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Jewish Journal

Conservative Episcopal bishop gets the boot

by Brad A. Greenberg

September 19, 2008 | 6:15 am

Tim Morgan’s suspicions yesterday morning were well founded. The Episcopal House of Bishops acted to can Robert Duncan, the conservative bishop of the Pittsburgh Diocese and a leading voice for the dissenting faction in the U.S. arm of the Anglican Communion.

The Associated Press reports:

An Episcopal bishop, whose diocese is moving toward splitting from the national church, was ousted from ministry. The House of Bishops voted 88 to 35 to remove the bishop, Robert W. Duncan of Pittsburgh, on a charge of “abandonment of the communion of this church.” Bishop Duncan, who led the Pittsburgh diocese for 11 years, is a leader in a national network of theological conservatives who are breaking away from the liberal denomination in a dispute over Scripture. The debate erupted in 2003, when Episcopalians consecrated the first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. The Pittsburgh diocese said it would move ahead with the Oct. 4 secession vote.

Duncan’s response to his hometown paper is after the jump:

“It is a sad day for me, a faithful son of that church,” Duncan said following the House of Bishops’ decision at a meeting in Salt Lake City. The bishops voted 88-35 with four abstentions to unseat Duncan.

Duncan, who has been the bishop in Pittsburgh for 11 years, remained upbeat.

“It is a hopeful day because of the unstoppable reformation that is overtaking the Christian church in the West,” he said.” It is also a hopeful day for me personally as I am unanimously welcomed into the House of Bishops of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, an act applauded by Anglican archbishops, bishops, clergy and people all around the world.”

A spokesman for the Pittsburgh group Across the Aisle, which opposes Duncan’s efforts to secede, said the bishop and his family “remain in our prayers.”

“We have known him, worked with him, been led by him, and in the case of some clergy, ordained by him,” said Rich Creehan. “He has been our bishop and we have labored together in ministry and mission, although of late we arrived at differing visions of the wisest way forward for the diocese.”

In a pastoral letter the bishop issued last week, Duncan said his removal would not halt efforts to break from the 2.2-million member U.S. church.

“We as a diocese will not be intimidated or turned from our over-riding commitment,” Duncan wrote.

The Pittsburgh diocese, which has 20,000 members, is scheduled to vote Oct. 4 on whether to realign with the Southern Cone, which is centered in Argentina. Church members here supported the realignment by a 3-to-1 margin in a preliminary vote last year, said the Rev. Peter Frank, a spokesman for the diocese.

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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