Archbishop Duncan Announces Retirement at 150th Annual Convention
During his address to 150th Annual Convention on Saturday, November 6, held at St. Stephen’s Church, Sewickley, the Most Reverend Robert Wm. Duncan, D.D., Archbishop Emeritus of the Anglican Church in North America, and Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, formally announced his desire to retire from diocesan leadership effective June 30, 2016.
“I am in my 68th year as a child of God, in my forty-fourth year as a deacon and priest, in my twenty-fourth year of serving this diocese, and in my twentieth years as your bishop,” said Duncan in his address. “I believe the time has come for me to call for the election of my successor.”
With the approval of Archbishop Foley Beach, Duncan explained the Diocese’s Standing Committee consented to the resignation and has laid necessary plans for transition. Duncan also called for a Special Convention from April 22-23, 2016 at St. Stephen’s for the purpose of nominating one, two or three persons to the College of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America, from which a successor will be elected to be eighth Bishop of Pittsburgh.
“It has seemed to me like the work I was called to do is as complete as it can be. I believe that this is a very good moment for me to let go and to pass the chief pastor’s crozier to another, just as we have largely passed diocesan leadership, both clergy and lay, from one generation to another,” he said. “The years of conflict, and of course correction, within the Body of Christ are past for now. The challenge ahead is one of strengthening the Church for discipleship and evangelization in a hostile and needy nation and world.”
Duncan was ordained a deacon in 1972 and a priest later that year. He served the Chapel of the Intercession in New York City; Christ Church in Edinburgh, Scotland; and Grace Church in Merchantville, N.J., during his first years in holy orders. He was assistant dean of General Seminary from 1974-78, Episcopal chaplain of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1978-82, and rector of Saint Thomas’ Parish in Newark, Delaware, from 1982-92.
In 1992, he became canon to the ordinary – similar to a chief of staff – for Bishop Alden Hathaway in Pittsburgh. In 1995, Duncan was nominated from the floor and elected bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
He devoted himself to mission and evangelism throughout his ministry, with a special passion for reaching adolescents and young adults. He is a champion of the poor and dispossessed of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, encouraging creative urban church-planting. Duncan pastored the clergy and people of the Diocese through the excruciating and difficult season that saw the realignment of the great majority of the Diocese from the Episcopal Church to Jerusalem Declaration (2008) Anglicanism.
Duncan served on the Program Committee of the Network for Anglicans in Mission and Evangelism, an agency created at the 1998 Lambeth Conference. In 2004, he was a driving force in the creation of the Anglican Relief and Development Fund, a multi-million dollar enterprise of which he served as president for a decade. Elected first Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America in June of 2009, he electrified the investiture service with a call to plant one thousand churches (Anglican 1000) in five years.
First known beyond Pittsburgh for his role in mission and for years of labor to draw together the Anglican Church in North America, Duncan proved to be an extraordinary leader at a critical moment in Church history. Archbishop Duncan served as a primate on the Primates Council of the GAFCON/FCA movement and led the Anglican Church in North America to recognition as “a faithful expression of Anglicanism” and as “gospel partner” with the majority of Provinces of the global Anglican Communion. During this same period he was elected Chairman of the Christian Associates and served multiple terms on its executive committee. He returned to dedicate his full energies to Pittsburgh as her Bishop at the conclusion of his term as Archbishop in 2014.
“The transition we now face, from one bishop to the next, is just the next step in the unfolding of our God’s good Providence,” said Duncan. “Let go of the anxieties and trust in the One who has been so trustworthy from the first day until now.”
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