House of Bishops Daily Account Thursday, September 18
The House of Bishops is meeting in special session in Salt Lake City, Utah (Diocese of Utah) September 17 – 19, 2008.
Today, the House of Bishops by a vote of 88 yes, 35 no, 4 abstentions consented to the removal from the ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, by authorizing the Presiding Bishop to “depose” Bishop Duncan.
The House of Bishops voted after lengthy deliberations, reflections and discussions in both the morning and afternoon business sessions. This followed an open discussion session on Wednesday evening. Throughout the discussions, the gathering was quiet, prayerful and respectful as the bishops listened to one another. There was a great appreciation for the beliefs and viewpoints of the bishops from all perspectives. Ample time was provided for all bishops to speak. It was clear that the bishops were aware of the weightiness of their decision.
The vote to depose was not based on speculation about what might occur at Pittsburgh’s upcoming diocesan convention. Rather, it was based on the evidence of Bishop Duncan’s record of actions and statements, and was the culmination of a process that began in 2007.
The evidence that was presented pursuant to Title IV, Canon 9 of the Canons of The Episcopal Church, which provides that “an open renunciation of the Doctrine, Discipline, or Worship of this Church” constitutes “Abandonment of the Communion of This Church.”
By the action of a majority of the House of Bishops, it was agreed that Bishop Duncan was actively attempting to remove the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh from the Episcopal Church in violation of the Constitutions and Canons of the Diocese and the Episcopal Church. The majority concluded that Bishop Duncan’s actions constituted a renunciation of the Discipline of the Episcopal Church.
Evidence of abandonment of communion was presented to a Church body known as the Title IV Review Committee from clergy and laity of the Diocese of Pittsburgh and the Presiding Bishop in November 2007. On December 17, 2007 the Title IV Review Committee presented its report to the Presiding Bishop.
As a member of the House of Bishops, Bishop Duncan was expected to attend this HOB meeting and had the opportunity to address the assertion that he had abandoned the communion. However, he chose not to do so.
This daily account was prepared by bishops who cast their votes on different sides. Their personal comments are noted here. Those available for media interviews are noted.
Bishop Dorsey Henderson of Upper South Carolina is available for phone interviews. “This is one of the most somber, sober experiences I’ve had in the House of Bishops. It is a time for all of us to be praying for each other—especially for Bishop Duncan and the Episcopalians of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.”
Bishop Peter Lee of Virginia is available for phone interviews.
Bishop Gary Lillibridge of West Texas
“As difficult as this decision is for me and many others in our Church, it is important to realize that the decision in the House today was not based on the theological convictions of Bishop Duncan, but rather on the evidence presented regarding statements and actions concerning moves to take the Diocese of Pittsburgh out of the Episcopal Church.”.
Bishop James Mathes of San Diego
“Today’s decision was difficult and emotional but a necessary action to care for the order of the Church, the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, and the collegiality of the House of Bishops.”
Bishop Porter Taylor of Western North Carolina
“Our decisions today were very difficult and came out of our deep love for our Church, a commitment to honor our ordination vows, and a desire to strengthen the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.”