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, March 14, 2018

Week Ending 3/12/18

St. James Moves Step Closer to Return to Building

The congregation of St. James Newport Beach which has been worshiping outdoors and then in rented space since the former Bishop of Los Angeles decided to sell their building to developers in 2015, has moved another step closer to returning to their beloved building.  The sale fell through, the congregation successfully brought charges against Bishop Bruno, but the new Bishop and Standing Committee of the diocese did not immediately allow the congregation to return to the building.  Bruno had also officially closed the parish during the controversy. This last week there was a hearing about whether the congregation should be reinstated in the diocese.  Other Episcopal Churches in the area testified that they supported the return of the building to the congregation, noting that the congregation had managed to maintain itself and sustain important community outreach in the intervening years.  The Orange County Register carried the story.  The Update has followed every twist in the three year controversy. The most recent post is here.

General Convention to Address Sexual Harassment

The recent focus on sexual harassment, rape, and gender discrimination has led to a new awareness of problems for women within the church.  Presiding Bishop Curry and Gay Jennings, President of the House of Deputies issued a statement earlier this year.  Jennings followed  by appointing a large committee to explore the subject and report to General Convention.  The House of Bishops at their meeting last week issued their own statement and have cleared a two hour block of time to listen to women's stories at General Convention.  There has been some discussion about the time chosen (the evening break for dinner) and that the time overlaps with the 50th anniversary celebration of the Union of Black Episcopalians.

Women's Meeting at UN Again Has Church Presence

The annual meeting the United Nations Commission of the Status of Women began March 12.  Attending are delegates from 45 member nations and a number of non-governmental organizations.   Among the largest and most consistent NGOs present are representatives sent by Provinces of the Anglican Communion, including the Episcopal Church.  The focus is on rural women, and Presiding Bishop Curry submitted a statement to the Commission expressing the Church's concern and presenting a four step action plan for the Episcopal Church which has congregations in rural areas in every diocese.  The Anglican Communion provinces include women concerned about violence against women, women's literacy and empowerment in rural areas around the world.  Articles by the News Services of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion provide more details on hopes and concerns of those attending. 

Episcopal Women's Caucus Saying Good-Bye

The Episcopal Women's Caucus, formed in 1971 to press for women's ordination and to improve women's status within the Episcopal Church announced on International Women's Day, that the organization was closing down because its primary objectives had been met and they wished to step aside to let new organizations come forward to advance women in other arenas.  The EWC will celebrate its accomplishments with a farewell at General Convention, and has opened its Facebook page to postings about the ways EWC impacted individual women's lives.  A new page for women clergy has already appeared. 

Around the Anglican Communion

There's a new Archbishop for the Maori wing of the Anglican Province of New Zealand, Bishop Don Tamihere.  New Zealand has three archbishops, one for each ethnic strand in the province.  The Anglican News Service has a profile of the new archbishop.

The Archbishop of Canterbury met with the Saudi Crown Prince, Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz who is visiting England. Archbishop Welby raised concerns about Christians in that country, and also discussed the situation in Yemen.

Desmond Tutu, the retired archbishop and the current archbishop in Southern Africa both issued apologies for not paying enough attention to a complaint of sexual misconduct that occurred when Tutu was in office.

The Anglican Province of Canada is still receiving push-back for its removal of  the Rev. Jacob Worley, whose election as bishop was rejected and license to preach was removed based on his previous participation in a schismatic group in the U.S.  Now a clergy person has written a public letter of protest and is urging others to do the same, to sign a petition, and demand that Worley and his family receive compensation.

The Religion News Service carried a good background story on the controversy over taxing Churches in Jerusalem.  The Update covered the initial controversy in past weeks.

Laywoman Honored for Work with Immigrants

The Update has been posting stories about the advocacy work done by various Episcopal dioceses, parishes, and organizations in support immigration reform, undocumented immigrants, and DACA.  The latest news is the Church honoring an Aurora, Illinois laywoman who over 30 years has helped more than 1000 immigrants become citizens and has turned her Episcopal parish into a leading resource for immigrants and immigration law.  You can read more about Linda Barber and her role as Jubilee Minister at Trinity Episcopal Church here.

Diocese of Olympia Recording Stories of WWII Internment

The Diocese of Olympia is recording the stories of Japanese-American Episcopalians who were sent to internment camps during the Second World War. The interviews of seventeen survivors have been edited into a series of five videos each 10 to fifteen minutes long.  The first  was released on February 22.  The Episcopal News Service article on the videos mentions the west coast congregations of Japanese American from Washington state and California who were sent to internment camps in 1942, and the Episcopal priests (also Japanese-American) who accompanied them.  For some reason the article does not mention Deaconess Margaret Peppers who also ministered in the camps. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Week Ending 03/05/18

Much Reaction to the Property Settlement in Pittsburgh

The property settlement reached by nine ACNA parishes with the Episcopal Diocese has been widely covered, making front page news in Pittsburgh's Post-Gazette and the Tribune Media,  and in stories by Anglican.ink, Christian Today two in the Living Church,  and both the Episcopal News Service and the Anglican Communion News Service.  Most have hailed the announcement as being a path towards reconciliation and avoidance of further expensive lawsuits. The Post-Gazette made the agreement the subject of a positive editorial. The agreement covered the property and endowments of nine parishes whose titles ran in the name of the parish rather than the Board of Trustees and thus were not covered in the court decision of 2009 and implementation decision of 2010.  Comments on some of the more conservative sites (such as Anglican.ink) have noted that the agreement requires payment in perpetuity to the Episcopal Diocese of a small percentage of operating income.

Special Committee Appointed on Gender Equality and Sexual Harassment

The Rev. Gay Jennings, President of the House of Deputies has appointed a committee of 47 to look at all aspects of sexual harassment and exploitation within the Episcopal Church.  Jennings will chair the committee, which has been divided into 5 separate sub committees, looking at theology and language, truth and reconciliation, structural equity, social justice, and Title IV (disciplinary canons).  The committee is tasked to bring matters to the House of Deputies and General Convention.  All members are women of whom 31 are clergy.  The composition of the committee has raised some comment, including a piece by the Rev. Mark Harris.

Another Nudge in New Zealand to Allow Church Blessing of Same-Sex Unions

The General Synod for the Anglican Province of New Zealand has on its agenda a revised report recommending local option in the matter of Church blessings of Same-Sex Unions.  The Diocese of Christchurch held a special synod to on the subject to inform the representatives they will send to that synod.  After a full discussion, a majority of the synod voted that it supported the local option approach.  They are the first regional synod to do so.  The decision was reported widely in the New Zealand press including here and here, and with less enthusiasm in Anglican.ink.  

Church of England Begins Tough Scrutiny on Cover-Up of Child Abuse

Hearings on the mishandling of reports on child abuse within the Church of England have begun with some very critical statements using words such as "amateurism", "cover-up," and "excessive deference to those at the top" and more.  The hearings are on-going and are causing considerable commentary and follow-up stories in the media in England.  Thinking Anglicans has a set of links to all aspects of the hearings. 

Church of England Attracting Middle Eastern Immigrants

The Church of England is reporting a source of new members - immigrants from the Middle East, especially Iran.  Some were born into Christian families in Iran but were never baptized due to the persecution of the church there.  Others were members in Christian churches in the Middle East, and still others are finding their way to Church from other faiths.  Many of the immigrants are still in the process of applying for permanent residency, but have responded to the help given immigrants by the Church.  For more, look here

ACNA Bishop Riles GAFCON Waters

Bishop Jack Iker of the ACNA diocese in Fort Worth is a determined opponent of women's ordination.  The recent ACNA decision to continue to allow local option of women's ordination to the priesthood provoked Iker in November 2017 to vow to work to reverse that decision and declare impaired communion with those dioceses that do ordain women.  Now nearly a year after the event occurred, it is becoming public that the Province of South Sudan had consecrated a woman as bishop.  The province participates in GAFCON (originally Global Anglican Futures Conference), but now the shadow Anglican Communion created by dissidents within the Anglican Communion.  GAFCON primates had agreed on a voluntary moratorium on consecrating women as bishops. Iker is now demanding an explanation from the Sudanese and GAFCON.  The letter hints that there should be some form of disciplinary action or non-recognition of the consecration.  

More Federal Court Developments in South Carolina Property Suits

 The Episcopal litigants in the federal case on trademark infringement have just filed papers to broaden the issues.  In a series of filings the Episcopal Church and the local diocese merged their suits, asked the court to include within its jurisdiction all remaining matters concerning parish property, including appointing parish trustees/vestry members who are willing to act as fiduciary agents for the Episcopal Church, and inclusion of the parishes that are participating in the break-away diocese, but did not become plaintiffs in the state property suit.  Meanwhile the U.S. Supreme Court has under review the appeal by the break-away group of the South Carolina Supreme Court decision awarding diocesan and parish property to the diocese participating in the Episcopal Church.  The court may delay a decision on whether to hear the case, however because they have asked the Episcopal Church and participating diocese to file responses to the appeal filed by the break-away group.  That response is not due until March 27, after the date the court originally was going to take up review.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Week Ending 2/26/18

Showdown in Jerusalem

Last week the update carried a story on the back taxes that the mayor of Jerusalem was trying to collect from Christian organizations.  In addition a bill moving through the Israeli Knesset which would have retroactively expropriated land sold by the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches to private parties.  In response to what appears a multifaceted campaign against Christian Churches in Jerusalem, the three religious denominations who control the Church of the Holy Sepulchre publicly locked the building in protest.  It is not clear when one of the main pilgrimage sites in Jerusalem will reopen. Israeli officials have now announced  they will  cease trying to collect the tax bills, but the land issue remains. 

Latest on South Carolina Property Cases

The US Supreme Court has scheduled a session to review the more than 300 cases filed with them to determine which they will hear in their October session.  According to a February 25 posting byblogger Steve Skardon,  the South Carolina appeal by the break-away church faction led by Mark Lawrence is on  the list for review.  The court held one session already and has scheduled ones on March 2 and 15 to decide the fate of the remaining filings.  Meanwhile historian Ron Caldwell has acquired an anonymous template for break-away parishes to follow if or when they leave the buildings which according to the South Carolina Supreme Court belong to the Episcopal Church. Caldwell and Skardon both believe it shows that the break-away group is using the mediation and appeals to buy time to try to prepare their congregations to leave the buildings.   Skardon has another blog entry dated February 22 that deals with  the financial problems of the break-away group. 

Noted Lawyer for Christian Rights in China Dies Under Suspicious Circumstances

A Chinese lawyer honored for his work in representing Christian groups facing persecution and property loss in China has died in a Chinese hospital.  Li Baiguang  was checked into the hospital with minor stomach problems and was declared dead several hours later.  China has a track record of having activists die after being checked into a hospital.  Anglican.ink has two articles on this death here and here. There were stories in several Asian papers including the South China Morning Post.

Responding to Death of Billy Graham

Although Presiding Bishop Curry issued a statement praising the late evangelist Billy Graham for making a "big bent" that was racially inclusive and ecumenical, some are reminding us that Graham's "tent" was not big enough to include those from the LGBTQ community.  See for example the NBC story here and the LGBTQ publication, the Advocate.

Priest Takes Action Following Florida School Shooting

The Pittsburgh Update carried links to statements by a variety of Episcopal Church leaders on the mass shooting at a Florida high school.  One priest, however has done much more. The Rev. Mark Sims, rector of St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Coral Springs has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to help the surviving high school students make their case for safe schools and gun control. He is also speaking out to encourage all to take action.  Sims was directly touched by the shootings because Carmen Schentrup, who was killed, was a member of his parish, sang in the choir, and sat on the parish vestry.  His statement is here. The page for contributions is here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Week Ending 2/19/18

Federal Judge Lifts Stay on South Carolina Church Suit

The federal judge assigned the trademarks case involving the church name and symbols in South Carolina has apparently decided that the mediation he ordered is simply being used as a delay tactic by the break-away diocese led by Mark Lawrence.  The judge has lifted the stay on the case and issued a schedule for depositions and filings with a court hearing in September.  The Episcopal Church in South Carolina web site had the main story.  As usual,  SC blogger Steve Skaradon provides additional background in his February 14 post

Church Leaders Speak Out on Gun Violence

The recent mass shooting at a Florida High School has led the group Bishops United Against Gun Violence to issue another call for better gun control laws.  They have been joined by other Episcopal leaders around the country.  It also led the Bishop of South East Florida to issue an open letter to Senator Marco Rubio calling for legislation as well as prayer.  The Canon to the Ordinary and the Chair of the Standing Committee from Southeast Florida (the diocese that includes the site of the shooting) also issued a statement. Bishop McConnell in Pittsburgh posted a meditation on the shooting that addressed actions other than legislation.  In a different case involving gun violence, the Bishop of New York responded with sorrow to the acquittal of a police officer who shot a woman having a mental health breakdown in 2016.  The African American woman had been active in Episcopal parishes.

Tax Bill Threatens Churches in Jerusalem

The mayor of Jerusalem has presented various Churches with a municipal tax bill that has the churches reeling.  The Churches and the charities (schools, hospitals, care centers, etc.) that they run have always been exempt from the tax.  The mayor is trying to use the bills to pressure the Israeli government to reimburse the city for the money they don't get from the churches.  The bill for the Anglican Episcopal Church of Jerusalem is over $ 1.95 million.  The Anglican Communion web site has more details and how it affects other denominations.

Church Forgives Stranded Youth for Fire

St. Thomas Episcopal Church on the Cheyenne River Reservation in North Dakota responded with prayers for the three youths who broke in to the church and set a fire using church hymnals and furniture to try to stay warm after being stranded nearby in zero degree weather.  The church issued a statement saying that they understood the youths efforts to survive deadly cold.  However, the parish will have a hard time replacing all of their Lakota language hymnals, repairing the floor, and replacing the furniture burned.

New Criticism of the Church of England Handling of Bishop Bell Case

The Church of England Commission handling the questions about due process in accusations of sexual abuse by the long-deceased Bishop Bell has stumbled again.  This time they appointed someone to serve as advocate for Bell and his family, but forgot to consult first with the family and ignored the family's choice of an advocate.  It appears the commission is trying to hurry the case along, but in this case "haste makes waste."  Thinking Anglicans has links to all the latest developments. Update has covered the Bell story in several posts.  The most recent is here.

Three Church of England Evangelical Groups to Merge

Three conservative evangelical Curch of England groups have announced a merger.  The Fellowship of Word & Spirit and  Reform, both formed in the second half of the twentieth century will merge with the Church Society which has been around since the 1830s.  The goal is to be a better voice for renewal with the Church of England.  Their decision to stay in the Church of England is a counter to the groups being organized by the ACNA-consecrated, GAFCON-sponsored Bishop Andrew Lines who is organizing groups outside the Church of England and Scottish Episcopal Church.

Uproar at Sewanee Over Honorary Degree

Charlie Rose received an honorary degree from the University of the South in Sewanee before he was linked to accusations of sexual harassment.  The Board of Trustees voted to allow the honor to stand despite pressure to rescind the award.  Now the faculty of the Theological School have waded into the controversy.  The Episcopal Cafe site is not working consistently, but Three Rivers Episcopal Blog has a post on the Theology School response.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Week Ending 2/12/18

South Carolina Break-Away Diocese Files Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court

Immediately after the South Carolina State Supreme Court denied a rehearing of the church property decision largely favorable to those who remained in the Episcopal Church, the break-away group announced their intent to file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Update reported that here.  On Friday, February 9, 2018 the break-away group filed their appeal.  The appeal itself basically argues that this is a federal issue because courts have applied the idea of neutral principles in contradictory ways.  The appeal argues that the majority of South Carolina judges chose the wrong interpretation and that the Dennis Canon alone was not enough to establish a trust claim on parish property under S.C. trust law.  Interestingly, the diocese participating in the Episcopal Church published information on the filing before anything appeared on the break-away groups web sites. As expected,  Allan Haley (who argued the ACNA position on this issue in the cases involving San Joaquin) has published a commentary that recaps his unsuccessful interpretation yet again.  Blogger Steve Skaradon  sees the filing as another desperate attempt to delay turning over property to the real Episcopalians in his February 9 post.  The Living Church also covers the events.  The filing included three documents.  The second was an appendix with the separate opinions of all five of the South Carolina judges. While it was necessary to include the opinion with the filing.  The clearly written opinions of the first 4 judges make a clear argument that rebuts the appeal's contentions. The third document states that the parishes whose property titles were sustained in the South Carolina court opinion are not participating in the appeal.

Working Together on Global Warming

The Rman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston hosted an ecumenical meeting of religious leaders and leading scientists in Massachusetts to look at how churches could stand together in addressing the impact of climate change.  Among the Episcopalians present was the Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas who works full-time for TEC and the UCC on climate change issues. She reflects further on the conference on her blog.  While it is too early to see if this collaboration will be fruitful,  the Anglican Communion Environmental Network and the Global Catholic Climate Movement have collaborated on a Lenten discipline that is a "carbon-fast" and lets those who follow it focus each week on a different area where they can reduce their carbon footprint.  The materials are available in 5 languages.

Australian Church Drops Charges Against Bishops

Update reported that three bishops of the Anglican Church of Australia had been upset enough by the participation of two Australian Bishops  in the ACNA consecration of Bishop Andrew Lines who was going to set up a non-Church of England diocese for GAFCON in England, that they requested the Australian Church's disciplinary body look into charges against the men.  The disciplinary group has announced that that matter has been discontinued.  One further issue is still before the group: a complaint about the Diocese of Sydney's affiliated organization rules.

Church of England Synod Supports Closer Ties with Methodists

In lop-sided votes, the Church of England Synod "welcomed" a report moving towards recognizing each other's clergy.  The details are yet to be worked out, but the committees working on those have been urged to move rapidly.  Of 35 bishops in attendance only 2 opposed the resolution.  Of the 167 clergy voting on the issue, 131 favored the resolution.  The lay order favored the resolution with  124 of 169 votes cast.  Update reported on earlier discussions and sticking points here.

TEC Church Center Gains Adds a New Tenant

The Episcopal Church Center has been renting space to non-church groups as a means of getting a return on the investment in the New York City building, and making use of space the church is no longer using.  The latest tenant brings a strong liberal focus on social justice -- The Children's Defense Fund.   The Episcopal Church COO, Geoffrey Smith stressed that the CDF work was a good alignment with the Church's own values of social justice.  

Texas Parish School Claims Church Exemption in Lawsuit

An African-American family is suing Trinity School in Galveston for not responding appropriately to  bullying of a black child by white schoolmates.  The school, a parish day school owned and controlled by Trinity Parish, but with separate 501 (c)3 status, has defended itself by raising a religious freedom defense.  It is claiming that it cannot be held to secular standards, because that would impose outside values on a religious institution.  Under the diocesan canons all church schools must adhere to basic standards for health and safety set by secular authorities or they can lose the right to operate on church property. Most responses from the larger Episcopal world have been to point out that Church values would hold the school to even higher standards of behavior.  See the comments on the Episcopal Cafe and on the "General Convention" Facebook page.

Archbishop Welby Proposes Change in Selection Process for His Successor

Archbishop Justin Welby used his Synod address to call for a revision in the selection process for Archbishops of Canterbury and York.  Currently one primate from the Anglican Communion sits with  the Crown Nomination Committee which recommends a selection to the Queen.  The CNC has representatives chosen by Synod and by the diocese to be filled. The Archbishop of York sits with the CNC when selected someone for Canterbury and Canterbury sits with CNC when selected someone for York.  Welby wants one primate from five geographic area to sit with the CNC when selecteing a new Archbishop of Canterbury., and less representation from the diocese.  It is a recognition of the dual role of that office.  It also might be seen as moving closer to a model of a world wide Anglican Church rather than a Communion. It could either give conservatives more control in the Communion or undercut their efforts to create an alternative Communion through GAFCON.

Cape-Town Archbishop Responds to Water Shortage

Capetown South Africa is facing such a serious drought that all taps to individual buildings could be shut off April 16 unless the residents find a way to cut their usage.  Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Capetown is urging members of churches to substantially reduce their water use and should they succeed in getting the reduction needed to keep water flowing, to refrain from then claiming a false crisis.  He is urging that the 80% of Capetown that is "religious" lead the way with prayer and conservation.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Week Ending 2/4/18

Churches Continue to Support Immigrants

ReligionNews.com carried a piece this week on a Reformed Church congregation that has acted as a sanctuary site for Indonesian Christians afraid to return home because of religious persecution, and action by a judge to block deportation temporarily. Bishops from the Anglican Provinces in Central America and Mexico have issued a joint statement urging support for DACA and an end to deportation of undocumented Central Americans.  The recent diocesan convention in Washington D.C. also voted to become a sanctuary diocese for undocumented immigrants, but that resolution has not received the attention received by another resolution, covered later in this issue of Update.

Bible App for Progressives

Religion News also reports on Crystal Cheatham who found numerous on-line apps that connected conservative Christians on-line, but none for a more progressive view.  So she designed an App that would focus on those who by race, sex, orientation, or ability were marginalized in society.  The new app  includes things like an LGBTQ site on the Bible.  She is looking for contributors from liberal and feminist perspectives to add more content.  The app can be found at OurBibleApp.com

Welby Accused of Blocking Compensation for Church Abuse Victim

As Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, tries to recover from all the negative publicity surrounding his refusal to clear the late Bishop George Bell's name from charges of pedophilia, he has now been hit with a direct charge that he blocked appropriate compensation for another victim of a pedophile priest.  In this case the insurer for the church offered a relatively low sum of compensation and told the person to go directly to the Church of England for more.  The Church offered nothing in addition to the  insurance award.  Welby thus heads into the Church of England Synod meeting under fire on more than one front.

Diocese of Washington Asks for Gender-Neutral Terms for God

This is the season for diocesan resolutions intended to be presented at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church which will meet in July 2018 in Austin, TX.  The Diocese of Washington has voted nearly unanimously to ask the convention to ensure that future iterations or revisions of the Book of Common Prayer will include gender-neutral language for God.  They also voted to support full inclusion of Transgendered people in the life and liturgy of the Church. Conservative church and political sources have been making a big fuss about these votes.  See VirtueOnLine,  and the IRD blog for a selection of the negative reports. Christian News includes both the supporters of the resolution and statements by traditionalists who argue that God is male.  A more positive statement on the votes are found at Episcopal Cafe

Presiding Bishop Links Appeal for Black Colleges to Absalom Jones Day

The Presiding Bishop has chosen to call attention to the two surviving Historically Black Colleges affiliated with the Episcopal Church as part of the annual Absalom Jones Day celebration.  Bishop William White ordained Jones, a former slave, to the diaconate and priesthood, making Jones the first African-American ordained to either order.  St. Augustine's in Raleigh and Voorhees in South Carolina are the sole survivors of what was once a network of 10 Episcopal Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Anglican Leaders of Ireland Oppose Abortion Bill

The two top clergy in Ireland (North and Republic), the Archbishops of Armagh and Dublin  have jointly issued a statement opposing provisions in an abortion law now under review by the parliament of the Republic of Ireland.  The bishops carefully distinguish between the provisions of the law they cannot support and the need to allow abortions for women either for medical or certain life-situational reasons and to pastorally support women, who, in difficult situations, must choose abortion. 

South Sudan Elects a Woman as Bishop

The Episcopal Church of South Sudan has consecrated its first woman as a bishop.  The Rt. Rev. Elizabeth Awut Ngor will serve as assistant bishop in the Diocese of Rumbek.  She becomes the third African woman to serve as a bishop.  The others are in Swaziland and False Bay in Southern Africa. Unlike the those in Southern Africa, the South Sudan participates in the conservative GAFCON bloc.  Her election creates a problem for the GAFCON members because they had asked Uganda and Kenya to hold off electing women as bishops until all of GAFCON would accept them. 

Church Continues Response to Natural Disasters

Presiding Bishop Curry continued his tour of locations struck by Hurricanes with a visit to the Houston area, where churches and families are still struggling to recover.  Parishes are continuing to provide basic support for those families flooded out. The Update covered his earlier visits to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands here and here.   Meanwhile in the far west, Episcopalians this week were celebrating the clearing of mudslide debris from the major road in Montecito so that they could finally worship in their own building again.  Neighboring parishes helped out during the exile.  Now all of the parishes are looking at helping neighbors whose homes were destroyed in the mudslides touched off by heavy rain in areas denuded of vegetation by recent fires. Update carried an earlier report here.

Lawyers in South Carolina Tell Court "No Progress" on Mediation

The scepiscopalians.com blog has postings from January 29 and February 2, 2018 dealing with the documents filed by the Episcopal Church in South Carolina and the schismatic diocese each saying that while talks continue, they are making no progress.  The court is delaying hearing arguments in the trademarks case as long as mediation is continuing.  The Episcopal Church lawyers noted that they were willing to proceed in court, thus signaling that they believe the talks are a delay tactic by the schismatic group which is trying to stave off as long as possible a court decision which may well go against them. Earlier coverage of the mediation by Update is here.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Week Ending 01/29/18

Debate expands on Church of England and Methodist Plan

The proposal to be discussed by the Church of England synod on sharing ministry with the Methodists which update reported on last week is continuing to prompt comments. Anglo-Catholics are concerned because Methodists in England (unlike the U.S.) do not have bishops.  For Anglo-Catholics, the role of the bishop and the unique witness of an historic episcopacy are at stake.  The Thinking Anglicans web site has a good sampling of the statements, comments and practical concerns here.   The Christiantoday website has a good background piece here, and the Church Times covers the debate.

Surveys Mark Change in Religion

Two surveys, one by the Pew Foundation and the other by Forward  Movement offer interesting perspectives on the state of religion in America.  The Pew Foundation study surveyed 2000 young people from ages 15 to 24. Those doing the study are arguing that there is a "massive religious realignment" among young adults.  Millennials and Generation Z  simply are not concerned about many of the issues that currently divide churches,  and see the great divide as politics rather than race, class or religion.   The younger generation has a different take on issues of sexual morality than evangelical churches and while concerned about abortion, sees its legalization as a given.  There is a gender divide with young women much more positive about racial diversity and less positive about Trump than their male cohort.  You can read more here.  Meanwhile Forward Movement has studied 200 churches and surveyed 12,000 Episcopalians who are participating in the RenewalWorks ministry.  Their research classified participants into 4 categories based on their spiritual approach, and determined that there was a great hunger among participants for spiritual growth.  The research helped determine the 4 categories and what might catalyze people to move from one stage to another.  The full report is here.

Brazil Elects First Woman Bishop

The Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil has been ordaining women for nearly 33 years. It opened its ministry to all three orders of clergy in 1983, and ordained the first women as deacons and priests in 1985.  Now it has finally elected a woman to the third order, the episcopate.  The Revd Canon Marinez Santos Bassotto has been elected the new bishop of the Diocese of the Amazon.  Bassotto is well-known throughout the church, having served as Dean at the National Cathedral in Porto Alegre,  through membership on two national church committees, and as chair of the church's annual leadership conference. 

Congressional Invitees to State of Union Address Highlight Puerto Rico

Several members of Congress have used their right to invite someone to the State of the Union Address by inviting someone affected by the recent hurricane in Puerto Rico.  The Episcopal News Service highlights the experience of an Episcopalian family who left the island after the hurricane to ensure schooling for their children and to look for work.  You can find the whole piece here.