Pittsburgh Update

Pittsburgh Update publishes weekly summaries of recent developments in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, The Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion that affect or could affect Pittsburgh Episcopalians. Emphasis is on reporting, not interpretation. This is a service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh. This site is in no way affiliated with the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh or the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.

A Pittsburgh Episcopal Voice          

A Service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh         

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Week Ending 09/18/17

Survey Shows Americans Have Poor Grasp of First Amendment

A survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania done annually in honor of U.S. Constitution Day (September 17) reveals that nearly 20% of Americans do not believe that Muslims are covered by the First Amendment. Over 14% thought atheists were not covered.  Over a third of Americans could not name any of the rights guaranteed in the first amendment (religion, press, speech, assembly, and petition).  Those who were surveyed  were more likely to know about protections of religion than any other First Amendment rights. Over half of Americans surveyed thought undocumented immigrants had no constitutional rights, despite the U.S. Supreme Court having said that all those within the bounds of the U.S., including non-citizens, are covered by the equal protection of the laws clause of the 14th Amendment. 

Archbishop Appoints Committee to Propose Enlargement of Anglican Consultative Council

Justin Welby has appointed a committee to present a report on how to reshape the Anglican Consultative Council to be more reflective of the Communion's membership.  Members of the Committee include primates, bishops, clergy, and laity, all of whom are members of the ACC.  Although no members of the Episcopal Church are on the committee, the membership is not likely to warm the hearts of GAFCON.  The African members are from Burundi, South Africa, and Kenya.  The Kenyan is the bishop who led his deputation to the last ACC meeting over the objections of his archbishop who wanted them to boycott the meeting.  Others are from India, Scotland, Ireland, Central America, Canada, Brazil, and England.

Church Starts Rebuilding Plans for Christ Church Cathedral

Having finally made a decision to rebuild and restore their earth-quake damaged cathedral, Anglicans in Christ Church New Zealand have wasted no time in beginning the process of restoration and of raising the money needed to complete the work.  They have signed an agreement with the government to help in the process and people began calling asking how to donate before they could even fully set up a fund to receive the money.

Hurricane Recovery Updates

Episcopal Dioceses continue to struggle with the effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  In Florida and Texas the dioceses are now in recovery and rebuilding mode, operating as relief centers even when their own buildings are damaged.  The diocesan offices in Southwest Florida were flooded and they are now operating out of temporary quarters. See the Episcopal News Services stories here and here and the Anglican Communion news story here.  In the Caribbean including Puerto Rico, Haiti, and the Virginia Islands recovery is being hampered by the threats caused by hurricane Maria. All of the island nations are still dealing with food and supply shortages and trying evacuate people.  Now they are hurriedly trying to dispose of debris that Maria's strong winds could turn into deadly missiles. For more information, the diocese of Southwestern Florida, Southeastern Florida, West Texas, and Central Florida have more on their web pages. Texas has a simple form to fill out to offer help, but the ENS article has more on what they are doing. 

Anglican Church in Southern Africa Begins Conversations on Same Sex Marriage

Although the Church of Southern Africa Synod recently made no decision on a proposal to allow blessing of same sex marriages, the Archbishop is going forward with conversations on Human Sexuality which he hopes will prepare the way for the churches in South Africa, if not the rest of the province, to provide blessings in the future.  The conversations are seen by conservatives as the first step in a process that will allow blessings.  The Church of England Newspaper article that reported on the conversation used the second half of the article to report on conservative reaction and the ordination by Uganda's primate of a missionary from Uganda to serve inside South Africa, in other words starting the road to an ACNA-type counter church.  

Episcopalians File Response in South Carolina Case

The break-away group in South Carolina filed their briefs during the first week in September asking the South Carolina Supreme Court for a rehearing of their decision awarding most property to those who remained in the Episcopal Church. They also filed a request that one justice recuse herself because she was an Episcopalian.  The Episcopal Church in South Carolina was given 10 days to respond to this request, and they filed their answer this last week.  You can read it here.  Now the  matter is back in the hands of the state supreme court.

English Priest Accused of Sex Abuse Kills Self

Despondent over charges recently filed accusing him of sexual abuse 20 years earlier, the Rev. Martyn Neale, vicar of Hawley in Hamshire, England doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire.  His sister found his remains the the vicarage garden.  Reports say he was very troubled about the charges. The death in July is just being reported.  

Hearts Triumph Over Hate

When the members of St. James Episcopal Church in Bozeman, Montana came to church last week they found a Nazi symbol sprayed on their church sign.  The response has been to plaster the sign with paper hearts on which were written messages of love. The church calls itself the "stone church with a warm heart."

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Week Endimg 9/11/17

Bishop Bruno Files Appeal of his Suspension

Bishop Jon Bruno has filed an appeal of the Hearing Panel finding that he should be suspended from the ministry.  He claims the Panel itself violated Church Constitution and Canons, too easily accepted the Church Attorney's Statement of Facts, ruled on measures not in the original complaint, and exceeded their authority.  You can read his appeal here.  Bruno's objections in part refer to the fact that the Panel was not pleased when it learned of his secret sale negotiations while the Panel was deliberating and added some findings based on his disregard for the process under way.

South Carolina Litigants Active Despite Mediation

The September 10, 2017 entry in the blog written by Steve Skaradon has a good summary of the status of both the state court and federal court proceedings in South Carolina concerning church property and identity.  The Pittsburgh Update has covered this litigation fully with our most recent post here.

Marriage Equality Continues to Rile Some Provinces

Not surprisingly the recent meeting of the Global South group of Anglican Provinces issued a Communique expressing its displeasure with those Anglican Provinces now allowing same-sex marriage or blessing of civil unions.  Two primates have decided not to attend the October meeting of Primates.  This is one more than reported on earlier.  Meanwhile, the General Synod of the Anglican Church in Australia, also passed a measure expressing its displeasure with the Episcopal Church of Scotland for voting to allow same-sex marriage.  The Synod vote came as a poll of all voters ordered by the Australian parliament to discern support for civil same-sex marriage began nation-wide. Opinion polls suggest a majority of Australians are supportive. The Synod vote as reported by Anglican.ink was 60 to 45 among the laity, 68 to 42 among the clergy, and 12 to 6 among bishops. What that article does not note is the disproportionate influence of the diocese of Sydney in the Synod.  Sydney has 35 clergy and 35 lay deputies, and the province of New South Wales, headed by the Sydney Archbishop has 43% of the members of the  General Synod.  Sydney has recognized ACNA as the real Anglican presence in the U.S.  Of course, as the General Secretary of the Anglican Communion, pointed out last week in an official statement, ACNA is not a part of the Anglican Communion.

Status Updates on Dioceses Affected by Hurricanes

  Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have left a wide swath of damage across the American South and the Caribbean.  The Episcopal Church has dioceses in the affected parts of the U.S., Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and is oversees the Church in Cuba.  The Anglican Communion has a presence in all the affected Caribbean Islands.,  For those wising to help in the rebuilding and relief efforts or check the status of Churches in these areas, Update is providing links to web sites in most of the dioceses and overseas that will provide that information.  The Diocese of the Virgin Islands does not have a web site; Cuba's was inoperative, but there has been a message from the Bishop in Cuba.  The Anglican Communion News Service carried an update on the Caribbean with information on how to help.  Here are links for the U.S. dioceses:  Texas, West Texas, Central Florida, Southeastern Florida, Southwest Florida, Florida.  

National Cathedral Removes Lee and Jackson Windows

The National Cathedral in Washington D.C. deconsecrated  the windows installed in the 1950s honoring Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.  The Lee window included images of him on horseback at the battle of Chancellorsville as well as other parts of his military career and his service as a college president after the war.  The Jackson window showed him reading the Bible at a Civil War encampment, his earlier career, and his triumphant entry into heaven after being killed during the war.  The cathedral will find a way to display the windows in an historic context away from the worship space. The Cathedral has been discussing the windows removal for nearly a year.

New Zealand Cathedral to Be Restored

  After years of controversy, the Episcopal Diocese in Christ Church, New Zealand, has chosen to restore their cathedral which was severely damaged in the Christ Church Earthquake.  The synod was presented with three options, rebuild the cathedral elsewhere, demolish the damage building and build new on site, or restore the original historic building. Now the synod is faced with the challenge of raising the money that restoration will require.  The most recent Update post on the controversy leading to this vote is here.

Mainline Churches and Millennials - Some Good News

 A recent in-depth study of church membership across all American denominations had one bit of good news for mainline protestant churches.  They are doing better than evangelicals or Roman Catholics in attracting Millennials as members.  The liberal stances of mainline protestant denominations has often been cited as a reason for their membership decline.  However, those stances seem to be part of what is making the mainline more attractive to Millennials.  In fact the survey showed that the age demographics of the various segments of church membership had shifted so that evangelical and Roman Catholic groups had an older membership than the mainlines.  

Women's Ordination Still a Sticking Point

Four of the  denominations that broke from the Episcopal Church over women's ordination and the replacement of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer have signed an agreement of full communion. The Anglican Church in America, The Anglican Catholic Church, the Anglican Province of America, and the Diocese of the Holy Cross had interest in working with ACNA as it formed, but they instead formed a group called FACA and remained separate.  The full communion agreement brings these small denominations with a total of about 300 congregations into much closer cooperation with each other.   The remain adamant in reserving ordination for men. The fact that ACNA was divided on women's ordination was one of the reasons they did not affiliate with it.  The division in ACNA seems unlikely to be resolved.  The ACNA House of Bishops held conversations on the ordination of women and then issued a statement saying there are strong theological arguments for ordaining women and for not ordaining women, and this would remain a matter to be settled by each diocese.  The bishops unanimously reaffirmed the position that women would not be joining their ranks.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Week Ending 9/4/17

South Carolina Litigants Ordered to Mediation

Not only did the parties in the South Carolina church trademark case agree to an order for mediation issued by the judge overseeing the federal suit involving trademarks, but they agreed that the issues covered by both the state supreme court property decision would also be part of the mediation.  A senior federal judge, Joseph F. Anderson, Jr. was assigned as mediator. Apparently, the announcement of mediation took parishes on involved on both sides in the state court by surprise.  If the mediation is unsuccessful, the litigation will proceed with argument in the federal case set for March.  In the meantime, the State Supreme Court rejected a request from the breakaway group for a second extension of the deadline for filing a request for rehearing. The breakaway group then met the original deadline and filed a brief for a rehearing.  They also filed an unprecedented request that one of the justices recuse herself because she was Episcopalian.  That judge had been one of the two justices willing to settle all disputes in favor of the Episcopal Church. Meanwhile, Nigerian Archbishop Okoh announced he would not attend the October primates meeting.  His statement returned multiple times to the legal decisions in South Carolina and San Joaquin, characterizing the legal outcomes as "aggressive legal actions" by the Episcopal Church which resulted in "orthodox" parishes being "stripped of the churches that have helped form their spiritual lives." 

Hurricane-Battered Dioceses Dig Into Relief Work

As noted in last week's update, the Episcopal Relief and Development and Episcopal dioceses in the path of Hurricane Harvey began plans for relief and recovery work as the storm bore down on Texas.  Now the battered dioceses have become part of the relief and recovery work.  A blog entry by the Dean of Houston's Episcopal Cathedral recounts work done during the storm and how they are now reaching out to victims.  An ENS story highlights the work of other parishes in the path of the storm.  Because ERD has worked for a number of years to encourage disaster planning in all parishes and dioceses, churches in Texas and Louisiana were able to respond quickly.  Pittsburgh has a disaster response planning team which has been trying to get parishes to do the planning necessary to be effective in local disasters or provide aid to other dioceses.

Australian Bishop File Complaint on Participants in ACNA Consecration of Extra-Provincial Bishop

Four Australian bishop have filed a complaint asking the provincial synod legal committee to explore possible charges against the Australian bishops who participated in the GAFCON requested-ACNA facilitated consecration of a bishop to serve "orthodox" Anglicans in England and Scotland.  The charges are based on ACNA not being part of the Anglican Communion and for the border-crossing nature of the new bishop's charge. Interestingly, one of the four signers of the complaint was Bishop Goldsworthy who signed as Bishop Gippsland, but who has just been elected Archbishop of Perth.

Church Speaks Strongly in Support of "Dreamers"

President Trump's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has left its particpants (often called "Dreamers") fearing deportation within six months.  The Episcopal Church is among the many religious bodies taking strong stands to support the Dreamers, some of who are serving as clergy in the Episcopal Church.  The bishop in Washington DC joined with the Roman Catholic, Jewish and Muslim leaders to sign an appeal last week to the president to keep the program.  Following the announcement today, Presiding Bishop Curry and House of Deputies President, Gay Jennings issued a strong statement of support for DACA participants.  The ENS is documenting statements and reactions throughout the church.  

More Concern about England's "National Musicians' Church."

Petitions continue to roll in and negative comments abound in the reactions to news that St. Sepulchre Church in London has begun telling the musical groups that have long used its space for rehearsals and concerts that beginning in 2018 the space will not be available. (See Update story here.)  The church, long known as the National Musician's Church, is now being managed as part of a cluster of parishes run by Anglican evangelicals.  The latest thoughtful article on the controversy, written by the person who was the music director at the church until a year ago, suggests that some of the groups may not have fit evangelical theological positions, including those related to LGBTQ. 

Evangelical Statement Evokes a Strong Rebuttals

Two Church of England evangelicals were among the people who signed the so-called "Nashville Statement" a theological document that argued for complementary gender roles, and insisted all sexual orientations other than heterosexual were sinful and against God's in tent in creation.  The document claims sexual orientation is a choice and that  celibacy is the only proper action outside of heterosexual marriage.  The statement was met immediately with a number of counter statements issued by a variety of religious organizations and coalitions. Richard Gagnon, who has recently left Pittsburgh Theological Seminary was another signer.

Issue of Women's Ordination Surfaces Again in ACNA

Since its founding, ACNA has been divided over women's ordination, with a majority of bodies that came together to form the diocese opposing women's ordination to the priesthood.  The report submitted to the synod this spring by a study committee summarized the arguments made by all parties, but made no recommendations other than to keep talking.  Now the ACNA House of Bishops has decided to hold conversations on the issue.  Where these conversations will lead is uncertain, but those opposed are adamant, and even with the addition of the Lawrence faction from South Carolina as a diocese, the fate of women clergy in the church remains tenuous and the issue divisive.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Week Ending 8/28/17

Episcopalians Ready Help to Victims of Hurricane Harvey

As Hurricane Harvey pounded coastal towns in Texas and then stalled inland where it is continuing to cause massive flooding in Houston and surrounding areas,  Episcopal Relief and Development began providing aid to the devastated areas and the thousands who had to leave their homes.  Presiding Bishop Curry has issued a statement and video urging Episcopalians to pray and support relief efforts, especially through ERD.  The dioceses of Texas and West Texas had disaster plans in place which they are beginning to implement and are providing on-site assessment and coordination of the church's relief efforts.  The Episcopal Church plans to be there for the storm victims for the long haul as rebuilding begins.  Those interested in helping can donate and sign up with ERD.

Clergy March for Social Justice

In the wake of the violence, protests and counter-protests that gained national attention in Charlottesville, VA, clergy have been demonstrating their support for social and racial justice.  This last week in August marks anniversaries of the March on Washington, the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (granting women the vote), and the lynching of Emmet Till.  A march by over 1000 clergy in Washington D.C. for social justice was in part a marking of these past events and also a protest against the recent statements by the president, his executive order banning transgendered people from the military, and his pardon of the notorious Phoenix area former Sheriff Arpaio.  Here in Pittsburgh, the Christian Associates of Southwestern Pennsylvania worked with Pittsburgh Jewish leaders to organize a gathering and march for justice and against hate. A number of Episcopalians took part.

Date Set for Arguments in Federal Court for South Carolina Trademark Case

Progress has finally been made in the trademark case filed in South Carolina by the Episcopal bishop in 2013 against the break-away group.  He claimed damages because the break-away faction under Mark Lawrence continued to claim that it was the "real" Episcopal Diocese, and use its seal and other insignia.  The judge now assigned to the case set arguments for March 2018 and admitted the Episcopal Church as a party to the suit along with the Bishop Adams of South Carolina. The judge brushed aside arguments from the break-away group claiming that adding the Episcopal Church to the suit would cause a harmful delay in the case.  The judge noted that the defendants had been quite happy to delay the case for four years until the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled against their property suits. The federal judge originally assigned to the case had sided with the break-away group requests that trial be delayed until the property law suit had been settled. He had twice defied orders from the federal appeals court to go forward with trial  Steve Skaradon has a number of entries on these matters at scepiscopalians.com.  You can read the TEC filings in the case here.

Australia Has First Female Archbishop

Bishop Kay Goldsworthy has broken another glass ceiling barrier for Australian Anglicans by being chosen Archbishop of Perth. The previous Archbishop stepped down in December after admitting he had not properly handled cases involving clergy sexual abuse of children.  Goldsworthy was among the first women ordained as a priest in Australia, and was the first elected to be a bishop.  She is currently Bishop of Gippsland in Victoria.  She is familiar to those in Perth because she formerly served as Assistant Bishop of Perth and as chaplain at a Perth College. 

Bells Will Ring Out Again in York

After the sudden dismissal of the entire bell-ringing crew for York Minster last October, the bells have been silent except for one special occasion.  The cathedral's bells were even silent on Christmas Day,  the first time in 600 years because ringers refused to fill in for the dismissed group.  Now new ringers have been recruited, a new head bellringer is in place and York will have its chimes back next month. 

Sauls Case Thrown Out of Court

The lawsuit filed in Alabama by Bishop Stacy Sauls against the Presiding Bishop and a number of staff from the Church headquarters has been thrown out of court by the judge. The judge had ordered parties into mediation, before he would hear arguments, but when the parties came before him he declared he did not have jurisdiction and dismissed the suit.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Week Ending 8/21/17

Fate of New Zealand Cathedral Continues to Perplex Everyone

Christ Church Cathedral, destroyed six years ago in a major earthquake has proved to be a political football.  The diocese is weighing options for rebuilding on site, building new on another site, or possibly donating the site to the government and letting them restore the building. The issues around the cathedral's fate involve cost, diocesan needs, and historic value.  The Cathedral was a national historic site before its destruction.  Now a fourth option, leaving it as protected ruins and possibly building an underground cathedral with skylights to the ruins has been proposed.  Update has been following this discussion and the most recent previous posts are here and here.  The issues around the cathedral's fate involve cost, diocesan needs, and historic value. 

Tennessee Parish Inspiration for Movie

After most of its members and priest left to form an ACNA congregation, All Saints Parish in Smyrna, TN seemed destined for closing.  However, the priest sent to the tiny congregation instead saw a rebirth as the parish was approached by Christian Burmese refugees who wanted a place to worship and then asked to use church land to farm.  The story has now been made into a movie which has been released this month.  The Anglican Communion News gives good detail on the movie and Episcopal Cafe provides some of the background on the parish.  The movie uses many of the local refugees and church members in their cast.  There were earlier news stories on this parish as it began to be successful.  The Voice of America one is relatively complete.  The minister also turned the experience into a book published this year. 

English Church Boots Musicians

 St. Sepulchre's Church in London has been one of the favorite sites for choral and orchestral group concerts and recordings because of its flexible space, seating for an audience of 400, and good acoustics.  It is known as the National Musician's Church and Henry Wood, the founder of the "Proms" concerts is buried there. Several years ago the congregation became part of an evangelical network that leans towards contemporary praise music.  The priest has now sent a letter telling all secular groups using the space that it will not be available beginning in 2018, supposedly because of increased church activity.  In the future all music will be part of worship services.  This has kicked up a major row in England, drawing comments from composer John Rutter and a petition with more than a thousand signatures.  The church seems to be backing off slightly, but the musicians are not finished protesting.  The Church Times and the Telegraph are among the newspapers that have carried stories.  The comments on the slippedisc.com web site are very revealing about some of the tensions between competing cultures that led to the row. 

Southern Africa Continues to Struggle with Same Sex Marriages

 The Anglican Province of Southern Africa includes most of the countries in the Southern part of Africa.  Of these only South Africa recognizes civil unions of same-sex couples.  The Church in South Africa has failed to convince the rest of the province to allow blessings.  Motions that would have supported this have failed at two previous synods (2011 and 2016).  The Archbishop set up a bishops committee to study sexuality and to begin conversations, but any change has been slow. The province affirms LGBTIQA people as baptized members, but does not allow clergy to be in same-sex relationships. Cape Town has been a leader affirming homosexuals for a number of years. (See update story from 2009)  However, the diocesan synod meeting at Cape Town held last weekend tabled a blessings resolution despite strong support from several clergy including the Dean of the diocesan cathedral. 

New York City Parish Provides Sanctuary to Immigrant 

Holyrood Episcopal Church in Washington Heights not only talks the talk, but walks the walk as a sanctuary church.  They announced at a press conference on August 18, that they now were providing sanctuary to Amanda Morales Guerra from Guatemala who has been an undocumented immigrant in the United States since 2004 and has 3 American-born children that she does not want to leave. She originally left Guatemala to avoid the violence there, and has gone to every appointment with immigration officials except for the last one. She was told by ICE officials that she faced immediate deportation, and should buy a one-way ticket to Guatemala.  She and her three children have found sanctuary at Holyrood Church, where the rector is from Puerto Rico and the congregation is bilingual.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Week Ending 8/14/17

Episcopalians Witness Against Racism in Charlottesville

The three Episcopal parishes in Charlottesville were very active in helping to organize the ecumenical response in Charlottesville which formed when word of the planned march of White Supremacist and Nazi groups became public.  One of the parishes, adjacent to the campus and very close to the statue of Lee which was the focal point hosted the evening prayer service that was nearly surrounded by tiki torch-bearing Supremacists Friday night.  The three Episcopal bishops from the Diocese of Virginia issued a pre-protest call to clergy to gather as a peaceful, powerful witness against the Supremacist protesters.  After Supremacist attacks resulted in deaths and injuries on Saturday, the bishops issued another statement and suggestions for next actions.  Other Episcopal leaders have also condemned the attacks, especially after the first statement by President Trump spoke of violence from "many sides." (See the Episcopal Cafe and Episcopal News Service stories.)  Bishop Dorsey McConnell's statement is here. Trump has finally issued a second statement specifically condemning the Nazi and White Supremacist groups.

St. James the Great Church Heartbreak

 Celebrations of the Hearing Panel recommendations (See the previous Update) concerning Bishop Bruno and his attempts to sell St. James the Great property in Newport Beach came to a crashing end with a letter from Bishop Coadjutor Taylor saying that the diocese was bound by the sales agreement Bruno negotiated in secret after his first deal fell through. It means that almost certainly Bruno will be suspended from all clerical activities for three years.  Taylor did say that the commercial developer intended to preserve the worship space part of the property and would make it available to community groups including the dispossed congregation.

Break-Away Diocese in South Carolina Asks for Rehearing

The split decision, largely favoring the loyal Episcpalians in South Carolina, has encouraged the schismatic diocese's Standing Committee to ask the state supreme court to rehear the case.  Three of the five justices now serving were not on the court when it heard the case two years ago.  This may delay the hearing of the trademark case filed by the Episcopalians in federal court since the state court decision had left this issue to the federal court rather than rule on it.  Should the SC Supreme Court deny a rehearing, the schismatics will need to decide if they want to appeal to the US Supreme Court.

New Zealand Anglicans May Consider Local Option for Blessing Same-Sex Marriages

Last year the Anglican Church in New Zealand, which operates under a unique blend of three ethnic archbishoprics, found a report supporting blessing of same-sex marriages, was dividing the church.  Rather than vote on the propsals, they created a committee to study how the church could stay together while accomodating different theological positions on the issue.  The province includes pacific island countries where same-sex marriage is not legal, as well as New Zealand where such marriages have been legal since 2013.  The new report propses a form of local option, at a bishop's discretion, with promises of no penalties for those on either side of the issue, and possbly a separate track for dissenters.  The Church Times in England covered this, but a more detailed version of proposals can be found in New Zealand coverage, and the full report is here.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Week Ending 8/7/17

South Carolina Supreme Issues Decision

The South Carolina Supreme Court finally issued its opinion in the appeal of the trial court award of Church property to the schismatic parishes and diocese.  The opinion makes clear why there was a two year wait following final arguments and filings.  The five judges each wrote their own opinion.  The result was a mixed opinion, granting the diocesan property, and  most of the parish properties to the group that remained in The Episcopal Church. A handful of schismatic parishes that had never acknowledged the Dennis Canon in their governing documents were able to keep their property.  The justices punted on the issue of diocesan name, seal, and identity.  Both sides are now waiting next steps.  The schismatics have to decide if they want to ask for a rehearing in front of a court that has had substantial personnel changes, appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, or just call it a day.  So far they have issued a pastoral letter.  The ACNA presiding bishop has also issued a statement. Not surprisingly,  the schismatic group in Fort Worth which is awaiting a Texas Supreme Court decision, weighed in to distinguish their case from South Carolina's.  Alex Haley, the lawyer who represented the San Joaquin schismatics in their unsuccessful attempt to keep property has raised conflict of interest charges against the South Carolina judges.  The schismatics did not raise the issue when the court heard the case. The loyal Episcopalians have to decide what they want to do with properties which would be returned.  They issued an initial pastoral letter and have held a meeting of clergy to begin sorting out their response.  The Post and Courier in South Carolina carried an initial article and a follow-up article on the decision.  The scepiscopalians.com blog has a number of postings on the legal issues.  read back to July 20 for a full picture. The Update has followed the case from the begining.  The most update coverage of the supreme court hearing is here.

Major Gender Wage Gap Documented Among English Clergy

A national study in England has documented a wage gap between male and female Church of England clergy with women making 40% less than men. This is much worse than the national average for all occupations. 

Kenyan Appeals Court Orders Reinstatement of Three Clergy

 Three Kenyan Anglican clergy who were removed as clergy on charges that they were gay, have not only prevailed a second time in court, but have been awarded compensation.  All three claimed the charges were false.  Both the trial and appeals courts ruled the Church had no evidence to support charges that the men were gay.

Final Recommendations Issued in Bishop Bruno Case

The Hearing Panel has issued its final order in the case against Bishop Jon Bruno, and as in the draft order, has recommended a three year suspenion from all clerical and episcopal actions.  It is now up to the Disciplinary Board for Bishops to affirm that order.  Because Bruno can appeal, the Presiding Bishop issued an expanded restriction on Bruno that removed him from any actions related to the property, members or clergy associated with St. James the Great in Newport Beach, CA.  Presiding Bishop Curry's restriction turned these matters over to the new Coadjutor in Los Angeles, John Taylor and the standing committee.  They have now issued a statement accepting that responsibilty.

 First Episcopal Wedding of Same Sex Couple in Scotland

We reported recently2 that St. Mary's Cathedral in Scotland was the first Parish in the Episcopa Church of Scotland to be approved to do weddings of same-sex couples.  However the first wedding was done in a small chapel not at the cathedral.  The two men have been together for 24 years.  It is expected that many couples from England will seek a Scottish wedding.  The wedding puts great pressure on the Church of England,