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, July 23, 2019

Week Ending 07/22/19

Episcopal Full Communion with Lutherans Expands

With the passage of a resolution at General Synod 2019 supporting full communion with Lutheran bodies in Canada and America, and with the The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada completed the process required to bring a memorandum of understanding among all four churches  into effect.  Each of the four parties (The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada) had previously been in communion with its equivalent body in the other country, and with the other denomination's body in the same country.  The effect for Episcopalians is to add the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada as a full communion partner. 

Former Pittsburgh Assistant Bishop Scriven Has New Post

Henry Scriven, who served as Assistant Bishop to Bishop Duncan before the 2008 schism, and continued working with him for a few months until he returned to England, has become the Interim General Secretary for the Evangelical Fellowship in the Anglican Communion.  Scriven will serve until the next full EFAC Council meeting when the Council will choose a General Secretary.  The group has a position resembling the Communion partners, and seems to be walking a fine line to stay within the Anglican Communion.

Continuing Stories

More Fallout From Canadian Vote on Same-Sex Marriage

The narrow failure of a canonical change at General Synod 2019 explicitly altering the Anglican Church of Canada's marriage canons to allow same-sex marriage continues to provoke response.  A group is now considering proposing changes to the system of voting at General Synod so bishops could not block measures at General Synod that have wide support from clergy and lay deputies. The Chancellor's reading of the existing canon said that it made no specification about the sex of the two persons being married and thus individual bishops were free to permit same-sex marriage if they so chose.  Several bishops gave the permission following General Synod 2016.  Bishops are still free to authorize such marriages under the existing canon, and a number have announced they will do so.  Conservatives have challenged the Chancellor's interpretation, and the bishop of the Diocese of the Arctic has announced that he will have to separate his diocese from those that are permitting such marriages, and has declared a state of impaired communion.  (See coverage and later "qualifications" here, here, and here.) It is not clear how he can be both in the Anglican Church and not in communion with it. Another complicating factor is that almost 70% of the members of the Diocese of the Arctic are indigenous peoples, and technically, they now are part of an independent indigenous unit within the Anglican Church headed by Archbishop Mark McDonald.  

New Motion in the South Carolina Suit Against Church Insurance

Recent evidence surfaced that the Church Insurance Company of Vermont had honored claims by the schismatic leaders of several parishes for the costs of litigation in the lawsuit for South Carolina church property.  In 2012 the insurance company (CIC-VT) had denied claims for legal expenses from these parishes on the grounds they were not Episcopal parishes and hence not insured by the compnay. The schismatics then sued CIC-VT.  A settlement "with prejudice" was reached in 2015 and since then CIC-VT has honored several claims.  Once the diocese recognized by the Episcopal Church had proof of these payments, they sued CIC-VT claiming the company had committed fraud by paying claims to a group trying to take property away from the Episcopalians. (See the Update report here.)  CIC-VT responded to the new suit by filing its own suit and counterclaims.  Now the Episcopalians have filed documents asking that this filing be thrown out.  The reasons are explained in the legal filing and a summary found on the diocesan web page for the Episcopalians. 

Betterments Case Hearing This Week

Blogger Steve Skardon has a good background piece (dated July 20) helping to explain what is at stake in the Tuesday hearing on the lawsuit filed under the Betterments Act by the schismatic parishes.  The parishes are trying to claim that if the Episcopal Church regains their properties then they are owed compensation for every improvement ever made on those properties, which in some cases could mean more than 200 years of improvements.  Skardon believes that the suit should be thrown out of court because the schismatics don't have standing to sue.  In addition, a Betterments Act claim can only be filed after the case about ownership has been decided and all litigation closed.  The Lawrence leadership keeps insisting that the case is still open, and this suit contradicts those claims.

Move to End Refugee Resettlement Brings Episcopal Protest

Plans by the Trump administration to completely end admission of refugees by the end of the year have elicited a strong protest from the Episcopal Migration Ministries.  The protest points out that offering hospitality to the stranger is a biblical imperative, and thus to deny access to refugees is to prevent the Episcopal Church from  fully living into its faith.  Episcopal News Service has the full story.  This is the latest in a series of protests Episcopal leaders have made on behalf of immigrants and refugees.  General Convention has passed numerous resolutions supporting immigrants.  A number of parishes and dioceses have program in support of immigrants, both documented and undocumented.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Week Ending 07/15/19

Liberal Christians Finding Their Voices

Religion Today News Service had two articles featuring the resurgence of liberal Christianity.  Over the last several years the Wild Goose conference for liberal Christians has grown.  The conference combines prayer and workshops on liberal causes.  The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America are among its many sponsors. You can find the full article here.  Religion News also covered the heckling and protesting done by liberal Christians at a talk by Vice President Pence at the CUFI (Christians United for Israel) summit. The protesters opposed Israeli government actions against Palestinians.  

Diocese of Olympia Fights Eviction of Homeless from Camp

Aberdeen the largest city in Gray's Harbor County, Washington, is about 100 miles south of Seattle.  The city of about 70,000 has between 500-700 homeless and another 2500 whose housing options are insecure.  For the last several years a group of Episcopal chaplains have been ministering to these homeless in a ministry that has had visits and support from the Episcopal bishop of Olympia and the Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry.  The chaplains filed legal actions to prevent Aberdeen officials from cleaning out a major homeless camp on the banks of the Chehalis River without providing a place for those displaced to camp.  The city has responded to the suits by offering temporary camping in the parking lot of city hall.  The chaplains, are working to provide better long-term options.  The Episcopal News Service has all the details here.

Order of the Holy Cross Closes Santa Barbara Retreat Center

With only 3 aging monks left to run a retreat center in Santa Barbara that has been in operation since 1947, the Episcopal Benedictine order decided to close the house.  Its monks will join others in the central House in New York.  For the Diocese of Los Angeles, however, the lost of the retreat house is a major disappointment.  It was the site of frequent meetings and retreats for groups associated with the diocese.  The disposition of the property has not yet been decided.  

Canadian Synod Votes of Interest

Same-Sex Marriage Canon Narrowly Defeated

The National Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada is in session.  Its first week included several votes of major interest, with the promise of more to come.  The synod came up short of 3 votes by bishops in securing the two-thirds majority required to change the marriage canon to explicitly support same sex- marriage.  Several bishops known to support the canon change were absent for medical reasons, and three recently appointed suffragan bishops, all conservative voted no.  The measures passed by comfortable margins among the clergy and lay orders.  This was the second, and final vote needed to change the canon, the first having been taken at the synod in 2016 where it passed the house of bishops by the slimmest of margins.  A number of bishops have announced that they will continue to allow marriages of same sex couples in their dioceses under resolutions passed earleir and through an interpretation of the existing canon.

First Woman to Serve as Canadian Primate

A second vote of interest was the election of a new primate for the Church as Archbishop Fred Hilz is retiring.  On the fourth ballot, the Bishop of Huron, Linda Nicholls was elected.  She will be the first woman to serve as primate in the Canadian Church.  Nicholls is one of the bishops who has authorized same sex marriages in her diocese.

Indigenous Self-Determination and new Archbishop

The synod also took major steps at reconciliation with indigenous peoples in the church including approving an independent unit within the church for indigenous peoples, and confirming Bishop Mark McDonald as the archbishop of that new unit.  McDonald is of native background, and was ordained in Minnesota, and served as Bishop of Alaska and Assistant Bishop of  the Navajoland Area Mission.  For the last ten years he has been the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop in Canada. 

Continuing Stories

Church Continues Witness for Immigrants

This week immigration was again in the news with continuing coverage of conditions in detention centers and the announcement that ICE would be conducting raids to round up people for quick deportation. Update has followed the Episcopal response regularly.   The Episcopal Church continued its responses that Christians were called to show hospitality to the stranger.  Presiding Bishop Curry issued a video statement urging hospitality to the stranger.  He built his talk around the lectionary reading for Sunday (the Good Samaritan).  Churches that had previously declared themselves sanctuary churches sent out word that they were willing to shelter immigrants fearing deportation.  The Los Angeles ABC television studio focused their sanctuary story on All Saints Church in Pasadena.

Updates from South Carolina

The newsletter just issued by the Episcopal Church in South Carolina notes that the scheduled hearing on the "Betterments" lawsuit filed by the schismatic parishes has been moved up from July 25 to July 23.  The diocese's comments on this change are here.   Also about 50 people attended the most recent "Open Conversation" designed to answer questions about the diocese, its plans and the continuing legal issues.  This is the first of several such conversations to be held around the diocese.  The diocesan comments on the one held July 11 are here.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Week Ending 07/08/19

Church of England to Recognize Religious Communities 

The Church of England General Synod voted to end the ban on religious orders that has been in place since Henry VIII began closing monasteries and convents in 1536, and took control of their properties.  In fact, as any one who watches "Call the Midwife" (the BBC show broadcast in the U.S. by PBS)  knows, there have been Anglican religious orders in Britain for many years.  However, they existed outside the official canons of the church.  Now a new interest in religious communities has helped to bring the church to offering full recognition to orders that meet certain requirements.

Continuing Stories

Judge Sets Date for Hearing in South Carolina "Betterments" Suit

One of the ways that the schismatic group in South Carolina has tried to undo the state supreme court decision granting most church property to those who remained in the Episcopal Church was to file a set of claims under a South Carolina law known as the Betterment Act.  Under the law they are claiming that the Episcopalians should compensate them for every improvement ever made on the properties that the courts ruled belonged to the Episcopal Church. If granted it would put the Episcopalians in the position of having to pay for the properties that the courts ruled were theirs. Judge Dickinson has set July 25 as a date to hear arguments on whether these claims have any standing.  He had originally set March 25 as the date, but at the last minute the hearing was cancelled.  For more on the issues see the comments by blogger Steve Skaradon on July 2, 2019.  

Texas Bishops Make Strong Statement on Border Issues  

Over the last two weeks Bishops of the Episcopal Church have been speaking out on the border situation and the overcrowded conditions in detention camps, especially those holding children.  A strong statement in that vein has now been posted by all the bishops of the six Episcopal dioceses in Texas.  The Bishops cite the numerous Biblical passages specifying the hospitality and care we are to show to strangers and children. The text is carried in full by Episcopal News Service.

Church of England Synod takes Another Baby Step Towards Methodist Ties

The talks between Methodists and the Church of England have been going on for 16 years.  While the votes at the General Synod last week advance the possibility of full recognition by each church of the other, the synod also declined to pass a resolution endorsing recognition.  Instead they authorized the drawing up of documents for a merger without agreeing on all the terms.  Anglo-Catholics are uneasy about the status of Methodist clergy; evangelicals are uneasy about the vote the Methodists took supporting same-sex marriage (see next story).  The English press, as a result carried a variety of stories suggesting different interpretations of the Synod's actions.  See The Church Times, the media release by the Church of England, and Christian Today for three different treatments. 

English Methodists Take Favorable Vote on Same-Sex Marriage

Update noted last week that English Methodists were going to vote on whether to open their churches to same-sex marriages.  The vote passed by a large margin.  However, it must pass again at next year's meeting in order to go into effect.  The Church Times has a full discussion of the vote and its meaning. 

ACNA Bishop Says "No" to ACNA Prayer Book in Quincy 

The Bishop of the ACNA Diocese of Quincy has issued a letter saying that he is not approving use of the new ACNA Book of Common Prayer in the public worship of the diocese.  People may use it for private devotions.  The approval of the book did give each bishop the power to decide if the book would be used in his jursidiction.  ACNA issued the book earlier with great fanfare after sections had been available on-line for a while. The question is whether any other bishops will make the same determination.  Bishop Alberto Morales of Quincy has decided he would rather continue using Common Worship, which is approved by the Church of England. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Week Ending 7/1/19

There are no new breaking stories on this national holiday week, but a number of continuing threads to follow.

Continuing Stories

Episcopalians Speak Up on Refugee Detention

The media have been reporting on the unsanitary and inhumane conditions under which children and adult immigrants are being detained in the U.S.  Update has been tracking Episcopal witness for human treatment of refugees and immigrants.  Episcopal leaders have been speaking out in a variety of forums.  All the bishops of the seven dioceses in California signed a letter condemning the conditions facing incarcerated children, and encouraging action.  The Bishop of East Tennessee has issued a pastoral letter reminding his diocese that as Christians they are called to treat the stranger with kindness, and that their baptismal vows require them to "respect the dignity of every human being."  Grace Cathedral in California circulated a petition protesting conditions and reporting them to officials as child abuse, and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has signed a statement by a large group of interfaith leaders protesting the conditions.  The Episcopal New Service has an article giving a good overview of the Episcopal protests and actions being taken along the border and in response to ICE raids. 

English Methodists Get Ready for Vote on Same-Sex Marriage

Two weeks ago Update carried notice that English Methodists might be voting on approving same-sex marriage at their upcoming Conference.  That meeting is now at hand, and the Guardian has a story that points out the ways this may complicate the proposed ties between the Methodists and Church of England.  The Church of England synod, meeting just after the Conference is scheduled to discuss proposals for closer ties with the Methodists.

Reservations Ensure Large Lambeth 2020 Turn-Out

Threats of boycotts by some African countries seemed to imperil the Lambeth Conference of Bishops scheduled for 2020.  However, there is a strong push underway to encourage bishops to attend, and The Lambeth planners have announced over 1000 registrations from bishops and spouses have already been turned in. 

South Carolina Supreme Court Declines to Hurry Judge Dickson

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina had become impatient with the lack of progress by Judge Dickson on turning over property that the South Carolina Supreme Court had ruled belonged to the Episcopal Church. To hurry up the judge, the diocese filed for a Writ of Mandamus with the Carolina Supreme Court.  The Carolina justices, however, do believe Dickson is making progress, citing hearings that he has scheduled, and have declined to issue the writ

Light Shone on GAFCON Bishop's Leave

The GAFCON-chosen, ACNA-ordained missionary bishop of Europe, Andrew Lines went on a personal leave at the beginning of 2019.  At the time there was no explanation about the circumstances.  Now it comes out that Lines is trying to recover from spiritual abuse that was perpetrated by a former Church of England priest who had his license to serve revoked in 2017 for abuse he perpetrated on a whole group of young men. The priest used spankings and naked massages as part of his mentoring of young men.  GAFCON did not realize that this priest was no longer in good standing and continued to treat him as a respected clergy person until alerted to the disciplinary action in early 2019. On leave, Lines been slowly coming to terms with the ways he was manipulated and abused. 

South Sudan Tenure for Patrick Augustine Limited

The Update reported a month ago that the Rev. Patrick Augustine had been chosen as an assistant bishop for the Diocese of Bor in the South Sudan.  His charge would be to be there part-time and to work with Sudanese congregations here in the U.S.  Now David Virtue reports (unfortunately no other source is carrying this news) that the primate of the South Sudan has announced that Augustine selection has not been approved by the other bishops and he cannot stay in South Sudan for more than 6 months.  The primate also has rejected the idea that Augustine can serve as any kind of bridge between the Episcopal Church and the Church in South Sudan. 

Perspective on the Election of Women Bishops

Two-thirds of the bishops elected by Episcopal Dioceses in the last year have been women. The Update has been following this trend.  At least one more will join that list as another diocese is choosing from an all-female slate. The Episcopal News Service has a story placing these elections in perspective, noting that there is a long way to go before women are proportionately represented in the House of Bishops. The article notes that the women elected also have increased racial diversity in the House of Bishops.   Meanwhile, the Church of England added another first to its inclusion of women as bishops by appointing a black woman born in Jamaica to serve the diocese of Dover.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Week Ending 06/24/19

New Mission for Inner City Church

 St. Stephen's in the center of Philadelphia was closed in 2016 because its congregation had dwindled.  Only a few month later, the church reopened, but not for Sunday services.  Instead it is a church serving central Philadelphia during the week, offering social services, a respite for the homeless or those just wanting to meditate, a welcome to tourists, and  and weekday worship. Religion News featured this "new" way to do religion in an historic building.  You can find out more at the church's own website.

Nigerian Scammers Pose as Anglican Church Leaders

Nigerian scammers set up false Facebook accounts in the names of prominent Nigerian Anglican clergy, including Archbishop Okoh in order to solicit money from unsuspecting supporters who thought they were helping the clergy person in distress.  The scammers have now been arrested.

Japanese Clergy Testify to Impact of Fukushima Disaster

 At an International Forum for a Nuclear-Free World held last week in Sendai, Japan, clergy from the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (the Japanese member of the Anglican Communion)  testified to the devastating impact of the Fukushima nuclear melt-down on the communities surrounding the plant. The Church in 2012 passed a resolution at its General Synod in 2012 calling for an end to nuclear power plants and activities.  One of the clergy, who has a parish in the affected area spoke of  273 children  in his region diagnosed with thyroid cancer since 2012. The forum was attended by members of The Episcopal Church and other Asian churches in the Anglican Communion.

South Sudan Churches Urge Support for Rape Victims

Women have long experienced rape as a weapon of war.  The long conflicts in the Sudan made that very evident, and 95% of the survivors report being raped multiple times, often over several days. Sudanese culture in general considers rape to have shamed the woman, and many already traumatized women have been rejected by families and pushed to the edges of society with no support. Women thus have often remained silent about rapes in order to avoid the stigma.  The South Sudan Council of Churches, however, has issued a call for churches to support  women and girls who have been raped and to blame the men, not the women.  The Council urged support for the women and girls as an important step in healing and peacemaking.

Border Crossing or Mission-Building?

Merida, Mexico is home to a number of ex-patriot U.S. citizens and Canadians, as if evident from the times it has shown up on HGTV shows.  A popular Roman Catholic priest was removed from the priesthood several years ago for inviting a Episcopalian priest (female) to preach and particiapte in communion.  He soon found his flock of ex-pats wanted him to continue and he has now built a thriving congregation with a English language congregation and also a large Spanish language congregation.  However, the congregation is not part of the Anglican Province of Mexico and is building ties directly with congregations in the Episcopal Church.  Episcopal Cafe has a largely supportive story on the congregation, but we do need to ask, if the situation was reversed and the Church in Mexico were to start congregations in Los Angeles, San Antonio, or Raleigh, NC would we be protesting this a border crossing?

Continuing Stories

South Carolina Insurance Suit Broadens

Update reported two weeks ago that the Episcopal Church in South Carolina had filed a federal law suit against the Church Insurance Company of Vermont because it had paid claims for legal costs submitted by the schismatic leadership of St. Philip's in Charleston.  Now the Chuch Insurance Company has asked the court to decide if it is liable for claims filed by other of the schismatic parishes.  The June 20 blog post at scepiscopalians.com has the details.

International Group of Bishops Urge Attendance at Lambeth

The Bishop of Dallas, George Sumner has organized an appeal by 10 bishops from a variety of provinces in the Anglican Communion, including Africa, urging attendance at the Lambeth Conference 2020 despite theological differences.  While the appeal urges unity based on the common theology of our Books of Common Prayer, states a belief in "traditional" marriage, it does say that conversation across the divides brings better understanding, including with Provinces that are recognizing same sex marriage.  Sumner and Bishop Emma Ineson of the Church of England, both signers of the letter, served on the Lambeth Design Group, so it is not surprising they would urge attendance.  The only other TEC signer is Michael Smith who is currently serving as Assisting Bishop in Dallas.  The others are bishops from Honduras, Egypt, Mozambique, Canada, and the Primates of West Africa and Burundi.  Lambeth 2020 is still a year away, but has been caught in controversy by the decision not to invite same sex spouses of bishops, by a threat of boycott by several African Provinces, and by the alternative conference organized by GAFCON.

Episcopalians Testify in Support of Reparations

Bishop Eugene Sutton of Maryland and Katrina Browne (of Traces of the Trade fame) were among the panelists who testified before the House committee on constitutional amendments on June 19. Sutton was the only clergy person to speak.  Sutton sent his diocese a four page pastoral letter a  supporting reparations earlier this year.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Week Ending 06/17/19

Executive Council Passes Resolutions in Support of Vaccinations

The Episcopal News Service has issued a summary article listing all the resolutions passed by Executive Council.  If the reader skips through the financial and governance resolutions and looks at those listed for  mission outside and within the Episcopal Church, the reader will find a series of resolutions addressing the recent outbreaks of preventable diseases due to a failure to vaccinate.  The Council is on record saying that Episcopalians cannot claim a religious exemption from vaccinations based on church doctrine, and calls on parishes to partner with medical people to counter false information about vaccinations.  There is also a resolution strengthening requirements for vaccinations of those who attend Episcopal institutions.

Church Pension Group Reduces Gap Between Lay and Clergy Employee Benefits

The Episcopal Church offers different benefits to clergy than it does to lay employees.  The lay employees' pension benefits are much less, and the church does not have to provide long-term disability, life insurance and other benefits with are standard for clergy.  Clergy are on a defined benefit plan, while lay employees are on a defined contribution plan.  The differences have been justified on the grounds that the various church employers could not afford to treat lay employees equally with clergy.  A major step was made several years ago when General Convention required medical benefits to be be the same for clergy and lay employees.  Now the Church Pension Group (CPG) will begin paying more into its  lay pension plan so that the contribution to  a CPG lay worker's pension will be closer to the percentage contributed for clergy.  The decision does not affect anyone except the approximately 100 lay employees of CPG.  It was deemed to expensive  to require parishes and schools follow suit, but CPG hopes its decision will encourage other units to do the same. 

St. Paul's Mt. Lebanon Goes Solar

The Rev. Noah Evans and Bishop Dorsey McConnell were high on the roof of the St. Paul's parish hall in full regalia to bless the solar panels installed by St. Paul's Mt. Lebanon.  The Pittsburgh parish will be able to generate all the electricity it needs on sunny days, and at the very worst weather still generates about half.  Excess power is sold to Duquesne Light.  

ACNA Gives Foley Beach Five More Years 

Not surprisingly, the ACNA synod choose to re-elect Foley Beach as their archbishop.  Since Beach is in the middle of a term as Chair of ACNA, it would have been awkward to elect anyone else.  ACNA sets a limit of 2 terms on the the office of Archbishop.

Continuing Stories

Another Bishop Sharing Arrangement  Announced

While resigned/retired bishops and suffragan bishops most often get the call to be bishop provisional in another diocese, there are several bishops who have taken on that role for a diocese while continuing as diocesan in their original diocese. What is more unusual is for the arrangement also to include exploration of merging some of the staff or events of the two dioceses.  Bishop Sean Rowe of Northwestern Pennsylvania paired his duties in his diocese with a provisional arrangement in the Diocese of Bethlehem on the opposite end of the state.  When that arrangement ended, he found a new partner in the neighboring Diocese of Western New York, with the added feature that the two dioceses would explore greater cooperation in activities during a 5 year term.  The arrangement is complicated by different state laws and the assignment of the two dioceses to different provinces.  Now Western and Eastern Michigan are about to start a similar 3-5 year partnership with Western Michigan Bishop Whayne Houghland, Jr. being elected as provisional in Eastern Michigan.   Eastern Michigan will vote on electing Houghland as Bishop Provisional in October.  Such elections are normally uncontested.  Although current news accounts treat these bishop-sharing arrangements as new and innovative, the Episcopal Church in the early 19th century had several shared arrangements, most notably in what was called the "Eastern Diocese" where conventions in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island in New England shared a single bishop.

GAFCON Continues Moratorium on Women as Bishops

Some of the Anglican provinces participating in GAFCON do not allow women to serve as priests, and primates had agreed to a moratorium on electing women as bishops in their provinces.  Thus were surprised when a woman was consecrated  bishop in South Sudan.  With Bishop Iker of ACNA's Fort Worth diocese demanding disciplinary action against South Sudan, GAFCON appointed a committee to study whether the moratorium should continue. Originally the committee had only 2 women among its 15 members, but two more were added.  The interim report of the committee has been issued.  The committee admitted that some provinces were interested in ending the moratorium, but in the interests of union, it should continue "until and unless a strong consensus to change emerges after prayer, consultation and continued study of Scripture among the GAFCON fellowship."  Instead it urged a strengthening of general women's ministries within the provinces.    

Fourth Parish Withdraws from Scottish Church

 The Episcopal Church of Scotland has been the progressive leader among the Anglican Provinces of the British Isles.  In 2017 the Scottish church approved a change allowing their parishes and clergy to host and preside at same-sex marriages. The church also has elected women to the episcopate.  Update has noted previously that  three parishes had decided to leave the church and come under the supervision of the GAFCON appointed and ACNA ordained "missionary" bishop for Europe, Andrew Lines.  The three included two parishes in Aberdeen and a tiny one on a coastal island. See update articles here, here and here.)  Now they have been joined by a parish in Glasgow, St. Silas Church. The parish has been a lively evangelical congregation with a membership of around 200. The 4 churches represent about 1.2% of the parishes in the Episcopal Church of Scotland.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Week Ending 06/10/19

Australian Bishop's Trial Put on Hold

 Former Tasmanian Bishop Philip Newell was headed to a church court trial in for not taking appropriate action when informed about sexual abuse by a priest in his diocese.  However, the secular courts have stopped the trial for reasons of his health.  Because the Anglican Church is established in Australia, the secular courts can intervene.  The courts ruled that the bishop is unable to adequately participate in his own defense because of dementia.

Province of West Indies to Allow Women as Bishops

 Bishop Howard Gregory, recently elected the new Primate of the Province of the West Indies has announced that he is open to women serving as bishops in that province.  The province covers Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, northeastern Caribbean and Aruba, the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Windward Islands.  Women are serving widely throughout the islands as clergy, but none have been chosen as a bishop or suffragan.

Welby Encourages Kenya to Continue Stance Against LGBTQ

The Anglican Church in Kenya supposedly reached out to LGBTQ people by inviting them to church and saying that God loves us all during the Archbishop of Canterbury's visit, but Justin Welby stated while there that he does not believe the church should marry same-sex couples.  Welby stressed, however,  that the church should be open to different opinions.  Archbishop Sapit of Kenya, however, referred to the churches as "correctional institutions" for LGBTQ people, and made no objection to the recent Kenyan Supreme Court decision upholding laws declaring homosexuality a crime.   Welby also avoided mentioning the court decision.  Thinking Anglicans has links to several articles on Welby's visit and statements.

 Australia Converts 2020 Synod to Special Session

Anglican.ink reports that the general synod scheduled for 2020 by the Anglican Church in Australia has been converted to a special session that will deal exclusively with legislation related to the report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.  Anglican.ink, a conservative news source postulates that this delay of the general synod was to prevent a confrontation over LGTBQ issues including marriage.

Pittsburgh Explores New Uses for Part of Cathedral Property

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has announced that it has signed an agreement to explore the best use of the 1906 Trinity House with an international realty company.  Trinity house is attached to the 1872 Cathedral and adjoins the historic graveyard with burials dating back to the 1700s.  The Living Church carried a short article on the announcement.

Delaware Parish Mentors High School Students

The Episcopal News Service carried a feature article on a tiny Delaware Parish that has created a successful outreach program mentoring high school students through the process of applying for college scholarships.  The Mentoring has resulted in a noticeable increase in the students actually attending college. 

Solomon Islands Choose Retired Anglican Archbishop of Governor General

The Rt. Rev. David Vunagi, retired Bishop of Central Melanesia was chosen unanimously by the Parliament of the Solomon Islands as their Governor General.  As such he will serve as the Queen's representative to the British Commonwealth nation, and will sign legislation into law. 

Continuing Stories

South Carolina Moves Forward to  Begin Search for Full-Time Bishop

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina has just circulated a letter saying that the continuing diocese has grown to the point where it will need a full time bishop when part-Time Bishop Provisional Skip Adams ends 3 years of service at the the end of 2019.  Thus the Standing Committee is looking for a full-time bishop Provisional to serve while the diocese conducts its search for a full-time diocesan bishop.  An earlier announcement had noted that Bishop Adams was retiring at the end of 2019 and the Standing Committee was studying its options. 

More Filings in Fort Worth Property Case

The Texas Supreme Court received another set of filings on the petition for an appeal being pursued by the schismatic group led by Bishop Iker.  Iker's group is trying to overturn an Texas Court of Appeals decision awarding diocesan property to the diocese participating in the Episcopal Church.  The latest filings are responses to the documents filed by both sides in April.  There are two filed by Episcopalians, and one filed by the schismatic group.  All three can be found at the Texas Supreme Court site. The crux of the schismatic group's plea is that the Episcopal Diocese is an illegal upstart.

Albany Bishop Continues Defiance of General Convention

Bishop William Love of Albany used his episcopal address at the diocese's annual convention to stress his continued to defiance of General Convention 2018's resolution B012.  That resolution mandated a way for parishes in the handful of dioceses not allowing any use of approved liturgies for blessing of same-sex couples marriages to make use of those liturgies while granting bishops a way to maintain  their personal opposition to same-sex marriage.  Clergy always have the right to refuse to preside at the marriage of any couple.  Love tried to position himself as a martyr for true religion, and evoked the rhetoric used by bishops who later left the Episcopal Church. He also expressed his desire to find a way to separate from those parishes in the diocese who are interested in making use of the option provided by General Convention. Update has reported on a few of the Albany parishes who oppose Bishop Love's stance.  (See here and here.) Love is under a partial inhibition preventing him from presiding at any Title IV proceedings brought against clergy under diocesan canons forbidding clergy from participating in services uniting a same-sex couple.

South Carolina Files Suit Against Church Insurance Company

The blog scepiscopalians.com has just posted (June 11, 2019)  that the Episcopal Church in South Carolina has filed suit against the Church Insurance Company of Vermont for paying a claim to one of the schismatic parishes, St. Philips, for legal expenses incurred by its efforts to leave the Episcopal Church.  The  Episcopalians learned about it from the Annual Report sent to members of the parish.  The suit claims that the insurance company wrongfully aided St. Philips in its efforts to defraud the Episcopal Church of its property. St. Philips is one of the parishes covered by the South Carolina Supreme Court decision, and while schismatics still control the parish, it is legally part of TEC.  The diocese has now posted further information on the suit they filed.