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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, November 29, 2016

Week Ending 11/28/16

Episcopal Church Affirms Support of Standing Rock as Winter Blasts the Camps

A a strong winter storm and bitter temperatures blasted the groups camped near Standing Rock Reservation on Nov. 27, officials from the federal government also announced that water protectors needed to leave their camp on federal land because winter conditions put them at risk.  The Governor of North Dakota set December 5 as the deadline by which they must vacate the camp. Ironically, that is General George Custer's birthday, a fact not lost on the Native Americans at the camp.  Meanwhile the Episcopal Church News Service has a long article stressing their continued support for the groups and gives a good update on conditions at the camp and the position of the water protectors. The Update has carried a number of stories on Episcopal Church involvement in the protest.  The most recent is here

GAFCON Responds to Communion Officials

Debate continues concerning the recently issued GAFCON "report" on supposed "violations" of the 1998 Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10 which dealt with homosexuality.  The General Secretary of the Church of England's Archbishops Council issued a long declaration pointing out misunderstandings about the nature of a Lambeth Resolution which the Update covered last week.  No GAFCON in England has responded with a counterblast.  Undoubtedly there will be more statements back and forth in the coming weeks.

Tanzanian Bishops Refuse to Act on Charges Against Former Primate

The Update reported earlier this month that charges had been brought to the Bishops of the Church in Tanzania against Bishop Mokiwa on corruption related to sales of church properties.  The civil courts had ruled they did not have jurisdiction and so charges were brought in the ecclesiastical realm.  Anglican Ink, reports that the bishops declined to hear the charges against Bishop Mokiwa feeling that they were largely an outgrowth of tribal rivalries.

Anglican Communion Sponsors 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence

It may be hard to tell in the U.S. where attention is focused on the Presidential Transition, but on November 25 the Anglican Communion began a 16 day period of activism against gender-based violence with provinces and dioceses around the word sponsoring programs.  The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh is not apparently participating in any way. 

TEC Representative to Canadian Synod Calls Trump Election a Betrayal of Values

Canon (lay) Doreen Duncan, who serves as the Episcopal Church's representative to the Council of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada spoke at the Council's latest meetings about her fears and concerns following the election of Donald Trump as the next president.  Among other things she called it a "betrayal" of christian values.  The Anglican Journal carried a full description of her comments here

 St. Louis Parish Sues to Prevent Merger They Oppose

Members of All Saints Episcopal Church, the oldest African-American parish in Missouri sued the priest in charge and parish administrator for absconding with the parish endowment and locking them out of their parish building.  The priest had announced they were being merged with Ascension Parish, which he also serves.  He moved the administrative offices of All Saints to Ascension.  All Saints is much larger both in membership and in its physical plant than Ascension.  The details are in this story from the St. Louis Dispatch. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Week Ending 11/21/16

Responses To GAFCON's Report and List Begin

The statement criticizing the parts of the Anglican Communion that support LGBT clergy  and listing of gay clergy (see Update here)  has now provoked response. The Bishop of Salisbury accused GAFCON of being unchristian in his response.  The Church of England issued a long press release that made the point that the 1998 statement known as Lambeth 1.10 was not a piece of legislation and was not binding on any part of the Communion. Activists created a web site where people could list themselves as "proud violators" of Lambeth 1.10, add new examples or register their moral support for clergy and churches.

Bishop Bruno Urged to Not Preside at Upcoming Diocesan Convention

The controversy between Bishop Jon Bruno of Los Angeles and members of the displaced congregation of St. James the Great in Newport Beach took another twist this week. After Bruno announced the sale of the St. James property and locked out its congregation and priest, members of the congregation and friends filed a presentment against the Bishop.  The disciplinary process of the Episcopal Church has ordered a full hearing (trial) in March and refused Bruno's motion to dismiss all charges. (See Update here.)  Now the rector of St. Bede's Parish in Redondo Beach, James Newman, has issued a letter pointing out that canons of the diocese require ANY lay or clergy person to be denied a seat and vote at the diocesan convention if they are in a disciplinary process.  He argues that Episcopal Church canons define who is "in process" in a way that Bruno is included. Newman is a canon of the diocese and previously had worked closely with Bruno, but was an early critic of Bruno's actions at St. James.  The letter is available here.

San Joaquin Celebrates Return of Its Cathedral

More than eight years ago Episcopalians in the Diocese of San Joaquin lost control of their cathedral when the cathedral's congregation and leadership announced they had left the Episcopal Church. In July 2016 litigation over diocesan property came to a close when the state supreme court refused to review a decision granting that property, including the Cathedral Church of St. James, to those who stayed in the Episcopal Church.  (See Update here.)  Since then there has been a quiet process of transition as those who left the church relinquished control of property.  The Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin has invited members of the diocese to celebrate the return of the Cathedral with a service of Evensong on November 27.

Diocese of Missouri Makes Statement Supporting Increase in Minimum Wage

At its recent diocesan convention on November 18, the Diocese of Missouri passed a resolution supporting an increase in the minimum wage in the state to $15 per hour.  Following convention, the diocese issued a press release that announced it was the church's call to stand with those who were poor or needy.

More on the Sanctuary Movement

Last week the Update carried a story on call for churches to offer sanctuary to those immigrants threaten with deportation.  This week the Episcopal Cafe carried a story on the more than 400 churches, many of them Episcopal congregations, who have declared they are sanctuary sites.  The growth in interest is in response to announced plans of the president-elect to aggressively deport undocumented immigrants.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Week Ending 11/14/16

Church Responds to the Election

Many leaders in the Episcopal Church have issued statements following the Presidential election and reports of acts of intolerance.  Most have urged Episcopalians to remember the vows made at baptism about respecting every human being. The presiding bishop issued a statement on the eve of the election (video version here), and then a new one on November 14, stressing that the Episcopal Church welcomes everyone. Gay Jennings, president of the House of Deputies of the General Convention stressed that reconciliation should not come at the expense of following the gospel and standing with those facing discrimination.  A number of bishops have weighed in including Pittsburgh's Dorsey McConnell, all four bishops of New York,  and Bishop Sean Rowe who serves two dioceses in Pennsylvania.  Almost all of the clergy in Minnesota signed a statement at a meeting held the day after the convention.

Hate Messages Deface Two Episcopal Churches

When parishioners arrived at the Church of Our Saviour in Maryland (Diocese of Washington) and at St. David's in Bean Blossom, Indiana they were greeted with hate graffitti.  In both cases the graffitti included statements in favor of Trump.  Our Saviour, in a multicultural suburb of Washington D.C., sponsors a Spanish Language service.  The sign was cut and its back used for a "Whites Only" message.  A wall in the church's memorial garden was similarly defaced.  At St. David's, the message was anti-LGBT.  People thronged to the church in Maryland, including Bishop Mariann Budde.  Messages of love were chalked after a packed service.  On Monday the parish found a new banner had  replaced the old.  It read "Silver Spring loves and welcomes immigrants."  St. David's is in a small town (population about 3000) in the Diocese of Indianapolis.  The police are investigating; many members of the community have expressed support for the congregation; and some have offered to clean up the damage.  St. David's intends to leave the message up for a while saying it shows "they are doing the right thing." 

More Leadership Changes

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has announced three staff members each of whom have served for more than decade in their current posts.  The Rev. Angela Ifill is retiring after 16 years at the Office of Black Ministries.  C. Kirk Hadaway will leave his post as Officer for Congregational Research on November 30 after 14 years of service. Canon Peter C. Ng has served for 11 years as Partnership Officer for Asia and the Pacific.  In a relatively unusual move, Kansas Bishop Dean Wolfe announced that he was resigning after 13 years as bishop to become rector of St. Bartholomew's Church in New York City in February.   Wolfe's letter cited a number of accomplishments for the diocese during his years, but noted that he really missed parish work and wanted to return to it.

GAFCON Goes on Offensive

GAFCON leadership has issued a new report on what they are calling "violations" of  resolutions approved at the 1998 Lambeth Conference. Resolutions passed at Lambeth Conferences are not binding on any Churches, but for the last decade those opposed to LGBT inclusion have been trying to treat them as law.  The report and a special web site listing individual gay clergy in the Church of England is the opening of a new campaign to try to convince the Anglican Communion to roll back steps already taken in ordination of LGBT individuals and on the blessing of same sex unions and marriages in Canada, Scotland, and the U.S.   Thinking Anglicans has a good set of links to the reactions to publication of the detailed list.   The return of Gregory Venables to the position of Primate of the Province of South America will put another strong GAFCON voice at meetings of the primates.

Churches Urged to Join Sanctuary Movement

A call for churches of all denominations to sign a pledge committing to become safe places for immigrants and others facing discrimination has been circulated through the Groundswell Movement web site sponsored by Auburn Seminary in New York.  The call is one of many responses to the election of Donald Trump. As a sanctuary site, churches would pledge "to educate and activate our congregations, to amplify and respond to the voices of immigrant leaders, and to speak out against the discrimination of any and all marginalized people."  The seminary set up the site as a way to encourage a multi-faith movement to "Heal and Repair the World." It provides a quick and easy way to circulate petitions and calls for action.

Former Tanzanian Primate Faces Corruption Charges

Bishops in the Anglican Province of Tanzania will begin a corruption hearing on November 21 for Rt. Rev. Valentino Mokiwa -- Bishop of Dar es Salaam.  He is accused of pocketing millions of dollars from the lease or  sale of church property while serving as Provincial Primate.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Week Ending 11/7/16

Over 500 Clergy Come to Standing Rock

The invitation issued by the rector of St. James Episcopal in Cannon Ball for clergy to offer a witness on November 3-4 at the camp of those trying to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline was accepted by more than 500 clergy from a wide variety of faith traditions. (see Update story)  They descended on the water protectors'  camp for a demonstration including copies of the Doctrine of Discovery, a procession to the boundary of the land where the pipeline is being built, and a large Niobrara Circle of Life.  For more personal accounts see this Episcopal Priest's account, and Episcopal Service Corps member's account,  and this from a Unitarian-Universalist minister.  The Anglican Church of Canada sent a deputation.  Many others registered their "virtual" attendance via Facebook in support of the gathering.

Ranks of Women Bishops Grows

Fast on the heels of the announcement that the Diocese of Indianapolis had elected Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows as the successor to Bishop Catherine Waynick, came an announcement of the from the Church in Wales that the Diocese of St. David's had elected Canon Joanna Penberthy as bishop.  She will be the first woman to serve as a bishop in Wales. The Church in Wales changed its governing documents to allow women to hold the office of bishop in 2013.

New Zealand Church Appoints Group on Same-Sex Marriage

The recent proposals on same-sex marriage create divisions within the Church in New Zealand.  The Church's Synod voted to delay making a decision on the matter until it meets again two years from now.  The Synod asked for a special working group to be formed to set parameters for the discussion and suggest a way forward for the church.  That group has now been appointed and has been asked to come forward with a report within a year.  The New Zealand Church has a unique governance with three equal strands representing different ethnic traditions and each with its own archbishop.

Episcopal School Back in the News over Sex-Abuse Reporting

St. Andrews School in Boca Raton, Florida is ask in the news as a trial begins to determine whether they retaliated against a faculty member who was whistle-blowing continuing sexual abuse.  The teacher was placed on leave in spring 2016 immediately upon reporting new instances of sexual impropriety and then following up as to it was not being reported to the proper governmental authorities.  Once on leave, the school stopped communicating with him, so he resigned and filed suit.  In 2015 the head of the school had been forced to resign when charges surfaced about possible sexual improprieties.  The school hired outside law firms to investigate the matter.

Lutheran and Episcopal Heads of Churches Author Advent Devotions

The primates of  the Anglican Church of Canada and The Episcopal Church held their annual meeting with the heads of the corresponding Lutheran bodies.  The four churches are in full communion with each other and use the annual meetings to look for ways they can make that communion more meaningful.  This year the four have collaborated on a set of Advent readings.  The two head Lutheran bishops,  Anglican Archbishop Hiltz of Canada, and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry each wrote a devotion.  The readings are available on-line, as is a joint letter issued by the four leaders.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Week Ending 10/31/16


Indianapolis Elects a New Bishop

On the second ballot the diocesan convention in Indianapolis elected the Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows as their next bishop.  Assuming she receives approval of a majority of diocesan bishops and Standing Committees, she will be consecrated in April.  It is the first time in The Episcopal Church that one woman will follow another as diocesan bishop.  While women of color have been elected as suffragan bishops in the TEC, she is also the first to be elected a diocesan bishop.  There have been eight elections for diocesan bishops in 2016.  Women were elected in three.  The year has also been a good one for racial and ethnic diversity.  Including Indianapolis, five of the eight elections resulted in a person with Afro-American, Hispanic, or Asian ancestry being elected.  Baskerville-Burrows has been serving as Director of networking for the Diocese of Chicago and in that role has been working with churches on partnerships and connections for revitalization and restructuring. She serves as faculty in the spirituality track of the CREDO program for Episcopal clergy, and has a strong background in family faith formation, college and youth ministries.


Bishop Bruno Heads to Trial in March

On October 26 the Hearing Panel under Title IV met to rule on motions submitted by both sides in the procedings against Bishop Jon Bruno of Los Angeles.  A formal complaint for conduct unbecoming a bishop was filed by parishioners and supporters after Bishop Bruno locked the members out of St. James the Great in Newport Beach.  A sale of the property to developers fell through.  The panel ruled against Bruno's motion to dismiss all charges, but also denied the request of the parishioners who wanted Bruno ordered to let them back in the building.  The Church Attorney appointed to represent the Episcopal Church supported the parishioners motion, but the panel was not sure it had the authority to issue such an order.  The trial is scheduled for March 28-30, 2017.  You can begin looking at previous Update coverage of this controversy here.


Clergy to Gather in Support of Standing Rock

The Rev. John Floberg, priest at St. James Parish in Canonball, ND issued a call for clergy to come to Standing Rock and witness on  November 2-3 with those trying to stop the Dakota Pipeline which threatens the water and sacred grounds of the Sioux reservation (and all living downstream on the Missouri River).   So far he has 360 clergy from 16 faith traditions, including 10 different Christian ones.  For the last week the "water protecters" have faced increased violence from the militarized law enforcement groups breaking up their camps and responding to non-violent protests. The Episcopal Church has been supporting the protests with the full support of the diocese, Presiding Bishop and Executive Council.  The Update has covered this with a number of stories.  The most recent is here.


Cleveland Episcopalians Organize Early Voting March

Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland helped organize and served as the beginning point for a march on Sunday of several hundred people that ended with them voting early at the Board of Election Office.  The march was both a demonstration in favor of exercising rights as a citizen and a protest.  Early voting in Ohio must be done in person, and the state has limited the number of access points.  There is exactly one for the entire Cuyahoga County, which includes the city of Cleveland and many suburbs.


Courts Enforce Ruling Against Egyptian Anglicans

The Diocese of Egypt got as rude shock last week when Egyptian courts began enforcing a decision that they were really part of a local presbyterian denomination.  Courts ruled last spring that the the Episcopal/Anglican Diocese of Egypt was not an independent denomination or a foreign church, but part of the Evangelical Church Association, which is presbyterian.  Archbishop Mouneer Anis, who is both the primate for the Anglican Province of which the Diocese of Egypt is a part, and Bishop of Egypt, has asked for prayers from the Anglican Communion as the diocese returns to court to fight the ruling.   Last week the courts required the ECA to sign off on a request for a visa for one of the people working for the diocese.  A hearing was to be held on November 1, but the court adjourned and rescheduled the hearing for December 13.  The ECA wants the ruling to stand because it would give them access to all the property of the Diocese.


Week Ending 10/31/16

Indianapolis Elects a New Bishop

On the second ballot the diocesan convention in Indianapolis elected the Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows as their next bishop.  Assuming she receives approval of a majority of diocesan bishops and Standing Committees, she will be consecrated in April.  It is the first time in The Episcopal Church that one woman will follow another as diocesan bishop.  While women of color have been elected as suffragan bishops in the TEC, she is also the first to be elected a diocesan bishop.  There have been eight elections for diocesan bishops in 2016.  Women were elected in three.  The year has also been a good one for racial and ethnic diversity.  Including Indianapolis, five of the eight elections resulted in a person with Afro-American, Hispanic, or Asian ancestry being elected.  Baskerville-Burroughs has been serving as Director of networking for the Diocese of Chicago and in that role has been working with churches on partnerships and connections for revitalization and restructuring. She serves as faculty in the spirituality track of the CREDO program for Episcopal clergy, and has a strong background in family faith formation, college and youth ministries.

Bishop Bruno Heads to Trial in March

On October 26 the Hearing Panel under Title IV met to rule on motions submitted by both sides in the procedings against Bishop Jon Bruno of Los Angeles.  A formal complaint for conduct unbecoming a bishop was filed by parishioners and supporters after Bishop Bruno locked the members out of St. James the Great in Newport Beach.  A sale of the property to developers fell through.  The panel ruled against Bruno's motion to dismiss all charges, but also denied the request of the parishioners who wanted Bruno ordered to let them back in the building.  The Church Attorney appointed to represent the Episcopal Church supported the parishioners motion, but the panel was not sure it had the authority to issue such an order.  The trial is scheduled for March 28-30, 2017.  You can begin looking at previous Update coverage of this controversy here.

Clergy to Gather in Support of Standing Rock

The Rev. John Floberg, priest at St. James Parish in Canonball, ND issued a call for clergy to come to Standing Rock and witness on  November 2-3 with those trying to stop the Dakota Pipeline which threatens the water and sacred grounds of the Sioux reservation (and all living downstream on the Missouri River).   So far he has 360 clergy from 16 faith traditions, including 10 different Christian ones.  For the last week the "water protecters" have faced increased violence from the militarized law enforcement groups breaking up their camps and responding to non-violent protests. The Episcopal Church has been supporting the protests with the full support of the diocese, Presiding Bishop and Executive Council.  The Update has covered this with a number of stories.  The most recent is here.

Cleveland Episcopalians Organize Early Voting March

Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland helped organize and served as the beginning point for a march on Sunday of several hundred people that ended with them voting early at the Board of Election Office.  The march was both a demonstration in favor of exercising rights as a citizen and a protest.  Early voting in Ohio must be done in person, and the state has limited the number of access points.  There is exactly one for the entire Cuyahoga County, which includes the city of Cleveland and many suburbs.

Courts Enforce Ruling Against Egyptian Anglicans

The Diocese of Egypt got as rude shock last week when Egyptian courts began enforcing a decision that they were really part of a local presbyterian denomination.  Courts ruled last spring that the the Episcopal/Anglican Diocese of Egypt was not an independent denomination or a foreign church, but part of the Evangelical Church Association, which is presbyterian.  Archbishop Mouneer Anis, who is both the primate for the Anglican Province of which the Diocese of Egypt is a part, and Bishop of Egypt, has asked for prayers from the Anglican Communion as the diocese returns to court to fight the ruling.   Last week the courts required the ECA to sign off on a request for a visa for one of the people working for the diocese.  A hearing was to be held on November 1, but the court adjourned and rescheduled the hearing for December 13.  The ECA wants the ruling to stand because it would give them access to all the property of the Diocese.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Week Ending 10/24/16

Executive Council Adds Its Voice to Standing Rock Protest

This last week police arrested large numbers of people trying to protest the building of a pipeline that may endanger the water supply of Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota,and is destroying sacred burial sites.( For previous Update articles, begin here.)  The Episcopal Church Executive Council, meeting in New York City has adopted a resolution submitted by the Episcopal priest serving at St. James Episcopal Church in Canonball on the Standing Rock Reservation.  It calls for both federal and state authorities to deescalate the policing tactics being used, and calling on Episcopalians to offer both prayer and financial support as the protest encampment prepares for winter.  The resolution also commended the actions being taken by the Dioceses of North and South Dakota to support the protesters. 

 South Sudan Priest Killed by SPLM/A Forces

The ongoing unrest between factions in the South Sudan has claimed as one of its casualties a priest of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan who served in the diocese of Mudri.  The Rev. Lino Appollo remained behind when most civilians fled his community because he thought the troops would not hurt a priest.  The army arrested him, tortured and executed him.  Four civilians were also executed at the same time.  The Sudan news source Nyamilepedia has the more detailed story, but a second site, the Sudan Tribune includes a helpful map.