2015 Pastoral Letter from Archbishop Duncan
2nd February A.D. 2015
Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple
TO ALL THE CLERGY AND PEOPLE OF THE DIOCESE OF PITTSBURGH:
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It has been quite a while since I wrote a pastoral letter to you. I used to do so at least twice a year. The time for such a letter is long overdue. To begin, I want to say what a joy it is to be back as your Bishop, focused on you and on this remarkable Diocese. The years as Archbishop and global leader have run their course, so that Pittsburgh is again my ministerial focus.
2015 is the sesquicentennial of the end of the War Between the States. It is also the sesquicentennial of the creation of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. The first Bishop for “The Church in the Diocese of Pittsburgh” – its constitutional name – was elected in September of 1865 as the post-war nation began to imagine the industrial future of which the Pittsburgh region would surely be the mighty engine.
150 years on there has been another civil war – this one denominational and social – and we are now called more than ever to imagine how to build for the future of Anglicanism and of the Christian Church.
We will have two principal celebrations to mark the anniversary – one on Saturday May 30 in the Laurel Highlands and one on Friday evening November 6 at Sewickley – to give thanks to Almighty God for all that He has done and to share with one another in food and fellowship. Most of the year will be spent looking forward – with energies invested in matters that will shape our future – but a little looking back will be just and right. The sesquicentennial adaptation of our logo – used for the first time in this letter’s letterhead – will also serve us as a reminder of the great foundation on which we continue to build.
Diocesan Life Together
Our work together in the months ahead will have a special focus on re-building the systems and organizations that will strengthen the congregations and clergy of the Anglican Diocese for years to come.
I have begun to work with the Board of Trustees on re-establishing a pooled income fund for parish investments, on planned giving (wills and trusts) to benefit the congregations, on establishing a New Church Fund (to aid congregations seeking to plant new congregations), on augmenting the Growth Fund (capital repairs and expansions for existing congregation), and on raising a Sabbatical Fund to enable our clergy to be renewed between chapters in their ministries.
Transformation of the organizations and movements in the Diocese has already begun, but there remains a great deal still ahead of us. The Episcopal Church Women has successfully become Women Alive in Christ. A declining movement with unclear purpose, has been reborn for the twenty-first century. New wine in a new wineskin.
Cursillo/Anglican 4th Day (adults) and Happening (teenagers) have been dynamic forces for catechesis, for the development of personal relationship with the Lord, and for Christian community across our Diocese. Nevertheless their fruitfulness is greatly diminished and the whole of the Diocese is no longer united behind these movements. How do we celebrate what was, recover the essential functions, and shape what will serve the ever-increasing needs of faithful believers in the twenty-first century? I am working with the present leaders/stewards of both movements as we seek the Lord and seek the way forward.
The clergy have long been built up by monthly gatherings and annual clergy conferences. But what is the responsibility of the Diocese toward the training and fellowship of lay leaders? Restoration of an Annual Lay Leadership Day – and of training opportunities through the year, including workshops and teaching at Annual Convention – is something the Diocesan Leadership Team is convicted about. Canon Mary Hays and Fr. Don Bushyager are key agents for us as we more adequately shape this learning culture for a post-Christian era.
Re-building and greatly expanding the community of intercessors among our congregations, identifying and training and deploying catechists, extending the Engage Initiative so that God’s ordinary people can be involved in discipling teens – these are also our “common life” tasks as I see them. And what about connecting young workers across the Diocese as Kingdom agents in their workplaces?
Since return from sabbatical on November 1st, All Saints Day, I have visited in 25 congregations of the Diocese. These have been Sunday or weekday visitations. I enjoy these visits immensely. It is also my aim to do all that I can to strengthen the life, leadership and witness of each congregation I visit. The weekday visitations are proving a new kind of opportunity for this, often with a meal together, teaching and substantial interaction between the laity and me as your bishop.
Things Provincial and Personal
Like every bishop of the Church, I have agreed to some responsibilities beyond the Diocese. I have agreed to chair the Liturgy Task Force and to being lead bishop in dialogue with the Catholic Church. Compared to my days as Archbishop, I am a “free man.” Nara and I are enjoying more time together – despite all that I have written in this letter – and I am much more relaxed to read, rest and tend to chores around our home, Thistle Hill.
Please continue to pray for me, for our Diocese and for our staff team, elected leadership and volunteers. This is an amazing time as we all seek to be Anglican Christians transforming our world with Jesus Christ, and as we live into God’s vision for us as One Church of Miraculous Expectation and Missionary Grace.
Faithfully and Happily Your Bishop,
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