Week Ending 10/17/16
California Bishops Speak Out On Death Penalty Ballot IssueCalifornia is known for having many propositions on its ballot. Proposition 62 would replace the death penalty with life imprisonment without parole. Seven Episcopal bishops from all six California dioceses have signed a public statement stating the ballot issue presents "profound moral choice," and state their support for the measure. The statement also notes that the Episcopal Church as a whole has long been on record as opposing the death penalty.
Episcopal Dioceses Survey the Damage from Hurricane MatthewDioceses in the Southeastern part of the U.S. were trying to assess damage in their own bounds, help those in need in their communities, while also keeping in mind the even larger devastation faced by Haiti (which is also a Diocese in the Episcopal Church). The Episcopal News Service has an article providing an overview. Eastern North Carolina which is dealing with massive flooding has posted a survey of church facilities hurt by the storm and flooding, and also a plea for help for individuals and families. Their sister diocese, the Diocese of North Carolina has set up major collection points for supplies and money and begun funneling them to distribution points in the state. South Carolina has issued a preliminary survey of damage to their buildings and begun more general relief for their communities. The Diocese of Florida is directing people to the ERD for recovery grants. Episcopal Relief and Development has launched a major effort to help Haiti as well as responding to needs in the U.S.
Property Transition Quietly Beginning in San JoaquinSince the California Supreme Court refused to take the break-away group's appeal of the decision granting all diocesan property to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, the two parties have been quietly effecting a property transition. (The Update story on the conclusion of the lawsuit is here.) The Episcopal diocese's chancellor, Michael Glass outlined transition progress in a report in September. The Episcopal Diocese now has full control of ECCO (the diocesan camp/retreat center) and will hold its diocesan convention there. The diocese is working with Merrill Lynch to transition ownership of the endowment. The turnover of the Cathedral in Fresno is beginning. The diocese has had planning under way for five years to determine what to do with the 26 other properties covered by the law suit.
Episcopal Comings and (Possible) GoingsThe Diocese of Spokane, which includes 40 parishes in eastern Washington and part of Idaho elected its first female diocesan this last week from a field of four, including three women and one man. On the sixth ballot, the Rev. Gretchen Rehberg, of Lewiston, ID received the required majority from both lay and clergy. A former professor of organic chemistry and EMT/firefighter, Rehberg attended General Seminary and has had several diocesan leadership roles. Assuming consents are granted by a majority of bishops and standing committees, she will be consecrated in February.
Meanwhile, the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Lexington, KY, has sent notification to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry that they and their suspended bishop, Douglas Hahn, are in disagreement over his return. The Standing Committee voted unanimously that they did not want Bishop Hahn to return to diocesan duties at the conclusion of his mandatory leave. The Presiding Bishop had placed Hahn on leave for a year when it became public that he had had an affair with a parishioner and deliberately had not disclosed this when he became a candidate for bishop in 2012, despite being asked several times whether he had had a sexual relationship with a parishioner. Hahn, however wants to return. The Standing Committee has issued a letter to parishes informing them of the situation and that they had notified the presiding bishop as required by Episcopal Church Canons, Title III.12.10 and III.12.12. The process outlined there allows for mediation and/or dissolution of the relationship between the diocese and bishop.