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NORTHWESTERN PENNSYLVANIA: Convention keeps diocese 'militantly moderate'

By Mary Frances Schjonberg


[Episcopal News Service]  The Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania, meeting in its 96th Annual Convention October 27-28 at Gannon University, Erie, Pennsylvania, dealt with 15 resolutions with the largest discussion being about the changing of the present assessment rate to a tithe system of assessment.

The matter was referred to the Diocesan Council for further study and to report back next year.

Adopted resolutions included ones to:

  • study whether to change from having parishes and missions to having just one status of "congregation;"
  • adopt the Millennium Development Goals and set aside 0.7% of the diocesan budget towards them;
  • adopt several reporting requirements; and
  • express "our deep desire that this diocese remain a constituent part of the Episcopal Church and that the Episcopal Church remain a constituent member of the Anglican Communion."

The Very Rev. John P. Downey of the Cathedral of St. Paul, Erie, proposed the resolution, saying it expresses the diocese's desire to remain "militantly moderate," according to a diocesan news release.

The Search Committee presented the diocesan profile published on the bishop search portion of the diocesan website as part of the search for the diocese's next bishop.

Bishop Robert D. Rowley Jr. announced in July that he was taking a "terminal sabbatical leave."

Rowley said in a letter to the diocese that the Standing Committee proposed the idea of a terminal sabbatical because it was concerned that "if I continued to serve as Diocesan Bishop that my physical health would be impacted."

His leave was effective immediately, concluding August 31, 2007, a date Rowley had previously announced as his retirement date.

Rowley, 65, will hold his office for pension considerations, but he asked the Standing Committee to assume ecclesiastical authority until a new bishop is elected and consecrated.

An episcopal search committee had been previously organized and the electing convention is set for May 19, 2007.

The diocese consists of about 4,800 Episcopalians worshipping in 36 congregations.