Pittsburgh announces preliminary four-priest slate for bishop

By ENS staff
Posted Jan 17, 2012

[Episcopal News Service] The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has chosen four priests to stand for election as the next bishop of Pittsburgh.

The Jan. 15 announcement opens a three-week period during which members of the diocese may petition to add additional names to the ballot.

The eighth bishop of Pittsburgh will be elected at Trinity Cathedral on April 21.

The preliminary candidates are:

“I was privileged to spend two days in retreat with these nominees and I could joyfully serve under any one of them,” the Very Rev. George L. W. Werner, dean emeritus of Trinity Cathedral and president of the Standing Committee, said in a press release.

The diocese has been without a diocesan bishop since a majority of diocesan members and its leadership voted in October 2008 to leave the Episcopal Church and align with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

The diocese is currently led by Provisional Bishop Kenneth L. Price, Jr., whose three-year term will conclude with his retirement, effective when the new bishop is consecrated. Price was bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Southern Ohio when he was elected.

The diocesan profile describing the diocese’s mission and many ministries, the hopes and aspirations of its members, and the qualities and skills sought in a person who might discern a call to lead as bishop is available here.

The nominating committee received 125 nominations and of those, 62 agreed to be considered as a candidate and provided their resume, a ministry profile, a letter about why they felt called to serve the Pittsburgh diocese, and their answers to essay questions posed by the committee, according to the release.

Twenty-four candidates were selected and interviewed by telephone, 12 were visited by committee members, with eight then invited to Pittsburgh as a group for two days of retreat with the entire Nominating Committee.  The Nominating Committee unanimously determined which four from that group would be on what the diocese is calling its preliminary slate.

A nomination by petition requires ten signatures from a representative combination of clergy, lay convention deputies and others, along with the consent of the person being nominated. Petition candidates must submit the same materials and undergo successfully that same background checks as required of preliminary slate candidates. The final slate is scheduled to be announced on March 1.

The full slate of candidates for bishop will tour the diocese the week of March 19 and will answer questions in a series of public forums. The location and dates for these are available here.

Because the election will occur close in time to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in July, church canons provide for the required consents to be sought from the bishops and deputies at General Convention. Subject to obtaining that consent, the bishop-elect will be consecrated at a ceremony at Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh on Oct. 20.

More information about the election process is available in the bishop search section of the diocesan website.


Comments (9)

  1. John Kirk says:

    Interesting…one of the candidates is married to a minister of a Unitarian church? I would think that any marriage wherein the partners are of different faiths would have its own particular set of challenges. How much greater those challenges if one partner is a minister, a bishop no less, of a Trinitarian community and the other a minister in a community whose fundamental raison d’etre is a denial of that Trinity. Things seem to be getting stranger and stranger in the old Communion.

    1. David Yarbrough says:

      “The old Communion” now seems to be an environment where anything goes – picking and choosing what to accept among the Scriptures and tradition, and substituting the whim of the moment for reason. A bishop married to Unitarian clergy doesn’t seem that odd compared with other developments.

      1. R. H. Grindrod says:

        C’mon. Don’t let’s be disingenuous about picking and choosing scriptures. How many of the purity laws in Leviticus did you violate today? Just askin’

    2. In response to John Kirk’s comment: “Well John, I guess we already know that they can deal constructively with others of a differing set of beliefs, while holding to their own…” I dare say that’s a bare minimum requirement these days.

    3. Tim Inman says:

      I can’t understand, Mr. Kirk, how it is either “interesting” or “strange” that a priest would be married to someone of a different faith tradition. As Robert Putnam and David Campbell point out in their book-length study ‘American Grace’: “The best evidence suggests that roughly half of all married Americans today are married to someone who came originally from a different religious tradition … and a bit fewer than a third of all marriages remain mixed today” (148). While I don’t know of any statistical evidence of this kind available on Episcopal clergy, I personally know a handful of priests whose spouses/partners profess differing faith orientations.

      As for myself, I am more concerned that the Episcopal Church would harbor “Christians” intolerant of other faiths than I am with a priest whose husband holds a slightly different position on abstract doctrinal matters. Also, Mr. Kirk, I assume that your comment regarding the church getting “stranger and stranger” is referring to the increasing presence of women in leadership roles. I’m just taking a stab in the dark, seeing as how you singled out the Rev. Woodliff-Stanley in your bizarre diatribe. But if this is indeed the case, then shame on you.

  2. Frank Bergen says:

    “Because the election will occur close in time to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in July, church canons provide for the required consents to be sought from the bishops and deputies at General Convention. Subject to obtaining that consent, the bishop-elect will be consecrated at a ceremony at Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh on Oct. 20.”
    I thought the canons had been changed so that all episcopal elections would be subject to consent by a majority of diocesan bishops and standing committees outside convention.

    1. Steve Stagnitta says:

      The change was made at the last general convention, however it does not take effect until the end of the general convention this year.

  3. Rev. Andrew Gerales Gentry says:

    The Church as in the Gathering of the Followers of Jesus must proclaim as did the Apostle Peter that Jesus is the Son of God and it must teach with authority that truth in all its beauty and diversity of expression. It must teach with humility the truths of the Nicene Creed and the wonderful participatory nature of the Sacraments. It must affirm the Liberty of and in and through Christ and distinguish sharply and simply the difference between true freedom and license! It must not condemn anyone but it must not abandon its truth as revealed by the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures and in Holy Tradition. I thought this was at least in part the sacred responsibility and charge of those we call bishops but from a person such as myself who has a profound respect for Anglican Tradition it does not any longer appear to be the case with the Episcopal Church or is it? Just what are the responsibilities of the office of bishop in the Episcopal Church? Is there no standard of belief no core doctrine no orthodoxy any longer?

    If there is no difference between the Chruch and the Kiwanis Club, if there is no difference between the Gospel and transactional analysis, if there is no difference between the Kingdom of Heaven and “raising consciousness”, if there is no personal relationship and accountability, if there is no difference between anthropological philosophy and faith,why waste the time and money to be a member of a dead society with religious trappings!


    Bishop Andrew Gerales Gentry,
    Retired servant bishop of an Intentional Eucharistic Community

  4. Josh Shipman says:

    It has been my privilege to know The Rev. Ruth Woodliff-Stanley for a number of years. She has a strong, orthodox faith and she has many gifts that would be a balm for a wounded diocese. Ruth has taught me everything I know about conflict management in a parish setting and I have observed her ability to turn a parish that had been torn apart by conflict into a vibrant community centered in Christ and full of Christian love.

    I have also had the privilege of knowing her husband almost as long. Despite his being a Unitarian minister, I can assure you that he doesn’t have cloven hooves or horns. He’s a marvelous leader, a wonderful father, and he is respectful of Ruth’s different religious convictions and beliefs. He embodies the Unitarian principles:

    **The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
    **Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
    **Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
    **A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
    **The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
    **The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
    **Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

    It probably wouldn’t hurt if a principle or two like this seeped into our own tradition. They sound much more Christ-like than some of the vitriol passed back and forth between various factions in what is supposed to be Christ’s Body.

    I can’t speak about the other candidates because I don’t know them. I am sure that they, too, must have fine qualities to be selected by this diocesan discernment committee.

    I look forward to reading about the future of the faithful Episcopalians in Pittsburgh, whether they are lead by my mentor and friend or whether they are led by any of these other highly qualified candidates. I pray for God’s blessing on this process and on the work of this recovering diocese.


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