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Anglican Church in North America Calls Proposed Pa. Church Property Settlement “Heartbreaking”

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (February 1, 2011) – The Anglican Church in North America expressed sadness over a proposed church property settlement involving St. Philip’s Church in Moon Township, Pa. In addition to paying a substantial fee to the local Episcopal Church diocese to remain in their worship space, the proposed settlement requires St. Philip’s to sever ties for at least five years with the Anglican Church in North America, the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh and Archbishop Robert Duncan.

In addition, the Episcopal Church diocese has insisted that St. Philip’s agree that if it starts any new churches over the next five years they cannot be Anglican. The congregation is scheduled to vote on the settlement this evening, Tuesday, February 1. The settlement will then go before the Allegheny Court of Common Pleas.

“It is heartbreaking that even if they agree to pay a substantial settlement fee to keep their buildings, members of St. Philip’s are also being forced to separate from their Anglican family as a condition of the property settlement. Freedom of religion is at the heart of this matter and no congregation should have to stipulate that it will separate from its current body as part of a monetary property settlement,” said the Most Rev. Robert Duncan, Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church in North America and Bishop of Pittsburgh.

“Sadly, the separation mandate seems to be specifically designed to hurt both the local diocese and the North American province. If the settlement is approved by St. Philip’s, we urge the Court to strike any provisions of the settlement that abridge First Amendment rights.

“We support the people and clergy of St. Philip’s as they face into this painful decision. It is our sincere hope that The Episcopal Church will stop these abusive and unconstitutional practices so that St. Philip’s can move forward with its mission and ministry. The desire of the Anglican Church in North America is simply to hold fast to the teachings of Scripture, reach North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ, and serve those in need,” Archbishop Duncan concluded.

The Anglican Church in North America (https://www.anglicanchurch.net) unites some 100,000 Anglicans in nearly 1,000 congregations across the United States and Canada. The Anglican Church is a Province-in-formation in the global Anglican Communion. The Most Rev. Robert Duncan is the archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America and bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Update:

Resolution from the Diocesan Standing Committee meeting on January 31: “With heavy hearts the Standing Committee accepts the request of St. Philip’s Church to withdraw from the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, in accordance with Canon 6.9 of the Canons of the Anglican Church in North America, subject to an affirmative vote by the parish.”

The parish vote to withdraw from the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh passed by voice vote at the special parish meeting at St. Philip’s Church on February 1, 2011.

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