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, March 18, 2019

Week Ending 03/18/19

Churches Respond to Mosque Shooting

The vicious murder of 50 worshipers at two Christchurch, New Zealand mosques, has elicited quick responses from a variety of places in the Anglican Communion. Interdenominational groups in the U.S. have offered their support for New Zealanders.  The Episcopal rector of Trinity Parish in the Lehigh Valley area of PA was one of the speakers at that area's interdenominational service. The House of Bishops was meeting at the time, and Bishop David Rice of San Joaquin had much to say since he spent much of his ministry before coming to San Joaquin in Christchurch.  The Episcopal News Service coverage of the House of Bishops meeting documented their responses. (See link below on Lambeth spouses.)  Bishop Rickell of the Diocese of Olympia issued a statement to his diocese in addition to what the House of Bishops did. 

Justice Ginsburg and Episcopal Church Women

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is known for the elaborate collars she wears with her judicial robes.  The women who run the thrift shop for the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Dunedin, FL (near Tampa) received a donation in November of a necklace that looked like the collars/necklaces that Justice Ginsburg wears.  So they sent it to her with a short note.  Ginsburg, recovering from cancer surgery, showed that she was a class act with a gracious response.  The Living Church has the details here

Wales Finds Use for Closed Chapels 

The Anglican Province of Wales has more than 800 small chapels that are closed or under-used. Many are centuries old.  They have now found a use for these buildings that will help preserve their appearance and raise funds to cover maintenance costs.  The Anglican Church has contracted with a tour provided to use a number of the buildings as overnight stops for touring bicyclists.  The agreement has also made the Welsh tourist board very happy. Bookings should start this fall. You can read more here.

Pittsburgh's Trinity Cathedral Has a New Provost

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh announced that the Rev. Aidan Smith, the Dean of Advancement and Church Relations at Trinity School for Ministry (TSM) in Ambridge, PA has been named the new Provost of Trinity Cathedral.  He will start May 1 for an initial term of two years. TSM issued its own press release with more personal details. He graduated from TSM in 2014 and was ordained deacon and priest in 2015 by Bishop Love of Albany, and where he has maintained clerical residency while working at TSM.  He came to Trinity from Alaska.  It is not clear what will happen at All Saints, Brighton Heights where Smith has been priest in charge for the last several months.

Ongoing Stories

Lawsuit by Sauls Dismissed

Bishop Stacy Sauls who was dismissed from his role as a senior administrator at the Church Center in 2016, and who filed a defamation lawsuit against the Presiding Bishop and other church officials, has come to the end of his legal challenges.  He originally filed suit in Alabama, but that case was dismissed as the wrong venue.  He then filed in New York where the church center is located.  Now the New York State Supreme Court judge assigned to the case has dismissed the suit for lack of evidence.  Pittsburgh Update has followed each step in this legal challenge.  The most recent previous coverage is here

House of Bishops Responds to Lambeth Exclusion of Same Sex Spouses

Meeting at Kanuga Retreat Center, the House of Bishops expressed its concern and disappointment that the Archbishop of Canterbury was excluding same sex spouses from the invitation list to Lambeth 2020.  The bishops are urged to go to Lambeth, however, and engage others while there explaining the Episcopal Church's position of same sex marriages.  Bishop Mary Glasspool, whose spouse of over 3 decades is one of those not invited, made a formal statement at the meeting. Update has been covering the responses to the Archbishop's decision.  In a close vote, the House of Bishops did not pass a related resolution asking Presiding Bishop Curry to make another appeal to Canterbury to change the Archbishop's mind.

Episcopalians Ponder Impact of Methodist Vote on Proposed Full Communion

The vote at the recent United Methodist conference to put stricter penalties and rules in place excluding LGTBQ clergy and making a statement against homosexuality is still being reviewed by the group within that church that rules on constitutionality of resolutions.   However, given that the Episcopal Church has affirmed the ministries of LGTBQ individuals and now requires every diocese to accomodate same sex couples wishing to marry in the church, people are wondering about the churches can move forward with a proposal for full communion that would allow clergy of either denomination to be recognized by the other group. Update noted this as a concern in its coverage of the Methodist meeting.  The latest speculation is here.

Appeals Court Upholds Clergy Housing Tax Exemption

Over a year ago, an atheist group scored a victory in with a Federal Court decision that granting clergy a tax exemption for their housing allowance violated the constitution by establishing a religion and not providing  equal protection of the laws to atheists.  However, the federal appeals court has overturned the decision, ruling that such an exemption is constitutional.  It is possible that the matter will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but there is no guarantee that the Supreme Court will even choose to hear it.  Both Anglican.ink and Christianity Today carried stories of the appeals court decision.


Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Week Ending 3/11/19

Presiding Bishop Branches Out

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry had a busy Ash Wednesday.  In the morning he attended services at St. John's Episcopal Church across from the White House in Washington D.C., and that evening he was the featured preacher at a large revival event sponsored by Harvest Assembly Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia.  He used the occasion to elaborate on selflessness as a major component in love. Religion News made his talk a featured item. 

Sexual Harassment Victim Sues New Zealand Anglicans

A woman who sought counseling from an Anglican priest after the loss of her baby was instead faced with sexual harassment.  She has sued under a human rights law in New Zealand.  It would be the first time that the law was applied against a member of the clergy. The Church has argued it is exempt because clergy are providing a religious service rather than acting as secular counselors.  If the woman is successful in her suit, the Anglican Province will need to consider major changes in the way they hire and train clergy. 

House of Lords Debates (Again) Clergy Exemption

Current English law grants an exemption to clergy that means they are not required to preside at same sex couple blessings or marriages.  Removing the exemption was discussed about a month ago in the House of Lords and came up again.  The Bishop of Oxford shut down the discussion by requesting that the House drop the matter since it would set a very bad precedent if Parliament started interfering in theological differences.  Thinking Anglicans has all the details.

Updates on Ongoing Stories

Nashotah House Hires Ethics Professor

Nashotah House, which has been rebuilding its ties to the Episcopal Church after nearly being taken over by ACNA, has hired Elisabeth Rain Kincaid as ethics professor. Kincaid will only be on campus part of the year since her husband is a priest in Dallas. Nashotah has needed to fill several faculty spots due to deaths, new roles and a member leaving for another appointment. She will be the only woman on the faculty.  The seminary is definitely taken on a new image with a lay person as its dean and the hiring of a noted Dutch Reformed Church theologian recently.  Kincaid was granted the Ph.D. by Notre Dame University in 1918.

Schismatic Parish Bills Church Insurance 

St. Philips in Charleston was one of the parishes most actively involved in the property suit brought against Episcopalians. It is also one of the parishes included in the list of properties the state supreme court said actually belonged to the Episcopal Church. St. Philips' 2018 annual report had a curious line in its financial statements.  The parish has billed the Church Insurance Company of Vermont for $111,749 in legal expenses.  Those would be expenses incurred as it tried to leave the Episcopal Church and take its historic property with it.  The Episcopal Church in South Carolina won a lawsuit against the Church Insurance Company for partial reimbursement of its legal expenses.  The difference is that the diocese incurred its expenses while defending itself and the Church's Property from those trying to take it away.  The vestry that did the billing is, since the decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court, not even the legal vestry of the parish of St. Phillips.

California Parish Helps Congolese Refugees

St. Luke's Parish in the North Park area of San Diego has adopted the cause of a Congolese refugee who is fighting deportation after his request for asylum was denied.  The church mobilized the community and has been able to help Constantin get a stay of deportation.  They have also adopted the wife and children of the refugee.  They came to the U.S. to apply for asylum and were separated at the border.  His wife was allowed to enter wearing an ankle monitor in order to care for the children.  The congregation, which has a number of members from the Sudan and Congo has welcomed the family.  Two of the children are now singing in the children's choir and have become acolytes. The Church has a web page devoted to Constantine.  The Episcopal News Service picked up the story. St. Lukes joins several other Episcopal parishes that have sheltered or adopted immigrants.  The Update has carried stories on parishes providing shelter or support for immigrants facing deportation in North Carolina, New York, and Ohio.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Week Ending 3/4/19

"Lego" Repair a Cathedral

What can a cathedral do when an earthquake does serious damage to your building?  Well, if you are the Washington National Cathedral, you start rebuilding as you seek funds.  The latest effort allows people to buy Lego building blocks and place them in a  Lego model of the Cathedral.  When the model is completed, it will be as large as a van.  For more on the launching of this fun fundraiser, see the report posted by a local Washington D.C. radio reporter.

Partnerships Announced in Seminary Education

Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) and Trinity Church Wall Street have announced what they are calling a partnership between the wealthy New York parish and the west coast seminary.  In reality, Trinity now owns CDSP and its vestry will double as the board for the seminary.  The new arrangement will bring an infusion of cash to the seminary and will facilitate educational programming that Trinity has long sponsored. The story (with different background information) is explored by Episcopal Cafe and by Anglican.ink.  A different kind of partnership was announced jointly by the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, a seminary of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).  The seminary has been adding courses on the Episcopal Church and Anglican theology, and has now created a formal program to train Episcopal clergy and laity in western Pennsylvania. It has programs for Methodists and Lutherans as well.

Schismatic Group in South Carolina Running Huge Deficit

Financial records published as part of the upcoming convention for the schismatic group in South Carolina show legal fees climbing to nearly a million dollars in 2018.   This created a major deficit in the budget.  However, the group is not cutting staff or salaries.  In fact, Lawrence and two other staff members are getting raises.  One has to wonder if the strategy is not to completely exhaust the endowments that they still control although the state supreme court has ruled they belong to the Episcopalians.  Blogger Steve Skardon  comments on the financial situation.

Updates on Ongoing Stories

More on Lambeth Spouses Controversy

Responses continue to the announcement that same sex spouses were not being invited to the Lambeth gathering of Anglican Communion bishops in 2020.  A bishop in England has announced he will attend without bringing his wife as a way of both protesting the exclusion of some spouses.  To further liven up the debate at least one member of Parliament has asked to have the omission investigated as a violation of equal employment laws in Britain. At least one of the uninvited spouses will be attending anyway.  Mary Glasspool, Assisting Bishop of New York intends to be accompanied by her spouse.  She has the support of the diocesan and suffragan bishops of the diocese, and all three signed a formal statement that the three and their spouses were looking forward to conversations at Lambeth.  The same-sex spouses were omitted from the list in hopes of placating those in the Anglican Communion who oppose same sex relationships.  The effort may be in vain because those bishops most adamantly opposed have said they are coming unless all the bishops in the "liberal" provinces are disinvited

Another All-Female Bishop Slate

Michigan has joined the list of dioceses with only women on the announced slate of nominees for bishop. There may still be other candidates added by petition, but the nomination committee has brought forward the names of four women.  Several other dioceses have already elected bishops from all women slates, most recently in Texas.  In case you are worried that men are being left out, the South Dakota nominating committee has proposed a slate of two for election as bishop.  Both are men. 

Disappointed Methodists Consider Next Steps

The majority of American Methodists were disappointed by vote at their international meeting last week.  The meeting turned away from a proposal that would have made ordination, hiring, and marrying people in same-sex relationship a matter of local option.  In stead by a 54 vote margin, they adopted a proposal that will strengthen penalties against LGTBQ clergy and same-sex marriages, anddenounces all homosexual activity.  There were open demonstrations of defiance at the convention and in United Methodist Churches throughout the U.S. this last week.  It is not clear if parishes or individuals will leave the church or stay to fight another day.  It is possible, that a new body will emerge, representing just Methodists in the U.S.  Update has been tracking this story, especially in light of the proposed full communion agreements being proposed between United Methodists and The Episcopal Church. 

Bishops Visit Congress to Urge Gun Control

Bishops Against Gun Violence continues to find new ways to urge action on gun control.  The latest was a well-publicized event with a deputation of bishops traveling to Washington D.C. to encourage members of the U.S. Congress to pass reasonable gun control legislation.  Formed after the Connecticut school shooting that left 26 dead, the Bishop's group has become increasingly active over the last several years as gun violence increased. Update has covered  other activities of the Church to witness against gun violence. 


Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Week Ending 02/25/19

Parishes Supply Fresh Water to Cuban Communities

Getting clean water is a major issue in Cuba.  The Episcopal Church is trying to be part of the solution. Various Episcopal groups have installed 32 water purification systems in communities with Episcopal Churches.  Six of these were installed in the last 2 weeks by a team from St. David's Church in Radnor, PA and a team from Friends of the Episcopal Church in Cuba.  the two groups also brought other desired supplies to distribute.  The goal is to have fresh water sources installed in all 52 communities with an Episcopal Parish.  The effort also includes training members of the Cuban parishes to maintain the systems.   For more read the story here.  

Making a Cold Winter Warmer

St. John's Episcopal Church in Jackson Hole has been trying to make the winter a little warmer  in their communities.  The parish has been gathering new and lightly used warm winter coats and hanging them outside the church.  Signs invite anyone who needs a coat to take one.  So far they have distributed over 100 coats.  The Jackson Hole newspaper covered this outreach

Mary Kostel To Replace David Beers

David Booth Beers who has served as Chancellor to four Presiding Bishops is finally taking a well-deserved retirement.  Mary Kostel, who was working with Beers by the time the Pittsburgh schism occurred and who has most recently been serving as the chief litigator on property issues for TEC and as Chancellor of the Diocese of Washington will now become the Chancellor for the Presiding Bishop.  The Episcopal News Service has more information, including more details on Kostel's and Beers's service.  

Churches Respond to Turmoil in Haiti and Venezuela

The general situation in Haiti has disintegrated to the point that the U.S. embassy is urging all Americans to leave.  This has created a dilemma for a number of American missionaries and church workers.  Those leaving are having to be taken by helicopter to the airports because of burning tire roadblocks.  The turmoil is also likely to affect the ability of the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti to move forward with their reorganization plan following the failed episcopal election.  The situation in Venezuela where large scale protests and a competing government to President Maduro has led to an international crisis led to this statement from the Office of Government Relations of The Episcopal Church.  The article has a link to a detailed background piece by the BBC on Venezuela that is well worth the read.

Cuban Churches Oppose New Constitution

Christianity Today reports that Cuban and Evangelical Churches are opposing the new Cuban Constitution because it weakens religious freedom provisions and provides for same-sex marriage.  It is not clear if any of the Episcopal Church parishes are joining the protests.   The Church in Cuba is in the process of being re-integrated into The Episcopal Church as a diocese in compliance with a vote taken at General Convention 2018. The Cuban Church began as a missionary diocese of The Episcopal Church, but was forced into a special extra-provincial status given U.S. policy towards Cuba under Castro. 

Updates on Continuing Stories

Methodists Struggle With LGTBQ Ministries

Many Episcopalians have been following closely the course of the special synod called by the United Methodists to deal with questions related to sexuality and underway right now.  The Episcopal Church and the Methodists have been in conversation about full communion, and a proposal for recognition is scheduled to be considered by the 2021 General Convention.  The current Methodist synod includes representatives from a number of countries around the world, including many in Africa, which as Episcopalians are aware, is not supportive of LGBTQ people. Four different proposals went to committee.  Two of these gathered the majority support and represented very different outcomes. The "traditional"  one more strongly enforces bans on ordination and same sex marriage, forbids service by those in same-sex relationships, and includes a condemnation of homosexuality. Methodist bishops had proposed a "One Church" solution that would create a local  "live and let live" framework for ordination and same sex marriage.  The only option sent to the floor for a vote from committee was the "traditional" option.  The Once Church option has strong support in the US and was supported by 46% of those voting at synod.  Other votes taken by the synod make it easy for parishes to leave the church and for clergy to retain pensions.  If the traditional option becomes policy, there may well be a split in which a majority of the U.S. parishes leave the United Methodists and set up a new Methodist Church. 

The Lambeth Waters Continue Roiling

After the announcement that the Archbishop of Canterbury would not be inviting the same-sex spouses of bishops to Lambeth 2020, there was immediate reaction.  The reaction has continued.  Mark Harris has given his thoughts in an essay on his blogThe Living Church has now published an opinion piece by a noted Episcopal seminary professor. President of the House of Deputies, the Rev. Gay Jennings issued a statement, and the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church has also weighed in.  All are critical of the announcement. Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Canterbury has called a meeting of Anglican Primates for January 2020 with one of the topics of discussion the agenda for Lambeth.  By then, however, the planning committee will have made extensive plans.  The question is,  "Will a bloc of primates upend plans to have a Lambeth without votes and resolutions?"

Canon Kai Ryan Joins List of Newly Elected Women Bishops

Pittsburgh Update has noted the string of episcopal elections being held in which women have been chosen bishop.  Texas announced a slate of nominees  for suffragan bishop to replace Bishop Dena Harrison in December.  Since the current suffragan is a woman, the slate upheld a status quo.  The election has been held, and Canon Kathryn (Kai) Ryan has been chosen.  You can read more about her here.

South Carolina Bishop Counsels Patience 

The federal and state court suits continue to drag on, and while South Carolina leaders have been trying to prepare for the transition necessary after final decisions in the church's favor are issued, the waiting can get on people's nerves.  Bishop Skip Adams has circulated a sermon he recently preached at one of his parishes.  In it he counsels patience and to consider the many gifts that have come to the church as they wait for the outcomes.  Some of the gifts Adams mentions are the new forms of doing church that emerged, and a deepened sense of spirituality.  You can read the whole here.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Week ending 02/18/19

Australian Archbishop in Trouble for Use of Funds

 The resigned Archbishop of Perth, Roger Herft is facing all sorts of problems caused by his failure to pusue accustions of child abuse.  Now unapproved withdrawal of funds can be added to his woes.  Herft did not seek approval before using $473,000 from the professional standards budget to pay his legal fees.  For more go here.

Updates on Continuing Stories

South Carolina Federal Judge Sets Date for Arguments

After being inundated by a sea of briefs, the federal district judge overseeing the trademark infringement law suit filed by Episcopalians against the schismatic group led by Mark Lawrence has given himself two extra months to read everything. Last August he set a date in March for argument.  That has now been extended to May.  The Episcopal web site posted this notice about the change.

Latest on Lambeth 2020

Lambeth 2020 is still more than a year away, but it keeps making news.  This week the planners of the once-a-decade gathering of active bishops from the whole Anglican Communion confirmed that all active bishops would be invited, but any same-sex spouses would not.  While this set off cries of protest from liberals within the communion, the GAFCON crowd was still upset that lesbian or gay bishops were coming at all.  In fact Ephriam Radnor of the tiny Anglican Communion Network proposed a series of resolutions for Lambeth that would exclude TEC and any of the other provinces now permitting same sex marriage or blessings and admitting ACNA.  The problem is, Lambeth 2020 is not set up to vote on anything.  Some of the GAFCON leaders want to either redo all the planning, or make the resolutions a precondition for attendance.  It is likely neither will happen, but that Bishop Sumner of Dallas, who sits on the Lambeth planning committee will get pressured by Radnor supporters.  Sumner is one of the so-called Anglican Communion Partners bishops, a group with ties to the Anglican Communion Institute.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Week Ending 02/11/19

Lutherans Try Combining Church and Beer

Martin Luther would probably love it.  A Lutheran minister in Florida has opened a new ministry combining a craft beer brewery and a start-up parish.  The craft beers brewed and sold on site are named for things Lutheran ( such as Wittenberg where Luther lived and taught), and the brewery helps cover the costs of the new parish which worships on site on Sunday mornings.  Rather than a coffee hour, its a cold brew and conversation after the service.  Religion News serves up the full story here. 

Florida Keys Parish Helps With Housing Crisis

Hurricane Irma (2017) made a tight housing situation worse in the Florida Keys.  St. Columba Episcopal Church has been working with Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) to provide needed affordable housing.  Originally that brought in 22 RVs as temporary housing, and then with the help of ERD, they bought a vacant apartment building that was built to withstand hurricane forces.  The abandoned building is being completely refitted and will provide 16 one-bedroom apartments at rates well below market rates.   WLRN of Miami featured the parish efforts recently.

Politics Upstages Prayer at National Prayer Breakfast

Presiding Bishop Curry gave a discourse on love and how Paul's discourse on love in Corinthians I was a message to communities divided by controversy, but the national news stories on the annual National Prayer Breakfast focused their coverage on the members of the Trump administration in attendance and the rambling address by President Trump.  The Episcopal News Service provides more information on the religious messages at the breakfast, including the homily by the Presiding Bishop. 

Virginia Bishop Responds to Racial Issues

This last week Virginians have been dealing with the aftermath of revelations that two of the three top Democrats in Virginia government and the Republican president of the state senate all could be linked to racist incidents as young adults.  In this context Bishop Susan Goff has issued a statement urging people to examine their own hearts and lives. She stated:  "The political realities of this current moment in our Commonwealth are complex, but our faith response is not. Out of our own confession and repentance, we can call for the repentance of our leaders."  Noting that then we could pray for all involved, she provided a set of prayers.  The Living Church has the full statement

Updates on Ongoing Stories

Haiti Develops Strategy in Wake of Failed Episcopal Election

The Episcopal Diocese of Haiti has been suffering from some intense factionalism, of which one result was a challenged episcopal election and the failure of the the chosen candidate to receive the necessary consents.  Meeting last week in convention the diocese filled vacancies on the Standing Committee and approved a plan where diocesan administration would be shared by an administrator, the Standing Committee and a Visiting Bishop who would provide sacramental services.  This will give the diocese time to heal before holding another election for a bishop. 

New Zealand Cathedral Starts Rebuilding

The Cathedral in Christ Church, New Zealand was reduced to an unstable shell in the earthquake of 2011.  For the next six years, things were put on hold while the whole country argued about whether the site should be restored, razed and rebuilt, or turned into some form of a monument.  Finally decided to take the costly course of rebuilding what had been considered a national treasure, the diocese centered at Christ Church was finally able to celebrate moving forward this last week.  They consecrated their new bishop in an outdoor service near the cathedral site while workers were finally beginning to salvage stained glass and clear rubble. Update has carried numerous stories on the controversy surrounding the site.  The most recent one is here.

Churches Respond to Confederate Legacies

This last week St. John's in Montgomery, Alabama, removed a pew dedicated in 1925 to Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States.  Davis attended the church for a short while before the capitol of the Confederacy moved to Richmond.  The vestry removed the pew after discovering it was a newer pew and not ever associated with Davis.  What it was associated with was an effort in 1925 to emphasize white supremacy.  The parish joined a growing list of Episcopal parishes that have removed monuments to Confederate leaders.  Meanwhile in Virginia, Grace Episcopal Church in Lexington, Virginia (formerly Robert E. Lee Memorial Church) was dedicating new facilities in their parish in honor of Jonathan M. Daniels, the Episcopal seminarian who was a civil rights worker killed in 1965 while shielding a black teenager from a shotgun blast. Daniels attended the parish for several years while a student at Virginia Military Institute.

Latest Bishop Elections Add to Diversity 

The latest round of elections of bishops has again added to the list of women who will be joining the House of Bishops.  Last week Update noted the election of Susan Snook as bishop of San Diego.  This week, the Diocese of Northern California elected its first woman as bishop, the Reverend Canon Megan M. Traquair, currently Canon to the Ordinary in Arizona. The Sacramento Bee article includes information not in the standard press release from the diocese.  At the same time, Maine was electing as its new bishop, the Rev. Thomas James Brown, from Winchester, Massachusetts.  Brown also brings diversity as a gay man to the House. He is married to the Rev. Thomas Mousin

Texas Court Asks for More Information in Fort Worth Property Case

The Texas Supreme Court has asked for both sides of the Diocese of Fort Worth property litigation to submit briefs on the merits of the case.  It also set a timetable for submission and responses.  The schismatic group led by Bishop Iker has taken this as a positive sign the the Supreme Court may want to actually hear their appeal of the Appeals Court decision granting the property to the group still part of the Episcopal Church.  There have been several filings of briefs by both parties trying to get the appeal granted or refused.  The Episcopal Diocese issued a statement saying they had expected the request and their lawyers have been working on a response.   

African Archbishops Urge Conflicting Responses to Lambeth 2020

Archbishop Okoh of Nigeria in his capacity as the chair of GAFCON issued another statement on Lambeth.  It basically condemned the Anglican Communion provinces for a series of things he felt were wrong, and demanded that the Lambeth invitation to Bishop Robertson of Canada (who recently was married to his partner in a large celebration at his diocesan cathedral) be rescinded. [As an aside,   the election of Thomas Brown (covered above) as Bishop of Maine only worsens matters.]  Okoh re-iterated his call for bishops to boycott Lambeth 2020 unless the Archbishop replaced invitations to the what Okoh considers offending provinces with invitations to the GAFCON sponsored alternative bishops in those regions.  Okoh's province voted in October 2018 to not attend. Meanwhile the Archbishop of Cape Town in Southern Africa was issuing a statement encouraging all bishops to attend, stressing that it was important for bishops who disagreed to be able to talk with one another.  He noted that Anglicans have a long tradition of remaining in communion despite differences.

Southern Baptists Reel From Reports of Abuse

In 2018 a movement led by women in the Southern Baptist Church forced the resignation of denomination leaders for being unresponsive or covering up charges of abuse.  Now Texas newspapers have done an investigative report detailing sexual abuse charges against 380 Southern Baptist clergy in 20 states who have been disciplined (lightly), with many being allowed to simply move to another congregation.  The report is worse than members of the denomination had expected.  If any reforms will follow is still unknown, but the congregational structure of the denomination makes concerted action difficult. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Week Ending 02/04/2019

Priest in Trinidad Shot

The Rev. Gerald Hendrickson was shot twice in the stomach as exited a cafe in Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago.  The shooter, who chased another person down the street and fired indiscriminately, was apprehended and arrested.  Hendrickson was not a specific target, and is doing as well as can be expected after surgery.

GAFCON/ACNA Bishop in Europe Takes Leave

Andrew Lines, consecrated by ACNA at the request of GAFCON, whose charge is Europe, especially the British Isles, is going to be taking an extended leave because of stress.  He will spend the leave in Sydney, Australia. It is not clear how his absence will affect the three Scottish Episcopal congregations he was bringing into the schismatic fold.  However, Line will come back to a new structure because the same day that his leave was announced, he disbanded the GAFCON Panel of Reference for the United Kingdom.  It is to be replaced with a more formal incorporated group.

Westboro Baptist Targets Gainsville Churches

The notorious anti-gay Baptist congregation, Westboro Baptist showed up this last week in Gainsville, Florida to picket at 5 churches.  Among the 5 mainstream churches picketed was Grace, Episcopal.  The Westboro group is small and so they split into teams of 4-5 to cover all the churches.  They were greatly outnumbered by counter-protestors.  The Gainsville Times has more on  the reaction of each of the churches, including Grace.

New Context for Bloy House

Bloy House, a Los Angeles Diocese effort to educate clergy and laity locally was founded with Church Divinity School of the Pacific in 1958.  Four years later it found a different partner, Claremont School of Theology.  However, Claremont School of Theology has severed its ties with the other Claremont Colleges and is moving to a new home with Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. It appears that Bloy will continue its partial residency program with Claremont, but it will no longer have access to convenient classes at Claremont after the 2019-20 school year.  Bloy intends to create a program allowing students to do 2/3 of their work in Southern CA, but to attend one week sessions in January and the summer at the new Claremont site.  The Living Church has the latest on these plans.

Trinity Wall Street Takes on Bail Reform

 This last year Trinity Parish, Wall Street was part of a mass bail buy-out that helped many of the 8000 inmates of Rikers Island.  The parish is now a leader in a movement to close Rikers entirely.  The facility holds both those waiting for trial or charges who could not make bail and those serving county sentences.  Trinity's aim is on ending the cash bail system entirely.  Some people have been held as long as three years without ever having a trial or being convicted of anything.  Half of those at the facility are black and a third Hispanic. Episcopal New Service has a full story on this effort here.

Duncan Takes Post as Interim Dean in Tallahassee 

The deposed bishop of  the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, and Retired Archbishop of ACNA, Robert Duncan  has moved to Tallahassee, FL where he was invested as interim dean of the ACNA cathedral in that city while the cathedral does a full search for a new dean. The parish has not had a dean since late August 2018 when its dean resigned under a cloud of alcoholism and charges of harassment.  Duncan has been at the cathedral for a while as Bishop in Residence.  It is not clear if the move to Florida is permanent because the Duncans still have a lifetime claim on property in Donegal PA. 

Updates on Continuing Stories

San Diego Elects Susan Snook as Bishop

The Diocese of San Diego has joined the trend of electing women as bishops.  Susan Snook was the only candidate brought forward by the nominating committee.  Two more candidates were added by petition.  This last week, Snook was elected on the first ballot.  She joins women elected in 2018 in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, West Tennessee, and Newark.  Texas has not yet voted on which of 3 women will be their new suffragan, replacing Dena Harrison who has announced her retirement.  

More on Implementing Same Sex Marriage Resolution

Not all those hoping to see General Convention Resolution B012 implemented in the 8 dioceses where bishop had forbidden clergy and parishes to use the trial rites approved for same-sex marriages and blessing of civil marriages are satisfied with the implementation in some dioceses. (See Update  here.) They are concerned about the conditions placed upon those wanting to offer marriage3 to all couples. The Presiding Bishop has lately made visits in two Florida Diocese where  some had voiced these concerns.  After visiting the Diocese of Florida, the Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, urged clergy to talk with Bishop John Howard, that his implementation plan requirement that clergy and wardens meet with him, was a sincere attempt to keep communication open.  Curry encouraged all clergy, of whatever views to meet with Bishop Howard.

ACNA Voices Protest Over New CANA Bishops

Recently Update carried a notice that the Nigerian Archbishop had consecrated four bishops for a CANA diocese in the U.S.  The problem was that CANA  is affiliated with ACNA and the ACNA bishops should have been consulted.  Now Foley Beach, the current Archbishop of ACNA has issued a statement objecting to the lack of consultation.  What makes this controversy more interesting is that the Nigerian archbishop is the current chair of GAFCON, and Beach will assume that role in March. 

Bruno Loses Appeal of Suspension

Bishop Jon Bruno who received a 3 year suspension as discipline in the Title IV hearing brought on by his behavior while trying to sell the property of St. James the Less in Newport Beach, lost his appeal of the sentence.  He apparently argued on technical grounds, and the panel was not impressed. 

Heather Cook Keeps Looking for Way Out of Jail

The former bishop, Heather Cook who is serving a sentence for the hit and run killing of a bicyclist, and for driving while impaired, continues to seek ways to be released before the end of her sentence.  She requested release to serve the remainder of her sentence in home detention six months ago and was denied.  She has renewed that request at the earliest possible time.  The decision on her request will be made in the next week or two.  In a separate filing in November 2018 she was turned down for a sentence modification. 

The Flap in England Over Guidelines for Affirming Baptism Continues

A set of guidelines on how to use an existing Church of England rite, Affirmation of Baptism, with special attention to transition recognition for transgender people touched a major nerve among conservatives who are treating this as though it opens the whole issue of gender and sexuality.  They have pushed back at the bishops who have drafted the guidelines, and most recently have created an on-line petition for people to sign.  The response from the more inclusive elements of the church have stressed that the church has recognized transgender transitions for a long time, and that there is no new liturgy being proposed. You can read two of the recent responses to the petition here and here