Hot on the tail of a recent split, a number of Episcopalian churches in Pittsburgh have entered into a property ownership dispute with their national archdiocese. Bishop Robert W. Duncan has led the local succession movement, and was recently removed of his nationally recognized position by the archdiocese. At the heart of the controversy is which governing body shall retain ownership of the local churches’ assets.
“The people who have given and sustained these places ought to be able to keep them,” said Bishop Robert W. Duncan, who was deposed last month as Pittsburgh’s bishop because of his push for secession and is expected to be appointed to lead the realigned churches at their first convention on Nov. 7.
Duncan’s claim is that the churches and their parishes, the ones who have operated the institutions and contributed to their success, should retain the ownership rights to the property. Rev. Harold Lewis, who voted against the succession, disagrees.
“The idea that you can vote to leave the church and have the assets and the finances go with you is nonsensical,” said the Rev. Harold Lewis, rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh, a leader of those in the diocese opposed to secession.
The rift between the Pittsburgh and national arms of Episcopalian church has been growing for years, and it is fueled by a disparity in their ideology. Opinionated writer Astrid Storm, with slate.com, expressed his support for separation nearly two years ago.
some Episcopalians, like me, are relieved that it has finally happened… Most significant, perhaps, is [the nationally bound] churches’ decision to align with controversial Archbishop Akinola—someone whom even many conservatives in the church have serious qualms about. He’s called homosexuality a “satanic attack” on the church and considers gay-affirming churches to be a “cancerous lump” in the body of Christ. He has endorsed the implementation of anti-gay legislation in his country that would ban homosexuals from having relationships and practically eliminate their right to free speech, all at risk of imprisonment—proposals that the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association considers among the most oppressive in the world.