A conservative Episcopal leader has withdrawn a proposal that would have left each church in the Episcopal diocese of Pittsburgh in control of its own property and buildings, a resolution designed to weaken the national denomination as a protest over the consecration of openly gay bishop Gene Robinson in New Hampshire. The measure, introduced by Bishop Robert Duncan, leader of the diocese, prompted a lawsuit by an Episcopal church in Pittsburgh against Duncan and the diocese's board of trustees to prevent the transfer of any church property. Duncan also leads a national network of conservative dioceses and parishes opposed to gay clergy that will organize formally on January 19. The resolution was considered an important test case in efforts by dissenters to remove local church properties from control of the national denomination.
Withdrawal of the resolution has not satisfied church members who filed the suit when the resolution was passed in September. "We want a court declaration regarding the illegality of the resolution,"
said the Reverend Harold Lewis, rector of the Calvary Episcopal Church, which filed the suit. Joe Otto, an attorney for Duncan, said the resolution "may have confused [people] a little bit. To the extent that it might have done that, it seemed to the diocese that it should be taken out of the picture."