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, December 9, 2019

Week Ending 12/09/19

Survey Shows Churches Have Reputation for Social Justice

The Barna Research Group in conjunction with World Vision has published a study based on a survey done internationally of people 18 to 35 years old.  One aspect of the study looked at social justice. The survey  had people rank the 5 most pressing world problems, and then broke down responses based on categories of Christian, other faiths, and no faith.  The study shows differences among the groups in how they respond to the problems such as hunger with Christians showing that faith motivated them to respond to these issues.  You can find the results (in chart form) and interpretations here.  Barna concluded that this group credited their faith with making them more aware and responsive to these issues.

Hong Kong Cathedral Dean is Chosen as Bishop

The current Anglican bishop of Hong Kong Island has announced his retirement and the diocese has elected a new bishop.  The Dean of St. John's Cathedral in Hong Kong, Matthias Der , has been chosen as Bishop Coadjutor.  Der has studied in Taiwan, Canada and the United States, and was ordained in the diocese of Toronto in 1990.  Hong Kong is one of four dioceses (Hong Kong Island, East Kowloon, West Kowloon, and Macau) in the Anglican Communion Province, Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui.  The turmoil resulting from demonstrations on Hong Kong, make this an exceptionally challenging time for a transition in leadership.

Fort Worth Evangelism Reaches Out to Those Wounded by Church

In an evangelism effort aimed at reaching those who have been turned off, pushed out, or wounded by the exclusionary messages found in many churches, Episcopalians in Fort Worth have taken the "Episcopal Church Welcomes You" slogan to a new level.  They have set up a web site https:godlovesall.info and are taking specific actions to get the message of inclusive love out to community through Facebook ads, banners, and hope to expand into other forms of publicity in 2020.  The Episcopal News Service article has more details. 

Updates to Previous Stories 

El Paso Ministry Helps Migrants Fleeing Violence

Forty per cent of the southern border between Mexico and the U.S. in in the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande.  That diocese has long taken a lead in dealing with the needs of immigrants along the border, especially as Trump's current policies have left people seeking asylum stacked up along the border.  The latest wave of migrants are Mexicans fleeing the drug cartel violence in Mexico.  The Diocese of the Rio Grande has partnered with a priest from the Anglican Church of Mexico to support shelters in two Mexican parish churches for those seeking asylum in the U.S.  You can gain more information here.  Update has carried numerous stories on the Church's efforts to help migrants, including the sponsorship of a Border Summit Conference last month.

Truro Rector Leaves ACNA

In 2017 Update covered attempts by Shannon Johnston, then Bishop of Virginia, to work with the rector of Truro Parish, one of the largest parishes to leave the Episcopal Church.  Now that rector, Tory Baucum, has announced he not only is leaving Truro, but he is leaving ACNA, and he and his wife are joining the Roman Catholic Church.  The vestry has announced that the staff of the parish has voiced grievances with Baucum and have launched an investigation.  Parish members have been urged to contact the vestry if they have concerns.   Both Anglican.ink and The Living Church covered the announcements. The Living Church article provides good background.

Fort Worth Court Hearing 

 In last week's posting, Update noted that oral arguments had been scheduled at the Texas Supreme Court for December 5 in the property decision appeal in Fort Worth. A link to the oral arguments and copies of the notes submitted by the opposing parties is found in a short news release prepared by the Episcopalians.  The Court's decision on whether to hear the appeal or not is not expected until at least March of 2020. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Week Ending 12/3/19

English Cathedrals Increase Attendance

A little good news from the Church of England -- it appears that attendance at worship services and educational programs for youth sponsored by Cathedral churches has gone up noticeably.  The article suggests that the Cathedrals are connecting with people in new ways, and that has spilled over in creating more interest in the worship services.  A longer report on the growth is available here.

Church Mourns Death of Louie Crew

Louie Crew, founder of Integrity and a long-time member of General Convention and former Executive Council member has died.  Crew's gentle but persistent pressure helped The Episcopal Church become much more inclusive.  There have been numerous tributes to Crew. Ironically, Crew's death came almost at the same time as news of a leadership crisis in Integrity. 

Bishop McConnell Announces Retirement

Pittsburgh Bishop Dorsey McConnell has announced that he will retire in April 24,  2021 and that the search process for his replacement will begin almost immediately, with an electing convention called for November 21, 2020.  His retirement date was set to coincide with the probable consecration of the new bishop.   McConnell was elected the 8th Bishop of Pittsburgh in October 2012.

Updates on Continuing Stories

South Carolina Diocese Gets Day in Court

Judge Dickson, who was handed the task of implementing the South Carolina State Supreme Court decision, and who has managed to delay doing so for over two years, held a hearing on outstanding motions, some of which date back to early 2018.  The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina had a relatively positive press release describing the hearing.   It was clear, however, that the judge had either not done his homework or had a short memory about matters already documented.  Blogger Steve Skardon provided a more mixed review of the hearing in his November 26 post, especially given that the judge suggested he might ask the SC Supreme Court to clarify its ruling on the status of 29 church properties awarded to the Episcopal Church. The schismatic group has not provided any statement.  

Fort Worth Property Case Hearing December 5

As earlier noted in Update, oral arguments on whether the Texas Supreme Court should hear the appeal of the Appeals Court decision awarding the Diocese of Fort Worth property to those who stayed in the Episcopal Church are being held December 5 at 9:00 a.m.  The arguments are live streamed and then available later from a video archive. Both are reachable at this link.  This case has now been in court for over a decade.

ACNA Dealing with Sex Abuse Case

Update earlier carried a story about former Bishop Robert Duncan taking a position as interim in a Jacksonville, Florida ACNA parish.  Duncan, who is the retired Archibshop of ACNA,became interim when the rector of the resigned pending an investigation.  The independent investigation released recently  documented that the priest had  groomed, harassed and assaulted young male parishioners and clergy. Duncan has overseen a process of "restoration" with those hurt by the priest.  ACNA has apparently responded to the report by revising its policies on sexual assault and harassment. The article did not say if the priest had been removed from orders.

More on Irish Bishop Controversy

When a member of GAFCON Ireland was elected as Bishop of one of the Dioceses in the Anglican Church of Ireland, a number of the Church's leading clergy asked the Irish Bishops to not confirm the election becasue GAFCON was creating a split in the church.  Update carried that story and a response that appeared from the GAFCON group.  The Archbishop of Canterbury, in Ireland to help celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Irish Church as a separate body, could not resist trying to muddy the waters further.  The Irish bishops did approve the election, and Welby came out with a statement saying he didn't see GAFCON as a group trying to foster schism. 

Canadian Conservatives Ask for Cease Fire on Same Sex Marriage 

Five conservative clergy, including Ephriam Radnor, had sent a letter asking the Anglican Church of Canada leaders to declare a 20 year moratorium on further implementation of same sex marriage.  They also asked that clergy be given the option of affiliating their parishes with a bishop that hold the same position as the clergy and parish. Radnor was a founder of the Anglican Communion Institute and was previously active in conservative circles in the U.S. The letter tries to claim that this is what has been done in The Episcopal Church.  However, that is not how either DEPO or the new arrangements made under General Convention Resolution B 012 actually work.  The full letter was carried as part of a commentary in The Living Church

Church Holds Border Ministry Summit

The second annual border summit was hosted by the Episcopal Church in Tucson.  The meeting attracted people from more than five Episcopal dioceses, and included meetings with bishops from central America and Mexico.  Those in attendance were able to see first-hand the problems encountered by those waiting in Mexico after applying for asylum in the U.S. , and heard from a number of speakers on the challenges of ministry to immigrants on both sides of the border.  The bishops of five dioceses issued a joint statement at the end of the conference.  The Living Church had a short piece on the summit.  Episcopal News Service had a much longer onehttps://livingchurch.org/2019/11/29/border-summit-focuses-on-migrant-crisis/.  Update has carried numerous stories on migration ministries, on eof the recent ones is here

Alabama Parish Provides Funds to Retire more than $7 Million in Medical Debts for State Families

Earlier Update carried news of an Illinois parish that worked with a private company to buy up medical debts of Illinois families so they could be forgiven. Now St. Luke's Episcopal Church has signed on with the same company and raised enough funds to buy at greatly reduced rates the medical debts of Alabama families in 14 counties. Those debts totalled between $7 and $8 million dollars.  It is a real Christmas gift to their community.  The full story is here.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Week Ending 11/25/19

Please note that the Pittsburgh Update will be a day late next week.   

Missouri Elects New Bishop

The Diocese of Missouri elected the Rev. Deon K. Johnson as their next bishop on the first ballot.  While his enthusiasm, faith, and experience in growing multicultural congregations made him the diocesan convention choice, his election will further complicate invitations to the 2020 Lambeth Conference. Johnson is an out gay man who is married to another man.  They are raising two children. He also is a native of Barbados, of African descent, and his spouse is originally from Mexico.  Johnson's election continues the trend of the last year and a half of diocesan elections that broaden the diversity of the Episcopal House of Bishops. The Episcopal News Service acknowledged Johnson's husband, but made no other mention of the bishop elect's LGBTQA status, appropriately focusing on his ministries.  The local St. Louis Today on-line newspaper printed a positive story which put Johnson's identity front and center.  The Living Church also put Johnson's identity in the headline.

English Interdenominational Council Blocks Member in Same Sex Marriage

 The interdenominational group, Churches Together in England has six clusters of denominations each of which selects a President to serve a 4 year term. The 6 are the executive  body for the group.  It was the Quakers' turn in the 4th group to select a president.  They chose a young activist woman, Hannah Brock Womack.  However, when the CTE members in other groups realized Womack was married to another woman, the larger group asked that she refrain from exercising any of her duties because her of her marriage.  Thinking Anglicans has the whole story.

Renewal Stalls for Agency Defending Religious Freedom Worldwide  

 The independent agency created and funded by Congress to monitor and advocate for religious freedom worldwide is about to run out of funding.  A bi-partisan bill which provide a new 4 year cycle of funding, however has stalled because the bill restructured the commission and broadened its charge. A prominent commissioner has resigned in protest.
Religion News has the story.

Continuing Stories

GAFCON Ireland Responds to Clergy Letter

 Last week Update noted that a number of prominent clergy of the Anglican Church of Ireland were urging the Irish Bishops to not approve the election of a new bishop because of his GAFCON ties.  Not surprisingly, GAFCON Ireland has issued a response.

Struggle for Control of Church College Continues in Pakistan

The struggle between the Anglican Church in Pakistan and the Pakistani government for control of Edwards College continues despite a high court ruling in favor of the Church in May 2019.  The government is trying secularize and run all private colleges.  The givernment is continuing to insist that it is in control of the facility.  The Anglican Communion News has all the details.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Week Ending 11/18/19

Jefferts Schori Speaks on Challenges for Women as Leaders 

Former Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori recently gave a talk at Kenyon College on the challenges facing and need for women in leadership roles throughout society.  The talk was part of a series focusing on Women at Kenyon.  Jefferts Schori drew on her own experience as Presiding Bishop and as a faculty member in the sciences to illustrate the ways women leaders face obstacles and questions, but also argued that women should persist in their leadership efforts, and think outside the box to find new ways to exercise power and leadership.

Study Says Canadian Church Could Disappear in 20 Years 

The Anglican Church in Canada is facing a disturbing membership decline, one which, if unaddressed could result in the disappearance of the whole church from Canada by 2040.  At least, that is what a study presented to Anglican Church's Council of the Synod predicts.  Archbishop Linda Nicholls. the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada is hoping to get people thinking about how to to be a faithful witness in their communities rather than focus on declining numbers.

California Church Holds Annual Indigenous Peoples Service

This last Sunday, Trinity Episcopal Church in Redlands (near San Bernadino, CA) held its 11th annual Native American worship service, featuring music drawing on native music and incorporating symbols from Native American spirituality. It was part of the parish's observances for Native American Heritage Month.  The celebrant for the mass was the Rev. Canon Mary Crist who was appointed in June by the Presiding Bishop to be Indigenous Theological Education Coordinator for The Episcopal Church.  Crist, an enrolled member of the Blackfeet tribe, is also rector of St. Michael's Parish in Riverside, CA.

Church of Ireland Clergy Leaders Object to GAFCON Member as Bishop

One of the more conservative dioceses in the Anglican Church of Ireland has elected as their next bishop a priest who has been very active in the Irish GAFCON organization.  In Ireland the group opposes  church leadership by women and has a strongly anti-LGBTQ position.  The election alarmed many in Ireland where the church has been open to inclusion and where Civil marriage is available to same sex couples.  The election is not final until approved by the Irish church's bishops, and thirty-six prominent church leaders, (cathedral deans, canons, etc.) have written a strong letter opposing approval of the election.  In addition one of the deans has published in the Irish Times a separate opinion piece opposing the election.  

Philippine Government Declares Council of Churches a Terrorist Group

The Episcopal Church in the Philippines has issued a statement criticizing the Philippine government after a security chief identified the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) as a Communist Front for terrorist activities.  The government has issued a list of "terrorist" organizations that includes many non-profits working among the poor and for social justice.  The Episcopal Church was ready to defend the NCCP in court, but that has not been necessary because the official list did not include the NCCP.   The Episcopal Church is a member of the NCCP.  All the groups on the list or labelled as a front organization are at risk for harassment and attacks by militia.

Trinity School for Ministry Expands in Ambridge

Trinity School for Ministry (TSM) has bought a Presbyterian church near the campus.  the purchase will give them a larger space to use for community gatherings and worship services.  TSM is recognized as an Episcopal Seminary, although most of its faculty and trustees are members of ACNA.

Church Develops Property for Affordable Housing

St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Walnut Creek, CA is preparing for the late December or January of St. Paul's Commons which will provide 45 apartments that are affordable housing.  The project was made possible through a lease of church property to Resources for Community Development.  That non-profit then brought in a management firm to do background checks and run the property.  The Commons will also have space for the ongoing work the parish does among the homeless.  Because California housing prices are so high, many people who could in other markets afford housing are homeless in California.  A number of churches of various denominations are trying to address housing needs throughout the state.

Continuing Stories

South Carolina Diocese Asks Federal Judge to Enforce Order

The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has gone back to federal court, asking the judge in the recent trademark decision to issue further orders against the ACNA group.  The complaint is that they are still infringing on the identity of the Episcopal Diocese by claiming historical origins (such as claiming their bishop and convention are the latest in a historical line going back to the origins of the Episcopal Diocese), and for continuing to provide access to unaltered documents that were produced during the years that they claimed the seal and name of the diocese.  In addition, the documents filed with the court are claiming that the "new" name for the ACNA group "The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina" is too close to the name of the Episcopal Diocese and likely to continue to confuse people.  The documents note that while Anglican Diocese of South Carolina might have bee deemed acceptable under other circumstances, there is precedent in cases where the previous trademark infringement was confusing and damaging, to require a name be completely different.   You can find comments on the request on the blog scepiscopalians.com for  November 12. 

Sewanee Holds First Workshop on Confederate Symbols

The University of the South in Sewanee  has now offered the first of its workshops on the dilemma created by Confederate memorials and symbols in Episcopal Churches and other church structures.  The general advice is to move deliberately, with time for discussion and historical research on the origins of the memorial or symbol, and the background of the individual memorialized.  A number of churches are dealing with memorials (windows, plaques, etc.) in honor of Bishop Leonidas Polk, who was a missionary bishop who served wide swaths of the South before the Civil War.  He was a supporter of slavery and died while serving as a General of Artillery for the Confederate Army.  Update earlier carried a notice that Sewanee was going to hold this workshop.  The Episcopal News Service has an article about those who attended.

Fort Worth Diocese Hears Presentation on Local Lynching

Episcopalians in Fort Worth heard a presentation at their recent annual convention on efforts to create a memorial to a man who died in a lynching in Fort Worth in 1921. The effort is being headed by the Tarrant County Coalition for Peace and Justice.  The Coalition is sponsoring several events as part of their efforts to bring this event into the public eye and foster healing.  The presentation was part of the efforts of the Fort Worth diocese to participate in the Episcopal Church's call for racial justice and reconciliation.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Week Ending 11/11/19

Britain  Extends Civil Partnerships to All Couples

When the British Parliament passed a civil partnership law, it was to provide legal status and protections for same sex couples.  That Act covered all of Britain (England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland).  Now they have passed an amendment extending the option of civil partnership (rather than marriage) to heterosexual couples.  Without further action the law covers England, and Wales. The Scottish Parliament must also pass it before it applies in Scotland. 

Episcopal Church Joins Movement to Stay in Climate Accord

The U.S. Government may have given official notice that the country is withdrawing from the Paris Climate Pact, but the Episcopal Church has officially announced it is staying in, and has joined the "We Are Still In" movement.  The church will continue to urge actions from its constituent parts and members that will meet the Paris Accord goals.  The Church has a long record of resolutions supporting care of creation, and provided official theological testimony at the 2015 meeting in Paris that created the Paris Pact.

Financial Impropriety in a Central New York Parish

Bishop DeDe Probe of Central New York has had to remove a parish rector after a forensic audit confirmed long term financial irregularities at St. Stephen's, New Hartford.  That evidence has been turned over to civil authorities for further investigation and action.  The Episcopal Church has long required all of its dioceses and parishes to do annual audits and has clear financial guidelines for parish finances.

Environmental Racism Initiative Launched by Absalom Jones Center

At General Convention 2018 a new center for social justice was announced, the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing. Sponsored by the Diocese of Atlanta, the center has been offering a variety of workshops, resources, on-line courses and guides to the whole church.  Now it has announced a broad initiative against environmental racism to be named for Bishop Barbara Harris, the first woman ordained a bishop, and a long-time supporter of social justice.  The center is developing a curriculum that can be used across the church to explore environmental racism and work for change. 

Church of England Explains Devon Parish's Yoga Ban 

When a parish church in Devon refused to allow a Yoga class to use their church hall, they did so on the grounds that Yoga was not Christian and the church building was required by law to allow only Christian or secular activities.  Now officials from the diocese have clarified that Yoga is not on a banned list in all Church of England sites, but that each parish decides what to allow.  Many parishes do host yoga classes and see them as separate from the Buddhist and Hindu roots of the exercise system. 

Continuing Stories

More Actions on Racial Reconciliation

The Presiding bishop's focus on Racial Reconciliation and Hearings has been encouraging the church to explore its complicity in slavery, segregation, and racism as a means of acknowledging past wrongs and looking for a better way forward.   Earlier the Update reported on the Executive Council's announcement of a racial audit for the whole church.  Many parishes and church institutions have been addressing the ways memorials in their parish memorials commemorated  slave owners, or were made by those trying to preserve a racist version of history.  Update has taken note of these discussions. Boston's Old North Church is the latest parish to discover its complicity.   Update also recently reported on the decision of Virginia Theological Seminary to dedicate part of its endowment for reparations due to its participation in slavery and segregation.  Now the Diocese of New York has passed a racial reparations resolution, after also passing anti-slavery resolutions that were defeated by its convention in 1860. 

Fort Worth Passes Resolution on Guns in Church

The Texas legislature passed a law that went into effect in September allowing open and concealed carry of guns in religious houses of worship.  The Diocese of Fort Worth annual convention has just passed a resolution declaring that diocesan buildings (including mission stations and the church camp) will ban all weapons except for those carried by licensed officers of the law.  It encourages parishes and church schools to adopt a similar policy  The original resolution (see p. 11 of the linked document) made no exceptions and applied to all parishes and schools.  The diocese of Texas had already passed a resolution applying the whole diocese, with an exception for officers of the law.  General Convention 2012 passed a resolution requesting that dioceses and parishes declare themselves gun free zones. Update has carried numerous updates on the Church's efforts against gun violence.

ACNA Pittsburgh Diocese Using Volunteers to Renovate Offices

In December 2018 the offices of the ACNA diocese in Pittsburgh moved from Allegheny Center to a Roman Catholic Church complex nearby.  They moved on short notice and now, after-the-fact, are renovating their offices.  The extensive work, is being done by volunteer crews.  Originally their goal was to have the work done by the end of October, but the diocesan web page events calendar for November  lists a number of volunteer work days led by their bishop. 


Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Week Ending 11/4/19

Episcopal Churches in Maine Lead Way for Peace and Solar Power

Episcopalians in Maine's two largest cities have begun new efforts reaching out to the community. Trinity Episcopal in Lewiston, Maine (the second largest city in the state) has dedicated a portion of their Memorial Garden as a Peace Park, and erected a "Peace Pole" with benches to mark the spot. In the spring they will add plantings to make the spot more inviting.  The design of the "pocket park" was the parish's contribution to a Healthy Neighborhood initiative.  They hope it will be a place where people can reflect and pray about peace. The Lewiston Sun-Journal has more on this. About 40 miles away, in Portland, the Episcopal Diocese is leading an effort to create a consortium that would build a solar farm.  Both historic preservation rules and the siting of the Episcopal Cathedral made it unworkable for the parish to install solar panels, so they organized an effort being led by the diocese to build a larger interfaith coalition of churches to buy land and build a solar power farm to provide power to members of the consortium. The Portland Press-Herald has more on the initiative.

Arizona Episcopalians Add Indigenous People's Day to Calendar

At the recent annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona, members voted to create an "Indigenous Peoples of Arizona Day" on the second Monday of October, thus providing an alternative to the federal Columbus Day.  There are 22 federally recognized tribes in Arizona, and the diocese is trying to give better recognition to native peoples.  The Convention also approved a set of propers and collects to use on that day.  These are the same that the Anglican Church of Canada has approved for their June 21, Indigenous Peoples Day. 

Updates on Continuing Stories

Methodists Continue to Struggle with Vote on LGBTQ Members

As the proposal for full communion between the United Methodist Church and the Episcopal Church is still on the agenda for the next General Convention, the continued unrest within the Methodist Church over the vote last year to strengthen statements excluding "practicing" homosexuals from ministry and forbidding any recognition of same-sex unions, remains very pertinent for Episcopalians.  The Methodist Church's highest court met recently and did not issue a ruling on a number of implementation issues, including what to do about those already in ministry, and what is meant by a "practicing" homosexual.  The court did rule that the resolution allowing those who were unhappy with the decision to leave the Church with their property was in order.  Update has been following the potential split.  The most recent  item is here.

Judge Finally Schedules Hearing in South Carolina

After Episcopalians sent two letters asking Judge Dickson to proceed with hearings, he has set Tuesday, November 26 as a hearing date for all motions he has not yet ruled on in the South Carolina property case.  The notice specifically mentions the motion for reconsideration filed by the Episcopalians after Dickson refused to dismiss the "Betterments" suits filed by the schismatic groups.  Lawyers for the Episcopal Diocese also reminded the judge that there are motions filed in May and June 2018 that also have never had a ruling.  The scepiscopalians.com October 29 blog post  offers some comments.

More Reaction to the GAFCON Consecration in New Zealand

There continues to be fallout from the consecration of a bishop for a group of parishes who left the New Zealand Anglican Church.  The new bishop for the GAFCON sponsored group was consecrated by ACNA Archbishop Foley Beach, but two other bishops in attendance were retired bishops living in New Zealand.  One, was the retired bishop of Nelson Diocese in New Zealand, and the other was retired from a Kenyan diocese.  Archbishop Glenn Davies of the Diocese of Sydney in Australia was also present.  Last week Update carried notice of the New Zealand church leaders'  protest of the "border crossing" violation by other bishops in the Anglican Communion.  A commentary that went much farther raising concerns about the event appeared this week.  GAFCON continues on a path that seems determined to create an alternative version of the Anglican Communion. 

Bloy House Finds Home at Lutheran Center

For a half century, Bloy House worked in partnership with the Methodists at Claremont School of Theology, but early last year the Methodists announced plans to move their seminary to Willamette College in Salem, Oregon.  Bloy which was founded to provide a weekend and night option for those seeking ordination in the Diocese of Los Angeles needed to find a new home.  The Trustees for Bloy House announced that they have signed a lease with the Lutheran Center in Glendale.  Those involved expressed hope that the new arrangement will strengthen cooperation building on the full communion agreements already in place between the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and The Episcopal Church.

Questions Remain About Church Inaction on Howard White

Although the former Episcopal priest, Howard White has pleaded guilty to charges of sexual abuse of minors in North Carolina and received a stiff prison sentence, questions remain about how much church officials new and how many times they simply looked the other way quietly passing White on to another position.  These questions are explored in an article in The Mountaineer, the Waynesville, N.C. newspaper.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Week Ending 10/28/19

Charleston Parish Honors 50th Anniversary of Stonewall

St. Stephen's Parish in Charleston, which tries to model being a parish welcoming to all, hosted an  Evensong commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising.  About one-quarter of the 400 St Stephen's members identify as LGBTQA+. Stonewall was a major landmark in for LGBTQ+ rights, after police harassed patrons at a New York City gay bar  the gay community fought back. 

Executive Council Removes Three Companies from Investments

At its recent meeting the Executive Council took actions responding to resolutions passed at General
Convention 2018 in support of Palestinians including not investing in companies that were seen as violating human rights of the Palestinians.  Three companies, Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and the Israel Discount Bank were specified.  In addition the Council adopted a screening process already used by the Evangelical Lutheran Church for its investments.  The Living Church has a short article here, and the Episcopal News Service a much longer one here.  Update covered the pertinent General Convention resolutions here and here.

Queer Hymnal Resource Published 

The Hymn Society of the United States and Canada has published a supplemental hymnal with songs appropriate for the LGBTQA+ community.  For a month it is possible to download the hymnal for free.  After that the group is asking that those using the hymns buy a the rights or hard copies.  Getting a copy requires a simple registration process that specifies how the person intends to use the materials.

Updates on Continuing Stories

South Carolina Episcopalians Send Second Letter to Judge

Following the Federal Court decision awarding Episcopalians  the right to the diocesan seal, name, and other trademarks which had been appropriated by the group that left the Episcopal Church in South Carolina the Episcopalians sent a letter to the state court judge charged by the South Carolina Supreme Court with implementing the decision awarding property to the Episcopalians.  The letter asked for timely action on the property matters.  Judge Dickson, who has already delayed making any disposition for two years did not respond to the letter.  Now the Episcopalians have sent him a second letter noting that the delay was harmful to their interests.  

Former Priest Pleads Guilty in North Carolina Sex Abuse Case

 Howard White, Jr. a former Episcopal priest who over three decades left a trail of sexually abused young people in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and North Carolina, has pleaded guilty to sexual abuse in the North Carolina cases.  Bishop Audrey Scanlon of Central Pennsylvania deposed White when the charges became public three years ago.  Update carried earlier accounts of the accusations here and here.  The 78 year old White was sentenced to 12 years in prison for 15 counts of child sexual abuse.  He has already been sentenced to 18 months for abuse committed while on the staff of an Episcopal School in New England.

Bahamian Churches Feeding Hundreds 

Both the members and the Anglican Churches in the Bahamas experienced severe damage from the category 5 Hurricane Dorian.   Now more than a month after the hurricane, and despite the damage to their own buildings, the Anglican Churches on the islands are serving as major feeding stations for those who have lost nearly everything.  Some of the parishes are feeding 300 to 500 people a day.  Rebuilding in these places will be a long-term effort, and the parishes will need to continue their relief work for months to come.  Update covered the initial relief efforts here.

Hong Kong Bishops Issue Second Plea for Peaceful Demonstrations

As the demonstrations against the Hong Kong government's leaders continues, the Bishops of Hong Kong have issued a second statement urging that demonstrators refrain from violence and make their points through peaceful protest.  Update also noted their original pleas for calm.  The most recent statement is more supportive of the reasons for the protests. 

Three Australian Diocesan Synods Show Support for Same Sex Blessing

Three dioceses in Australia at their annual synods this last weekend passed resolutions supportive of  their parishes and priests participating in the blessing of same-sex marriages.  The bishop of Newcastle's comments published after his diocese's synod makes reference to  their resolution, and also notes supportive measures passed at two other dioceses, Ballarat, and Willochra.  Update had noted earlier that a resolution was on the agenda for Newcastle.  For Ballarat, it was the second time they voted in favor of such a resolution.  Their 2018 request that their bishop prepare a liturgy for blessings was rejected at that time by the bishop because of an agreement among all the bishops in Australia.  All of these votes follow the vote by Wangaratta to offer blessings. There are 23 dioceses in the Australian Church, organized into 5 provinces plus Tasmania.  The 4 dioceses who have passed the resolutions come from 3 of the provinces.  The Diocese of Melbourne, passed a resolution expressing sorrow at Wangaratta's decision. That is the home of Archbishop Philip Freier who is struggling to hold the super-conservative Diocese of Sydney within the church along with the more liberal dioceses. Melbourne also welcomed the creation of the GAFCON diocese in New Zealand (see next article).

New Zealand Archbishops Decry GAFCON "Border Crossing" 

Update reported in May that  a handful of parishes in New Zealand had left the Church in New Zealand to form a schismatic diocese sponsored by GAFCON.  They left after the New Zealand Anglican Church voted to allow local option of blessing same sex marriages. Now the new diocese has consecrated a bishop, and present for the occasion were several GAFCON supporting bishops from other parts of the Anglican Communion.  The Two Archbishops from New Zealand have now issued a statement decrying that these bishops/archbishops attended the consecration of the bishop for the schismatic diocese without seeking permission to enter the territory of another Anglican bishop as is standard protocol, a violation called "border crossing" with which The Episcopal Church has had numerous experiences.  This continues the process by which GAFCON seems intent on forming an alternative "Anglican Communion."  Anglican.ink which publishes pieces supportive of GAFCON had a story on the New Zealand protest.