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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         

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Week Ending 12/11/17

Planning to Keep the Next Lambeth Conference Civil

Canadian Archbishop Hilz is just back from a four week visit to England where he consulted with Archbishop of Canterbury Welby on plans for the 2020 Lambeth Conference.  Hilz annually visits England to consult with those in the Anglican Communion, but this visit included conversation on plans for Lambeth since Hilz is on the committee appointed to help with planning.  The discussions focused on how to make sure that the many pressing areas of concern, such as climate change, human trafficking, and the Middle East, will not be shoved to the side by discussion of human sexuality. 

New Zealanders Unhappy at Tax Support for Rebuilding Cathedral

 It seems that the controversy surrounding the earthquake damaged cathedral in Christ Church, New Zealand simply will not go away.  For six years the Anglican diocese has been trying to decide what to do with a building so badly damaged that not one can enter.  The diocese originally wanted to tear it down and rebuild, but local historic preservationists wanted the building restored, although the cost would be much more.  This summer the diocese decided to restore the building after government and outside funds were offered to help with the costs.  Now a number of residents in Christ Church are complaining that the city is planning on raising taxes to cover their share of the pledged money.

Priest in Road Rage Case May Plea Bargain

 The Western North Carolina priest involved in a road-rage incident in Florida has withdrawn his not-guilty plea and plead no contest to a misdemeanor charge of improperly displaying a weapon if everything goes according to plans in court this Friday.  The bargain would reduce charges from a felony with a possible 15 year sentence to a misdemeanor with a year probation.  Both Anglican.ink and local southern Florida papers carried the story.  Update has information on the original incident here.

Church of England Facing Tactics Familiar to TEC

 Members of the Episcopal Church will find events orchestrated by the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE) taking on an increasingly familiar turn.  This last week English commentators were discussing the impact of the ordination of a group of priests by ACNA consecrated Bishop Andy Lines to serve parishes not wishing to continue in the Church of England.  For statements from a number of those supporting this extra-jurisdictional ordination, look here. Then one of the leading evangelical parishes in London declared it was not in communion with the other members of their Church of England deanery  and would no longer worship with them at any meetings.  They accused the other churches and leaders of apostacy.  This followed the announcement covered by the Update earlier that a small parish in Scotland was withdrawing from the Episcopal Church of Scotland and going under the jurisdiction of Lines. Topping off the week the Global South leaders issued a statement saying they were in full communion with ACNA thus trying to counter the recent statements saying that ACNA was not a member of the Anglican Communion.

Report on Protests in Charlottesville Released

A careful and detailed report on the official handling of the protests in Charlottesville, VA this last summer dishes out a lot of criticism to the public safety officials who were charged with keeping order.  The report also brings into better view how the well-publicized August protests were actually the third set of demonstrations in the summer and that as the summer went on, the protection got worse.  The 8 page executive summary at the beginning of the 200+ page report gives a good overview.  Pittsburgh Update carried stories on the church responses that were part of the counter-demonstrations in August. This report fills in and confirms the lack of protection noted by clergy at those events. 

Episcopal Clergy Signed Public Statement in Alabama Senate Race

The Alabama special election to replace Jeff Sessions as U.S. Senator has had many religious overtones with many evangelicals endorsing Ray Moore, a controversial candidate known for his homophobia, racism, and for twice being removed from the state supreme court for defying federal law.  Most recently he has been accused  pedophilia for trying to date young teens when he was in his 30s.  Sixty religious leaders, mostly from mainstream denominations signed a public letter condemning him in November.  Among those were eight Episcopal priests.  It appears that they may not only be on the side of righteousness but also the winning side as vote returns Tuesday December 12 show a narrow victory for his Democratic opponent Doug Jones, although Moore refuses to concede and awaits a recount.

 Latest California Fires Challenged Parishes and Clergy

 As six fires threatened wide swaths of Los Angeles and San Diego Counties, Episcopalians were among those forced from their homes.  The Episcopal New Service has a story filed early in the fight against the fires which focuses on clergy who were refugees and how they have tried to offer parish resources to others fleeing or fighting the fires.  Latest news counts over 1000 homes damaged or destroyed. The Thomas Fire in Ventura County is still active heavy smoke is affecting the whole region.

Scriven to Retire

Former Assistant Bishop Henry Scriven has announced his retirement from the Church Mission Society. While there he oversaw the merger of the South American Missionary Society with the CMS. His first stop in retirement will be to serve as assistant chaplain to a church in Bangkok, Thailand for six months.

Good Will At Christmas in Malta

The Anglican pro-cathedral in Valetta has moved its Christmas service across the harbor to a smaller church in Sliema so that the Carmelites can borrow the pro-cathedral for their midnight mass.  The Roman Catholic order's building is being restored and the congregation has been worshiping in a small church elsewhere in Valetta, but the Christmas service usually draws around 200 people.   When the Carmelites asked about using the Anglican building, the Anglicans responded positively and arranged another site for their service.  A Merry Christmas for all in Malta.  

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Week Ending 12/4/17

Second Try at Mediation in South Carolina Also Ends Abruptly

The mediation ordered by the federal judge hearing the trademark infringement case filed in South Carolina by the Episcopal Church resulted once again in an abrupt end to the session on the first day.  The mediation was originally scheduled for early November, but that session ended after only an hour or so and was rescheduled for December 4 and 5. The session ended after only about an hour of meeting and the mediator has set a third try for January 11 and 12, 2018.  The Episcopal Church in South Carolina had a terse, two-sentence announcement of the most recent rescheduling.  The break away group has not made any statements or even acknowledged the mediation sessions on their web site.  The blog scepiscopalians.com has more background in the December 4 posting.

Duncan "Corrects" Iker's Statements About Women's Ordination

The Update has been following the continuing discussion about women's ordination within ACNA as it is has been a point of contention from the beginning for ACNA. The recent reaffirmation of the decsision to agree to disagree did not sit well with long-term opponent of women's ordination, Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth.  Update carried a notice of his decision to begin working to end women's ordination in those ACNA dioceses allowing it.  Now retired Archbishop Robert Duncan has weighed in to correct statements Iker made.  Duncan has taken issue with Iker's claim that he specifically instructed those doing the multi-year study to come to no conclusions and make no recommendations.  Duncan's reply makes the interesting point that while the majority of ACNA dioceses do not ordain women, those that do make up the bulk of the membership in ACNA.

Seven Australian Bishops Support Bill for Same-Sex Civil Marriage

The Australian legislature has been drawing up a bill to permit same-sex civil marriages following the voters poll done earlier this year that showed 70% of Australians support such a measure.  The Anglican Church in Australia, however, officially took a position against same-sex marriage, and the Diocese of Sydney spent $1 million supporting the anti side during the poll.  Seven of the bishops in the church, however, signed a letter sent to the parliamentary leadership saying that they support the same-sex marriage bill.  Only one, Bishop John Parkes of Wangaratta, has been identified. Parkes has published a lengthy essay laying out his reasons which can be found on the diocesan web site.

GAFCON Supported Group Continues On Road to Schism in the British Isles

When GAFCON leaders approved the consecration of an "orthodox" bishop for the British Isles in spring 2017, they began to follow the path taken by those in the United States who eventually formed ACNA.  Now that bishop, Andrew Lines, has announced that he will ordain a group of priests to serve "orthodox" parishes.  These nine men will not be in the Church of England. The press release from Lines's group reads like a declaration of independence from the Churches in England, Scotland and Wales.  Last week Lines announced he was taking jurisdiction over a small parish that was part of the Episcopal Church of Scotland in the diocese of Argyle and the Isles.  That bishop has told the congregation that if they leave, they must leave their property behind.  Since the Episcopal Church of Scotland is not an established church, it will be interesting to see if litigation over ownership results as it has in the U.S.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Week Ending 11/27/17

South Carolina Break-Away Group Continues Legal Action

The break-away group in South Carolina followed through on their hints and announced they were filing a U. S. Supreme Court appeal, claiming that state supreme court's denial of their requests for recusal and rehearing raised issues of unfairness and religious freedom.  However, the future filings will need to be more honest than the amica brief filed by 106 supposed religious leaders in the latest state court round.  When the Update reported on this brief, we raised questions about the signers.  Blogger Steve Skaradon went farther by actually checking the names.  Several of those he called claimed they had not given permission for the use of their names or were unaware of the brief.  Be sure read his posts from November 21-25, 2017.

Archbishop Sentamu Responds to Regime Change in Zimbabwe

Ten years ago on British TV, Archbishop Sentamu, originally from Zimbabwe, took off his clergy collar and cut it into pieces, vowing not to wear it again until President Mugabe was no longer in office in Zimbabwe.  This week in another TV interview, he gladly put his collar back on.  He has also been offering prayers for his former country, and advising that they cannot just stitch over the years of hurt and may need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

California Parishes Begin Healing After Fires

Pittsburgh Episcopal Update has carried stories on the response of Episcopal Parishes to the California fires (most recently here).  The latest ENS story is about two parishes beginning the process of healing.

ACNA Groups in Scotland and Canada Get New Members

Apparently the election of a woman as bishop was the last straw for one parish in the Scottish Episcopal Church.  The parish was already unhappy with the decision of the church to allow same-sex marriage.  The parish announced it was leaving the Scottish Episcopal Church and had been accepted by the ACNA consecrated bishop, Andrew Lines.  The Isle of Harris is the southern part of an island off the coast of Scotland.  Its mostly Presbyterian inhabitants (total population less than 2000) is conservative.  The parish membership is quite small, 15 in attendance on the Sunday when one blogger wrote about his visit.

Meanwhile in Canada the Anglican Network (ACNA) announced that the Anglican Church of Canada's  retired Bishop of Caledonia, William Anderson, has joined the Anglican Network.  Anderson protested the treatment of  Jacob Worley whose election as his successor was not confirmed by the provincial bishops (the Church of Canada uses the term "province" for regional groupings), and who was most recently removed from his parish and ministry by the new bishop of Caledonia.  (See Update here).  The Anglican Journal has full coverage with comments from the Anglican Church Archbishop.

San Joaquin Diocese Celebrates Recovery 

The Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry and House of Deputies President Gay Jennings were both present for a weekend of celebrations spread across the  Diocese of San Joaquin.  The high point of the celebration was the institution of Bishop David Rice as diocesan bishop.  Rice had been provisional bishop.  San Joaquin used the occasion to highlight its recovery and its outreach and advocacy.  It also was the occasion of a ceremonial presentation of a check for $1 million to the Episcopal Church, completing San Joaquin's commitment to an agreement that cleared them of debt owed to the Episcopal Church from loans that sustained them during their long legal battle for diocesan assets.  For Bishop Curry, it was another of his "revival" visits, the first of which was to Pittsburgh last February. The ENS story provides full coverage.

Porn Ring Arrests Snare Episcopal Rector

The Rev. Michael Rich was arrested as part of a state-wide sweep of child predators in Alabama.  Rich, rector of St. Andrew's Church in Birmingham was charged with possession and distribution of child pornography. The Episcopal Diocese immediately suspended Rich from all parochial and priestly duties.  

English Same-Sex Couples Not Rushing to Have Church Weddings

According to a recent study, those places of worship that have registered as sites willing to hold services marrying same-sex couples have seen very limited response.  In some cases there are simply few to no options, but even where there are registered sites, there have been few weddings. None are part of the Church of England, although Hereford Diocese has raised the issue for Church of England synod discussion. It is not clear if it is lack of options, or lack of interest by the couples that has resulted in the underwhelming response.

Prince Harry's Engagement Show Changes in Church of England

The announcement of Prince Harry's engagement to American Meghan Markle has resulted in a discussion of religion.  Some sources reported that Markle was Jewish and other that she was Roman Catholic.  Both are incorrect.  Markel's first marriage was to a Jewish man, and she attended a Roman Catholic girl's school, but in neither case did she practice those religions.  The fact that the Church of England is not raising any objections to the fact that she is divorced, and the couple will marry this spring in a Church of England ceremony.  Religion News has a good article exploring the shifting stands on remarriage of divorced persons by the Church of England, especially how it has affected the royal family. . 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Week Ending 11/20/17

South Carolina Supreme Court Denies Rehearing

The South Carolina church property suit reached another milestone when the state supreme court refused both a rehearing of the case and a petition for recusal of one of the five judges who participated in the case. With Judge Hearn recusing herself, the judges split 2-2 on the issue of a rehearing, and thus there was no majority for rehearing. A good overview of the decision and background is here. The latest Update story is here. The judges were 5-0 on the issue of recusal.  The Lawrence faction asked too late for Judge Kay Hearn to step away from the case. The opinions filed by the judges who wanted a rehearing can be read as encouragement for the Lawrence group to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.  The break-away group has this response on its web site and also sent a letter from Bishop Lawrence.  The Episcopalians responded here.  Meanwhile, the break-away group is continuing to find new ways to litigate and thus delay return of church property to the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. The parishes have filed a civil suit under a "betterment" statute asking for a court award to cover the costs of all the improvements they have ever made on their properties. Steve Skaradon's blog has background on this filing.

Bishop Sauls Files Brief 

Update reported a short while ago that Bishop Sauls was refiling his suit for damages against the Presiding Bishop and other unnamed persons including leaders of General Convention and staff at the Church Headquarters. The content of that complaint is now available.  Sauls claims a conspiracy to get rid of him and punish him by a group of unnamed leaders trying to increase the power of the President of the House of Deputies.  A responding brief from TEC has not yet been filed. 

Sydney Archbishop Asks for Protection of "Freedom of Speech" 

Archbishop Davies of Sydney, Australia, and his synod were major contributors to the efforts to convince Australians not to vote for an opinion referendum on same-sex marriage. Around 80% of Australian voters participated, and 61.% voted to allow same sex marriages.  Now the Australian parliament is drafting a bill, and they hope to have it in effect by Christmas. Meanwhile, Davies is asking that as parliament drafts its bill, they also need to protect those who want to continue to preach and voice opinions that while civil marriage will now be legal for same-sex couples, it remains immoral or and not approved by the church.

West Missouri Bishop and Diocese Reach Pact

The Diocesan Leadership and the Bishop of West Missouri have not been getting along.  The Standing Committee filed a formal request in spring 2016 for reconciliation of the relationship between a diocese and its bishop.  After nearly two years of discussion, an agreement for reconciliation has emerged.  Bishop Field has agreed to professional counseling and a mentoring relationship.  The Diocese had committed to regular feedback to the bishop.  Both sides are hopeful that the outcome will be positive. The process so far has been funded by TEC, but from this point on the financial responsibility belongs to the diocese.

Ordination of Women Dividing ACNA

 After a five-year study on women's ordination, the ACNA House of Bishops voted to continue allowing each diocese to decide whether to ordain women to the priesthood.  A majority of the bishops do not support women's ordination, but key dioceses such as Pittsburgh and South Carolina, do ordain women. In September Bishop Hobby of Pittsburgh made a statement responding to the House of Bishops statement, noting his intent to continue to support ordained women.  Bishop Iker of Fort Worth however, has declared war on women's ordination.  He used his November 4 Address at the Diocesan Convention to announce that he is beginning efforts to have the ACNA constitution changed to no longer allow a local option of ordination for women.  This would undo the initial compromise that allowed dissident groups to join forces and form ACNA.

Anglican Mothers Unions Launch Initiative Against Gender Violence

  The largest women's organization in the Anglican Communion, the Mother's Union has announced a sixteen day initiative aimed at gender violence against women throughout the world.  Each province is designing their own actions.  These range from action against genital mutilation to domestic violence and murder of women.  The Anglican Communion news has a good overview, and the Anglican Journal has a piece on the Canadian approach.

Plagiarism Delays Search for Next Bishop of Newark

The diocese of Newark has hit a snag that will delay the process of seeking candidates for bishop.  It has been discovered that the entire section "The Bishop We Seek" of the diocesan profile was plagiarized from the document used for the Diocese of Bethlehem.  The member of the search committee responsible for writing that section has resigned.  The search has been put on hold until a new section has been written.  While the search committee has revised their timeline, the date for the electing convention has not been changed. The committee has also apologized to the Diocese of Bethlehem.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Week Ending 11/13/17

Los Angeles Diocese and St. James Sign Agreement

Last week the Update noted that the Save St. James the Great Facebook page was gone and the web page had removed references to the dispute with the Los  Angeles diocese.  The reason why became clear this week.  The diocese and congregation announced this last week that talks they began in mid October had produced an agreement that will let the congregation return to the building Bishop Jon Bruno had tried to sell.  The agreement provides a path for the congregation to be recognized as a mission and to keep the priest who had helped them grow in the building and maintain their community once homeless.  The joint agreement is here.  Bishop Taylor made an additional statement.   The Living Church reported that hours before the agreement was announced, the congregation agreed to drop their legal actions against Bruno as Corporate Sole.  He agreed not to pursue them for malicious prosecution, and tried to cast it as a legal victory.  No matter how Bruno tries to spin it, the offer by the congregation was clearly part of the behind the scenes steps taken leading to the agreement with the diocese. 

Two Women in the News as Bishops

The Episcopal Church of Scotland has seven dioceses, but for the last year there were only six bishops.  The Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney had been unable to identify three candidates to replaced their retired bishop.  Under the Church's canons the matter then moved to the House of Bishops for the Church and they chose Canon Anne Dyer, rector of Holy Trinity Parish in Haddington which is in South East Scotland. Aberdeen and Orkney was the only diocese with a majority voting against the canon change this year that allows same sex-marriage.  Dyer has presided at such marriages in Haddington, and she realizes that the diocese is divided on the matter.  She hopes to focus on the things that could bring her diocese together.  Among the first women ordained deacon and priest in the Church of England, Dyer will now become the first woman ordained bishop in the Scottish Church.

New Zealand is about to lose a woman as bishop.  Helen-Ann Hartley, Bishop of Waikato, has been named the Bishop of Ripon in England.  Hartley came to New Zealand from Ripon College, and when consecrated in 2014 as a bishop in New Zealand, she became the first woman ordained in the Church of England to become a bishop. In England she will be a suffragan bishop in the diocese of Leeds, formed in 2014 by merging four existing dioceses including Ripon. The announcement from the Anglican Church in New Zealand has more information on her ministry in New Zealand.

With EDS Gone, Boston University Seminary Announces an Anglican Episcopal Track

 As the remnant of the Episcopal Divinity School settles in as part of Union Theological Seminary in New York, Boston University has announced a program that will partially fill the gap left by the departure of EDS.  The Boston University Theological Seminary announce that it was opening two new tracks, one for Anglicans and Episcopalians and the other for United Church of Christ students. The Boston School was founded by Methodists in 1838.  They hope to attract both Anglicans from other parts of the Anglican Communion and Episcopalians to the new track.  Meanwhile EDS, which  had closed due to financial and leadership issues, and then reinvented itself as a partner of Union,  held its first board meeting at Union.  The board includes a number of high visibility Episcopalians, and seems likely to offer a strong challenge to the venerable, but troubled General Theological Seminary which is still recovering from the mass firing of its faculty in 2014.  General Convention in 2015 was displeased enough with GTS ( the only Episcopal Seminary formed by General Convention) that it created a task force to look into the relationship of the seminary to the General Convention.

Nashotah House Loses Another Faculty Member

Nashotah House, still coming to terms with the loss of Professor Daniel Westberg in a boating accident, is now also grieving the loss of Associate Dean of Student Services and Professor Richard Hartley.  He died suddenly and unexpectedly in his sleep.  The 48 year old Hartley had started his ministry as a Baptist, became a Congregationalist in 2006 and was ordained priest in the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh in 2013.  These deaths add to a set of rapid changes at the seminary beginning with the departure of Professor Gabig for Trinity School for Ministry and the decision not to re-elect Bishop Daniel Martin as Chair of the Board of Trustees.

Amica Brief Filed in Support of South Carolina Schismatics

The group headed by Bishop Mark Lawrence announced that it had filed an amica brief signed by 106 religious leaders supporting their request to have the South Carolina Supreme Court rehear the case decided largely in favor of the Episcopal Church. The accompanying statement by the group casts the signers as a diverse group of distinguished religious leaders.  The brief argues that neutral principles were not followed and that church property ownership is threatened by the decision.  A scanning of the signers shows that 62 of the signers were pastors at churches with "Baptist" in their title.  One signer is actually a party to suit (the Rev. Greg Kronz at St. Luke's Hilton Head), many of the rest are from Pentecostal or Community Churches.  In other words almost all the signers are from non-heirarchical churches with a polity that means the decision does not apply to them.

Canadian Bishop Fires Former AMiA Priest

In 2016 Update reported on a controversy that erupted when a Canadian Diocese initially elected the Rev. Jacob Worley as their bishop.  Worley was a former Episcopal priest who left the church to start an AMiA congregation.  He later moved to Canada and was settled in a parish there.  However, the other bishops in the  regional synod of the Yukon and British Columbia refused to approve his elected because Worley supported border-crossing.  The diocese eventually elected a new bishop.  The new bishop of the Diocese of Caledonia has now removed Worley from his parish. He has given no reason, but speculation is that it is because Worley's position on border crossing is contrary to canon law.  Under Canadian law, Worley must leave the country within 10 of the end of his employment.  His last Sunday is November 19, 2017.  

Prominent GAFCON Supporter Resigns Posts in Church of England

The signs that GAFCON intends to set up an ACNA type group in England continue to grow.  Not only did they authorize ACNA to consecrate Andrew Lines as a missionary Bishop for GAFCON in England, but now one of the strongest lay supporters of GAFCON in the Church of England has resigned all of her official positions including her General Synod seat and the Archbishop's Council. Her statement makes clear she is cutting ties with the Church of England to work with GAFCON groups outside the Church of England.  Bishop Lines used the occasion to praise her decision and call the Church of England to task for being "revisionist."  The Thinking Anglicans web site has a compilation of other responses.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Week Ending 11/6/17

South Carolina Mediation Abruptly Put on Hold

The Federal judge hearing the trademark and identity case filed by the Episcopal Church in South Carolina against the schismatic group still calling itself the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina had ordered mediation before he heard opening arguments this spring.  The mediation was scheduled for November 6-8, but was abruptly put on hold until December after a short meeting on November 7.  There are no details in the statement issued by Bishop Adams.  Adams had asked all South Carolina Episcopalians to pray for the mediation in an earlier statement issued before the start of the talks. Steve Skaradon had more to say on his blog scepiscopalians.com.

The Church Responds to the Texas Shooting

The shooting that killed 26 and injured nearly as many at a small Baptist Church in south Texas has resulted in numerous statements by religious leaders.  The most pertinent for Episcopalians are the statement from Presiding Bishop Curry and the statement from the Bishops United Against Gun Violence.  That group is a coalition of 60 Episcopal bishops who have been working since before General Convention 2015 to change the gun culture of the U.S.  Their web site includes profiles of members.  Bishop McConnell of Pittsburgh is not among them.

Bishop Sauls Files Lawsuit in New York

The Living Church has posted a story that Bishop Stacy Sauls has revived his lawsuit against the presiding bishop and Episcopal Church leaders by filing in state courts in New York.  His case was thrown out in Alabama for lack of jurisdiction.  Mediation ordered by the judge was unsuccessful.  He argues that his reputation has been so damaged by a conspiracy of church leaders that he cannot find employment in the church. Sauls was originally put on administrative leave in December 2015 with two other senior administrators who reported to him while the church investigated allegations of misconduct. In April 2016 the two other administrators were fired for misconduct and Sauls was let go because of an administrative reorganization.   Because he was employed in New York, jurisdiction is not an issue, but timeliness of the suit may be.  More than a year has gone by since he was let go.  The Episcopal Church has made an initial response filing to the charges and defends the actions they took as accurate and non-prejudicial.  

Episcopal News Service Gets Independent Web Identity

The Anglican Communion news and a press release from the Episcopal News Service have announced that the news service now has a separate web identity from The Episcopal Church.  In the process, the news service has revamped its look and even some of the kinds of news it carries to be more like a news magazine.  The good news is that links to the older site are automatically redirected to the new site so old content is still accessible.

English Church Struggling With Responses to Sexual-Abuse Victims

The Church of England continued to make headlines as victims of sexual abuse by clergy criticized the response and the small size of Church Insurance payments to victims.  The male victim involved noted that the compensation amounts were set at a time when long term affects of the abuse were not well understood.  A separate thread  focused on a woman's  experience with the church's response to her rape by a clergyman.  The woman raped wants the archbishops to commission a report to be discussed at the next General Synod.  Local press accounts link her letter to the "#Me Too" movement and the revelations of misconduct by powerful figures like Harvey Weinstein. 

Diocese of Dallas Comes up Short on Marriage Equality - Again

For the second year in a row, efforts of a few parishes to remove the Diocese of Dallas canonical statements defining marriage as between one man and one woman failed.  Those bringing the efforts are concerned because current policy sends all single sex couples seeking marriage to parishes in the neighboring diocese of Fort Worth, and the policy bars clergy from participating in such ceremonies even if being done in another diocese. Bishop George Sumner used his blog the week before the diocesan convention to speak against changing the canons while recognizing the right of those who brought the measure.  The Episcopal Cafe article appeared before the convention, but as predicted the measure was defeated.  The attempts last year can be accessed in the Diocesan Convention Journal for 2016, pp. 29-35.  While 20 bishops signed a statement at General Convention in 2015 opposing the changes allowing same-sex couples to marry at church, only 8 of the 109 dioceses of the Episcopal Church refuse to authorize ceremonies within the diocese.  

St. James Newport Beach Shifting Media Focus

The St. James the Great congregation in Newport Beach which fought back after Bishop Jon Bruno locked them out of their building because he was trying to sell it, has begun to shift their media focus.  The sale has collapsed; Bishop Bruno has been disciplined and suspended based on actions he took against the congregation and his disdain for the Title IV Hearing Panel; but the congregation did not regain access to the building and is not recognized as a mission by the Diocese of Los Angeles.  The congregation continues to worship in rented community space, but has either shut down or restricted access to their Facebook site, and has refocused their web page to emphasize their ministry. 

Anglicans Sign Agreement with Oriental Orthodox Church

Officially the Anglican Communion cut the filioque clause in the Nicene Creed over 40 years ago, but it still persists in the TEC Book of Common Prayer.  The clause added the words "and the son" to the phrase "proceeds from the Father" in the part of the Creed dealing with the Holy Spirit.  The clause was added at a western church meeting long after the Council of Nicea, and its addition caused a split between the Roman Catholic tradition and the Orthodox tradition.  In the latest of a series of conversations with various Churches from the Orthodox tradition, representatives of the Anglican Communion and the Oriental Orthodox both agree that the clause should be removed from the Creed although they hold different understandings of its meaning.  The historical agreement signed in Ireland also covers several other issues, but will not be formally published until 2018.  For more on the Oriental Orthodox tradtition, try the Wikipedia article here.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Week Ending 10/30/2017

Presiding Bishop One of the Lead Signers in Amica Brief 

A major amica brief has been filed in the case Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission which is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.  The brief signed by nearly 1300 religious leaders supports the finding of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission that a local baker did not have the right to refuse to make a cake for a reception celebrating the civil marriage of a same-sex couple.  Presiding Bishop Curry features prominently in the case being listed as one of the named filers at the beginning of the brief.  The five groups whose legal counsel are listed as drafters of the document are the general Synod of the Church of Christ, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Chicago Theological Seminary.   The Living Church story on the brief includes its full text, but not a full list of the 1300 signers.

Diocese of Southeast Florida Offers Parishes Hurricane Relief

Bishop Peter Eaton announced that the Executive Board of the Diocese of Southeast Florida had agreed to waive the diocesan assessments for November and December for every parish.  The intent is to help parishes meet costs not covered by insurance as they rebuild after the recent Hurricane.  The diocese has enough of a surplus to cover its necessary expenses for the last two months of the year.

Another Church Votes to Remove Lee Memorial

After a several years of discussion and study, Christ Church, Alexandria, Virginia has decided to remove a pair of plaques from the front of the sanctuary.  The plaques read simply "In Memory of George Washington" and "In Memory of Robert Edward Lee."  The plaques were prominently installed in 1870, one on each side of the chancel. (For those interested a picture here shows both plaques in their existing positions.) The two plaques will remain in place until it is decided where in the historic complex the memorials will be displayed. Both men were frequent attenders at the parish, and tourists can find the pews rented by them and now marked with discrete metal name tags. Another plaque erected in 1909 honors Washington and the men who served as pall bearers at his funeral.  The decision of the vestry at Christ Church follows on the heels of announcements that the National Cathedral will remove windows dedicated to Lee and Thomas ('Stonewall") Jackson, and that the Episcopal Church in Lexington, Virginia will change its name from the Robert E. Lee Memorial Church back to its original "Grace Episcopal Church."

South Carolina Media War Against Property Decision Continues

Bishop C. FitzSimons Allison (retired in 1990) has written the latest salvo in the media war being waged by the schismatic diocese in South Carolina against the state Supreme Court opinion awarding most diocesan and parish properties to the diocese that stayed in the Episcopal Church.  Allison's long letter to the editor has appeared in several newspapers.  In it he argues that the Episcopal Church is not a hierarchical church and the property should have remained with those who left. Blogger Steve Skaradon has a stinging commentary posted October 31, 2017 on Allison's action.   His position is very similar to that taken by 9 bishops in amica briefs filed in Quincy and Fort Worth.  Those bishops found charges filed against them, and a Title IV proceeding resulted in a formal agreement by which they promised to not to file or endorse similar arguments in litigation involving the Episcopal Church, and admitted that the Dennis Canon limited the authority of diocesan bishops. (See the Update Story here.)  The ninety year-old Allison is one of several resigned bishops still officially resident in TEC that are living in South Carolina and participating in the schismatic diocese. Allsion is best known for participating in the irregular Singapore ordination of Charles Murphy and John Rogers as bishops in what became the Anglican Mission in America in 2000.

Episcopal Relief and Development Gets a Major Grant for Work in Africa

Episcopal Relief and Development has had a pathbreaking program in Zambia that has improved the lives and survival rates of young children.  Now another grant from the Conrad Hilton Foundation will let them expand that work and carry it into neighboring Kenya. Both the Episcopal Cafe and The Living Church carried stories on the latest grant. 

Bishop of Oregon Hit with Lawsuit by Former Diocesan Finance Officer

Not satisfied after her claims were denied by a title IV panel (and a subsequent denial on appeal) and by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry, the former diocesan Finance Officer, Mary Macy has filed suit against Bishop Michael Hanley in an Oregon circuit court asking for $845,000.  The suit claims the bishop assaulted a woman priest, misused funds bequeathed to a diocesan foundation for a hospital chaplaincy, and fired her in retaliation as a whistleblower. You can read her filing here.  The Diocese of Oregon has issued a formal statement denying the charges. Those present at the diocesan convention this last week heard from the heads of the Standing Committee, Board of Trustees, and the Episcopal Bishop of Oregon Foundation.  A transcript of their remarks is here or you can watch it on video here.  Without going into detail, they made clear that Macy was fired after a series of audits were completed and an entire revamping of financial procedures were recommended and implemented. The Title IV investigation included the assault charge, and while no details were included, the assault consisted of the bishop placing his arm over the neck of the clergywoman and then standing behind her and pulling her very close to him. Both the initial Title IV hearing and the subsequent appeal resulted in the same finding, “No action taken apart from pastoral reconciliation.”

The ACNA Balancing Act on Women's Ordination

ACNA's bishop in Pittsburgh, James Hobby, has issued a long blog post reflecting on the denomination's recent decision to continue to agree to disagree about women's ordination.  Hobby's statement walks a tightrope not endorsing either position and giving equal time to both.  It suggest just how divided even his home diocese is on the subject.