The term diocese slowly crept into the language.  Many church people thought that there could not be a diocese without a bishop.  Some state church organizations, such as Connecticut did call themselves dioceses before the General Church canons were changed.  Other, such as Virginia, officially
were the “Protestant Episcopal Church in Virginia” and avoided use of the term because many Virginians inside and outside of the church were uncomfortable with any language that seemed to hint of the power of 
English bishops. By the 1830s Episcopalians were comfortable enough with the term, and enough of the states had elected bishops to make “diocese” a natural change.  In the 1840s the areas that had never elected bishops did so, thus ending the last reason for using the term “convention” rather than

The various state conventions in New England did different things at different times.  Originally Samuel Seabury provided episcopal offices for all of New England.  At the 1789 General Convention New England was treated as 2 units: Mass/New Hampshire and Connecticut, because deputies had been elected at two separate conventions.  Bishop Seabury continued to serve Connecticut and Rhode Island until his death.  Massachusetts and Rhode Island had elected Edward Bass as bishop in 1789, but because White and
Provoost had promised the English Bishops to wait until there were three American bishops from English lines of succession, nothing came of the election.  In 1796, Massachusetts and Rhode Island once again elected him as bishop and Bass was consecrated in 1797 shortly after Seabury’s death. Vermont and New Hampshire conventions also chose Bass as bishop and thus the Eastern diocese was born.  It included all of New England except Connecticut who elected Abraham Jarvis as bishop in 1797. In 1803 Bass died, and his
successor Samuel Parker died after only a few months as bishop.  Not until 1810 did the New England conventions elect a successor (Alexander Viets Griswold).  During the 6 years without a bishop, New England (Eastern diocese) relied on Jarvis. When Connecticut’s bishop (Jarvis) died in 1813, Connecticut did not secure a replacement until 1819.  In the intervening time, Connecticut relied on neighboring bishops, but never formally united with either the Eastern diocese or New York. (This corrects what I wrote earlier.) Vermont broke off from the Eastern Diocese in 1832 and elected its own bishop. The Eastern diocese split into its component parts at Bishop Griswold’s death. The elderly Bishop Griswold asked Massachusetts to 
elect a coadjutor bishop in 1841.  Griswold’s last official act as bishop was to participate in the consecration of his successor in Massachusetts in 1842. In 1843 a separate bishop for Rhode Island was consecrated.  New Hampshire followed suit in 1844 and Maine in 1847.

Joan R. Gundersen, Ph.D.
Aspinwall, PA 15215          412-799-0440

2010, JANUARY 29

[Episcopal News Service] A judge has told the organization headed by former bishop Robert Duncan that claims to have withdrawn from the Episcopal Church in 2008 that it must turn over control of the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s assets.
In a Jan. 29 order County Court of Common Pleas Judge Joseph M. James accepted as accurate an inventory of diocesan property submitted by a “special master” he had appointed earlier and told Duncan’s organization it must transfer the assets.

The inventory includes $22 million in cash, cash equivalents, receivables, and investments including about $2.5 million in pooled parish investments and real estate and other real property.

“The diocese plans to quickly make arrangements so that all parishes may again have access to their investment funds that were frozen by financial institutions during the legal proceedings,” according to a news release from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

On Oct. 4, 2008 a majority of the delegates to the diocese’s 143rd annual convention approved a resolution by which the diocese purported to leave the Episcopal Church. The leaders who departed have said that they remain in charge of an entity they have been calling the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh that is now part of the Argentina-based Anglican Province of the Southern Cone. And they say that in that capacity they control all the assets that were held by the diocese when they left.

Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge Joseph M. James, however, ruled Oct. 6 that all diocesan assets must be held by the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh that is recognized by the Episcopal Church. James’ opinion and order are here.

The group led by Duncan said Oct. 29 that it would appeal the ruling once the court issues a final order directing it to transfer the property to the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America.

In a Jan. 30 e-mail, Duncan told the diocese he leads that he wanted “to assure you that we will continue to work diligently for the protection of all our parishes and for the good of our mission and ministry.”

James’ order says that financial institutions and repositories, trustees and fiduciaries must only act on instructions from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, that no real property can be sold or its current occupants removed without a court order, that holders of “altar artifacts” are answerable to the diocese as to their use (and that they cannot be sold or transferred to another location without a court order) and that people or entities who have borrowed money from the diocese (close to $1 million) are answerable to the Episcopal diocese.

Duncan’s diocese has 20 days from Jan. 29 to give the Episcopal diocese the financial records, documents and other electronically stored information it needs to hold and administer the property.

There are two versions of the order: a confidential version and a public version from which financial account information has been removed.

The suit arose out of a 2003 complaint by Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh after a special diocesan convention passed a resolution stating that all property in the diocese, which under Episcopal Church canons must held and used for the mission of the church, would be held free of that obligation.

The proceedings in the suit led to an October 2005 stipulated court order in which Duncan and the other then-leaders of the diocese agreed that the “Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America” would continue to hold or administer property “regardless of whether some or even a majority of the parishes in the diocese might decide not to remain in the Episcopal Church of the United States of America.”

After the 2008 diocesan convention vote, Calvary Episcopal Church asked James to enforce his 2005 order.

In his Oct. 6 opinion James said that “regardless of what name the defendants now call themselves, they are not the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America.” He ruled that the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh “did not cease to exist” after the 2008 convention vote because it was created by the Episcopal Church and the church now recognizes that those Episcopalians who did not follow Duncan now make up the Episcopal Church’s continuing diocese.

The property held by or administered by the Pittsburgh diocese has been reviewed and evaluated by a “special master” James appointed two days before Duncan’s removal as a bishop of the Episcopal Church. The special master, Pittsburgh attorney Stanley E. Levine and the Campbell & Levine law firm, gave James an inventory of the property involved in the suit on Jan. 27. James said in his order two days later that his acceptance of the inventory does not preclude other property being added to his order.