haul in the catch. He asked local Anglicans to figure out what part of their community they were most fearful of, and go there to minister. He urged them to work with other churches, including those of other denominations. He mentioned two specific missions for the diocese: Teaching the Bible and providing opportunities for female priests.

Unlike many of the theologically conservative dioceses and parishes that have broken with the Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Pittsburgh has a history of ordaining women. When it was in the Episcopal Church, he said, the diocese took in "theological refugees," meaning priests who couldn't get parishes elsewhere because they were theologically conservative. Now it'll be called to do the same for women who have trouble receiving calls in the conservative Anglican movement, he said.

"We know how to take in refugees ... that is our vocation. God has taken us to the next level," he said.

Ann Rodgers can be reached at 412-263-1416.


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