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         

Monday, May 13, 2019

Week Ending 05/13/19

ENS Senior Editor Retires

Mary Frances Schjonberg, the Episcopal News Service staff person who has covered many of the stories related to the 2008 schism in Pittsburgh and those in the other 4 diocese and is an expert on Episcopal polity is retiring at the end of June.  For more on her career see the ENS story here

Bishop Sutton Writes in Support of Reparations for Slavery.

Bishop Sutton of Maryland has written a  four page pastoral letter in support of reparations for wrongs done to black Americans during and after slavery.  He argues that reparations are an important step in accepting complicity as a countryand a church in the structural racism that continues to hold back the black population.  He is not suggesting paymments to individuals, but rather programs such as scholarships that help to level the modern playing field.  The Living Church story is here.  The full letter is here.

Continuing Stories

Presiding Bishop Wins Media Award for Royal Wedding Sermon

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's sermon at the Royal Wedding last year has won a prestigious British award for media impact on Religion, ethics, and spirituality.  The Sandford St.Martin Trustees Award has been made annually since 1978 by an independent panel to individuals or groups who have made the greatest positive impact through the media on the public perception of religion, ethics,or spirituality.  It was not only the size of the audience that impressed the panel, but his message.  The Episcopal News Service has more

Episcopal Parish has Provided Sanctuary for Two Years for One  Woman

St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Greensboro, NC has taken its responsibility as a sanctuary church very seriously.  In fact,  Juan Luz Tabor Ortega has lived at the church for two years as her familyh tries to find a way for the undocumented mother to stay in the U.S.  A documentary aired on many PBS stations on May 9, featuring her story.  Ortega, a Guatemalan, has been in the United States for over 26 years, and until 6 years ago thought she had been granted asylum.  You can read more in the ENS story here, or look for the PBS documentary, Sanctuario online.  Update has regularly tracked stories on The Episcopal Church's role in the sanctuarymovement. The latest story is here,

Wales Continues to Explore Way for Church to Recognize Same-Sex Marriage

Archbishop John Davies, head of the Church of Wales, reported to the Welsh House of Bishops on progress of the committee exploring implications of the Church authorizing presiding at marriages of same-sex couples.  In September the bishops had voted by a wide margin that pastoralconcerns meant that something needed to be done. The committee met with consultants from the Scottish Episcopal Church, and is now working on a theological document that will be presented to the bishopsfor discussion at their next meeting.  In the meantime a liturgical committee has been authorized to look for a way that such marriages might be blessed by those clergy willing to do do.  The Church Times has the full article.  Update has been following these Welsh talks for over two years,

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Week Ending 5/6/19

South Carolina Diocese Moves Towards Election of Bishop

Although no specific timetable has been set,  both the Bishop Provisional, Skip Adams, and the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina have released letters to their diocese announcing that they are moving towards beginning the process for the election of a diocesan bishop.  Adams has remained longer as provisional bishop than the two year term he originally agreed to, and with legal issues seemingly in their final stages, South Carolina is poised to join San Joaquin and Pittsburgh in a step that signals their return to normal status as a diocese.

Popular Religious Writer Dies Suddenly

Rachel Held Evans, whose writings documented her transformation from literalist Evangelical to progressive Episcopalian died this last week. Author of 4 books, active blogger and influential social media poster, she was in a coma for several weeks following a severe allergic reaction to antibiotics used to treat an infection.  Evans had become a younger voice for progressive Christianity whose writing was know for its humor and incisive commentary on faith, evangelicals, and living as a Christian.  She was 37 and left a husband and young children.  The most complete news obituary is here.  

Continuing Stories

ACC Breaks Ground on Several Fronts

The meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council opened with several surprising statements which Update covered last week.  It continued to show that the meeting of the only Anglican body with lay, clergy and episcopal members, and the only Anglican body with official governing documents is ready to assert itself as leaders in the Anglican Communion.  The meeting heard reports and assented to resolutions related to the role of women in the Communion, among a number of other social justice issues. The ACC also flexed its muscles by approving a new process for the Anglican Communion to receive Ecumenical agreements and statements, a process that moved approval from the hands of bishops to the ACC. (See resolution B17-04.) This was a direct challenge to earlier statements by Archbishop Welby that the ACC did not have authority to deal with doctrine. The council also approved a new way to calculate how much money member Churches should contribute to the Anglican Communion based on a percentage of a member church's salaries for active bishops. This could raise the expectation for funds from TEC well above the amount budgeted by General Convention. Lay Deputy, from the TEC Rosalie Ballentine from the Virginia Islands, and a lawyer, was among those asking for more detail on the new formula.  TEC is already contributing over 21% of the Communion budget.  The clergy delegate from TEC was Michael Barlowe, Executive Officer of General Convention. He posted interesting comments on the differences between the way the ACC functioned and the way TEC governs itself  on a Facebook page

But the biggest fireworks were provided around human sexuality and the upcoming Lambeth Conference 2020.  Archbishop Welby led off with an apology for those he has hurt with his decision to invite LGBTQ bishops, but not their spouses. But, despite the positive spin placed on this apology by the Episcopal News Service, it took a lot of hard work, complicated by language differences among the delegates present, before the ACC came to agreement.  A resolution supportive of LGBTQ people in the diocese submitted by Oklahoma Bishop Ed Konieczny was rewritten entirely, but continues to commit the Communion to listening processes with the LGBTQ community, and affirms the Church should reach out to them. Bishop Konieczny also derailed a resolution supported by Archbishop Welby that would have allowed creation of a theological committee to “clarify the core identity and boundaries” of the Communion.  The measure was originally announced as adopted by assent without a vote, but Konieczny realized this could create a group able to read provinces in or out of the communion and asked for a formal vote.  The resolution then failed.  Three provinces did not participate in the 2017 ACC, all are African provinces active in GAFCON.  GAFCON, of course found nothing to like about the discussions at the ACC, and issued their own call for a meeting of Bishops in 2020 the month before  the Lambeth gathering. 

Former Bishop Heather Cook Leaving Prison

The former suffragan bishop of Maryland, Heather Cook, in prison for killing a bicyclist while texting and driving while drunk and then leaving the scene, has been trying to find a way to be released from prison early.  Her release is due in about a month and will be under provisions cutting prison time for good behavior.  Officials say she has been a model prisoner, running several recovery support meetings and events among other things.  After release, she will be on probation for 5 years.  The terms for the probation have not yet been released.

Dissident Group Files Appeal in Connecticut

The former vestry of St. Paul's Church in Darien, CT went to court to try to get back control of the parish building after Connecticut Bishop, Ian Douglas, intervened in a dispute between the parish and its rector, and the annual convention of the diocese voted to reduce the parish to the status of a worshiping community under the control of the bishop. The property-less dissident group has continued to worship together and is now acting as an independent congregation outside the Episcopal Church.  After multiple filings and legal maneuvers, the trial judge sided with the Episcopal diocese and dismissed the case in April since deciding the case would entangle the court in church affairs contrary to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  On the 25th of April, the disappointed former vestry appealed to the Connecticut Supreme Court which has taken no action yet.  In a strange twist of alternative facts, the ultra conservative blogger David Virtue has published a story claiming that the legal outcome upheld the dissidents. He is also claiming the superior court opinion is actually the Supreme Court decision.   One would have to ask Virtue, "If the independent group won, then why are they appealing the judge's ruling?" 

Montana Joins Trend of All-Women Bishop Slate

The Diocese of Montana's search committee has announced their choice of three candidates for bishop.  All are women.  While it is possible that a slate including a male could result from the petition process, it seems likely that Montana is going to follow in the footsteps of Colorado,  Kansas,  Michigan, West Tennessee,

Methodists Move Closer to Vote on Full Communion Agreement

The Episcopal Church- United Methodist Dialogue Committee met in Texas the last week-end of April and voted to send a resolution for full communion between the churches to the United Methodist Council of Bishops for approval.  If they approve, then it would go to the 2020 General Meeting of the United Methodist Church.  The statement of the group acknowledged the recent pain and turmoil caused by adoption of the resolutions against inclusion of LGTBQ clergy and against same-sex marriage by the special General Meeting held in 2019.  The inclusion of statements about "birth pangs" of something new coming from the pain of the 2019 seems a hint that United Methodists in the U.S. may go a different direction than the international United Methodist General Meeting.  These 2020 votes will determine whether or not TEC's General Convention will vote on full communion in 2021.  Update has covered the full communion discussions and the possible split of the Methodists following the 2019 General Meeting. One of the members of the joint dialogue committee, Tom Ferguson, (aka the "Crusty Old Dean") has provided additional background while tearing apart a poorly written Living Church article on the dialogue and proposals for full communion.

ACNA-CANA Agreement Sets Up Division of CANA

Recently the Anglican Church of Nigeria blind-sided ACNA by electing and ordaining four new bishops for one of the CANA diocese in the U.S. without getting ACNA College of Bishops approval. At the meeting of GAFCON this last week, Foley Beach, head of both GAFCON and ACNA signed an arrangement with Nigerian Archbishop Okoh that will allow the three dioceses to decide if they wish to be part of the Nigerian affiliated CANA or of ACNA. Currently the dioceses have affiliation with both ACNA and the Church in Nigeria. Two of the dioceses appear to be making the changes necessary to become ACNA dioceses. These have a majority of congregations that left The Episcopal Church and used CANA as a means of claiming ties to the Anglican Communion before ACNA formed.  The third, has a majority of the congregations filled with immigrants from Nigeria.  


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Week Ending 4/29/19

Butler ACNA Parish Calls a Bishop as Rector

St. John's Parish in Butler, PA, one of the ACNA congregations which signed an  agreement in 2018 with the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh that acknowledges its ownership of the church property in exchange for recognition of the trust claim that the Episcopal Church has on all property, and token payments to the Episcopal Diocese each year in recognition of that trust has called a new rector.  They have chosen Bishop David Hicks of the Reformed Episcopal Church. Hicks has served for fourteen years as the Bishop of the North East and Mid-Atlantic Diocese of the Reformed Episcopal Church.  Anglican.ink published the letter from the Presiding Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church focused on how Hicks would handle being in an ACNA diocese that ordained women (the REC does not) and the process by which a new bishop would be chosen. An easier-to-read copy of the letter is here. That process was been made more complex when the REC which split from The Episcopal Church in the 1870s became a part of ACNA.  What will be interesting for Pittsburgh Episcopalians is how the parish and the Episcopal diocese handle the process of a new rector transition given requirements in the agreement for certain steps to be taken to inform any new clergy about the agreement.  The new rector is due to arrive in Butler in July just as Episcopal Bishop Dorsey McConnell goes on vacation and then a three-month leave.   

Diocese of Pennsylvania Offices Moving Away from Philadelphia

The Diocese of Pennsylvania has long had its offices at the Cathedral in Philadelphia, but has announced its intent to move in October  out of the central-city location to space at St. John's Church in Norristown, about 20 miles north of Philadelphia near Valley Forge. The cathedral has been charging below market rates to the diocese, but the latest small increase was more than the Diocese could pay.  The cathedral will now be free to rent the space for more money.  St. John's in Norristown dates to 1813 and has a large campus and small congregation offering services in English and Spanish.  The diocese will be able to have more space at a lower cost with free parking for those coming to the office for meetings. In some ways, the Diocese of Pennsylvania is doing the reverse of what Pittsburgh has done by moving from an outer ring suburban location with free parking to the central city.   It will maintain a satellite office at St. Stephen's in Philadelphia. the bishop and staff have for two years held office hours in various locations around the diocese.  That will continue. 

Continuing Stories

Anglican Consultative Council Meeting Has Surprises

As delegates travelled to Hong Kong for the latest meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council, the Church Times published the results of a survey conducted among those going.  The Anglican Consultative Council is the only body of the Anglican Communion to have legal governing documents, and the only one of the "Instruments of Unity" with representation from the orders of laity, clergy and bishops.  The delegates had differing opinions on what they most wanted to talk about at the meeting, but almost all agreed that they ought to have a larger say on Communion business.  At the meeting Archbishop Welby has made two announcement provoked reaction. (See the next article on Lambeth.) But the address by the General Secretary of the Communion, Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, had another surprise as he commented on the wide-spread ignorance of the actual structure of the Anglican Communion, including among leaders of the Communion member provinces, and his concerns that the Communion might face schism.  The Update has already reported on the agenda for the meeting.  

The Lambeth Invitation Issues Continue

Who is invited to Lambeth 2020 and who is not continued to be a contentious issue. His decision to invite LGBTQ bishops, but not their same-sex spouses has been widely criticized.  He has defended the exclusion  as necessary to get many of the more conservative bishops to the come to the conference.  Archbishop Justin Welby made two announcements this last week that continued to roil the waters.  He announced that British law prevented the Anglican Consultative Council from taking up the topic of spousal invitations to Lambeth because the ACC was incorporated in England and that incorporation did not include "doctrine" as a part of its mission. Welby's action was preemptive, being made at the start of the ACC meeting in Hong Kong. There have been various rejoinders to that claim since inviting spouses is not a matter of doctrine, and because the ACC has discussed doctrinal matters at previous meetings. One of the best of the responses is here. Almost before people could respond to Welby's spousal announcement, he issued another announcement saying that the ACNA Archbishop had been invited to Lambeth as an ecumenical observer.  The ACNA Archbishop, Foley Beach, who also heads GAFCON, was not impressed.  In fact, he said he was insulted because he should have been invited as a member of the Anglican Communion. Beach relies on his recognition by GAFCON for his claim to membership. Neither the Archbishop of Canterbury nor the Anglican Consultative Council  recognize ACNA as a part of the Anglican Communion

Episcopal Sunday School Helps Fund Tiny House

 When the children at St. Augustine Episcopal Parish in Benton Harbor, Michigan told their youth leader, Cara Gillespie, that they wanted to build a tiny house for the homeless as their philanthropy for 2018, she knew they were going to need help.  She partnered with a youth camp focused on architecture that was sponsored by Andrews University (a Seventh-Day Adventist institution).  With help of two grants, a Go-Fund-Me page, and money raised by her youth group, they have come up with $28,000 of the projected $35,000 for the house.  The children at the architecture camp have focused on the tiny house for two summers and raised additional money with the sale of their projects.  Construction of the actual tiny house is now projected for 2020. Episcopal parishes in a number of locations have become part of tiny house projects. The most recent Update notices were for housing for those displaced by the volcano eruptions in Hawaii, and three tiny houses for the homeless being built in Raleigh, N.C.

Follow-Up on Sri Lanka Easter Bombings

The multiple bombings on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka have left relations between the various religions in an uncertain state.  There are actions of solidarity and reprisals.  About 8 per cent of the population is Christian.  With a new threat last weekend, Roman Catholics were told to stay home from church.  It is not clear what Anglicans (the second largest group of Christians on the island) did. Christianity Today has a story that provides a great deal of background on the current tensions and responses of various religious groups in Sri Lanka.

Methodists Inch Closer to Split

The vote earlier this year by the governing body of the United Methodist Church which turned back the clock and took a stance against same-sex marriage and clergy or candidates for ordination who were LGBTQ was contrary to what the majority of Methodist congregations in the U.S. wanted.  This last week the various measures were upheld by the body which reviews legislation for constitutionality.  Resistance is growing.  Baldwin Wallace Trustees announced this last week that they were dropping their affiliation with the Methodist Church.  Four other Ohio colleges affiliated with the United Methodist Church are exploring that same action.  And a congregation in Omaha, Nebraska applauded when the eight members of their confirmation class announced that they were declining membership in the Methodist Church given the recent vote.  It is not clear what affect this resistance, or a possible split will have on the proposal for full communion between the Episcopal and Methodist Churches.  That proposal will be before General Convention in 2021.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Week Ending 4/22/19

Perspective and Responses to the Sri Lanka Bombing

The Easter morning bombings of churches and hotels in Sri Lanka have brought numerous responses.  coverage of the bombings has sometimes erroneously listed all three religious targets as Roman Catholic.  Two of the churches bombed were Roman Catholic; the third was evangelical protestant. Those bombings and the ones at three hotels, plus two more bombs detonated that day killed nearly 300 and injured over 500.  Although the churches belonging to the Anglican Communion were not bombed, their leaders felt threatened.  The Anglican Bishop of Columbo refused to leave when police tried to get him to stop in the middle of Easter services.  The Church of Ceylon is extra-provincial  under the care of the Archbishop of Canterbury and is the second largest Christian church on the island after the Roman Catholics.  The bishops of its two diocese issued a statement of support and concern.  A clergyperson in Australia who was born in Sri Lanka issued a statement urging that Christians respond as Christ would - with mercy, not retribution. Christian Today pointed out that indifference of officials in Sri Lanka towards the threat of religious extremism helped to make the churches vulnerable.  A slightly different take with more background on the Roman Cathkic Church in Sri Lanka is found in an opinion piece in Religion News.

Outreach from the Inner City

Local newspapers carried stories about two historic Episcopal Churches that are using their resources to reach out to the homeless and those in need. Bethesda Episcopal Church in downtown Saratoga Springs, NY has planned a new parish hall that will also host a series of non-profit organizations and provide housing for families and individuals at risk or homeless. The first floor will be parish space and the second and third floors serve as housing and office space. for a number of non-profits working to provide support services.  The parish formed a new non-profit agency to coordinate it all and that agency will have an on-site, live-in manager.  In Elmira, NY the downtown Trinity Episcopal Church has decided to turn their parish hall into Crossroads Community Center and use it to serve the whole community.  They are hosting an expo to make the community aware of the spaces available.

Continuing Stories

Expressing Solidarity with Notre Dame

In the wake of the fire that did serious damage to the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, there have been a number of responses of support.  While the major treasurers and the ancient rose windows all survived the fire, the damage will take years to repair.  Episcopalians expressed their solidarity this week as cathedrals from a number of TEC  dioceses rang their bells on April 18 to express their solidarity with Notre Dame.  Many of the cathedrals timed their chiming to coincide with the time that the fire started.  Some of the churches also announced that they were also tolling in support of churches in the U.S. that had been burned during Lent in Louisiana.  Pittsburgh's Trinity Cathedral participated, and Bishop Dorsey McConnell also posted reflections on his connections to Notre Dame.

Die-Hard Opponents of Same-Sex Marriage Try Again in Canada

Four clergy calling themselves the Anglican Communion Alliance have sent an open letter to the bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada urging them to turn back from embracing canons that include same sex couples within the marriage canons.  Three of these clergy signed  an appeal in October 2016 to the Archbishop of Canterbury asking him to intervene shortly after the Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada passed measures to amend their canons by one vote. (Update reported on the vote here and the protest here.) The synod meeting this year is scheduled to complete the process. The fourth priest signing the open letter is Ephriam Radnor, who has long been associated with tiny American Communion Institute that has consistently been a voice protesting inclusion.  Given that the Canadian church has been performing same-sex  marriages, including one for one of their bishops, their plea not to move towards a single new inclusive definition of marriage seems unlikely to sway the bishops. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Week Ending 4/15/19

Cathedral Fires in the News 

On Palm Sunday, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York filled with smoke from a small fire.  The morning services were quickly moved outside while the fire department extinguished the blaze in a crypt under the main sanctuary.  The fire was a close call.  How much damage could result was illustrated the day after Palm Sunday when the medieval treasure of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris  suffered a fire in the part of the building being renovated.  In this case there was major damage to the building.  The roof and central steeple are gone and damage is still being assessed.

Presiding Bishop Issues Easter Message

The presiding bishop has a message of  hope for us at Easter, and an invitation to live-streamed Holy Week services for those who cannot get to a church.  

Pope Updates Anglican Ordinate Rules

The Anglican Ordinate, the special track that allows Anglicans converting to Roman Catholicism to continue to use Anglican liturgy and have married priests, has been revised to allow greater flexibility in who may serve those parishes and to allow some flexibility for former Anglican clergy to use their liturgies in churches outside the ordinate.  Most interestingly it provides a way for these churches to receive new members.

Bishop McConnell Reorganizes Central Office Staff

Bishop Dorsey McConnell of Pittsburgh has announced a reorganization of staff assignments to take effect at Judi Roger's retirement at the end of May.  Andy Muhl will combine his former duties as Webmaster with those of Executive Assistant to the Bishop.  The Rev. Kimberly Karashin, currently a part-time Canon Missioner will move to full time and work with Kathy Workman for seven months.  Then Workman will become part-time Diocesan Treasurer and Karashin will assume duties as Director of Administration.  Bishop McConnell also announced that he will be on a 3 month sabbatical from August through October and Bishop Kenneth Price will fill in for him during that time.  Price served as Bishop Provisional from 2009 to 2012 and is well acquainted with the diocese.

Ongoing Stories

Documents Filed in the South Carolina and Fort Worth Legal Battles

Two dioceses are still trying to wrap up legal issues arising out of schism in those dioceses. In both cases the schismatic group still claims to be the Episcopal Diocese.  In Fort Worth, property have gone through multiple stages leading eventually to the Texas State Supreme Court remanding the case to the district level for retrial.  The retrial at the district level resulted in an appeal by Episcopalians and an award of property to those in the Episcopal Church at the appeals level.  Now the schismatic group is trying to get the Texas Supreme Court to hear their appeal.  On the 10th of April both sides filed their briefs as to why or why not an appeal should be heard.  The schismatic group's brief is here, and the brief filed by the Episcopal church is here. 

In South Carolina, the State Supreme Court ruled that most property belonged to those who stayed in the Episcopal Church.  The court majority, however, did not sign a single opinion, but rather each judge issued an opinion.  The court agreed, however, that the case should be sent to the circuit court for implementation. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of this decision.  The schismatics in South Carolina thus have been trying to convince the Judge in the lower court to reopen and retry the case.  The judge has done little for more than a year.  Recently he cancelled a scheduled hearing on a related suit filed by the schismatics which requests compensation for all improvements made on every property to be returned to the Episcopal Church. South Carolina Episcopalians got tired of waiting for the judge to act and filed for a writ of mandamus to require the turn-over of property.  The schismatics have now answered with their brief supporting a reopening of the case supposedly because the state supreme court decision decision is too confusing to implement. the April 12 posting by blogger Steve Skardon has more commentary on these developments.

Same-Sex Marriage Continues to Surface as Issue in Anglican Communion

Both those opposed to and those in favor of same-sex marriage have been busy this week around the Anglican Communion.  The latest move by the opponents was in the Province of Southeast Asia where the Standing Committee and bishops declared that they were in a state of impaired communion with the Episcopal Church in Brazil.  The country of Brazil has recognized same-sex unions since 2011 and the church in Brazil removed canonical barriers to same sex-marriage.  In 2018 the church announced it would begin presiding at same-sex marriages.  Meanwhile those in Australia who would like to preside at same-sex marriages have been blocked by the large voting block of the diocese of Sydney. The Bishop of the Diocese of Newcastle has issued a very long pastoral letter  outlining the divisions in his diocese, in the Australian Church and in the Anglican Communion.  He is clearly looking for a way that will honor all positions.  It appears he is leading his diocese towards a local option position.  In England there is a press release announcing a campaign by a new group dedicated to opening the Church of England to same-sex marriage.

Meanwhile the Lambeth Conference grows ever closer. Archbishop Welby, under fire for un-inviting the same-sex spouses of three bishops, defended his position as necessary in order to get a number of bishops to come.  He argues that he pushed as far as he could by inviting all the LGBTQ bishops themselves. The Anglican Communion Office has announced that over 500 bishops from 39 provinces have already sent in registrations.  Given the position of GAFCON urging a boycott, the release made sure to include quotes from bishops in African countries about why they were attending.

Latest on Church Response to Refugees on Southern Border

The Episcopal News Service has issued a good comprehensive article on actions by Episcopalians in all the border dioceses to respond to the needs of the refugees entering the U.S. along the southern border.   The article also carries a good summary of the positions taken by the Episcopal Church in recent years. Update has been following the Episcopal response to the border issue for some time.  The latest post is here.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Week Ending 04/08/19

Storied Civil Rights Center's Main building Destroyed 

The Highlander Center in Tennessee, founded in 1932, has been a major force for liberal causes, especially since 1950 in Civil Rights.  Almost all of the major Civil Rights figures including Rosa Parks, Ralph Abernathy, James Foreman, and Martin Luther King, Jr. attended leadership workshops at the center. Episcopalians Carl and Anne Braden were associated with the center. Despite attempts by the segregationists to shut it down between 1958 and 1962, and the loss of its original site, the Center re-instituted itself and has continued its educational tradition.  However, on Friday, its main building was set on fire and a white power symbol painted in the parking lot.  The building was a total loss, but the programs will continue.  The on-line news service religionnews.com has the story.

Egypt Install First Female Canon

Bishop Mouneer Anis of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa,  has announced All Saints Cathedral in Cairo will install its first female canon, Mrs. Alexandra Wakid on April 12.  Mrs. Wakid was born in Scotland, and has been a member of the cathedral for 28 years.  She and her now deceased husband were married at the cathedral.  For the last 10 years she has served the bishop as Consultant for International Relations.  In that role she was instrumental in negotiating the return of Church property in Algiers held by the British Foreign and Consulting Office. The Anglican Communion News Service has more.

CPG Invests in Renewable Energy

The Church Pension Group has announced that it will invest $40 million in the New Energy Captial Partners, LLC.  The company invests in clean, renewable energy sources including wind and solar power.  It is part of CPG's intent to invest in projects that have a positive social impact. The full release is here.

New Church Plant Upsets Church of Wales

The Bishop of Llandaff in the Church of Wales, June Osborne, has run into a snag by forgetting to consult the existing parish at St. Teilo's in Cardiff when it decided to use their building for a new evangelical church plant.  The bishop had created a partnership with a London evangelical parish to create a parish that would appeal to unchurched  and evangelical, low church students at the local university using the original campus church building. The new plant has a substantial grant to begin its ministry.  The problem is that the inclusive, but liturgically traditional Anglo-Catholic, parish that already occupies the space was not consulted.  The parish does have another building not far away, but that site also has a congregation and neither were consulted.  The bishop is now faced with a petition signed by 1500 residents asking that the original congregation remain in place.

Illinois Parish Retires Medical Debts for 3617 Families

Emmanuel Memorial Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Springfield has used the final $15,000 of money raised during a a capital campaign to leverage retirement of $4,000,000 dollars of medical debt owed by families in the bounds of the diocese.  The Champaign, IL parish raised the money as part of a capital campaign celebrating 100 years in their Ralph Cram-designed building.  Having met all needs for a refurbishing their building, and giving to local charities, the parish teamed with the non-profit RIP Medical debt for one last gift to the community.  The non-profit buys packages of medical debt on pennies for the dollar and then forgives the debt.  The $15,000 was enough to buy the medical debts of 3617 families living in the Champaign area and throughout southern Illinois.  The parihs does not know who has received the gifts and hopes that individuals will let the media or the parish know.

Ongoing Story

Northwestern Pennsylvania and Western New York Diocese Start Bishop-Sharing

On Saturday, Bishop Sean Rowe of Northwestern Pennsylvania was installed as Bishop of Western New York.  The experiment of sharing will be re-evaluated after 5 years.  Because of the difference in state laws it would be difficult for the two dioceses to merge, but they will look for ways to pool resources and ministries.  Rowe has experience at leading two dioceses at once .  He served as Bishop Provisional for the Diocese of Bethlehem  from 2014 to 2018.  Update has followed this story beginning with the first exploratory talks, to the confirmation of the arrangement , and now its implementation. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Week Ending 4/1/19

Despite the date of today's posting, there are no "jokes" among the stories, just our usual summary of stories of interest to those in the Episcopal Church.

Virginia Theological Seminary to Make Attendance Nearly Free

One of the most frustrating things, and a deterrent for those considering entering the priest hood is the cost of attending seminary.  Clergy often face years of modest salaries with a large debt from seminary hanging over their heads.  Virginia Theological Seminary has decided to tackle this head on with offers of full scholarships to those attending that will cover not only tuition and books, but living expenses.  This is a game-changer for Episcopalian seminaries. The Episcopal Cafe story has the details.

New California Parish Names itself for Deaconess Alexander 

A new parish created from the merger of two parishes in the Diocese of California has decided to name itself after Deaconess Anna Alexander, the only African-American woman to enter the order of deaconesses.  The new parish has many members who are African immigrants and they were impressed to learn of the deaconess's ministry in Georgia, where she built up a parish and two schools to serve the rural black population of the area.  The Living Church has the story on the merger and the article from the Episcopal News Service has more on Deaconess Alexander. Episcopal Cafe provides some additional links with background on the Deaconess.

Parishes Offering Help in Nebraska and Dakotas Flooding

  Heavy snow, spring rains and frozen ground have created severe flooding in the midwest, with Nebraska, North and South Dakota being hit especially hard.  The Diocese of Nebraska has begun relief work, and Religion News carried a story on disaster responses in Nebraska from a variety of denominations, including the Episcopalians.  In North and South Dakota, Episcopalians on the Indian reservations are struggling to meet basic necessities for those on the reservations who are now cut off from all basic services including food, fuel, and power due to the collapse of roads and infrastructure from the flooding.  The Episcopal News Service has a story on the struggle there and how people may help.

ACC Agenda Includes Optional Session on Sexuality 

The Anglican Consultative Council will meet in Hong Kong beginning April 28.  The ACC is one of the 4 "Instruments of Communion"  that connect the various provinces of the Anglican Communion, and is the only one with representatives from all orders of ministry, including laity.  It is also the only body with a formal governing document.  The agenda for the meeting has now been published.  The Church Times story on the agenda noted that there will be an optional session for conversations on sexuality at the meeting.  You can find out more about the meeting and this special session here.

Bishop's Executive Secretary, Judi Rogers Retiring

Episcopalians in the Pittsburgh Diocese were surprised to learn last week that Judi Rogers, the Executive Secretary to Bishop McConnell will retire this spring.  Rogers has been a key member of the office staff since May 2009 and has handled many of the major events of the rebuilding diocese including 2009 release of more than 100 clergy who were no longer participating in the Episcopal Church, the production of the diocesan Convention Journals and many of the details of convention, the scheduling of special diocesan events, including the 1917 visit of the Presiding Bishop, and of course, support to the three bishops who have served in Pittsburgh since 2009, Visiting Bishop Robert Johnson (2009), Provisional Bishop Kenneth Price (2009-2012), and Diocesan Bishop Dorsey McConnell (2012-present).

Continuing Stories

Another Parish Provides Sanctuary 

St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle has joined the ranks of Episcopal Churches offering sanctuary to an undocumented immigrant facing deportation.  Jaime Rubio Sulficio has been in the United States for many years, married a U.S. Citizen and has a six-year-old son born in the U.S. and thus a citizen.  He also owns his own construction business.  Up until November 2018 he had a temporary stay on deportation because of the hardship it would cause his family, especially his wife who has epilepsy.  Sanctuary offers Sulficio a chance to work with his lawyers on a means of staying legally in the United States.  Episcopal Cafe has more on his story.  Update has been carrying notice of parishes providing sanctuary around the country.  The most recent is here.

Resistance to Methodist Vote Takes Shape 

The recent vote by the special United Methodist synod to enforce a traditional understanding of marriage and punish clergy who conduct same-sex marriages or are themselves members of the LGTBQ community, has resulted in numerous conversations by U.S. congregations on how to continue to be welcoming.  They have been joined by some more traditional congregations who believe that the Methodist Church needs to find room for more than one viewpoint.  The Washington Post has a feature story about these conversations and proposals for next steps.  From the west coast comes an opinion essay in northern California's Times-Standard with words of warning for other churches about how to support those shocked by the synod decision, especially Episcopalians given that the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 2021 is scheduled to vote on a proposal for full communion with the United Methodists.  Update has covered reaction to the Methodist synod decision here.

Haiti Announces Next Step After Failed Episcopal Consent

Blogger Mark Harris has the latest information on steps being taken by the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Haiti to move forward after the candidate elected bishop last spring failed to receive the necessary consents.  The Standing Committee has designated Bishop Eaton of Southeast Florida as their visiting bishop, have chose some of the top leadership, have begun activities for healing the divisions in the diocese, and have promised to act with transparency at all times. There are more details in Harris's post.  The Diocese in Haiti has been wracked by controversy that had divided the diocese into two factions.  Those divisions resulted in challenges to the election of a bishop and the failure to receive consents.  Update has been following the situation.  The most recent previous post is here.

University of Kent Will Welcome Same-Sex Spouses of Bishops Going to Lambeth 2020

Last week Update carried a story on how the decision of the Archbishop of Canterbury to not invite the same sex spouses of bishops to the 2020 Lambeth had resulted in voiced concern by University of Kent officials.  The university serves as the host for the large meeting.  The officials now have stated that they will provide housing to same sex spouses who choose to accompany bishops to the meeting. Religion News has now issued a story on the controversy here. 

Home Secretary Follows Up on Denial of Asylum in England

In another story carried last week, Update noted the displeasure of Church of England leaders who discovered a Home Office official had denied asylum to a Christian from the Middle East because, according to that official, Christianity is not a peaceful religion.  Now the Home Office Secretary has ordered an investigation

Hearing Cancelled

The hearing originally scheduled by the state judge charged with implementing the South Carolina diocesan property decision which was mentioned in last week's Update has been cancelled according to the March 26 posting on the blog scepiscopalians.com.