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September 8, 2008



Pittsburgh, PA — A diverse group of clergy and lay leaders, all committed to staying in The Episcopal Church, will present their case this weekend at a forum designed to signal that a significant Episcopal presence will remain in Southwestern Pennsylvania, even if the Diocese of Pittsburgh votes to leave the church.

The group will speak Saturday at “A Hopeful Future for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh: An Alternative Solution,” a public gathering timed to coincide three weeks before a diocesan vote on realignment. Speakers at Saturday’s meeting themselves are far from agreement on theological and church matters but are united in believing that staying together in one church is the correct course.

The panel, announced today, represents a cross-section of church conservatives, moderates, and liberals. Presentations include:

*       The Rev. Jeffrey Murph, Rector of St. Thomas Church, Oakmont, and the Rev. Leslie Reimer, Associate Rector of Calvary Episcopal Church, Shadyside, reflecting on “What is the Right Thing to Do?”

*       The Rev. Dr. James Simons, Rector of St. Michael’s of the Valley, Ligonier, and Ms. Mary Roehrich of St. Andrew’s, Highland Park, presenting a vision of what a continuing Episcopal presence in Southwestern Pennsylvania would look like and what ministries it would engage in.

*       Mr. Thomas Moore, also of St. Andrew’s, and Mr. Charles Jarrett of Calvary, addressing the legal and practical steps to be taken at both a diocesan and parish level for that presence to continue.

*       The Rev. Dr. Bruce Robison, Rector of St. Andrew’s, will speak to the concerns of members of congregations who find themselves moving in a direction opposite of where their parish may be heading.

*       The session will be moderated by Jon Delano, a Vestry member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, which is hosting the event.

“A Hopeful Future for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh: An Alternative Solution” is set for Saturday, September 13, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1066 Washington Road (Rt. 19 South), Mt. Lebanon. Directions and additional information is available at or by calling 412-531-7153.

The event is sponsored by Across the Aisle, a group of clergy and lay people representing nearly 30 parishes committed to staying in The Episcopal Church. The association’s Steering Committee consists of Simons, Roehrich, Moore, and Jarrett, as well as the Rev. Nancy Chalfant-Walker, Rector of St. Stephen’s, Wilkinsburg, and Dr. Joan Gundersen of Church of the Redeemer, Squirrel Hill.

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh will vote in convention on October 4 whether to remove the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh from the U.S. Episcopal Church and realign with a more conservative Anglican church in South America. The move would be the second such attempt by a diocese in the U.S, following a similar vote in San Joaquin, California, last December. The Episcopal Church maintains that individuals only may leave the church and that dioceses and parishes cannot.

Unlike in California, a significant number of parishes in the Pittsburgh diocese oppose realignment. Across the Aisle has been working for more than seven months to ensure that structures are in place to remain part of The Episcopal Church should the realignment vote pass.

Saturday’s session is open to the public. Special letters of invitation have gone out to all clerical and lay deputies who will vote at the October 4 convention. Invitations were also sent to Senior Wardens and Vestries—the elected lay leadership of each parish—who will need to clarify their parish’s standing after convention should the diocese vote to realign.


For additional information contact:
The Rev. James Simons
Chair, Across the Aisle Steering Committee
St. Michael’s of the Valley, Ligonier
Office: 724-238-9411
Cell: 412-580-1363

This document may be found on the Web at

A Media Advisory regarding coverage of the September 13 event to follow.

Across the Aisle is a theologically diverse group of clergy and laypeople committed to staying in The Episcopal Church.