House of Bishops Daily Account Thursday, September 18
The House of Bishops is meeting in special session in Salt Lake City, Utah
(Diocese of Utah) September 17 – 19, 2008.
Today, the House of Bishops by a vote of 88 yes, 35 no, 4 abstentions
consented to the removal from the ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church Bishop
Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, by authorizing the Presiding Bishop to “depose”
The House of Bishops voted after lengthy deliberations, reflections and
discussions in both the morning and afternoon business sessions. This followed an
open discussion session on Wednesday evening. Throughout the discussions,
the gathering was quiet, prayerful and respectful as the bishops listened to
one another. There was a great appreciation for the beliefs and viewpoints of
the bishops from all perspectives. Ample time was provided for all bishops to
speak. It was clear that the bishops were aware of the weightiness of their
The vote to depose was not based on speculation about what might occur at
Pittsburgh’s upcoming diocesan convention. Rather, it was based on the evidence
of Bishop Duncan’s record of actions and statements, and was the culmination
of a process that began in 2007.
The evidence that was presented pursuant to Title IV, Canon 9 of the Canons
of The Episcopal Church, which provides that “an open renunciation of the
Doctrine, Discipline, or Worship of this Church” constitutes “Abandonment of
the Communion of This Church.”
By the action of a majority of the House of Bishops, it was agreed that
Bishop Duncan was actively attempting to remove the Episcopal Diocese of
Pittsburgh from the Episcopal Church in violation of the Constitutions and Canons of
the Diocese and the Episcopal Church. The majority concluded that Bishop
Duncan’s actions constituted a renunciation of the Discipline of the Episcopal
Evidence of abandonment of communion was presented to a Church body known as
the Title IV Review Committee from clergy and laity of the Diocese of
Pittsburgh and the Presiding Bishop in November 2007. On December 17, 2007 the
Title IV Review Committee presented its report to the Presiding Bishop.
As a member of the House of Bishops, Bishop Duncan was expected to attend
this HOB meeting and had the opportunity to address the assertion that he had
abandoned the communion. However, he chose not to do so.
This daily account was prepared by bishops who cast their votes on different
sides. Their personal comments are noted here. Those available for media
interviews are noted.
Bishop Dorsey Henderson of Upper South Carolina is available for phone
interviews. “This is one of the most somber, sober experiences I’ve had in the
House of Bishops. It is a time for all of us to be praying for each other—
especially for Bishop Duncan and the Episcopalians of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
Bishop Peter Lee of Virginia is available for phone interviews.
Bishop Gary Lillibridge of West Texas
“As difficult as this decision is for me and many others in our Church, it
is important to realize that the decision in the House today was not based on
the theological convictions of Bishop Duncan, but rather on the evidence
presented regarding statements and actions concerning moves to take the Diocese
of Pittsburgh out of the Episcopal Church.”.
Bishop James Mathes of San Diego
“Today’s decision was difficult and emotional but a necessary action to
care for the order of the Church, the people of the Episcopal Diocese of
Pittsburgh, and the collegiality of the House of Bishops.”
Bishop Porter Taylor of Western North Carolina
“Our decisions today were very difficult and came out of our deep love for
our Church, a commitment to honor our ordination vows, and a desire to
strengthen the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.