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Pittsburgh Update

Pittsburgh Update publishes weekly summaries of recent developments in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, The Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion that affect or could affect Pittsburgh Episcopalians. Emphasis is on reporting, not interpretation. This is a service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh. This site is in no way affiliated with the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh or the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.


A Pittsburgh Episcopal Voice          

A Service of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh         

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Week Ending 8/18/19

Calvary Episcopal Church Hosts Tree of Life Congregation for High Holidays

Tree of Life Congregation has been worshiping at another Jewish synagogue since the October 2018 shooting that killed a number of their members, but that congregation will fully use their space during the coming high holidays.  Tree of Life expects as many as 800 to be present for their services during the holidays, so they have been searching without luck to find a suitable temporary location to use.  Calvary Episcopal Church had been looking for a way to show support for the congregation following the shooting.  Calvary, with over 1000 of its own members has a beautiful gothic building built at the beginning of the 20th century that seats 1000.  The Rev. John Jensen offered the use of their building, complete with parking, and free of charge to the congregation, which has gratefully accepted.  You can read more about the arrangements in this article in the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle.

Welby Endorses Construction of British Museum About Holocaust

As actual survivors of the Holocaust become fewer, a number of places have founded Holocaust museums and  memorials to the dead to ensure that people do not forget this terrible part of history.  Such an effort is under way in England, but the location chosen is very controversial. It is next door to the Houses of Parliament. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby has weighed in by supporting the idea of a museum.  His endorsement carefully says nothing about the location or design of the museum, but his statement has but him in the midst of another controversy.  The Anglican Communion news site has the details.

Church of England Leaders to Testify in Abuse Case

The Church of England has been under fire for covering up numerous incidents of abuse, both sexual and physical for a number of years.  One of these scandals involves boys being severely beaten at a camp and school by a prominent member of the British bar, now dead.  Archbishop Welby served as a camp counselor during the years in question and has been called to testify before the commission now investigating this abuse. The web site Thinking Anglicans has links to all of the stories related to this investigation.  The article in The Telegraph provides a good summary of the background to the case. 

Property Issues Sink Affiliation of Polish Catholic Congregation with Episcopal Diocese

An independent Polish Catholic congregation which broke away from the Roman Catholic Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri  created a stir in religious circles this last week by exploring whether the congregation would come under the guidance of the diocese.  The arrangement would have provided affiliation, a community, episcopal oversight, but would not have been a full merger into the diocese.  In the end, the requirement that they sign over their property to the Episcopal Diocese sank the deal.  A story on the proposed merger is here, and on its ultimate failure here.

Continuing Stories

United Methodist Group Proposes a Split

The close vote this year of the Special Conference of the United Methodist Church to endorse "traditional" stances on LGBTQ participation in ministry and same sex marriage frustrated the majority of United States congregations in the international denomination.  Now a group has come forward with a formal proposal for a split in the denomination which would let the U.S. churches set their own path.  Religion News has the story.

Welby Trip to India Raises Church Issues

The Church Times has provided background on Archbishop Welby's upcoming trip to visit churches in India, and how even visiting those churches is controversial because of the unique nature of the churches there.  Update has already covered the political landmines waiting for Welby on this visit.

Tanzania Bishops Will Not Go to Lambeth

Ten bishops from Tanzania have issued a statement saying they will not attend the Lambeth Conference in 2020 because they do not want to be at a meeting with bishops whose dioceses fully embrace LGBTQ people.  Tanzania has been one of the strongest supporters of the GAFCON group which is creating an alternative to the Anglican Communion and the announcement is not surprising.  They join bishops from Uganda and Nigeria in staying home.

New Video Outlining Work Episcopal Church is Doing on the Borders

The Episcopal Church has just released an video running slightly over eight minutes with bishops from four of the dioceses bordering Mexico and the Diocese of Maine talking about their work to help those immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S.  and suggesting the best ways others can help.  The video also makes clear that the Episcopal Migration Ministries has been at this work for more than 80 years. The Living Church has an article on the video here.  The actual video is here. Update has carried many stories on the work of the Church with immigrants and along the border. The two most pertinent are here and here.

Episcopalians File Latest Replies in Fort Worth Property Case

The latest volley of paperwork has been filed with the Texas Supreme Court in the Fort Worth diocesan property case.  The schismatic group, now part of ACNA, had filed an appeal a year ago with the Texas Supreme Court after the Appeals Court awarded the property to those still in the Episcopal Church. However, the Appeals Court sent most of the parish property cases back to the trial court to be decided using the principles set down in the appeals decision. The Texas Supreme Court has not yet decided if it will hear the appeal.  The Episcopalians responded to the original appeal with a two pronged approach arguing that the Appeals Court came to the proper conclusion, but if the Supreme Court takes the case, then please consider broadening the case to cover all the parish property.  The Episcopalians filed their set of responses in the fourth round of paper arguments this last week.  There are now several thousand pages of arguments filed and the Texas Supreme Court still has not decided if it will take the case. The three replies filed by the Episcopalians are here, here, and here.  The argument boils down to which of two entities is the Diocesan Corporation, the corporation run by the schismatics or that run by the Episcopalians.  The latest arguments not only document why Texas law supports the decision of the Appeals Court (although it didn't go far enough), but sets up a First Amendment claim that only the Episcopal Church can decide who is a member of the church.  The argument prepares the way for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court should Texas take the case and then decide for the schismatics.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Week Ending 8/12/19

Cathedral Installs Carnival Ride

The Church of England Cathedral at Norwich has installed a fun fair ride called the Helter Skelter in the nave of the church.  The idea was to use the ride as a way to get up closer to the roof so they can see the medieval roof bosses better. It takes people up 40 feet, making the 60 foot high ceiling much more visible.  Needless to say, while many people are flocking to the attraction, others are upset. There is a fee to go up in Helter Skelter which helps cover the cost of the rental or the ride and puts a little extra into Cathedral initiatives. The ride will go back to its rental company on August 18.  

Lutheran Synod Round-Up of News

The General Synod of the  Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has been meeting in Milwaukee. The Synod is the equivalent of the Episcopal General Convention, and like the General Convention, has been combining legislation, elections, direct action and resolutions.  The Synod re-elected Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton for another six year term.  She has worked closely with the TEC Presiding Bishop on a number of issues. The ELCA also made strong statements on immigration (by voting to be a Sanctuary Church) and by organizing a mass march to the ICE offices in Milwaukee.  The Synod also declared that sexism and patriarchy were sins and denounced white supremacy.

New English Marriage Registration Process Affects Churches

Passage of a law covering civil partnerships and marriages has led the British agency charged with keeping the official records of these life events to announce forthcoming new procedures.  No one is sure when the changes will go into effect, but the procedures moves the responsibility of for filing the documents with the government office from the officiating clergy or magistrate to the couple themselves.  Church officials are raising questions about the speed of the change (20,000+ clergy will need training), availability of the forms, cost to the Registrar's office and whether Churches will continue to keep unofficial records.  The law effects England and Wales. In Scotland a similar change was made a decade ago.  The church is frustrated because it was not consulted as the bill went through Parliament.

Hong Kong Churches Seek Peaceful Solution Amid Protests

The leaders of christian churches in Hong Kong are reminding their members that political differences should not lead to hatred, and urging protests and the responses to them all be peaceful.  The Three Bishops of the Anglican Province of Hong Kong sent a letter to their members reminding them that Christians should remember that  those they disagree with are still members of God's family and that they should be kind to others.  The organization representing all christian denomination has urged prayers for a peaceful resolution to the issues sparking the protest.  The Roman Catholic Church has sponsored both a candlelight vigil in support of the issues raised by the protester and a call to members that protests must remain peaceful. One independent church is offering trauma counseling. You can find out more in the article in Christian Today

New York Episcopalians Educate Public on Prostitution Legislation

 New York is one of four states considering decriminalization of prostitution.  There is also a proposal for a national law.  The Episcopal Diocese of New York Task Force Against Human Trafficking has been educating the general public about the issues involved, especially the ways it may make it harder to prosecute sex-traffickers.  The Episcopal News Service article has a fuller discussion of the issues involved and why the diocesan task force feels this is a step backwards for women's rights.

Continuing Stories

Sewanee  Offers Guidance on Confederate Symbols

The University of the South's project on Slavery, Race and reconciliation has announced  a pilot workshop in November for clergy about how to lead parish conversations about confederate symbols and memorials built into their parish buildings and grounds.That topic has been a painful one for congregations given that what is at stake is their understanding of their own history and artifacts that have been in place the entire life of most parishioners.  Given that the university at Sewanee had to go through its own painful discussions concerning memorials to 19th century professors who were high ranking Confederate Officers and leaders, the University has experience to draw on in planning the workshops, as well as a team headed by historian and two Sewanee Seminary graduates.  Update has carried stories on the removal of Confederate symbols at a number of Episcopal Churches.  

Mississippi Episcopalians Reach Out After ICE Raids

The Diocese of Mississippi has reached out with other churches to offer help to the communities and families affected by the Massive ICE raids at seven food processing plants in rural Mississippi.  ICE officers originally detained aver 600 workers, and while 300 were released after a day, the communities are now in shock. It was the first day of the fall school term for most of the communities, and many children were suddenly without parents to pick them up from school, care for them or feed them.  Both Episcopal News Service and local news outlets carried the story.  The Episcopal Church has been active in support of humane treatment for immigrants and immigrant rights and Update has covered church actions multiple times.

Clergy Protest Gun Violence at Senator McConnell's Office

Since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to bring to the Senate floor any of the pieces of gun control legislation passed by the House of Representatives, he has become a target for protest in the wake of the latest round of mass shootings.  The Coalition of Concerned Clergy sent about two dozen clergy to the Senate office building to protest outside McConnell's office.  The protest was organized by Rev. Rob Schenck of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute, and one of the main speakers was Bishop Mariann Budde of the Diocese of Washington.  Their comments are quoted in the Episcopal News Service  article.  The Update has posted numerous stories on Episcopalians working to end gun violence.

 

 

 

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Week Ending 8/5/19

Episcopal Leaders Speak Out on National Issues

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry joined with a leaders from a number of other Churches to condemn so-called "Christian Nationalism" arguing that it is a "threat to our religious communities and our democracy."  Christian nationalism insists that the U.S. is a Christian nation and that Christians should be privileged within the country.  Religion News provides background to the letter.  You can read the whole statement here and add your name to the list of signers. Meanwhile the Bishop of Washington and the Dean of  Washington National Cathedral issued a statement in response to the verbal attacks on five members of Congress and the City of Baltimore by President Trump.  In short, it said "Enough is enough" and the "Words matter,"  picking up on the famous rejoinder to Senator Joseph McCarthy during televised "Red Scare" hearings of the 1950s: "Have you no decency, Sir?"

Episcopalians Respond to Mass Shootings

The mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton this last weekend, came only one week after a shooter opened fire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in CA.  Episcopalians have been quick to respond.  The Dean of the Washington National Cathedral issued a statement that was picked up by local media. The Bishops United Against Gun Violence provided an updated version of their gun violence litany and made a formal statement.  Individual bishops also made statements, including the Bishop Hunn of the Rio Grande (which includes El Paso), Bishop Rice of  San Joaquin (which includes Gilroy) and the Bishop of Southern Ohio (including Dayton), the Bishop of Long Island, Bishop Steve Charleston of the Native American/Indigenous Ministries of the Episcopal Church, and others.  The Episcopal News Service has an article with several of the bishops' reactions. The Episcopal Church office of Government Relations reposted a link to all the resolutions calling for gun reform and safety that have been passed by General Convention. The Episcopal Church is not alone in calling for such actions.  Religion News has an opinion piece listing the actions called for the Council of Catholic Bishops.

Archbishop Welby Visits Troubled Churches of India

Archbishop Welby is walking a political tightrope on his upcoming visit to the congregations that are part of the United Church in India.  He will be listening to the experience of Christians in India, which has been under extreme pressure from Hindu nationalists and Muslims.  He has no formal meeting scheduled with Prime Minister Modi and advance press releases of the 10 visit beginning  August 31 are stressing that he is coming as a religious leader, not a political one.  However, his report at the conclusion of the trip may document persecution of Christians in India. During the visit he will also take part in 100th year anniversary commemoration of a massacre of civilians by British troops at Jallianwala Bagh and adress groups on interfaith study and cooperation. Complicating the visit are arrests of  bishops of both North and South India for corruption in the sale of church lands. . 

Southern California Dioceses Deal with Sex Assault Charges

The Dioceses of Los Angeles and San Diego were both organizing quick responses to the law suit filed against the Diocese of Los Angeles for knowingly admitting a priest accused of sexual misconduct to the diocese.  The charges against the Rev. Paul Kowalewski stem from events nearly 40 years ago when he was a Roman Catholic seminarian. Kowalewski is canonically resident in Los Angeles but has been serving as a supply priest in the San Diego diocese. Bishop Susan Snook, whose seals on her certificate of ordination as Bishop of San Diego have hardly had time to set, immediately notified parishes not to use the priest for supply or other services.  Bishop Taylor of Los Angeles has set Title IV procedures in motion  and immediate put the priest under restrictions forbidding him to act as a minister.  Both dioceses expressed surprise and claimed no knowledge of the accusations.  They noted  Kowalewski had  passed multiple background checks done at various stages of his career in the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church has removed the statute of limiations on sexual misconduct cases for a period of three years to encourage people who have been injured and did not get proper redress to come forward.  The processes in the Episcopal Church have not come under the kind of legal scrutiny that the Church of England is currently undergoing after spending years trying to bury accusations and then mishandling cases that did come forward.

Building Bridges Across the International Church

A two year moving seminar that brought together teams from Liberia Jerusalem, Tanzania and the U.S. to learn about each other, study together and break down walls of suspicion and misinformation. The seminar was conducted by the Virginia Theological Seminary and funded by Trinity Wall Street. One of the seminar participants has written a personal reflection published by The Living Church.  The model seems to have much to commend it.  

Episcopalian Buttigieg Cites Bible During Debate

The general public is often surprised to find out that Episcopalians actually may know the Bible.  An illustration of this occurred when presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg, cited a biblical passage during his comments in the presidential debate.  There was a sudden surge on the internet of people looking up the passage and finding to their surprise that Buttigieg got it right. Even some conservative religious commentators admitted he was right.  Buttigieg has been the most open about his religious faith of all the Democratic candidates. 

Continuing Stories

Latest in Fort Worth and South Carolina Property Cases

The church property law suit in Fort Worth is under appeal to the Texas Supreme Court.  Both sides filed briefs in early June before the court, but last week the schismatics filed two more documents, "answers" to the arguments put forth by the Episcopal Church and its diocese in Fort Worth. The documents are here and here.  The schismatic response boils down to claims they are the real diocese and a denial of the right of the Episcopal Church to determine the identify of an Episcopal Diocese. The Texas Supreme Court has not yet decided if it will take the case for a second time.  In South Carolina the property issues have been sent to a mediator for the second time.  Steve Skardon has offered  a quick short course in the history of these legal issues and background on the state judge tasked with implementing the state supreme court decision in favor of the Episcopal Church. The post is dated July 29

Bishop Price Begins Stint as Assistant Bishop 

In April Bishop Dorsey McConnell made public his intent to be on leave from August 1 to the end of October.  His choice to cover his leave was Bishop Kenneth Price who had been the provisional bishop of the diocese before McConnell was elected. Bishop Price has now started his three month stint as Assisting Bishop and has already a full schedule of visitations. 


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Week Ending 07/29/19

Canadian Church Moves to Remove Prayer for Jewish Conversion

The General Synod of the Anglican church of Canada passed one measure that made headlines in Canadian Jewish circles.  The synod voted to replace a prayer for the conversion of Jews in its standard Book of Common Prayer with one that prays for reconciliation between Christians and Jews.  The vote was close to unanimous.  The resolution must also pass at the next General Synod in order to go into force. 

New Religious Literacy Test Results Have Some Surprises

The Pew Foundation has released the results of a survey it used to try to determine religious literacy in America.  The results showed that Jews and Atheists actually knew more about the Bible, Christianity and other religions than did Christian church goers.  Evangelicals did better than other Christian groups on the Bible, but were less well versed about other religions.   Christianity Today provides a summary with charts and a link at the end of the article to test yourself on their questions.

Union of Black Episcopalians Wraps Up Meeting

 More than 300 from all parts of the U.S. and several foreign countries gathered in Los Angeles last week for the 51st meeting of the Union of Black Episcopalians.  Among them was Presiding Bishop Michael Curry who used his sermon at worship to urge that churches work to get out the vote in 2020.  He kept his talk officially non-partisan by saying the Episcopalians should let love guide their votes.  The meeting had numerous workshops of social issues and youth members had their own activities.  Episcopal News Services has more.

Ghana Supreme Court Justice Become First Female Lay Canon

Justice Sophia Adinyira has added a new honor to those she already holds.  St. Peter's Cathedral in Koforidua, Ghana, has named her a lay canon.  She is the first woman to be named a lay canon in Ghana.

Continuing Stories

Developments on the Legal Front in South Carolina

Early September is going to be a busy time for the lawyers from the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. Update reported last week on the surprise order by Judge Dickinson that the two parties in the litigation around church property in South Carolina return to mediation.  The mediator has been selected and the mediation will take place September 4. Blogger Steve Skardon has an interesting commentary dated July 23 on the order to mediate, suggesting it shows the federal judge's inability to sort through the issues.  The next day the lawyers need to be in New York.   The Episcopal Church has invited the Episcopal Church in South Carolina and the Church Insurance Company of Vermont to meet on September 5-6 in New York and see if they cannot come to an agreement.  South Carolina Episcopalians sued the Church Insurance Company because it honored claims for legal costs submitted by schismatic parishes. 

And Another Diocese Elects a Woman as Bishop

The Diocese of Montana has joined the ranks of recent dioceses electing women as bishops. The diocese held the election on the first day of their annual convention.  Choosing among three women nominees, the Diocese got the required majorities in the various orders on the third ballot, choosing a North Carolina priest, the Rev. Marty Stebbins as the tenth bishop of Montana.  Update has been following the unprecedented number of women elected as bishop in the last year.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Week Ending 07/22/19

Episcopal Full Communion with Lutherans Expands

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

Former Pittsburgh Assistant Bishop Scriven Has New Post

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

Continuing Stories

More Fallout From Canadian Vote on Same-Sex Marriage

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

New Motion in the South Carolina Suit Against Church Insurance

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

Betterments Case Hearing This Week

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

Move to End Refugee Resettlement Brings Episcopal Protest

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


Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Week Ending 07/15/19


Liberal Christians Finding Their Voices

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

Diocese of Olympia Fights Eviction of Homeless from Camp

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

Order of the Holy Cross Closes Santa Barbara Retreat Center

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

Canadian Synod Votes of Interest

Same-Sex Marriage Canon Narrowly Defeated

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

First Woman to Serve as Canadian Primate

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

Indigenous Self-Determination and new Archbishop

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

Continuing Stories

Church Continues Witness for Immigrants

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

Updates from South Carolina

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

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Week Ending 07/08/19

Church of England to Recognize Religious Communities 

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

Continuing Stories

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

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

Texas Bishops Make Strong Statement on Border Issues  

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

Church of England Synod takes Another Baby Step Towards Methodist Ties

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

English Methodists Take Favorable Vote on Same-Sex Marriage

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

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

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